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The outbreak of Covid-19 in Malaysia: Pushing migrant workers at the margin

— theme: Rights and protection of migrants
— country: Global
— type: Journal Articles

Experiences in other countries such as Singapore and the Gulf countries have taught us that precarious living conditions and poor access to health care have contributed significantly to rapid transmission of COVID-19. National policy and measures to flatten the curve of the pandemic require significant consideration of issues facing migrant workers, including fulfilling their basic needs, guaranteeing their welfare and upholding labour standards. In Malaysia, prior to COVID-19 outbreak, migrant workers were already living in cramped workers’ accommodation and unsanitary conditions, with poor access to healthcare, further exacerbated by the lack of workers’ protection. The implementation of various phases of Malaysia’s Movement Control Orders (MCOs) and the way the government addresses the situation facing migrant workers have significant negative consequences on their already precarious living and working conditions. This includes a growing number of positive COVID-19 cases found among migrant workers in May 2020 onwards. This study is a preliminary research, leveraging existing secondary sources with a view to generate initial findings for further in-depth research. This study ends with several short-term policy recommendations such as making COVID-19 containment measures a legal commitment, and implementing a nation-wide regularization programme to legalize the immigration status of undocumented migrant workers.

Andika Wahab
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