23rd March 2024: Half a million vulnerable and irregular foreign workers disappear from Malaysia’s migrant worker regularization programme as deadline looms in one week

Half a million vulnerable and irregular foreign workers disappear from Malaysia’s migrant worker regularization programme as deadline looms in one week

23rd March 2024: The Star – Half a million vulnerable and irregular foreign workers disappear from Malaysia’s migrant worker regularization programme as deadline looms in one week

Half a million foreign workers disappear from Malaysia’s migrant worker regularization programme as deadline looms in one week.

Andy Hall’s comment: This is also a huge, relatively unreported issue further exposing the systemic corruption and impunity and dysfunction inherent in Malaysia’s migrant worker management processes. More than a million foreign workers in Malaysia were apparently tied up in the former recalibration/legalization/regularisation exercise (RTK 2.0) but have now disappeared in the middle of the process, the government has suddenly announced. Only half legalized and deadline is in one week. In my experience, bogus Malaysian employers, brokers and agents, together with corrupt officials, are complicit in gross exploitation involved in these recalibration processes usually. Vulnerable and irregular foreign workers are charged huge amounts of money by all of these actors to enter the scheme but most never end up getting regularization, ending up further in debt and desperation, remaining irregular. Serious risks for forced labour and modern slavery results. And then the victims are forced to pay more to safely stay irregular or pay highly to return home as part of the current and risky flawed repatriation programme. Deeply concerning situation, again.

Verification rate lags as RTK 2.0 deadline approaches

Sourced from: The Star by Mazwin Nik Anis – 21st March 2024

PUTRAJAYA: Only 48% of the one million-odd illegal foreign workers registered for employment under the Second Labour Recalibration Programme (RTK 2.0) has been verified, despite the looming deadline for employers to do so in less than two weeks’ time.

RTK 2.0 is a special employment plan launched by the Malaysian government on Jan 23 last year to “legalise” illegal foreign workers in the country in various sectors.

Immigration authorities are calling for employers to settle the process soon, given that the deadline is March 31.

The have also warned those who failed to turn up for the process the second time will have their applications cancelled.

“Some did not turn up for their first appointment and we will contact them again to remind them to have the verification done.

“But if they still fail to appear, their application will be cancelled,” said Immigration Department director-general Datuk Ruslin Jusoh.

He said that employers must follow through the process of legalising their foreign workers and failure to do so would land them and their unregistered employees in trouble with the law.Ruslin said that as of March 10, only 48% or 527,295 of the 1,105,061 foreign workers registered with the RTK 2.0 programme had been verified.

He said employers were given another three months to complete the verification process after the programme ended on Dec 31 last year.

“The three months given is sufficient for employers to finalise the process. Employers should not wait until the last minute to complete the legalisation of their foreign workers,” Ruslin said in an interview.

The deadline for employers to complete the verification processis March 31 and the government had said that it would not extend it.

Authorities had earlier warned that there would be no leniency for employers who fail to follow up with the registration process of their illegal foreign workers and that immigration laws would be evoked and action would be taken against the employers and employees who were not legalised by March 31.

The RTK 2.0 programme has allowed employers to register via online, but they still have to attend in person with their foreign workers at the Immigration offices for the screening and verification process using biometrics.

Ruslin said a large chunk of the foreign workers registered were by employers in the construction sector at 51%, followed by services (24%), agriculture (8%), manufacturing (8%) and plantation (6%).

The majority of foreign workers involved in the RTK 2.0 are Bangladeshis, Indonesians, Indians, Pakistanis and Myanmar nationals.

The first RTK was carried out between November 2020 and June 2022. A total of 418,528 had registered for the first RTK.

Background Reading:

22nd March 2024 Malay Mail: Home minister – Over RM9m in fines collected so far through migrant repatriation programme

22nd March 2024 Protomalo: Malaysian labour market set to be closed again due to syndication

19th March 2024: FMT – Plantation firms wary of ‘forced labour’ concerns in hiring 200,000 surplus foreign workers/criminal syndicate victims in Malaysia, says minister

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

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

6th Mar 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

Mar 5 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

Mar 3rd 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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23rd Oct 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 Oct 2023 Malaysiakini: Long-awaited foreign worker management report declassified in Malaysia (my comments added)

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

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

20th Sep 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

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

Reuters 11th Apr 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

FMT 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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