Malaysia hints at reviewing restriction
The Malaysian government again plans to review a decision on foreign workers' intake after suspending recruitment from all countries including Bangladesh in February this year.
“I am very concerned about the issue of foreign workers, and I am aware that many sectors are affected. Employers are urging the government to open our doors to more foreign workers again,” said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at a programme in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
“The government is listening, and there will be an important announcement on this matter in due course,” he added.
The government gave due consideration to the complaints and proposals by various stakeholders of Malaysia, reports Malaysian English daily The Star.
Hailing the Malaysian government's move, Shahidul Islam, Bangladesh high commissioner at Kuala Lumpur, yesterday said they have information recruitment would resume in a month or two.
“We are very much hopeful of the progress in recruitment of our people,” he told The Daily Star over phone from Malaysia.
However, the envoy did not clarify if they had held discussion with the Malaysian authorities on retaking Bangladeshis under an agreement signed by the two countries in February.
Currently, no workers are going to Malaysia due to the suspension.
Malaysian Human Resources Minister Richard Riot and Bangladesh Expatriates' Welfare Minister Nurul Islam signed a memorandum of understanding on recruiting 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers through G2G Plus mechanism over the next three years at a programme in Dhaka on February 18.
Surprisingly, Malaysia announced suspension of recruiting foreign workers from all countries the next day, putting into question the Southeast Asian labour receiving country's unusual move, which had frustrated the prospective Bangladeshi jobseekers.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, also Malaysian home minister, has now assured that his government was always open to suggestions and proposals on the matter, especially from the business communities.
But he added that he had received complaints from a few non-governmental organisations (NGOs) about hiring fresh foreign workers.
“I don't intend to blame them, but I reckon they have to be responsible for their suggestion that foreign workers not be hired, but to rehire illegal workers and local workers in their stead,” he said.
The Malaysian deputy prime minister's announcement in June last year that the country would recruit 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers drew numerous controversies.
But Malaysian trade unions and rights groups decried the announcement, arguing that the country was hosting more than 2 million irregular migrants who needed to be regularised before making any fresh recruitment amid downturn of Malaysian economy.
The criticism became sharp when Malaysian media revealed some Malaysian private companies like Bestinet, Real Time Networking and Synerflux had been lobbying the Bangladesh and Malaysian governments to win contracts.
The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) and the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur also warned that Malaysia's appointing a company -- Synerflux -- to regulate the labour recruitment would establish a monopoly.
However, the Malaysian government that time announced that the employers who needed workers would have to apply to legalise existing foreigners without work permit or whose permit had expired.
Malaysia has been conducting the legalisation process for the undocumented foreign workers including the Bangladeshis since February 15. It is set to continue until June 30 this year.
Currently, around 400,000 Bangladeshis are working legally in different sectors in Malaysia, while some 20,000 others become undocumented, according to the high commission sources.