Report: Bangladesh in talks with Malaysia to regularise undocumented migrant workers

An estimated 200,000 of the roughly 800,000 Bangladeshis in Malaysia could be undocumented migrants. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
An estimated 200,000 of the roughly 800,000 Bangladeshis in Malaysia could be undocumented migrants. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Bangladesh is currently in talks with Malaysia to regularise undocumented migrants to allow them to work in the latter country, a Bangladeshi newspaper reported today.

The Daily Star cited a Bangladesh High Commission official in Kuala Lumpur as confirming the ongoing talks.

“As recruitment of foreign workers has been suspended from July 1 till the end of this year, there is a strong possibility that Malaysia will announce an amnesty for the undocumented migrants,” the official was quoted saying.

The paper reported that an estimated 200,000 of the roughly 800,000 Bangladeshis in Malaysia could be undocumented migrants.

Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan was reported saying on June 22 that there will be a freeze on recruitment or intake of new foreign workers in all sectors until the end of the year as the government aims to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country and to give priority to locals for jobs.

On the same day, the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur announced on its Facebook page that Malaysia allows foreign workers to move from one company to another company within the same sector, and advised its people to contact the high commission if they intended to switch companies instead of taking their own action.

The Daily Star also reported the Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia’s labour counsellor Jahirul Islam as saying that such transfers have to be agreed upon by a worker’s current employer and future employer, and also have to be authorised by Malaysia’s Home Ministry and Labour Department.

He was also reported saying that it would be a welcome decision if Malaysia were to also allow foreign workers to transfer from one sector to another.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan has been reported saying that the manufacturing and services sector had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, while the plantations do not have enough workers.

“We are urging the Malaysian government to allow transfer of foreign workers to plantations from other sectors as recruitment of foreign workers has been suspended till the end of this year,” he was quoted saying by The Daily Star.

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