Malaysia may resume hiring workers from Bangladesh soon

Secy-level JWG meeting next week

ARAFAT ARA | Saturday, 28 May 2022

Malaysia is likely to resume recruitment of manpower from Bangladesh soon, as both the countries are going to hold a secretary-level meeting next week to discuss the unresolved issues related to manpower sending process, officials said.

Malaysia, a vital market for local workers, signed a fresh deal with Bangladesh on December 19, 2021 for hiring workers for different sectors.

However, the recruitment process could not be started due to different factors. A section of manpower recruiters, from the beginning of signing the deal, alleged syndication in the process. They also urged the government to keep the market open for all authorised recruitment agencies.

Despite exchange of several letters between the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (EWOE) and the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources, there was no visible outcome so far in resuming manpower recruitment.

Now, the Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting has been rescheduled to June 2 at the Probashi Kallyan Bhaban in the capital to resolve the relevant issues. Earlier, the meeting was scheduled to be held on May 26, official sources said.

Besides, Malaysian Human Resources Minister M Saravanan will also arrive in Dhaka to meet EWOE Minister Imran Ahmad to discuss recruitment-related issues on the same day.

Talking to the journalists on the sideline of a meeting at a city hotel on Wednesday, the EWOE minister hinted that there is a possibility of positive outcome - in reopening manpower hiring from Bangladesh to Malaysia - after the meetings.

"I want the job market to be opened, as our workers will get opportunities to find jobs there."

"But I would give priority to protect the interests of our workers," he added.

Currently, Malaysia needs foreign workers for its various sectors - plantations, agriculture, manufacturing, services, mining and quarrying, construction, and domestic help.

Sector insiders hoped that a significant number of Bangladeshi workers would find jobs in the Southeast Asian country after it resumes recruitment.

The reopening has come after about four years' ban - following alleged syndication in the previous recruitment system. The Malaysian government stopped hiring workers from Bangladesh in September 2018.

Officials and manpower recruiters believe that the number of overseas jobs can increase considerably in 2022, if the market is opened shortly.

Ali Haider Chowdhury, former secretary general of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), said they are hopeful that a positive development regarding opening the market would come after the meetings.

He also sought equal opportunities for all licensed manpower recruiters in the migration process to Malaysia.

On the other hand, a section of recruiters repeatedly demanded not to allow any syndication and bringing the alleged 25-member syndication under punishment.

Migrant rights activists said both the governments should ensure that no malpractice takes place in the sending process of Bangladeshi workers.

Shakirul Islam, chairman of the Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme (OKUP), said the government should remain strict in protecting the workers' benefits and rights.

High migration cost and exploitations are common in the process of migration to Malaysia. The authorities concerned have to ensure such a mechanism that would stop these unethical acts, he added.

More than 1.0 million Bangladeshis have gone to Malaysia for jobs since 1978, as per the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) data.

Malaysia is an important job destination for Bangladeshi workers, as they fetched more than US$ 2.0 billion in remittance from the country in 2020-21 fiscal year.

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