Bangladesh yesterday inked a deal to send 1.5 million workers to Malaysia under Government to Government Plus mechanism.
Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam and Human Resources Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Sri Richard Riot Anak Jaem signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Prabasi Kallyan Bhaban in the capital.
Malaysia stopped taking Bangladeshi migrants in 2008 but resumed it under the G2G mechanism in 2013 for the plantation sector. But that scheme did not work.
With the signing of the MoU, the previous system will no longer be in place.
Under the G2G Plus scheme, the private recruiting agencies too can send manpower from Bangladesh.
By signing the MoU yesterday, Malaysia has opened its all sectors to Bangladeshis like service, agriculture, construction, housemaid and plantation sectors.
At the ceremony, Minister Nurul Islam said that Bangladesh would now be treated as a source country to Malaysia for importing manpower.
He also said that the MoU was signed initially for five years and later it could be extended upon the two countries’ consensus.
This time the migration cost would be between Tk37,000 and Tk39,000. The workers would be taken from the existing database of the government, the minister added.
Earlier, many Bangladeshi workers and rights-based organisations reported about low pay and exploitation in Malaysia.
On this issue, the minister said that the policy would be determined by the Bangladeshi High Commission in Malaysia and there would be no way that the Malaysian employers can do so.
“Also the joint working group on the MoU will sit regularly to discuss complaints from the workers or the weakness of the employment process,” he said.
Malaysian Human Resources Minister Richard Riot assured that the process of recruitment, employment and repatriation under the new mechanism would be implemented as per the respective labour laws of the two countries.
He said that the minimum wage for the Bangladeshi workers would be between RM800 and RM900. “Malaysia maintains the standard set by the International Labour Organisation,” he added.
In reply to a question, the Malaysian minister said that there would be no chance for monopoly or syndication this time and that his government would remain fair and transparent in the process.
The Bangladeshi aspirants would be vetted for security and criminal activities, and self screening would be conducted before hiring them. The recruitment agencies would be evaluated through the online system, said Riot.
He also assured the Bangladeshi government that the minimum wage set for the foreign workers in Malaysia would be equally enjoyed like local Malaysians. “This MoU will improve the working condition of the Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia.”
Over the last two weeks the decision of sending 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia had been widely criticised in Malaysia by the opposition politicians while rights groups expressed concern over possible deterioration of law and order.
Yesterday, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) issued a statement urging the government to cancel the plan to bring foreign workers. It asked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the matter of bringing in the foreigners, The Malaysian Insider reported.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the country needed the foreigners because the local Malaysians were not willing to take up the 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs.
The MTUC also said that the country should be reducing its intake of foreign workers, as stated in the 11th Malaysia Plan – which was to reduce foreign workers to 15%, if the country seriously wanted to be recognised as a high-income nation.