Malaysian immigration police have rescued 65 Bangladeshi workers, believed to be victims of human trafficking, from the dormitory of a foreign worker recruitment company in Bandar Baru Nilai and arrested two Malaysians over the incident.
Police during the drive on Tuesday also seized 377 foreign passports of various countries and many more forged documents, Immigration Department Director-General Mustafar Ali told reporters in Putrajaya, reports Malaysia's state news agency Bernama.
“Preliminary investigations found that these workers were most likely manipulated by the company. They have not been paid their salaries for three to five months, but were instead given loans from RM300 and RM500,” the DG said yesterday.
The department also seized 377 passports, mainly Bangladeshi, 61 types of documents including contracts, payment vouchers and records pertaining to the company's dealing with the home ministry.
The rescue comes three days after the new Malaysian government launched a major crackdown against undocumented migrants.
Mustafar yesterday did not name the two suspected human traffickers, but said they were directors of the company and submitted false information to the home ministry for hiring foreign workers.
He said the Immigration Department was looking for another suspect, also a director of the company.
Cases were filed against the arrestees under anti-human trafficking act and money laundering act. If they are found guilty, their properties can be confiscated, the immigration chief added.
According to Malaysian authorities, some 7,000 Bangladeshis have been detained in the country since January 1 this year for violating immigration rules. Around 23,000 people from other countries have been picked up during this period for the same offence.
Officials at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur said some one million Bangladeshis now live in Malaysia, but nearly half of them might be undocumented.
Migrant rights groups have said most of the undocumented migrants are victims of human trafficking or exploitation of the employers and agents. They demanded the government halt the crackdown and punish the errant employers and agents.
In 2007-08, when Malaysia recruited some four lakh Bangladeshis, Malaysia's rights body Tenaganita, in its research, found hundreds of Bangladeshi migrants who were recruited for fake companies.
The workers, despite paying hefty sums to go to the Southeast Asian country for “a better life”, remained jobless and had to return home empty-handed.
Many were even confined to their dormitories for weeks when there were no jobs. They were supplied to other companies but were paid low wages and sometimes were not paid at all.
In 2018, Malaysia slipped to Tier 2 Watch list from Tier 2 in the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons.
This means Malaysia's status in terms of curbing human trafficking has gone down.