Recruitment in Malaysia: Steps against syndicate soon

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Asianbangla Dhaka : The expatriates’ welfare ministry will issue show cause notices to 10 recruiting agencies whose alleged monopoly in labour recruitment in Malaysia has led to the suspension of SPPA, an online system for recruitment of foreign workers, from September 1.

Suspension of SPPA means Malaysia will not approve any new demand for labour from the employers until a new system is introduced. However, those who have already got visas will be allowed to enter the country.

Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam yesterday said, “We will issue show cause notices. We are collecting data now.”

He made the comments after facing a volley of questions from reporters about his ministry’s probable actions against the syndicate. He was speaking at a Meet the Press with the Reporters for Bangladeshi Migrants (RBM) at the ministry.

Nurul Islam did not give any date for issuing the notices.

He said selection of 10 Bangladeshi recruiting agents was made by the Malaysian government in 2016, apparently evading his ministry’s responsibility in holding the agencies accountable.

“I have always been against the manpower syndicate. It’s the Malaysian government that controls the syndicate, not us,” he said.

The 10 agents accused of monopoly and charging excessive amounts from the migrants are Unique Eastern Pvt Ltd, Catharsis International, ISMT Human Resources Development Ltd, Amin Tours and Travels, Al Islam Overseas, Prantik Travels & Tourism Ltd, Shanjari International, Rabbi International, Passage Associates and Career Overseas Consultants Ltd.

On June 22, Malaysian newspaper, The Star, reported that an organised syndicate of 10 agents, led by a Bangladeshi businessman having alleged political connections with the Malaysian home ministry, raked in at least two billion Malaysian ringgits (around Tk 4,000 crore) from 100,000 Bangladeshi workers in just two years.

Considering that 2 lakh workers have gone to Malaysia, the figure might be Tk 8,000 crore.

Each of the workers paid RM20,000 (around Tk 4 lakh) to their Bangladeshi agents, who then paid half of the sum to the syndicate to have work permit approvals and flight tickets to Malaysia, said the report.

On August 14, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the system of 10 agents authorised for recruitment of workers from Bangladesh resulted in a monopolistic situation.

Terming the whole process a “total mess”, Malaysian Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran on June 23 said the previous administration managed the whole recruitment process like a business aimed at benefiting certain individuals.

Minister Nurul Islam yesterday said his ministry did not receive any letter from Malaysia regarding suspension of SPPA.

Two lakh Bangladeshi workers have migrated to Malaysia under the current recruitment system since early last year. Another 30,000 who have visas would also go there, he said.

“We don’t think Malaysia has closed its labour market for Bangladesh,” Nurul Islam said, adding that the ministry has sent a note verbale to the Malaysian authorities concerned to understand the latest development.

He mentioned that the Bangladesh mission in Malaysia was looking into the matter.

An official of Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur told this correspondent yesterday that they would hold a meeting with the Malaysian authorities in the first week of next month to discuss the issue.

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