19th Oct 2023: Malaysia facing huge excess of 1/4 million migrant laborers

Malaysia facing huge excess of 1/4 million migrant laborers

Malaysia facing huge excess of 1/4 million migrant laborers – Systemic forced labour through debt-bondage is the result of this corruption and impunity (my comments added)

Malaysia is facing an excess of a 1/4 million migrant laborers. Malaysia’s systemic and official corruption and impunity and total lack of rule of law has for the most part led to this situation arising in the first place. This all at a time when recruitment-related fees and costs for vulnerable and desperate migrant workers to come to work in Malaysia have doubled and in some cases tripled since the Anwar administration removed almost all conditions on hiring migrant workers at the end of 2022.

Bangladeshi workers in particular have migrated into Malaysia in record numbers recently, utilising an alleged recruitment syndicate, at costs of up to US$6,000 per person only to face unemployment, destitution and physical and mental abuse.

These indebted migrant workers have loans increasing with exorbitant interest rates in their source countries every day, and now they are too often without work and income to pay off these staggering debts. This leads to a situation of systemic forced labour and modern slavery through debt bondage.

Thousands of bogus Malaysian employers are behind this oversupply, essentially irregular Malaysian companies without operations or recruitment licenses requiring migrant workers, who work with corrupt officials to fake migrant quota documents to bring in workers to simply make money. In addition, often fake ‘cleaning companies’ are behind this systemic abuse. Workers are hired as cleaners and essentially outsourced for any employers desperate for a short term workforce, even though outsourcing of migrant laborers in Malaysia has been illegal since 2019.

The vulnerable and desperate migrant workers or victims impacted here remain unsupported, and in too many cases, even when asking for support as victims of modern slavery, end up instead arrested, extorted, tortured and then released as they fall into the net of corrupt Malaysian law enforcement officials that just feed of their vulnerability and often irregular status. Very distressing situation indeed.

Huge excess of migrant labour

Original source: The Star – Martin Carvalho – 19th October 2023.

KUALA LUMPUR: Relaxing regulations on the hiring of foreign workers and the recalibration exercise led to an excess of over 250,000 migrant laborers in the manufacturing and service sectors, the Home Minister said.

Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution said this was based on an analysis of the number of foreign workers in the country compared with the labour needs forecast in five main sectors.

He said as of Oct 9, a total of 667,418 foreign workers had come in, compared to the forecast of 518,000 based on the relaxation and recalibration programme.

The minister said based on an analysis by the joint committee on the management of foreign workers, there was an oversupply of foreign workers in the services sector.

Sizeable surplus: Saifuddin and Sivakumar holding a joint press conference in KL. — RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

“It was forecast that there would be 20,000 foreign workers in the service sector, but there are 142,204 in it.

“The forecast for factories was for 50,000 foreign workers but there are 197,213 of them,” he said after a meeting of the joint committee on the management of foreign workers yesterday with Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar.

Saifuddin Nasution said the situation was, however, not quite the same for the construction, plantation and agriculture sectors, which still lacked the required number of foreign workers, adding that there were 220,230 of them in construction against the 301,000 forecast for the sector.

In agriculture, there were 53,648 foreign workers, against the 90,000 needed.

In the plantation sector, 52,123 foreign workers were employed, but this was still short of the 57,000 needed, the minister added.

“From this data, we see that three sectors are experiencing a deficit while two others are enjoying a surplus,” he said.

He said presently, there were 1.7 million legal foreign workers in the country.

“In managing foreign workers, we are bound by the Economic Planning Unit’s policy that their number cannot exceed 2.4 million by 2025.

“As such, the relaxation plan ended in March this year and the recalibration programme will end on Dec 31. This means that there will be no more intake of foreign workers except those approved under the quota,” he said.

Some 800,000 foreign workers were under verification following the relaxation and recalibration programmes, he added.

Asked why there was an oversupply of foreign workers in the service sector, Saifuddin did not rule out an abuse of work permits by employers.

“It is unreasonable for me to say that there is no abuse of worker permits, but it is not to the extent that there was total non-compliance with the regulations,” he explained.

He said these workers in the service sector included cleaners and workers in laundries, resorts, spas, reflexology centres, scrap yards and cargo caddies, among others.

Saifuddin Nasution said the service sector was also found to be at high risk of non-compliance with regulations involving worker accommodation, working hours, and payment of salary.

“I urge employers to adhere to the regulations. Investigations will be done on the ground by the relevant agencies, and investigation papers will be opened.

“Action will be taken if regulations are breached, which could result in court prosecution,” he said.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin Nasution reminded employers in the respective sectors of the Dec 31 deadline for the recalibration exercise under the Labour Recalibration Programme (RTK 2.0).

“After which, the next three months until March will be for the verification process,” he said.

The first RTK 1.0, which ran from November 2020 to Dec 31 last year, saw 418,649 undocumented migrants registered, involving 30,137 employers.

The government had also previously announced a programme to ease the regulations on the entry of foreign workers from January to March this year.


Let excess workers move elsewhere, says MEF
NATION – Saturday, 21 Oct 2023
PETALING JAYA: The construction, plantation and agriculture sectors are still in need of foreign labour, while mamak restaurants, hairdressers, jewellers and textile merchants are also crying out for more specialised workers from abroad.

Meanwhile, there is an excess of over 250,000 foreign workers in the manufacturing and services sectors.

The Malaysian Employers Federation, saying that there has been a miscalculation in the forecast of employees needed, now wants the excess workers to be transferred to sectors where there is a shortage.

Its president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said that while there may be oversupply in some sectors as mentioned by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, there was still a shortage of foreign workers in other sectors, especially in plantation and construction.

“Instead of bringing in new foreign workers, the government should allow the foreign workers not required by some sectors to be employed elsewhere.

He also said those who had brought in workers should be compensated.

“No employer wants to spend RM25,000 to bring in a foreign worker when they really do not need them. It is more of a wrong forecast.

“The government should assist such employers recover some of the costs they incurred by allowing the surplus workers to be employed in needy sectors.”

He said the rules tying foreign workers’ approval to a particular industry and employer should be reviewed.

“Under existing rules, the current employer needs to end the employment of the extra foreign workers.

“The authorities can then decide to send him back or allow him to remain and be employed by other employers within or outside the sector.

“They should instead be offered work in available sectors. If they refuse to work in the new sector, then they should be repatriated,” Syed Hussain said.

On Wednesday, Saifuddin said that relaxing regulations on foreign workers and a recalibration exercise have led to an excess of over 250,000 foreign workers in the manufacturing and services sectors.

Syed Hussain felt there was no oversupply of foreign workers.

“The Home Minister’s assessment may be based on the approved quota, not the actual number of legal foreign workers in the country.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association secretary-general Habebur Rahman Shahul Hameed concurred, saying mamak restaurants were still in need of workers.


Reassign excess foreign labour to different sectors, says MEF.

Employers reluctant to let go of foreign workers


Over 150,000 foreign workers are expected to arrive soon, Dewan Rakyat told.

The Recalibration Programme has also registered 747,167 previously undocumented migrants, who were issued new work permits recalibrated to bogus employers and illegal outsource agencies, being exploited in debt bondage because of the exorbitantly expensive recalibration process. This is awful, and still, they want to bring in more. Systemic corruption, out of control.

See also: 2nd Oct 2023: Exploitation of migrant workers continues unabated in Malaysia.

See also: 21st Sep 2023: Malaysian government has 15 source countries for foreign workers – Comments by Andy Hall.

See also: FMT 20th Sep 2023: Rate of abused Bangladeshi workers’ entry into Malaysia worrying, says migrant rights activist Andy Hall.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top