MP SPEAKS Last Thursday, Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid said approximately 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh would be brought to Malaysia in stages, over three years, to meet the demands of employers from various sectors.
Yesterday he indicated that these workers will be brought into the country once the existing undocumented workers are sent back.
The minister estimates that there are about two million undocumented workers in the country at this time.
The minister’s statement is troubling and at the same time alarming for a number of reasons.
First, has the Home Ministry done a labour market needs assessment study to justify the number of workers required in the next years and for the various sector? The study should entail skill needs, requirement and gaps including a projection of employment by industry and sector for the next years.
If such a study exists, it should be made public since the minister’s statement has got strong criticisms from a cross-section of society including labor unions.
In addition, the minister needs to clarify if recruitment will cease from other 13 countries that Malaysia recruits its workers from. If this is not the case, what are numbers that will be recruited from these countries?
Second, government statistics show that the number of documented migrant workers in the country is about 2.3 million; whereas the number of undocumented workers could be as high as four million. The minister’s two million undocumented workers claim is therefore baffling.
Media reports in Bangladesh show that the first group of Bangladeshi workers will arrive in the country sometime this year.
This means that the Home Ministry will began the repatriation of four million undocumented workers in the next months.
The minister has to therefore indicate the repatriation plan, especially when previous attempts have failed.
Third, Bangladesh’s media suggests that these workers will be brought to Malaysia under a new business-to-business (B2B) mechanism through manpower agencies or labor brokers.
The question that arises here is why the government is abandoning the government to government (G2G) process, which is guided by a memorandum of understanding between both countries. And a G2G process will benefit workers, as it is a cheaper way to get to Malaysia and a less debt burden to them.