Months ago following an announcement by the Malaysian authorities to withdraw the moratorium on manpower export from Bangladesh to that country, things looked fine as both governments seemed forthcoming in ensuring orderly migration process and getting rid of the past lapses. It may be recalled that for around three years workers' migration to Malaysia had remained stalled due mainly to alleged wrongdoings reportedly by the manpower agents in both countries. This was worrying for intending job seekers, many of whom had to return home in the wake of the Covid pandemic. However, with the decision to reopen expat workers' migration to a range of employment sectors, fresh hope began to inspire job seekers to land jobs in that country.
The situation has shifted quickly as recent reports say that the migration process far from being orderly is stuck again-- not because of any restriction from the host country's end, but because of disagreements between the two governments on the process of recruitment. It has been learnt that the Malaysian authorities want a limited number of recruiting agents from Bangladesh to do the job, and to this end, they have reportedly finalised a list of only 25 recruiters of their own choice, which has put the Bangladesh authorities in a situation they were not prepared for. Bangladesh's expatriates' welfare and overseas employment minister said last week that Bangladesh was ready to send workers as soon as possible but it would not accept Malaysia's proposal for only 25 recruiters to send workers. While Malaysia explained that the limited number of recruiting agencies would help them ensure better monitoring as well as accountability of the agencies, the fact remains that confining the huge task to only a small number of recruiters risks the job becoming uncompetitive leading to syndication. So, as a logical stand, the Bangladesh government opposed the Malaysian decision and asked it to open the opportunities for all legal recruiters in Bangladesh.
No doubt, this disagreement has put the prospective job market for Bangladeshis at risk at a time when the country is keen to reinvigorate manpower export after the Covid havoc. The signs are bad if not ominous, which may invite another moratorium. A positive outcome can be expected if both sides are earnest to break the deadlock. Observers opine that selecting a small number of Bangladeshi recruiting agents by Malaysia is clearly a breach of the system and they also suspect surreptitious links between those selected and the concerned Malaysian government agency. Concerned quarters including migration experts and a section of the authorised recruiting agents have termed the Malaysian move discriminatory that may lead to hike in migration cost accompanied with other evils that the country had bitterly experienced in the past.
Given the untoward situation, addressing it would require earnest understanding of the issue and sensible conduct by both sides. At the end of the day, it is none but the job seekers who are the victims for no fault of theirs. The urgency of the situation demands that the Bangladesh authorities initiated the move to resolve the problem as it is in its interest that workers' migration should keep rolling in an orderly manner.