Just weeks after the government endorsed a provision making it mandatory for employers in major work destinations to provide free visa and free plane tickets to Nepali migrant worker s, Malaysia has signed an agreement with Bangladesh to recruit 500,000 workers for the next six months.
The deal, signed on Wednesday, could bring decline in the demand for Nepali migrant worker s in the largest work destination, stakeholders have said.
Malaysian Home Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Bangladeshi Expatriates Welfare Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain signed the deal to hire Bangladeshi workers under the “Business-to-Business mechanism”. The new mechanism was set up after the government-to-government model failed. Under the previous model, aimed at promoting ethical recruitment, around 7,000 Bangladeshi workers were hired. “Under this new mechanism,
manpower recruitment can be run through private recruitment agencies,” Daily Star, a Malaysia newspaper, has quoted a Bangladeshi official as saying.
Stakeholders, including recruiting agencies in Nepal, claimed that the upcoming months are likely to see a significant drop in the demand of Nepali workers in Malaysia. The country has been hiring around 200,000 Nepali workers every year and around 700,000 Nepalis are said to working there at present.
Recruiting agencies said that government’s “immature” decision not to send workers abroad without free visa and free ticket is pushing the work destinations, including Malaysia, to seek alternatives for Nepali workers.
“The government should have done enough homework and consulted with stakeholders, including the governments of the labour receiving counties, before taking such decision,” said Kumud Khanal, former vice chairperson of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies.
However, many others within and outside the foreign employment agencies support the government decision saying that it will lessen economic burden on workers. An Amnesty International report states that Nepali migrant worker s take debt paying as high as 60 percent interest to go aboard. However, many stakeholders agree that ensuring free visa and ticket will be impossible without cooperation from the destination countries.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Tek Bahadur Gurung said the agreement would not affect the hiring of Nepali workers. “Nepali workers have cultivated a very positive image in Malaysia and other work destinations through hard work and honesty. Nobody will take that place,” Gurung said, adding that preparations are under way to sign a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia on the matter.
Nepali workers work
mostly in plantation, agriculture and manufacturing sectors in Malaysia. However, the several factors, including five-fold increment in visa processing fee, introduction of Malaysian agent in training of security guard and bio-medical visa system, have drawn huge controversies in the recent months.