Expatriates’ Welfare Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain yesterday said unscrupulous business deals of recruiting agencies and manpower brokers had messed up Bangladesh’s labour market in Malaysia and contributed to joblessness of many workers.
“It is our people who spoilt the labour market there; They send workers more than the actual requirement and even offer advance levy (paid by employers to Malaysian government),” The minister told reporters at the ministry after his return from Malaysia.
He, however, said Malaysia has positively responded to consider recruitment of workers from 55,000 jobseekers whose visas were cancelled on March 10.
The recruitment might begin after three to four months when Malaysia is expected to return to its political and economic stability.
Both Bangladesh and Malaysia were embarrassed as jobless workers are living here and there, even under the bridge, said Mosharraf.
The minister went to Malaysia on March 28 to see for himself the situation Bangladeshi workers are in and meet the ministers concerned and employers there.
He met Malaysian Human Resources Minister Dr Subramaniam and Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.
“When I was talking to workers tears welled up in my eyes,” he said referring to his visit to a house where the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur sheltered 150 jobless workers.
The minister said workers lost their jobs because unscrupulous businessmen hired excessive workers, for example a company needs 20 workers but it hires 100 instead,” he said.
“Problems are on both sides. Malaysian ministers said their people cannot be saints when thousands of crores of taka fly in the air,” Mosharraf Hossain said, hinting corruption at the manpower recruitment business.
He said it happened before the present government came to power and now the government would have to take stern actions against agencies involved in such malpractices.
Asked if Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur failed to verify the genuineness of job approvals that led to hiring excess workers, the minister said it surely had lapses.
There has been shortage of manpower in labour wing of the commission but now it is being addressed, he noted.
Cancellation of visas of 55,000 jobseekers was basically a political decision, the minister said.
In an emergency cabinet meeting, Malaysia decided to cancel visas following Bangladesh’s Labour Counselor Talat Mahmud’s remark that 70,000 Bangladeshi workers would enter Malaysia. The comment came at a time when 28,000 Malaysians lost their jobs in Singapore.
“Talat Mahmud has already been called back,” he said adding that departmental actions would be taken against him.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agency (Baira) President Ghulam Mustafa who led an eight-member delegation to Malaysia besides the government team said they are hopeful Malaysia will soon start hiring Bangladeshi workers in plantation and construction sectors.
At a press conference at Baira office in the capital, Mustafa said their visit to Malaysia was very fruitful.
“We requested Malaysian ministers to include Bangladesh as a source country so that the migration cost could be minimized. They said they would consider the issue,” he said.
Asked what happens if Malaysia does not finally recruit the 55,000 jobseekers, Mustafa said their money would surely be returned to them.
Source: The Daily Star, 02 April 2009