24th June 2024 Exclusive Analysis: CNA – Extension of Malaysia’s controversial migrant labour ecosystem (involving BESTINET) a blow to PM Anwar’s reform agenda 

Extension of Malaysia’s controversial migrant labour ecosystem (involving BESTINET) a blow to PM Anwar’s reform agenda 

24th June 2024 Exclusive Analysis: CNA – Extension of Malaysia’s controversial migrant labour ecosystem (involving BESTINET) a blow to PM Anwar’s reform agenda 

Amid intense behind-the-scenes lobbying, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government is set to allow Bestinet Sdn Bhd to continue operating the IT platform that manages the intake of migrant labour into the country. But the planned new three-year concession faces government-imposed conditions, possibly setting the stage for more political wrangling.

Sourced from: Channel News Asia by Leslie Lopez – 24th June 2024

KUALA LUMPUR: Bestinet Sdn Bhd, a private entity with political clout that has long had a stranglehold over Malaysia’s migrant labour recruitment system, is set to get a fresh three-year contract to manage the country’s foreign workforce intake, government sources say.

The new contract heads off the Home Ministry’s plan – reported last month by CNA – to replace Bestinet’s proprietary IT system that manages the intake of migrant workers by Malaysia, and spotlights hurdles in the economic reform agenda of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administration.

The proposed new arrangement will come with strict conditions for the company, sources say, setting the stage for more behind-the-scenes political manoeuvring between the government and the powerful Bestinet lobby.

According to sources, the company would be required to surrender control of its payment systems under the firm’s proprietary IT system, the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS).

Bestinet was informed last week of the new conditions by the Home Ministry, which supervises the migrant labour recruitment system together with the Human Resources Ministry. The last FWCMS contract with the government expired at the end of May. 

Only after the company accepts the new terms will a fresh three-year arrangement be finalised, the government officials said.

24th June 2024: Read Malaysian Home Affairs Minister’s Immediate Response to Today’s CNA Exclusive Analysis/Story on Controversial BESTINET Migrant Worker Management System Contract Extension in Malaysia here

CNA 25th June 2024: Extended contract and stricter terms for firm managing Malaysia’s migrant labour entry – Minister

See New Strait Times 24th June 2024: Malaysian Government Forms Committee to Review Terms of Bestinet’s 3 Year Extension

FMT 24th June 2024: Bestinet contract extended, confirms Saifuddin – ‘Home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail says the Cabinet decided in principle on the extension ‘several weeks ago’.

Malay Mail 24th June 2024: Home Minister – Bestinet keeps foreign worker system contract for three more years, but with stricter terms

Bernama News 24th June 2024: Committee set up to Peruse Terms and Conditions of BESTINET Contract

FMT 24th June 2024: Bestinet to surrender control of workers management system under new deal

FMT 24th June 2024: Bestinet should be phased out eventually, says ex-MP

Rights groups raise concerns over Malaysia’s move to clamp down on undocumented migrants
Bangladesh appeals for Malaysia to allow 17,000 of its workers to enter country after missed deadline

Swift Code

One key element in the proposed contract extension is that Bestinet must hand over to the government its so-called Swift code, alphanumeric ciphers used by banks globally for the international transfer of funds, and other protocols in the payment system that the company employs in the processing of migrant workers into Malaysia, the administration sources said. 

Kuala Lumpur would then make payment to Bestinet for its services.

A Bestinet company executive declined to discuss queries from CNA. The spokesperson noted that the government of Malaysia “would make any necessary announcement, if any”.

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, who is personally overseeing the Bestinet issue, did not respond to queries from CNA about the planned three-year extension to the company under the new conditions. 

But local and migrant labour activists noted that Bestinet has already signalled news about its continued role to recruitment agents in countries such as Nepal, Myanmar and India, asking them to update their licences before mid-June with their respective governments to qualify as employment representatives under Malaysia’s FWCMS platform. 

CNA has reviewed these email notifications.

“That Bestinet has received an extension is not (a) secret in the (migrant labour) market and it is disappointing because the country is being held to ransom by continuing with the company’s platform,” noted Mr Charles Santiago, a former elected Member of Parliament who is part of a government-private sector working committee involved in bringing change to the country’s migrant labour recruitment system.

Bestinet’s FWCMS concession, which is the sole platform used by the country’s Immigration Department for visa applications from 15 countries exporting migrant labour to Malaysia since 2013, has long attracted domestic and international scorn over allegations of rampant corruption and the exploitation of impoverished overseas recruits. 

As reported earlier by CNA, the Malaysian government had planned to replace the 11-year concession with a new IT portal that has been under development for the past year that government proponents noted would make the process of migrant labour recruitment cheaper, more transparent and minimise third-party involvement.

Malaysia’s bid to revamp hiring of foreign workers faces pushback; activists say country’s reputation at stake

But that plan faced serious pushback.

Bestinet’s top management, including its founder Mohamed Amin Abdul Nor, and migrant labour agents aligned with the company put pressure on the Anwar government by tapping their connections with Malaysia’s political elite and segments of the country’s royal households to secure a fresh multi-year extension for its FWCMS concession.

Bestinet’s founder Mohd Amin Abdul Nor stepped down as chairman in July 2023. Chief executive officer Ismail Mohd Noor is third from left. (Photo: Facebook/ Bestinet Sdn Bhd)

Political operatives in Mr Anwar’s inner circle acknowledged that the premier and the Home Ministry had come under intense lobbying.

The big test facing the government now is whether Bestinet will accept the new terms under the proposed three-year extension or once again turn to its politically powerful patrons to pile pressure on Mr Anwar’s administration and further undermine the government’s economic reforms, noted labour activists.

Government officials declined to discuss the new conditions over the payment protocols and the demand for Bestinet to surrender the Swift code. 

Labour activists speculated that the move could be aimed at dealing with the widespread problems associated with the recruitment of workers from Bangladesh, which is one of Malaysia’s main sources of foreign labour. 

The official fee for a single Bangladeshi recruit is roughly RM4,500 (US$955) but, in reality, each migrant worker pays nearly four times that amount to a cast of players in a convoluted recruitment process that also involves forcing employers to pay hidden fees for each worker

Messy Politics

Before assuming the premiership after an inconclusive general election in November 2022, Mr Anwar and his coalition partners in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance had been hugely critical of Bestinet’s stranglehold on migrant labour intake, which was granted by the previous government led by now-jailed former premier Najib Razak. 

But pushing through reforms has been an uphill struggle for Mr Anwar because of Malaysia’s messy politics.

Mr Anwar was forced to forge an alliance with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and other unlikely political bedfellows to form a unity government and become premier. 

While the ruling alliance, headed by PH together with other regional parties in the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, enjoys a solid majority in the 222-member parliament, relations between the component parties remain testy and tenuous, forcing the premier to often make compromises that trump the reform platform.

“The country is being held hostage by the players in the foreign labour recruitment system and unless the government gets tough, (Mr Anwar’s) reforms will go nowhere,” said Mr Santiago.

Mr Santiago noted that Malaysia’s reliance on foreign labour, together with groups of undocumented migrants who sneak into the country through its porous borders with the help of human trafficking syndicates, has created other distortions to the economy.  

For one, the large presence of a cheap foreign labour force has allowed the private sector to keep a lid on wages, which in turn has hurt many ordinary Malaysians in the lower income brackets.

“Putting food on the table is a fundamental issue for many ordinary Malaysians and a political problem for the government. The only way is to deal with the migrant labour problem decisively,” said Mr Santiago.

Malaysia to review migrant labour deals to stamp out exploitation
‘Limit their numbers’: Malaysia’s scammed, jobless migrant workers problem highlights its foreign labour dependence

Statement by Andy Hall for immediate release 24th June 2024 on confirmation of renewal by Home Affairs minister in Malaysia of BESTINET/FCWMS system

The systemic abuse and exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers in Malaysia, which has resulted in endemic modern slavery and forced labour of those arriving into the country in debt bondage due to unethical and unlawful recruitment practices, has continued unabated under the BESTINET/FCWMS migrant worker management system. So the renewal of this license to operate, against the backdrop of allegations of systemic corruption, impunity and undermining of the role of law, does not bode well for the effectiveness or success of modern slavery prevention programmes in the country.

Andy Hall, independent migrant worker rights specialist, 24th June 2024

Possible Downgrade

According to official statistics, documented migrant workers make up about 15 per cent of Malaysia’s workforce and many work in so-called 3D – dirty, dangerous and demeaning – jobs that are usually shunned by locals. 

Combined with undocumented workers, their numbers could be around 5.5 million based on unofficial estimates.

The migrant labour ecosystem has also blighted Malaysia’s international standing due to collusion among politicians, the country’s entrenched and powerful civil service, enforcement agencies, recruitment companies, labour brokers and exploitative employers.

This has resulted in Malaysia being listed with the likes of China and North Korea for its poor progress in eliminating human trafficking by the United States State Department, which is set to release its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report today (Jun 24).

The TIP Report is a closely tracked assessment that evaluates global trafficking trends and focuses on government efforts in prosecution, protection and prevention.

Malaysia is currently ranked on Tier 2 in the US TIP Report, but Mr Andy Hall, a Nepal-based labour activist who has done extensive work on the migrant labour situation in Malaysia, noted that its situation is precarious.   

“Malaysia’s systemic inability to meaningfully combat labour trafficking, ensure remediation of victims and accountability of perpetrators warrants its immediate downgrade to Tier 3 in the upcoming 2024 US Department of State TIP Report,” he said in a statement to CNA.

Malaysia was downgraded to Tier 3 in 2021 and 2022, a period that saw five companies being slapped with export bans to the US.

IN FOCUS: Alleged ‘double standard’ treatment of Palestinian, Rohingya refugees stirring debate, concerns in Malaysia

Malaysianist 18th June 2024: Minting money from a migrant services monopoly (click to subscribe for full article)

The Malaysianist will be kicking off a series on Malaysia’s migrant services players.

Subscribe to read at HERE

Along the chain of such services are monopolies boasting high-profile shareholders and directors.

Today’s focus is on Fomema Sdn Bhd, the foreign workers’ health screening platform.

Migrant recruits will encounter this company when they land in Malaysia and are about to be employed.

Here, they’ll be screened and either approved fit for work or sent back to their home country.

There are two health screenings that usually recruits go to. The first is in their home country and the second is when they reach Malaysia.

The migrant has to complete the medical screenings within seven days upon arrival. The screening in Malaysia is paid for by the hiring company.

Fomema naturally has a monopoly on the service and this has led the company to rake in huge profits while rewarding its shareholders with multi-million ringgit dividends.

9th June 2024 – Labour Recruitment from Bangladesh to Malaysia: Syndicate wins, migrants suffer, country loses (excellent summary how bad triumphed, carnage resulted – Bangladesh and Malaysia MUST be downgraded to Tier 3 in the upcoming U.S. TIP report!)

“Is the syndicate more powerful than the state?” Such incidents are common in the context of migration to Malaysia. Over the past 15 years, Malaysia’s labour market has been shut down three times due to the same syndicate’s involvement, irregularities, corruption, and bribery allegations regarding labour recruitment.

Original Source: The Daily Star by Shariful Hasan – 9th June 2024

This was the closing line of my article about labour recruitment to Malaysia, published in The Daily Star on July 25, 2022. After two years, particularly in the last few days, many now understand the syndicates’ complexities and influential role in the labour recruitment process of Bangladeshi migrants for Malaysia.

When Malaysia resumed hiring Bangladeshi workers in August 2022, following a four-year hiatus, the governments of both countries agreed that a worker would spend no more than Tk 78,990 during the whole process. However, migrants each had to pay Tk 5.44 lakh or $5,000, according to a survey by the US-based non-profit Verité.

Don’t let the Malaysia migration crisis be lost in blame game

On March 28, four UN experts wrote to the governments of Bangladesh and Malaysia, highlighting the plight of Bangladeshi migrants. They reported that each migrant spent between $4,500 and $6,000 to secure a job in Malaysia. Several migrant workers told the media they spent over Tk 5 lakh to get there.

Despite paying such excessive amounts, at least 16,970 migrant workers failed to reach Malaysia before the May 31 deadline due to mismanagement by the government authorities and local recruiting agents.

Deceived by the recruiting agencies, some failed to obtain airline tickets, while others bought tickets at triple the usual price, but still couldn’t travel due to a lack of clearance from the concerned company in Malaysia. Many mortgaged their lands or sold livestock and borrowed from banks, friends, and relatives, only to see their dreams shattered as they missed the opportunity to travel within the stipulated time.

The government could have avoided this by proper planning, as the deadline was set three months ago. But we saw repetition of the cycle of halting the intake of Bangladeshi workers, then re-opening the market, workers paying five to seven times the official cost and struggling to find work and eventually, the market shutting down again. Meanwhile, a group of people profited immensely.

State Minister Shofiqur Rahman Choudhury announced that the ministry had formed a six-member probe committee to investigate this mismanagement. “Those responsible will be brought to book,” he assured, adding that the committee would submit its report within seven days and action would follow. However, will this committee uncover the truth? What solutions will they propose, as this is not an isolated incident?

Must our migrants pay the price every time?

Migration to Malaysia has been fraught with issues since the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) recorded the first 23 Bangladeshi workers migrating in 1978. Over the last 46 years, the labour recruitment process has seen different names, but it has experienced persistent mismanagement, high migration costs, corruption and repeated closure.

After the market was almost frozen between 1997 and 2005, Malaysia introduced the calling visa system at the end of 2006. Then, in 2007 and 2008, 400,000 Bangladeshi workers went to Malaysia. Although the migration cost was fixed at Tk 84,000, individuals had to pay Tk 2-3 lakh. Despite that, many Bangladeshis did not get jobs and started to suffer in KL. Nearly half a million migrants became undocumented at that time. Due to this, Malaysia stopped hiring workers from Bangladesh in 2009.

After closure from 2009 to 2012, a G2G (government to government) agreement was signed on November 26, 2012, and people went to Malaysia at a very minimal cost of Tk 33,000. But strong opposition from the businessmen and private agencies put a stop to G2G and in 2016, Malaysia declared that it would hire workers through private agencies again. This time, they adopted a syndicate of 10 agencies. There was corruption and massive ambiguity about the process in both countries, and migrants had to pay high costs, at least 10 times more than the government-fixed cost. In September 2018, the market closed again due to corruption and irregularities, re-opening in 2022, only for the same syndicate to emerge.

Most people were delighted about the Malaysian market re-opening, but optimism was replaced by anxiety and scepticism when the syndicate issues re-emerged again in 2022. Dhaka wanted to allow all 1,520 licensed labour recruiting agencies to send manpower to Malaysia, but in a letter sent to Bangladesh’s Expatriate Welfare Minister Imran Ahmed on January 14, 2022, Malaysian former Human Resources Minister M Saravanan said that Malaysia wanted to recruit workers from Bangladesh through 25 agencies.

Must history repeat itself with the Malaysian labour recruitment marker?

According to media reports, Aminul Islam Bin Abdul Nor, a Malaysian national of Bangladeshi origin, controls the entire business of sending workers to Malaysia. Ruhul Amin, alias Shawpon, the former Secretary-General of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), represents Aminul in Bangladesh. Together, they decide who joins the syndicate.

Aminul also owns the Foreign Workers Central Management System (FWCMS) software MiGRAMS, used for recruiting workers in Malaysia. If the demand papers for any workers are finalised in Malaysia, they are distributed among the approved agencies through the FWCMS software.

Initially, the syndicate had 25 agencies sending workers to Malaysia. This number increased to 100 private agencies, including several owned by parliament members, their relatives, and political leaders, controlled by the syndicate.

From August 2022 to May this year, around 4,76,672 Bangladeshi workers migrated to Malaysia for jobs. This means the syndicate syphoned over $1 billion out of Bangladesh.

There are 14 countries, including Bangladesh, that send workers to Malaysia. However, other than Bangladesh, none of the countries have such a syndicate. So, the government needs to start analysing the amount of remittance and the amount of cost for migration to Malaysia. Nothing will happen if Bangladesh denies sending people through the syndicate.

However, for the sake of the people and for the country, Bangladesh and Malaysia should investigate such irregularities and punish the guilty. But the crucial question remains the same: Is the syndicate more powerful than the state? If not, why do they go unpunished? Are they above the law?

6th June 2024: Malaysianist – The fat cat ruling the Malaysian migrant services roost (allegations of systemic corruption involving Malaysia’s migrant worker management systems)

Original Source: Malaysianist – 5th June 2024

A very useful article written by Emmanuel Samarathisa for the Malaysianist exploring the issues surrounding transparency, accountability and alleged abuse of power or corruption regarding the Malaysian government’s migrant worker management process and BESTINET/FCWMS. Some great infographics, but for the full article, click below to subscribe to this important media channel.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Media reports have been flooding in that controversial migrant services provider Bestinet will have its contract renewed for another three years. 

Malaysiakini first reported that Bestinet will get a three-year extension on its current contract following a May 29 Cabinet decision, while Channel News Asia (CNA) said that the firm’s possible renewal faced resistance from certain quarters given the company’s contentious track record. Both news portals cited sources. 

Bestinet runs the so-called Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS), the only platform or software used by Malaysia’s Immigration Department for visa applications from 15 different labour-exporting countries.

The migrant services provider made headlines because its contract supposedly expired at the end of May this year. 

But CNA’s report has it that Bestinet’s top management, including founder Mohamed Aminul Islam Abdul Nor, and labour agents aligned with the firm had been actively lobbying the Anwar government, including tapping the country’s political elite to secure a multi-year extension for the FWCMS concession.

A former Bangladesh national who took up Malaysian citizenship, Aminul has been a key player in the migrant services space, but there’s little about him in the public domain, save for his govtech forays. 

Still, Aminul has been able to move millions and draw in Malaysia’s political and corporate elites to partner with him, either as a director or shareholder.

The full article available under subscription from: https://www.themalaysianist.com/p/the-fat-cat-ruling-the-migrant-service

Background Reading:

Malaysianist 18th June 2024: Minting money from a migrant services monopoly (click to subscribe for full article)

9th June 2024 Daily Star – Labour Recruitment from Bangladesh to Malaysia: Syndicate wins, migrants suffer, country loses (excellent summary how bad triumphed, carnage resulted – Bangladesh and Malaysia MUST be downgraded to Tier 3 in the upcoming U.S. TIP report!)

Dhaka Tribune 11th June 2024: Deadline extended for Malaysia migration hurdle complaints

Business Standard 11th June: Unrest within Baira over Malaysian labour market, ruckus in AGM as committee members assaulted

Observer 9th June 2024: Around 2,900 complaints lodged by deprived Malaysia-bound migrants

Malaysianist 6th June 2024: The fat cat ruling the Malaysian migrant services roost(allegations of systemic corruption involving Malaysia’s migrant worker management systems – click to subscribe)

Business Standard 5th June 2024: Govt to take action over failure in sending workers to Malaysia: PM Hasina

4th June 2024 Daily Star (Op Ed): Break the syndicates, not the dreams of Malaysia-bound workers

SCMP 4th June 2024 – In Malaysia, business and human rights must go hand in hand, UN rights chief says in KL press conference against backdrop of systemic migrant worker abuses

New Straits Times 4th June 2024: Human rights-centric practices essential for foreign investment, says UN

4th June 2024 Business Standard: NHRC orders probe into alleged embezzlement of Tk150cr from Malaysia-bound workers

4th June 2024 Business Standard: 47,809 Bangladeshis flew to Malaysia in May – highest since labour market reopened in 2022

Daily Sun 3rd June: IRREGULARITIES IN MIGRATION TO MALAYSIA – Recruiting agencies never made accountable (good historical summary)

Business Standard 4th June 2024: Dhaka-20, Feni-2 MPs deny allegations of involvement in embezzling money from Malaysia-bound workers

SCMP 3rd June 2024: ‘Nothing left for me’ as thousands of Bangladeshi workers lose everything in failed bid to work in Malaysia

Daily Star Editorial 3rd June 2024: Must our migrants pay the price every time?

Prothomalo 3rd June 2024 – Bangladesh Labour market: Hapless workers lose all vying to go to Malaysia

Daily Sun 3rd June 2024: IRREGULARITIES IN MIGRATION TO MALAYSIA: Recruiting agencies never made accountable

FMT 3rd June 2024: 17,000 Bangladeshi workers stranded, Dhaka pleads for time

Daily Star 3rd June 2024: 16,970 Bangladeshis failed to reach Malaysia for mismanagement, more destitution and modern slavery will result

Daily Star 3rd June 2024 – Bangladeshi Migrant Worker Exploitation and Malaysian Labour Market Alleged Criminal Syndicate: The agencies picked by KL to blame, Bangladesh tells UN OHCHR

Daily Star 2nd June 2024: Controversial recruitment system to stay 3 more years

Daily Star 2nd June – Jobs in Malaysia: Mismanagement left over 3k workers with no ticket to KL

Daily Star 1st June 2024: Must history repeat itself with the Malaysian labour market’s alleged criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshi migrant workers for forced labour

MALAYSIAKINI June 1st 2024: Controversial worker management system BESTINET gets new lease, sources say

1st June 2024 Kalerkantho: Malaysia’s dream ends in deprivation for Bangladeshi migrant workers of criminal syndicate

FMT 31st May 2024: Expect Bangladeshi workers to be stranded and at high risk of modern slavery following Malaysian migration management deadline rush, warns activist

SCMP 31st May 2024: Malaysians shocked by thousands of Bangladeshis crowding at airport to beat deadline for legal work, as UN and activists warn of increased modern slavery risks

CNA 31st May 2024: Over 30,000 workers set to miss deadline to enter Malaysia even as officials clear backlog at KL airport

Prothomalo 31 May 2024 – Bangladesh – Malaysia’s labour market: Repeated syndicates, repeated closure

Prothomalo 31st May 2024: Bangladesh – Thousands of people crowded Dhaka airport without flight tickets to go to Malaysia

31st May 2024 FMT: Govt reaffirms commitment to protect migrant workers’ rights to UN

31st May 2024: The closure of the labor market in Malaysia has shattered the dreams of 31,000 workers

Daily Star 31 May 2024 – Recruitment in Malaysia: Syndicate siphons over $1b out of Bangladesh

Daily Sun 31st May 2024: Biman sends 2,000 migrant workers to Malaysia

Business Standard 31st May 2024: Malaysia-bound workers scammed, stranded at Dhaka airport as deadline set to expire today

Daily Star 30th May 2024: Manpower syndicates beyond Dhaka-KL control

30th May 2024: Comment by Andy Hall, independent migrant worker rights specialist, on ongoing migrant worker management crisis in Malaysia and at KLIA airport today, Bangladeshi workers at high risk of modern slavery

CNA 30th May 2024: ‘Congestion’ at KL airport as employers scramble to bring in thousands of migrant workers before deadline

MALAYSIAKINI 30th May 2023: ‘Migrants influx at KLIA due to employers chasing deadline’

30th May 2024 Benar News: Malaysia’s labor market closed – Migrant workers flock to airports in all countries

29th May Daily Star: Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia – Hiring begins with bribery (UN independent experts say Bangladeshi workers pay up to 8 times for migration alone due to corruption of Malaysia ministries, Bangladesh mission and syndicates)

29th May Daily Star: Airfare to Malaysia surges fivefold

FMT 28th May 2024: Malaysia yet to respond to UN concerns on alleged criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshi migrant victims for forced labour in the country(with my full statement included)

For Immediate Release 27th May 2024: Statement by Andy Hall, Independent Migrant Worker Rights Specialist, on today’s public release of UN OHCHR’s unanswered urgent appeal communications to the Malaysian and Bangladeshi Governments 

30th May Star: Cyclone smashes Bangladeshi workers’ hopes, extension requested

Channel News Asia 25th May 2024: Malaysia’s bid to revamp hiring of foreign workers through controversial BESTINET process faces pushback; activists say country’s reputation at stake

22nd May 2024: UN expert – Malaysian law enforcement mixing up human trafficking, migrant smuggling – “What steps has Malaysia taken to investigate alleged complicity of public officials in human trafficking?’’

20th May 2024 FMT: Duped Bangladeshi workers won’t impact Malaysia’s US Human trafficking report ranking, says HR Minister Sim

Malay Mail 17th May 2024: Pengerang employer to face Labour Court in Malaysia after failing for months to pay Bangladeshi workers’ wages over RM1m (government statements and my comments included – months on, court agreed mediation settlement unforced, workers allegedly remain in situation akin to acute modern slavery)

16th May 2024: Firm that left over 700 Bangladeshi workers to dry in Pengerang facing possible prosecution (months on, court agreed mediation settlement unforced, workers allegedly remain in situation akin to acute modern slavery)

14th May 2024: FMT – Activists warn of US trafficking report downgrade for Malaysia amid UN criticism

May 10th 2024 The Star: Malaysian Government responds to OHCHR, IOM, ILO and UNODC joint condemnation on alleged Bangaldeshi migrant worker criminal syndicate by pledging to set up special unit handling migrant workers’ grievances, says HR Minister Sim

9th May 2024: Study: 96% of Bangladeshi workers going to Malaysia fall into recruitment debt– The study also said that 82% had two or more loans and 73% of workers spent at least 50% to 100% of their monthly salary to repay recruitment debts

4th May 2024: UN agencies concerned over Bangladeshi workers stranded in Malaysia – Joint Statement of ILO, IOM and UNODC on Alleged Criminal Syndicate Trafficking Bangladeshi Workers for Forced Labour in Malaysia

24th April 2024: Address plight of duped Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia in response to UN warning, govt told (more on the ongoing saga of an alleged criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshi migrant workers for forced labour in Malaysia)

19th April 2024: UN (OHCHR) Statement on Alleged Criminal Syndicate Trafficking Bangladeshi Workers for Forced Labour in Malaysia – ‘Malaysia: Bangladeshi workers must be protected from exploitation and criminalisation, say UN experts’

FMT 19th April 2024: UN experts sound alarm over plight of duped Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia

For more on Andy Hall’s complaint to the OHCHR see 30th Oct 2023: FMT: Andy Hall refers stranded Bangladeshi workers’ plight in Malaysia to UN Human Rights Council

See Daily Star 23rd Apr 2024: Bangladesh Plight of Migrant Workers – Bangladesh, Malaysia working group meeting likely in May

See Daily Star Editorial 23rd Apr 2024: When even legal migrants suffer – Workers migrating to Malaysia legally deserve better protection 

Business Standard 23rd April 2024: Expat Ministry reviews UN complaints on Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia

Prothomalo 23rd April 2024: Bangladesh – Ministry reviewing allegations over Malaysia labour market

BenarNews Malay Language: Pakar PBB gesa Malaysia tangani layanan buruk diterima pekerja Bangladesh (UN expert urges Malaysia to handle bad treatment received by Bangladeshi workers)

Daily Star 19th Apr 2024: UN experts express dismay over situation of Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia

FMT 19th Apr 2024: PSM, news portal set aside order to stop debate on migrant workers’ plight

Daily Star Editorial 17th April 2024: Save our migrants in Malaysia (more on the crisis caused by an alleged criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshi workers for forced labour in Malaysia)

9th April 2024 The Star – Bangladeshi victims of criminal syndicate trafficking worked for forced labour in Malaysia: ‘Cops after workers, not rogue employers

7th April 2024: SCMP – As Malaysia’s door closes on low-paid migrant workers, companies scramble for staff (and a systemically corrupt migration management and recruitment policy, devoid of the rule of law and leading to impunity and gross exploitation, is revealed)

6th April 2024 Daily Star: A hostel of nightmares for Bangladeshi migrants allegedly trafficked by criminal syndicate for forced labour in Malaysia (and Daily Star Op Ed)

Daily Star Editorial 6th Apr 2024: What will happen to migrants abandoned in Malaysia?

26th March 2024: The Star – Freeze on foreign workers hiring quota in Malaysia stays for now, says HR Minister (with estimated 200,000+ surplus foreign workforce victims facing destitution and abuse)

25th March 2024: Bangladeshi workers (alleged victims of criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshi workers for forced labour in Malaysia) claim being coerced into withdrawing police and labour complaints

Daily Star 25th Mar: Malaysia employer framed Bangladeshi workers

Daily Star 24th Mar 2024: Jailed in Malaysia – 3 Bangladesh workers released

Editorial Prothomalo 24th Mar 2024: Malaysian labour market – Take action against the fraud syndicate

FMT 23rd March 2024: PSM calls on Sim to look into arrest of Bangladeshi workers

MALAYSIAKINI 23 Mar 2024: Stranded foreign workers (alleged victims of criminal syndicate trafficking Bangladeshi workers for forced labour in Malaysia) nabbed after labour complaints against employer

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

23 Mar 2024 The Star: Verification rate lags as RTK 2.0 deadline approaches

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

20th March 2024: 93 duped/detained Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia have jobs now, says immigration DG

20th Mar 2024 Business Standard: Bangladeshi workers’ plight in Malaysia: Coalition of migration orgs demand action against recruiting agency syndicate

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 – indeed he’s right, who wants to take on destitute foreign workers often with US$4-7000 in debt?

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

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

15th March 2024 SCMP: Malaysians deride minister’s idea to rebrand palm oil workers as ‘specialised harvesters’

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

12th March 2024: SCMP – 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 

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)

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 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

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

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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