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Malaysia moves to break hiring monopoly

WT24 Desk

The move comes as the Malaysian government is currently facing problems with illegal foreign workers, forcing it to suspend a syndicate of 10 Bangladeshi agents authorised for recruitment of workers.

“Bangladesh, Nepal and others, they will use the same system,” Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday, The Star reported.

He said that the government had suspended the current system of 10 agents authorised for recruitment of workers from Bangladesh and was looking at opening up to all agents instead.

This has resulted in a monopolistic situation with some charging as high as RM20,000.  “So, we want to open up to all agents there to allow competition,” said Mahathir.

In late 2016, more than 10,000 Bangladeshi workers have been brought into the country under the system, while more than 100,000 people are waiting for their turn.

Some of the 10 authorised agents were merely fly-by-night companies created solely to rake in money by playing middleman between the workers and their prospective employers in Malaysia, according to The Star.

The prime minister also noted that the government would be forming an independent committee chaired by either a top government official, former judge or secretary-general, to be handled under the Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis.

“This is to have an overview on the policies and management of foreign workers. We need to address these problems. We need the committee to address the issues,” he said.

Mahathir also said the government will form an independent committee to deal with foreign workers-related matters in the future.

“We are going to form an independent committee that will be chaired by the highest-ranking civil servant like former judges or former secretary generals. The committee will look thoroughly into the foreign-worker market. Foreign workers have become a very big problem for us, because we got too many of them coming into Malaysia without permit. That is why we need a committee to handle it.”

Officials at the Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia embassies in Malaysia declined to comment, according to The Star.

However, recruitment agents for Bangladeshi workers have expressed happiness over the announcement.

“We are happy for our workers. They are no more required to pay up to RM20,000 to work in Malaysia. The syndicates have been taking about RM10,000 for their service to bring in the workers to Malaysia, and this has resulted in the unreasonable hike in the cost of hiring workers,” said Md Mokbul Hossain Mokul, who operates a recruitment agency in Kuala Lumpur.

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