‘Bangladeshi/Malaysia recruitment cartels’ grip must end’
Govt now acting on billion-ringgit ‘human trafficking syndicates’
Published on 10 Jan 2023 4:00PM
Calls are growing for an open system that no longer limits the number of Bangladeshi recruitment agencies, with stakeholders urging the government to end the involvement of the two ‘cartels’ that rake in billions annually from forced labour and exploitation. – Pixabay pic, January 10, 2023
BY The Vibes Team
KUALA LUMPUR – For many years, the inflow of foreign workers from Bangladesh to Malaysia has been monopolised by two power brokers, but their corrupt practices and control over this lucrative business may soon come to an end.
Calls are growing for an open system that no longer limits the number of Bangladeshi recruitment agencies, with stakeholders urging the government to end the involvement of the two “cartels” that rake in billions annually from forced labour and exploitation.
In fact, the Bangladeshi foreign worker recruitment industry is a human trafficking syndicate responsible for the misery of thousands of migrants from the country.
Sources close to the matter told The Vibes that corruption in the recruitment system has lined the pockets of government officials of both countries, with the money trails leading up to the highest offices.
Two key players in the Bangladeshi workers recruitment industry are billionaires from Dhaka – one of them is a permanent resident of Malaysia, while another is based in Bangladesh.
Under the new unity government, they have already begun courting the new leadership, with one of them having met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, introduced by high-level government operatives.
It is learnt that they have sought patronage and protection from every new prime minister in the last three years.
Despite the cartel leaders’ meetings with Anwar, the prime minister has proceeded to order the Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry to look into the allegations of human trafficking and slavery involving these individuals.
A source said both billionaires have 100 Bangladeshi recruitment agencies under their control, and that the Malaysia-based businessman has a grip on 69 of them, while his “rival” in Dhaka has 31.
All of these agencies, the source revealed, paid at least RM2 million each to “join the club” of recruiters and have their own stakes in the migration industry.Despite the cartel leaders’ meetings with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the prime minister has ordered the Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry to look into the allegations of human trafficking and slavery involving these individuals. – AZIM RAHMAN/The Vibes file pic, January 10, 2023
The workers, often recruited from the interior areas of Bangladesh, pay up to RM3,800 in “toll” bribes, on top of the RM15,000 to RM25,000 in fees to facilitate their migration to Malaysia.
The source said such schemes applied only to recruiters and workers from Bangladesh, and not other source countries such as Indonesia, Nepal, and Philippines.
“The question now is: why are there only two cartels controlling foreign recruitment from Bangladesh when it is not practised for other countries?” another source said.
These cartels are worse than drug cartels as they involve human trafficking. Blood is on their hands.”
The source noted that the workers often end up with lifetimes of debt, with some families back home only receiving parts of their husbands’ and fathers’ earnings after two years.
Underpaid, overworked, and living in crammed, squalid conditions, the plight of Bangladeshi workers in this country has also been widely reported by international media.
This contributed to Malaysia being stuck in Tier 3 of the US State Department’s Human Trafficking Report, which prevents Malaysians from enjoying Visa on Arrival privileges in the United States.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) raid on IT solutions company Bestinet Sdn Bhd in July last year again cast a spotlight on alleged syndicates monopolising the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in the country.
The raid saw several officials questioned, in a probe into the dubious selection of 25 Bangladesh recruiting agencies tasked with sending their workers here.
The reports on the raid noted that Bestinet’s founder, Bangladesh national turned Malaysian citizen Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Abdul Nor was not detained, but was among several individuals questioned by the anti-graft body to establish their alleged involvement in the selection of agencies.
Amin, better known as Amin Bangla, was also reportedly investigated over his ties with several politicians, including cabinet members, while MACC wanted to identify the criteria used to select the 25 companies.Bestinet founder Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Abdul Nor has reportedly been investigated over his ties with several politicians, including cabinet members. – Bestinet Sdn Bhd Facebook pic, January 10, 2023
In June 2018, The Star ran an article highlighting the plight of more than 100,000 Bangladeshi workers and victims of human trafficking who allegedly paid RM20,000 each to the syndicate involving a particular “Datuk Seri”.
The article in The Star alleged that the “Datuk Seri” had been in control of the Sistem Perkhidmatan Pekerja Asing (Foreign Workers Services System, or SPPA), which served as the sole system for hiring Bangladeshi workers.
Under the scheme, employers were required to pay RM305 per worker hired from Bangladesh, fees that went to Bestinet as a service charge for the distribution of the workers.
A source told the daily at the time that only 10 agencies were allowed to bring in Bangladeshi workers, while more than 1,500 other recruiters were left out of the government-to-government agreement on the matter.
In early June, more than 1,300 recruitment agencies in Bangladesh threatened to hold a protest against former human resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan over the selection of 25 firms, following the memorandum of understanding between the two countries on December 19 last year. – The Vibes, January 10, 2023