KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — Bestinet Sdn Bhd highlighted today the inconsistencies and errors in a Nepali news outlet’s report to deny a claim that it engaged in an alleged “scam” against the country’s migrant workers.
Among others, it noted that Nepali Times alleged that former home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s brother, Datuk Abdul Hakim Hamidi, was a stakeholder in the firm when this was not the case.
The foreign news outlet further described Bestinet founder and chairman Datuk Seri Amin Abdul Nor as Zahid’s brother-in-law, which the firm said was false; the former minister also rejected this earlier today.
“In fact, no one in Bestinet is related to Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,” the firm said in a statement responding to the Nepali report.
It stressed that its purview was limited to providing a biomedical system to the government, which included the biometric screening services described in the offending article.
However, it stressed that the screening was applicable to all migrant workers bound for Malaysia and not specifically targeted at Nepali prospects.
On the limited number of Nepali medical centres accredited to undertake the biometric screening, it said these were chosen based on their capabilities, infrastructure and ability to integrate with Malaysian authorities’ systems.
The Nepali outlet alleged that this restriction caused the direct screening fees to rise from Rs700 to Rs4,500.
The Malaysian firm further rejected Nepali Times’ insinuation that it also profited from other fees related to the application process, insisting that it only charged RM100 for the biometric system.
“We would like to state that ISC (Immigration Security Clearance), VLN (Visa Luar Negara), OSC (One Stop Centre) services are not provided by Bestinet and Bestinet is not related to the providers of these services and any Kathmandu-based agents.
“Hence the allegations made that Bestinet has been charging migrant worker for scanning passports, fingerprinting and uploading the data online are entirely false,” it said.
The firm was accused of charging Rs3,200 for document scanning and fingerprinting as well as another Rs3,500 to simply make the data available online.
Bestinet said it is seeking an immediate apology and retraction from the Nepali Times, noting that the contents of article has since been reported extensively by local media.
“Bestinet takes these allegations very seriously and reserves the right to take all necessary steps against Nepali Times and both authors.”
The allegations of extortionate fees trace back to the scheme’s introduction in 2015, but the Nepali Times’ article appears designed to take advantage of Malaysia’s recent change in government.
In particular, the title Kleptocrats of Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur comes across as a bald attempt to elicit sympathy from the ruling Pakatan Harapan that has accused the previous Barisan Nasional government of being a “kleptocracy”.