17th March 2024: FMT – Malaysia’s treatment of migrant workers utterly shameful

Malaysia’s treatment of migrant workers utterly shameful

17th March 2024: FMT – Malaysia’s treatment of migrant workers utterly shameful

Malaysia’s treatment of migrant workers has been stated as utterly shameful.

Original Source: FMT by K. Parkaran – 17th March 2024

Four different home and human resources ministers have come and gone in the last six years, with no end in sight to the exploitation.

Two video clips involving Bangladeshi foreign workers provided by activists to me recently made my flesh crawl. It made me wonder if some Malaysians have become so heartless in their quest for illegally gotten gains.

One clip that must have broken many a heart showed a young worker weeping uncontrollably after being informed that his father in Bangladesh had died. The dire circumstances he was in added to the emotional torture he was facing.

The country has hit a terrible low when it comes to the treatment of migrant workers, it has become a thing of utter shame.

He was among a group of about 100 workers who were left in the lurch after arriving in Malaysia with promised jobs. They had borrowed huge sums at home to pay for their journey here. Did the son’s dire predicament contribute to the heart attack that killed his father? No one knows, but that is a possibility.

Another video showed a group of workers sleeping on the floor with hardly any space for them to stretch. To make matters worse, the workers told activists they were forced to share a single toilet.

On top of that, some Malaysians recently showed their ugly and intolerant side by protesting against foreign workers living in residential areas. There were also those who were up in arms at the Penang state government’s move to build a hostel for foreign workers near their homes.

Do you expect them to be housed in a hostel built in the middle of a jungle? What have we Malaysians, once known for our great hospitality, descended into? Have we become that heartless in our quest for riches, even if obtained illegally?

Let’s get it right – Malaysia needs these workers for its economy to tick. Without them, many sectors will surely screech to a halt. It does not take a lot for Malaysians to show some respect towards these workers and treat them with dignity.

Over the last two decades we have seen the media publish story after story about the mistreatment of foreign workers in our country. Every time a new minister takes over, he promises a clean-up of the sector. Four different home and human resources ministers have come and gone in the last six years, but there appears to be no end in sight to the exploitation.

Migrant workers activist Andy Hall recently highlighted the plight of more than 100 workers being cooped up in a shophouse with just one toilet for all. They were not given the jobs promised to them by the agents from Bangladesh and Malaysia. They were in tears, with hardly anything to eat.

Stranded Bangladeshi migrant workers in Sepang during HOPE Selangor aid delivery in March 2024

Luckily for them, a local NGO stepped in with food and other forms of aid to tide them for about a week or so. Like a broken record, the ministry issued a statement saying it is investigating the matter.

It has been more than two months since the incident but the government has done nothing to show that it has nabbed the culprits although records of applications and approvals issued to bring them in are easily available.

In another matter, the human resources ministry held a mediation between 733 workers and an employer in Pengerang for not paying their wages. In a statement issued on Feb 5, the ministry said an agreement had been reached for the employer to pay the workers RM1.03 million in back wages.

Strangely, the ministry did not divulge the name of the employer. This can be construed, rightly or wrongly, as the ministry protecting the company. Otherwise, why would it leave out the employer’s name – especially after describing it as a landmark case which will be used as a reference in future labour disputes?

By the way, it has been nearly six weeks since the settlement but the workers have not received any payment yet, according to Hall.

On Monday, four Bangladeshi nationals filed police reports claiming their employer has failed to provide them with jobs despite bringing them into the country more than seven months ago.

Have we become a nation of heartless slave drivers profiteering from this disgusting flesh trade? Do the lives of these poor workers not matter just because they are doing the 3D jobs – the dirty, dangerous and difficult ones – that Malaysians shun?

Does it not matter that on the international front Malaysia is being portrayed as a nation that blatantly abuses its foreign workers?

Reports and commentaries on the plight of cheated Bangladeshi workers are making headlines even outside the country.

In a scathing editorial on March 10 titled “Migrating to a life of unemployment”, the Daily Star in Bangladesh urged Malaysia to end the exploitation, and hold those responsible to account.

“We are horrified to learn that many of their lives have, indeed, changed dramatically—only for the worse. Tens of thousands of Bangladeshi men were enticed by the prospect of jobs and fair pay under relaxed recruitment policies in Malaysia, only to find themselves among the ranks of the unemployed upon arrival,” it said.

The daily said of the over 400,000 Bangladeshis who made the journey to Malaysia since the reopening of the labour market, a staggering number now find themselves facing unemployment, or are underpaid, and with mounting debts, perpetually tortured by the thought of how they are letting down their families at home.

While some have sought recourse through complaints to Malaysia’s labour department, the path to justice remains uncertain. Despite assurances from Bangladeshi authorities and promises of support from the high commission, tangible action has been elusive for those trapped in this cycle of exploitation.

One wonders what is so difficult in finding out who in the human resources ministry approved the quota for the workers requested by any particular company. Is it rocket science to trace the signature of the approving officer who was to have done due diligence before giving the approvals? Of course not. Are there big names being protected?

The name of the company is clearly printed on permits and there is no escape here. How many employers have so far been charged or convicted in court despite all documents linked to the approvals clearly showing their name? I have only heard of a handful of them.

Can you blame the people from suspecting that there must have been an element of corruption in the migrant worker recruitment approvals? Of course not! The talk out there is that the multi-million-ringgit business is so lucrative and, with politicians controlling the trade, many big names are involved.

Since being upgraded to Tier 2 of the United States’ list of trafficking in persons report last July, Malaysia has been sliding. It will not be a surprise if it is downgraded back to Tier 3 when the US announces the latest report.

Background Reading:

New Age 16th Mar 2024: Bangladeshi government must mend issues to keep Malaysia job market open

14th March 2024: The Star – Opinion: When work in Malaysia is a con – the criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshis for forced labour in Malaysia

FMT 13th March 2024: Bangladeshi migrants file police reports after falling victim to job scam/criminal syndicate trafficking workers from Bangladesh for forced labour in Malaysia

SCMP 12th Mar 2024: Malaysia to slash migrant workforce amid intolerance, job scam crisis involving Bangladeshi labourers

FMT 11th Mar 2024: Duped migrant jobseekers, victims of alleged criminal syndicate trafficking Bangaldeshi workers to Malaysia for forced labour, face mental health issues, says Malaysian ex-MP

Daily Star Editorial 10th March 2024: Migrating to a life of unemployment

Daily Star 10th Mar 2024: Distressed in Malaysia – Thousands of Bangladeshi migrants jobless, unpaid or underpaid 

Malay Mail 9th Mar 2024: Activists warn rushed 31st Mar visa deadline in Malaysia could force firms to source foreign workers unethically (includes my commentary on the abrupt policy change)

9th Mar 2024 The Star: No extension of May 31 foreign worker deadline

NST 9th Mar 2024: Keep recruitment agencies in a list rather than shutting them down, govt told   

See also NST 9th Mar 2024: Sourcing migrant workers takes time, ‘not like buying cattle’, employer groups tell govt

NST 8th Mar 2024: Eliminate middlemen from migrant worker recruitment process, govt told

Star 8th Mar 2024: May 31 deadline for foreign workers recruitment under recalibration programme remains, says Saifuddin

Malay Mail 8th Mar 2024: Saifuddin Nasution: No more agents for Bangladeshi worker recruitment

6th March 2024: Malaysian government halts foreign worker entry into the country from 31st May 2024 (final calling visa/VDN approval issuance deadline 31st March 2024) as migrant worker management crisis worsens and victims of gross exploitation, unemployment and destitution rise significantly

6th March 2024: Business Times –Sudden change in foreign worker policy by Malaysian government leaves industry in limbo

6th Mar 2024 Edge: Foreign worker intake deadline changes will leave manufacturers in the lurch, says FMM

6th Mar 2024 FMT: Industry players shocked by foreign worker policy change, says FMM

5th March 2024: NCCIM urges govt to review unused foreign worker quota deadline

4th March 2024 URGENT call for donations/support: joining forces with HOPE SELANGOR to fill gap in providing humanitarian aid and assistance to victims of criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshi workers into forced labour in Malaysia

3rd March 2024: Concern on repatriation of potential trafficking and forced labour/abuse victims under Malaysian Migrant Worker Repatriation Programme Commencing 1st March 2024 (Statement by Andy Hall, Independent Migrant Worker Rights Specialist)

3rd March 2024: Ensure ‘crooks’ do not gain from repatriation programme, says activist

2nd March 2024 The Star: A chance for illegals to go home

2nd March 2024 The Star: Sarawak immigration extends RTK2.0 until June

EDGE 1st Mar 2024: Home Ministry moves to free up foreign workers quota, unused allocations to be cancelled from June 1

1st March 2024 FMT: 600,000 foreign workers urged to take easy exit home

1st March 2024 The Star: Use repatriation programme to return home, 600,000 illegals told

1st March 2024 MalayMail: Saifuddin reminds employers to get their foreign worker affairs in order before March 31

28th February 2024 The Star: New programme lets migrants off the hook without being prosecuted

25th February 2024 The Star: Businesses want foreign worker hiring freeze lifted

31st January 2024 NST: Govt to implement Migrant Repatriation Programme starting March

31st January 2024 The Edge: Cabinet agrees to extend freeze on hiring of foreign workers, says home minister 

31st January 2024 FMT: Migrant repatriation programme set for March 1

31st January 2024 The Star: Migration Repatriation Programme to commence on March 1, says Home Ministry

1st March 2024: Duped Bangladeshi worker (another victim of alleged criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshi workers for forced labour in Malaysia) dies while trying to go home

RTV Online 1st Mar 2024: Expatriates die without getting work in Malaysia (google translate)

27th February 2024: SCMP – Malaysian firm probed for human trafficking after 93 Bangladeshi workers found abandoned

26th February 2024: Statement by Independent Migrant Worker Rights Specialist Andy Hall on Joint KDN, KSM and MAPO Operation to Rescue More Destitute and Stranded Victims of the Alleged Criminal Syndicate Trafficking Workers from Bangladesh for Forced Labour in Malaysia (includes updated stories on the ‘Cheras’ case)

18th Februrary2024: Bangladeshis pay much higher than peers (US$4500++) to reach Malaysia job market – syndicates, impunity and systemic forced labour

8th February 2024 – Activists: Duped Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia sought RM2m in unpaid wages, but only got half(first reported compensation settlement for Bangladesh Malaysia organised crime syndicate victims being trafficked for forced labour in Malaysia)

6th February 2024: Benar News – Malaysian Labor Court orders employers to pay Bangladeshi workers RM1 million in unpaid wages – first reported compensation settlement for Bangladesh Malaysia organised crime syndicate victims being trafficked for forced labour in Malaysia

16th January 2024: FMT – 751 duped Bangladeshi migrant workers in Pengerang case file RM2 million claim for unpaid wages resulting from situation akin to forced labour, stranded and destitute on arrival in Malaysia (includes comments by Andy Hall)

6th January 2024: 171 duped migrant workers deserve compensation, govt told (includes my full statement)

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

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 Decenber 2023: New Strait Times – Recruitment agencies accused of deception as Bangladeshi victims speak out on exploitation and fear

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

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

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

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

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

22nd November 2023: MALAYSIAKINI – Full probe of migrant worker syndicate, Malaysian HR Minister Sivakumar says

9th November 2023: Malaysia – The State of the Nation: Flaws of foreign worker system laid bare in declassified report

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

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

23rd October 2023: RESPONSE FROM THE MINISTRY OF HUMAN RESOURCES IN REGARDS TO AN ARTICLE BY MR. ANDY HALL/HR Minister – strict actions against employers who fail to comply with Malaysia’s labour and immigration laws

20th October 2023 Malaysiakini: Long-awaited foreign worker management report declassified in Malaysia (my comments added)

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

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

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

12th July 2023: excellent final offering from a 4 part account of atypical modern-day slavery, forced labour and abuse perpetrated against a group of migrant workers from Bangladesh in Malaysia, written concisely and passionately by former MP from Malaysia Charles Santiago

10th July 2023 – Migrants in Malaysia: Hundreds left stranded in recruitment scam

11th April 2023: In Malaysia, migrants say they are in limbo after promised jobs fall through

25th April 2023 Sarawak Post: Malaysia And Modern Slavery – ‘PM Must Take Control’

23rd April 2023: REUTERS: Malaysia probes cases of migrant workers left jobless, without passports (with background summary and articles included in my blog post)

17th April 2023 Daily Star: Approval For Labour Recruitment – Malaysia’s transparency questioned by Bangladesh

13th April 2023: Stranded Bangladeshis endure ‘hell’ in Malaysia – The group of 35 now wants to go home after being left without jobs for months

11th Mar 2023 MALAYSIAKINI: Malaysian HR Minister Sivakumar – Zero checks for migrant quota approvals only until March 2023

13th Feb 2023: My Perspective published by FMT – ‘Time to address corruption in Malaysia’s migrant worker management’

10th Jan 2023: ‘Bangladeshi recruitment cartels’ grip must end’ – Govt now acting on billion-ringgit ‘human trafficking syndicates’

1st Oct 2022 Malay Mail: PM Anwar says Putrajaya to Ease Rules on Hiring Migrant Workers

7th July 2022 The Vibes: How Bestinet courted controversy over migrant worker recruitment – MACC’s raid on IT company once again casts spotlight on alleged hiring monopoly

June 2022 The Star: Human Traffickers made RM2 billion through syndicate smuggling in over 100,000 workers from Bangladesh

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