Malaysia leading the way | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 12, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:29 AM, July 12, 2020


Malaysia leading the way

Migrant workers deserve fair legal protection

Malaysia is planning to introduce an e-wages system which will alert the government in case foreign workers working on Malaysian territory do not get paid. It is a fantastic idea. And we couldn't agree more with the Malaysian government that such a system is necessary to ensure that foreign workers are not taken advantage of and that they regularly receive the economic compensation they have worked for.

The Malaysian government is also planning to enforce Section 446 of the Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act from September 1 to ensure that all employers provide housing and accommodation and that their workers' welfare is taken care of. Moreover, according to Malaysia's human resources minister, his ministry will also propose that every foreign worker be given protection under the Social Security Organisation in order to meet the international standard of treating all workers, foreign or domestic, equally.

The ongoing pandemic has wreaked havoc for many a migrant worker, especially those from Bangladesh. It has also exposed the vulnerable conditions they are forced to live and work in, with employers and host countries abandoning thousands of them at the first sight of hardship. Thousands of our workers have lost their jobs, and many have been deported and even denied their wages despite having worked for them. And all of this has been possible due to there being a lack of mechanism through which migrant workers could ensure that they are not treated this unfairly.

The Malaysian government could change all this for the majority of migrant workers around the world with the steps it is mulling over. Should Malaysia implement them, a debate over protecting migrant workers could start, and other countries around the world could be convinced to follow suit. Thus, we are fully on board with these steps and would like to call upon other countries to consider taking similar measures to protect migrant workers.

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