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5 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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MANPOWER export TO MALAYSIA

Recruiters wary of syndication

RAFIQUL ISLAM AZAD, Dhaka
Recruiters wary of syndication

As Malaysia is likely to reopen its labour market to Bangladeshi workers soon, a syndicate has become active to re-establish its reign, which had monopolised the recruitment process since 2016 and also brought upon the ban, say Bangladeshi recruiters. They also demanded that the market should be open to all agencies instead of a small number of agencies under the syndicate. Officials of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), the apex body for migrant worker recruiting agencies in Bangladesh, alleged that after hectic diplomatic endeavour, all the processes to reopen the Malaysian labour markets are almost complete. But a syndicate linked to Malaysian Bestinet Sdn Bhd, which earlier obtained monopoly over the process and allowed only 10 agencies of their choice to send workers to Malaysia, has become active again to control the market.

If the Malaysian labour market is reopened thorough the minister-level meeting at Putrajaya in Malaysia tomorrow (November 6) involving the same Bestinet Sdn Bhd, manpower export to that country will again go into the clutches of a syndicate, said a former BAIRA president preferring anonymity. He said the BAIRA wants the labour market to be kept open for all the 1,200 recruiting agencies of the country and it would help reduce the migration costs and remove monopoly, for which the Malaysian government had imposed a ban on hiring manpower from Bangladesh.

According to reports published by Malaysian newspaper The Star last year, it cost the 10 agents less than RM 2,000 (Tk 40,000) to take each Bangladeshi to Malaysia.

However, the newspaper investigation revealed that Bangladeshi workers coming to Malaysia for job paid RM 20,000 (Tk 400,000) each to the

syndicate since 2016, when it monopolised the recruitment, for work permit approvals and flight tickets. Before the introduction of SPPA (Sistem Perkhidmatan Pekerja Asing), an online system for recruitment of foreign workers, by Bestinet Sdn Bhd, Bangladeshi workers only paid between RM 7,000 and RM 8,000 (Tk 140,000 – Tk 160,000) each to go to Malaysia.

The newspaper also said migrant workers from other countries only pay about RM 2,500 to come to Malaysia for jobs.

Meanwhile, BAIRA leaders at a meeting with Minister for Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmed on Sunday reiterated their demand to keep the labour market open to all its 1,200 members and rescue the market from the control of the syndicate, and take necessary measures to reduce the migration costs.

In response, the minister assured them of taking positive steps to reopen the market in discussion with his counterpart in Malaysia, according to meeting sources.

Imran Ahmed told BAIRA leaders that he is hopeful of reopening the Malaysian labour market based on a consensus.

The minister left Dhaka for Malaysia yesterday to join the minister-level meeting. He will be leading a 5-member Bangladesh delegation at the meeting to discuss the reopening of the Malaysian labour market to Bangladeshi workers.

Talking to The Independent, BAIRA President Benjir Ahmed, MP, said they had a fruitful meeting with the expatriate welfare minister on Sunday about the process of reopening of the Malaysian labour market to Bangladesh.

He said the minister assured them of taking positive efforts to reopen the labour market to Malaysia through a consensus between the two governments.

“We have requested the minister so that the labour market does not fall into the clutches of a syndicate. If there is no syndicate, the migration cost will automatically be reduced,” he said.  

The BAIRA chief expressed hope that the minister, who visited Malaysia a number of occasions in a bid to remove the obstacles to reopen the manpower market, would be successful in his quest.

Earlier, BAIRA General Secretary Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury sent a letter to Malaysian home and human resources ministers on October 27 urging the country to keep its labour market free from syndicates and to take measures to reduce the migration costs.

The letter also mentioned that they (BAIRA members) are not interested to send workers to Malaysia through Bestinet Sdn Bhd, the company which caused the current Malaysian government to impose ban on Bangladeshi workers since September 1 last year.

After a long ban since March 10 of 2008, the Malaysian labour market was reopened to Bangladeshi workers in March 2016 under G2G Plus scheme and it continued for over two years with nearly three lakh workers going to Malaysia under the system.

However, the syndicate of only 10 recruiting agencies was allowed to send workers from Bangladesh through the Bestinet Sdn Bhd-developed SPPA.

The manpower export was monopolised during the past Malaysian Prime Minister Nazib’s regime and it created huge controversy. The cartel also shot up the migration costs several times that of the fixed amount. After a new government came to power in Malaysia, the manpower market was closed to Bangladeshi workers on September 1, 2018.

According to reports in Malaysian media, a Bangladeshi man married to a Malaysian for last 15 years and holding the honourable Malaysian title ‘Datuk Seri’ was behind the manpower syndication. He had strong connections with the governments of both the countries and played a role in getting the two countries to sign the government-to-government agreement in 2016 which allowed only 10 Bangladeshi companies the right to send workers to Malaysia. The ‘Datuk Seri’ amassed millions of dollars through this syndication, the reports claimed.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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