A Malaysian firm owned by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's brother is in talks with Dhaka and Putrajaya to provide a management system for the 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers Malaysia wants to recruit through private sector, reported Malaysian news portal, Malaysiakini, yesterday.
Real Time Networking Sdn Bhd, in which Zahid's brother Abdul Hakim
Star Report Hamidi is executive chairperson, aims to provide an online system where, for a fee, workers can be registered and monitored from Bangladesh and Malaysia.
Zahid is also home minister, and the approval of foreign workers into Malaysia comes under his ministry's purview.
Real Time's online system - dubbed Workforce Management & Networking System (Workman) - is similar to that provided by Bestinet, a firm owned by former home minister Azmi Khalid.
Bestinet's agreement with the government was suspended earlier this year after outcry by recruitment agents in sending countries over its high service fees.
When contacted, Hakim confirmed that Real Time was eyeing the deal but stressed that it was not a government contract. Rather, it is in collaboration with the Bangladesh Association of International Recruitment Agencies (Baira).
“We have the model of a system where we get a payment for a package [service] and we can send people [from Bangladesh] for 60,000 Bangladeshi taka (RM3,000), including the air ticket.
“This is not a government contract. Yes, their government [Bangladesh] need to approve because it involves citizens but they are only monitoring,” Hakim said.
If approved, agencies such as the Immigration Department and Manpower Department will be linked to Real Time's system and all recruitment agents must go through Real Time to send workers to Malaysia.
He, however, refuted any claim of nepotism, arguing that he was experienced in the field and that in a democratic country he could do anything, other than be a drug pusher.
Documents show that Real Time was incorporated in March this year.
Hakim is listed as executive chairperson in the Real Time proposal and other correspondence, but he is not registered as an office-bearer with the Companies Commission of Malaysia.
Instead, his son Mohd Akmal, 25, is a director, along with former Home Ministry deputy secretary-general Raja Azahar Raja Abdul Manap, and one Salihah Kasim, 25.
Salihah shares the same address as Abu Hanif Abul Kashem, another director of both Real Time and Warisan Juara Padu, a Bangladeshi national and Malaysian permanent resident.
Abu Hanif is also listed by Baira as an “overseas representative of Baira”, in a letter to Zahid dated June 24.
According to Hakim, there are at least two other firms vying for the deal, but the Bangladeshi government is keen on the Real Time system.
“I met with Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam on Sunday and he is very happy with our system,” he said.
Baira has also endorsed the system in the June 24 letter signed by its president Abul Basher to Malaysian home minister.
However, Baira Vice President Ali Haider Chowdhury denied that Baira had any stake in Real Time.