Need for reviewing Malaysia's recruitment policy  

Marksman     | Published: August 28, 2018 22:11:26 | Updated: August 29, 2018 20:43:58

It is learnt on good authority that  since   his  assumption of   office    in Malaysia  on  May 9,2018, prime minister Mahathir  bin Mohamad    has   expressed  concern  over       methods of   recruitment   to the  Malaysian labour market. He made a  particular  mention  of Bangladesh  saying  that an    organised  circle (an euphemism for  'racket') has made it a   monopoly   business for themselves. As  part  of     exploitative    strangulation    of the poor  job-seekers, the exorbitant   fees charged  from them over the prescribed rates forced  them  into a   debt-trap. In worse case  scenario, even making  them  fall  in  a perpetual  state of vulnerability and  dependency!

Given this backdrop, the  tougher  step lately announced  by the Malaysian   special  committee headed  by Mahathir   to the     effect that  recruitment  from Bangladesh  will be stopped from September 01, 2018, may not have come as a bolt from the blue.

But   the unilateral  nature of  the announcement  has been  baffling; even though   hints   may have been dropped of the shape of things to come, a   longer notice than  a fast approaching  September 01, would have been better appreciated.  As far as we  can understand, the operative word  is not  'ban' or 'closure', but  'suspension' of the manpower  import from Bangladesh  until such time as the methods will  have been  recast. Let's recognise the fact that  we  have   a common stake in reforming and streamlining  a potentially   mutually  beneficial  sector  to maximise  the benefits  to the host and sending countries. So, from here on, we believe  a consultative  process  would be  pursued   inter-governmentally  as well as between  private  sectors   to avoid  unnecessary hiccups.      

Having   regard to the importance   Malaysia  holds for Bangladesh along with Saudi Arabia and some  Middle-East countries  as the top manpower  export destinations, we  want  a  speedy and sustainable  solution to the issues of  recruitment, payment, work environment and job and personal  security.

It is worthwhile to note that from January to July this year i.e. in  seven months  of the ongoing year, 451,536 Bangladeshis went  overseas for work. Of them, 159,577 went to Saudi Arabia  while  Malaysia  received 109,562  employees.

An upswing  was being  observed in outflow  from Bangladesh to Malaysia: In the years 2017, 2016 and 2015 the figures were 99, 787, 40, 126 and 30, 483 respectively. With Malaysia  the trend hasn't  been consistent  with on-going off-going  suspension and resumption. Yet, what makes one sit up and take note  is the  clamping of the fetter  when the going was very good---crossing 109,000 mark  till July of the current  fiscal. In the remainder five months   we need to pull up  our socks and  persuade   the Malaysian counterparts to continue with  the  business   on the basis of mutually  agreed   reforms.

Mahathir's reasoning  behind the so-called 'closure' as detailed  in the Malaysian  daily "New Straits Times  is  worth  going over  in order to  find a recipe for  the impasse. He told newsmen, "The issues of unilateral  break with  manpower  import and  reducing   the costs of sending workers  are under discussion with Bangladesh government. Now only ten agents in Bangladesh can send workers to Malaysia-- this is a  monopolistic  process (we need to discard)."

The Malaysian  prime minister elaborating on the point  further  said, "We should  dismantle monopoly-we want to open the business  to all Bangladeshi   agents. Thereby competition will increase in the business and the  export cost will be reduced."

Such a uniform recruitment policy has been proposed by the Malaysian Premier for Nepal and Bangladesh. Is the bracketing because of preponderance of unskilled or semi-skilled  labour?

In an interesting  postscript, may I add, that   the ten-agent formula   was introduced in 2016, and before that  any recruitment agent  in Bangladesh  was free to   send  employees overseas.

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