Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia: The struggle continues

A UN investigation has revealed a shocking system of organised crime that has formed between Malaysia and Bangladesh, where Bangladeshi migrant workers are being betrayed. They are employed by Malaysian companies, most of which are fake and do not exist. The worst part about this whole scenario is that overseas Bangladeshi workers are financially ruined because they paid huge amounts of money to these middlemen and foreign companies in Malaysia. They are psychologically scarred, their dreams are shattered and many lives have been destroyed.

Most of these migrant workers pay a minimum of Tk 500,000 for a job in Malaysia and the trend of Bangladeshi workers migrating to Malaysia started in late 2022. As of now, there are 800,000 Bangladeshi workers who have been hit by this scourge and are unemployed in Malaysia.

In the wake of these tragedies, the United Nations and various other NGOs have urged the labour wing of the Bangladesh Embassy in Malaysia to be more effective and efficient in approving job requisitions from various foreign companies that issue work visas to migrant Bangladeshi workers.

Another major problem identified in the UNHR report is that Bangladeshi migrant workers who migrate to Malaysia in search of work are forced to overstay their work permits, resulting in them being arrested, detained in prison and some even being forcibly returned to Bangladesh.

Another UN study stated that Bangladeshi migrant workers are treated like slaves upon arrival in Malaysia. Their passports are confiscated by foreign companies and the workers are denied freedom of movement. They work day and night with little to no rest in Malaysia in exchange for very low wages, sometimes not even receiving a penny for their hard work.

A coalition of 100 Bangladeshi recruitment agencies are blocking other Bangladeshi recruitment agencies from recruiting workers. Such unethical practices and ruthless greed are leading to the never-ending suffering of the poor masses of Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia.

The UN and NGOs have alleged that both the Bangladeshi and Malaysian governments are responsible for this wrongdoing. Investigations have shown that it has been a decades-old trend for the Bangladeshi government and Malaysian governing officials to select such 100 Bangladeshi recruitment agencies to recruit Bangladeshi workers. The syndicate of 100 Bangladeshi recruitment agencies prevents other Bangladeshi recruitment agencies from recruiting workers. These unethical practices and ruthless greed are leading to the never-ending suffering of the poor majority of Bangladeshi workers migrating to Malaysia.

* HM Naseef Akbar Talukder is a lecturer at Prime Asia University.

(naseefakbar126@gmail.com)

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