30th December 2023: Migrants being duped into Malaysia because of govt’s failure to curb criminal trafficking syndicates and organised crime network, says activist Andy Hall

30th December 2023: Migrants being duped into Malaysia because of govt’s failure to curb criminal trafficking syndicates and organized crime network

30th December 2023: FMT: Migrants being duped into Malaysia because of govt’s failure to curb criminal trafficking syndicates and organised crime network, says activist Andy Hall

Andy Hall also points finger at Malaysian ministry officials for allegedly approving foreign worker quotas for dubious companies leading to criminal trafficking syndicates.

Original source: FMT by Dineskumar Ragu – 20th December 2023

PETALING JAYA: An activist has attributed the increased duping of foreign workers who end up stranded in Malaysia without jobs to a failure by the government to curb trafficking syndicates.

Migrant labour rights activist Andy Hall said the government’s failure to check the authenticity of companies that apply to recruit foreign workers had also contributed to the problem.

However, he said, the real issue was the government’s failure to combat the organised crime network trafficking Bangladeshi workers into forced labour in Malaysia.

(Note I also suggest that money laundering may also be involved here as money is taken from the workers in Bangladesh/Nepal etc. but most money ends up in Malaysia)

“The failure by the government to check the authenticity of the companies applying for foreign workers is a major factor leading to this issue of stranded workers,” Hall told FMT.

“But this is just one part of the wider issue. The key issue here is a cross-border syndicate.” – Andy Hall – International Migrant Workers Rights Specialist

Statistics from Bangaldeshi government show almost 400,000 Bangladeshis arriving into Malaysia during the past 16 months after the migration corridor/sydicate reopened in Sept 2022 – available at http://www.old.bmet.gov.bd/BMET/viewStatReport.action?reportnumber=11
Caption: Statistics from Bangladeshi government show almost 400,000 Bangladeshis arriving into Malaysia during the past 16 months after the migration corridor/syndicate reopened in September 2022

Andy Hall’s opinion: criminal trafficking syndicates

In my opinion, officials within the foreign affairs, human resources and home affairs ministries are a major part of this syndicate or organised crime network, as they approve foreign worker employment quotas for bogus Malaysian companies and, together with the Bangladeshi authorities, assign these bogus quotas to selected manpower agencies in Bangladesh and Malaysia, thereby allowing the syndicate to continue to function as it does. Note in my experience, recruitment related fees and costs for Myanmar and Nepal workers coming to Malaysia have also tripled from around $1000 to $3000 per pax, generally since late 2022, Indonesia costs generally stayed the same, Bangladesh costs increased from average $4,500 to almost $6,000 per pax. India costs also increased. All increased massively since Anwar took the reins of government in late 2022

Human resources ministry’s failure to take effective action against these companies had set a bad precedent

Adrian Pereira of the NGO North-South Initiative claimed that recruitment agents had masqueraded as employers and abused loopholes in the relaxed migrant workers’ recruitment regulations, bringing in service workers and outsourcing them to subsidiaries and even other companies in other states.

Pereira said the human resources ministry’s failure to take effective action against these companies had set a bad precedent.

“It did not send a warning that the government is serious (about this issue). For us, (the defrauding of workers) is tantamount to human trafficking.

Adrian Pereira.

“Why hasn’t the Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants, its task force and national referral system kicked into action? Where are the exemplifying punishments for these companies? Nothing has happened,” he said.

(Note however, personally I warn against utilising human trafficking systems at this time, which currently involuntarily place workers after rescue in prison like shelters and then deport them unceremoniously without remediation or remedy. Workers who fall victim to this organise crime syndicate seem to me focused only on gaining meaningful employment in Malaysia to pay off their debts, not in getting protection in shelters. What we need here is the enforcing of the new forced labour laws under s90(B) of the Employment Act to ensure victims of the syndicate can change employer, gain meaningful employment, pay off their debts and that those wrongfully involved in their abuse are forced to compensate them for any losses they have incurred directly)

The activists were responding to reports that 171 Bangladeshis had been arrested in Pengerang, Johor, on Dec 20 after taking part in a march to lodge a police report against their agents for failing to secure them jobs as promised.

Although the case fell outside of the human resources ministry’s jurisdiction, its newly appointed minister, Steven Sim, told FMT it would help the Bangladeshis on “humanitarian grounds” and summon the employers and agents involved to assist them in the investigation.

Pereira said tackling the issue would be Sim’s biggest challenge as he would have to identify its root cause and apprehend those responsible for manipulating the recruitment process and approval of quotas.

He has to make sure that the labour department is clear about who is wrong in this situation,” he said.

“Is he (Sim) just going to slap them (the perpetrators) with Act 446, or is he going to charge them with human trafficking?” he added, referring to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities (Amendment) Act 2019.

‘Place labour migration affairs under PMO’

Both Pereira and Hall suggested that labour migration affairs be placed under the purview of the prime minister’s office, with Pereira saying the human resources and home ministries had been proven incapable of resolving the exploitation of migrant workers.

Hall said putting migration issues under the human resources ministry was naive and impractical as the majority of Malaysia’s migrant workers were still undocumented.

He also argued that labour migration affairs could not be controlled by the home ministry alone, as migration had three aspects – national security, economic security, and human security.

“The home ministry focuses on national security, so it should not be controlling labour migration. The human resources ministry is also unsuitable as it focuses on labour and labour protection, not security, health and economics,” he said.

(I also recommend that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) be involved in probing this issue, including officials and the companies that recruit workers who were defrauded, for money laundering and corruption offences urgently, So much money is being collected from the Bangladeshi workers in particular in Bangaldesh, but where is this money going? Most ends up back in Malaysia, but how!)

Additional Reading:

See more 6th Jan 2024: FMT: Away from families, in debt, and jobless in a foreign land

See more: 6th Jan 2024: FMT – Saifuddin, Sim to discuss status of freeze on foreign worker recruitment

See more: 6th Jan 2024: New Strait Times – Company that promised 171 Bangladeshi workers non-existent jobs blacklisted

See more: 5th Jan 2024: New Strait Times – MCA: Don’t just fine employers, hold ministry accountable as well for unemployed foreign workers

See more: 30th Dec 2023: New Strait Times – Recruitment agencies accused of deception as Bangladeshi victims speak out on exploitation and fear

See more: 29th Dec 2023: FMT: Set up task force to probe arrested migrant workers’ case, says Suhakam (The human rights commission says action must be taken if the 171 migrant workers had been duped by recruitment agents)

See more 29th Dec 2023: Malay Mail – Set up probe on exploitation of migrant workers and new ministry to manage their affairs, Suhakam tells Putrajaya

See more: 28th Dec 2023: Malay Mail: Thousands of foreign workers (Bangladeshis) duped over job chances in Johor should be helped not arrested – Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) tells authorities and corruption commission (MACC) to urgently investigate Malaysian recruitment syndicate

See more: 28th Dec 2023: MALAYSIAKINI 27th Dec 2023: Jobless migrants issue – MTUC warns govt of trade sanction impact

See more: 28th Dec 2023: New Strait Times – ‘Company involved in 171 Bangladeshi migrant worker scandal not licensed to recruit’

See more: 28th Dec 2023: FMT – Malaysia has entered ‘slave labour’ territory, says ex-MP – Charles Santiago calls for specific set-ups to manage migrant workers 

See more: 27th Dec 2023: New Strait Times – MTUC demand govt, MACC probe into corrupt recruitment practices of foreign workers

See more: 27th Dec 2023: New Strait Times – Strict action against employers, agencies neglecting 171 Bangladeshi workers: MEF

See more: 27th Dec 2023: FMT – Bangladeshis duped over jobs are victims of human trafficking, says rights group

See more: 26th Dec: The Star – Over 2,000 duped migrants in Pengerang, says Azalina

See more: 26th Dec 2023: FMT – Azalina wants urgent probe into 171 Bangladeshis duped over jobs

See more 26th Dec 2023: FMT – High recruitment fees make greedy agents bring in workers, says group

See more: 25th Dec 2023: FMT – Probe recruitment agents, MACC told after arrest of Bangladeshis

See more: 25th Dec 2023: FMT – Human resources ministry comes to the rescue of Bangladeshi workers

See more: 25th Dec 2023: FMT – Cops nab 171 foreigners protesting lack of jobs in Johor

See more: 25th Dec 2023: The Star – Foreigners march to police station to complain about agent, get hauled up by Immigration Dept instead

See also related: 7th December 2023: Telegraph UK – Shimano bike parts ‘made by modern slaves’ in Malaysia sold to commuters

See more: 5th Nov 2023: Malaysian HR Minister pledges nationwide operations concerning the plight of Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia following Andy Hall’s complaint letter to the OHCHR

See more: 30th Oct 2023: FMT: Andy Hall refers stranded Bangladeshi workers’ plight in Malaysia to UN Human Rights Council

See more: 26th Oct 2023: Malaysian PM Office’s Minister Azalina says govt to complete national action plan for business and human rights by 2024 amid global spotlight on systemic migrant forced labour in the country

See more: 20th Oct 2023 Malaysiakini: Long-awaited foreign worker management report declassified in Malaysia

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

See more: 2nd Oct 2023: MALAYSIAKINI – Exploitation of migrant workers continues unabated in Malaysia

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

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

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