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Crucial time for Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia

The New Nation, Malaysia, 1 April 2019 - OVER six lakh Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia may face deportation as the country plans to reform its foreign workers sector along with shutting down outsourcing companies. Around two lakh migrant workers under such companies, which hire foreign workers and supply them to others, will become 'undocumented' following the move. The looming crisis from the Southeast Asian Country regarding our migrant workers would mount pressure on the economy and labour force as the government has failed to translate the growth into employment generation.

As Malaysian officials are determined not to regularise any more workers, the fates of four lakh others remain uncertain. There are some 10 lakh Bangladeshis working in Malaysia. As the workers are already there and know local language and rules, the best solution would be arranging jobs for them under direct employers there. A high-level diplomatic move by Bangladesh to negotiate with Malaysia is needed so that the irregular-turned Bangladeshi migrants could be re-employed. This is important because they have already spent hefty sums to find jobs there, and their deportation would be disastrous.

Even if the workers are not deported in any case, they have to maintain a life with constant fear of being hunted down and arrested by immigration authorities for serving time in prison as blacklisted. It's very frustrating that, despite the paradigm shift in labour policy in Malaysia the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur is in dark.

Migrant rights activists say outsourcing agencies have been plagued with criticisms from employers, trade unions and civil society organisations for exploiting workers. They have also increased recruitment costs and contributed to the increasing number of undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia. We think, eliminating such outsourcing companies is a welcome move but the consequences also must be addressed.


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