Recruiting workers: Malaysian minister asked why only 25 Bangladeshi agencies allowed
A Malaysian MP and two migrant rights bodies have asked the southeast Asian country's Human Resources Minister M Saravanan to explain his decision to allow only 25 Bangladeshi agencies to recruit workers for Malaysia, daily Malay Mail reported today.
Klang MP Charles Santiago said he wanted Saravanan to spell out the reasons for the specific number of agencies and how they would help solve the problem of migrant worker exploitation.
The query comes just over a week after Saravanan's visit to Bangladesh where, after meeting Expatriates' Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad, he said that it was up to Malaysia to decide which agencies will be allowed to send workers to Malaysia.
The recruitment is likely to start by this month, four years after the recruitment from Bangladesh was suspended in September 2018 over allegations of corruption and forced labour.
Charles Santiago said that Bangladeshi recruitment agencies are saying that the 25 agencies selected are controlled by one guy called "Amin".
"It is up to the minister to clarify how these 25 agencies will solve the problem. This issue has been dilly-dallied long enough, and it's being done at the expense of the people and the country," he told Malay Mail on June 12.
Charles was referring to Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Abdul Nor, who is the founder of Bestinet — the company that provided the Malaysian government with the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS) and continues to manage the system.
Bangladeshi-born Amin has been accused multiple times of allegedly being behind a syndicate that is said to monopolise the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia.
In July 2018, Nepal barred its workers from coming to Malaysia, alleging that it found Bestinet's practices to be "restrictive" — although Nepal later reversed its decision in September 2019 after a new deal in favour of the workers was struck.
Yet, Malay Mail reported, Saravanan appears to have firmly stood by Amin, with Malaysiakini reporting last week that the minister guaranteed Amin was not involved whatsoever with the recruitment of workers — while Bestinet put out a similar statement in April.
Meanwhile, Beyond Borders Malaysia President Mahi Ramakrishnan said Saravanan owes it to the public and stakeholders to provide a clarification on how the selection of the 25 recruitment agencies was conducted.
"Are there vested interests? Why are the given agencies selected and not others? Is anyone making huge amounts of money from the selected agents?
"Secondly, the minister has warned against Malaysian employers collecting money from Bangladeshi workers after their arrival in the country. However, Saravanan himself also said he has no power to stop Bangladeshi agents collecting money before departure," the rights activist said.
In April this year, the Malaysian Employers Federation issued a statement calling on the government to allow refugees and undocumented migrant workers to work legally in the country to ease the current labour crunch. However, no government response to this proposition has been made public so far.
Nevertheless, Saravanan has stated that the limited number of agencies would curb the problem of unscrupulous parties taking advantage of migrant workers.
To date, the Human Resources Ministry and Saravanan have yet to release the names of the selected 25 agencies.