Experts Suggest Parliamentarians’ Role to Protect Migrants in Malaysia

Bangladesh parliamentarians who were going to Malaysia with fact finding mission should boldly negotiate with the Malaysian authorities to protect the rights of the country’s migrant workers employed in the country. Migration experts and migrants’ rights campaigners on Wednesday made their suggestions while speaking at coordination meeting of the Bangladesh Parliamentarians Caucus on Migration and Development at the conference room of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training in Dhaka. They also suggested the outgoing Bangladesh team for raising issues with the Malaysian authorities to break syndicate of recruiting agents sending workers to Malaysia taking joint steps to stop visa trading for reducing high migration cost. They also called for taking the mutual steps to remove the levies on the workers frequently imposed and increased by the government of the host country.

Chairman of the parliamentarians’ caucus on migration and development Israfil Alam MP along with two caucus members Md Ayeen Uddin MP and Moh Salim Uddin Tarafder MP took the suggestions from the migration experts at the meeting. A Bangladesh delegation led by Israfil Alam MP left for Malaysia as Fact Finding Mission on official visit on April 20-22. Migrant Forum in Asia organized the field visit of the fact finding mission.

Participants for the field were parliamentarians only from Nepal and Bangladesh. The number of participants who were around 6-10 parliamentarians would have meetings with relevant government ministries, with specific members of the Parliament, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, migrants community of Nepali and Bangladeshi, civil society and trade unions and foreign missions of Bangladesh and Nepal.

Speaking at the meeting, Dhaka University’s international relations Professor CR Abrar, also executive director of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, said that the Caucus members should raise their voice boldly so that the country’s workers could get atmosphere of working with ‘dignity and accountability.’ He suggested the Bangladesh parliamentarians to ask their counterparts in Malaysia on which criteria basis the syndicate of recruiting agencies were formed to send workers to Malaysia. Abrar mentioned that for many employers, there were many workers becoming irregular in destination countries. He also pointed out lack of coordination between labour attaches and foreign ministry officials at Bangladesh high commissions affecting migrants’ rights.

WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that the highest number of workers had been sent to Malaysia in 2008-2009 under the ‘Calling Visas’ and they had to face immense problems there. Describing the fact finding mission of the parliamentarians as milestone, he said that the delegation should find out fact whether Bangladeshi workers were getting jobs nor not under the G2G plus visas in Malaysia currently.

Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program chairman Shakirul Islam said that it was very essential to find out who were getting most benefitted by sending migrant workers to Malaysia. ‘Identify who involve with the visa trading mechanism in Bangladesh and Malaysia,’ he said.

WARBE Development Foundation secretary general Faruque Ahmed said that Bangladeshi workers were forced to live in substandard accommodation in Malaysia and their rights issues should be protected by the employers. ‘Imposing levy on the migrant workers should be cut immediately through mutual discussion with the Malaysia authorities,’ he suggested.

Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association director Sumaiya Islam said that undocumented workers were in bad condition as they were not getting jobs in Malaysia. ‘It is essential to find out how many Bangladeshis passing days in jails and hospitals abroad,’ she said.

Bangladesh Ovibashi Adhikar Forum chairman Nazmul Ahsan said that migrants have often lodged the complaints of negligence of the Bangladesh embassy officials. Those problems should be solved, he said.

BMET director general Salim Reza said that concerted efforts should be taken to ensure safe and orderly migration from Bangladesh. He, however, put emphasis on promoting migration of skilled workers to reduce their problems at home and abroad.

BMET additional DG Tajul Islam said that all recruiting agencies must be united to stop visa trading to reduce migration cost.

BAIRA joint secretary general Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman said that rational migration cost should be set up and it should be announced through media outlets to make people aware.

BMET director (immigration) Atiq Rahman said that Malaysia labour market should be expanded more as most of the tradition markets in Middle East region were in problems.

OKUP executive director Omar Faruque said that recruiting agencies were enjoying benefits from the migration laws that were serving interest of agents not migrants.