Around 2.5 lakh Bangladeshis are now working in Malaysia with valid work permits, says Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, deputy prime minister of the Southeast Asian country.
Replying to a lawmaker's query yesterday, he told the Malaysian parliament that a total of 1,854,684 foreign workers, including the Bangladeshis, were holding the temporary employment pass or the work permits issued by the Malaysian immigration department, reports local English newspaper The Star.
The highest number of legal migrants is from Indonesia (749,226), followed by Nepal (411,364), Bangladesh (2,37,991), Myanmar (140,259), India (121,430) and others (194,374), Zahid, who is also the Malaysian home minister, said in a scripted reply.
He quoted the latest statistics of the immigration department while giving the figures.
Zahid said, "The hiring of foreign workers is a temporary measure to fill the job vacancies. After the employment period is over, they are required to go back to their country of origin.”
Even though the deputy prime minister said the number of legalised Bangladeshi migrants in his country is around 2.5 lakh, officials at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur said it is over 2.75 lakh.
“We don't have the accurate number of Bangladeshis working here both legally and illegally. But we assume that it is around four to five lakh,” an official of the commission told The Daily Star, wishing not to be named.
In June, Malaysia started to rehire its undocumented foreign workers and the process continued till September.
“More than a lakh of our undocumented workers applied under the rehiring programme. But the process was so complicated that majority of the applications were finally rejected by the Malaysian immigration department. We assume that only 4,000 or 5,000 applications were accepted,” said the official.
Malaysia has been a popular destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers over the last three decades but the recruitment process has always been tainted by malpractices that result in labour abuses.
Following massive irregularities during 2006 and 2008, Malaysia froze recruitment from Bangladesh in early 2009. In late 2012, the country began labour recruitment on a limited scale, but it did not work well allegedly for influence of recruitment agents having vested interests in both the countries.
Malaysia has declared that it would recruit 1.5 million Bangladeshis over the next three years through private sector, but the move got halted following a hue and cry by the trade unions and civil society in Malaysia over alleged involvement of syndicates that wanted to control the recruitment process.
Now, the governments of Bangladesh and Malaysia are in the final talks to start the recruitment of the workers from Dhaka under private managements for only three sectors -- construction, manufacture and services, said officials.
This time the entire recruitment process will be maintained online, they added.