Abhorrent abuse of migrant workers must be addressed before Malaysia imports more, activists argue - Coconuts

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Malaysia intends to bring successful 500,000 workers from 15 antithetic Asian countries to lick its labour shortage issues successful less-favourable sectors similar plantations, agriculture, and construction. 

The Covid-19 outbreak has caused implicit 700,000 overseas employees to instrumentality to their location countries, according to Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar, truthful the labour situation needs to beryllium resolved close distant successful bid to forestall immoderate antagonistic effects connected the economy.

However, quality rights activists person argued that the authorities indispensable halt this process and alternatively absorption connected improving the moving conditions of migrant workers who are already successful the country, which does not look to beryllium getting better. 

World Bank information indicates that determination are astir 2.9 to 3.3 cardinal migrant workers successful Malaysia, of which astir 1.5 cardinal person irregular employment. 

The remaining millions are undocumented, without protection. But astir of them are employed and proceed to marque a important publication to the system and the nation’s future. 

Many of these workers, beryllium it documented oregon not, endure injustices specified arsenic being underpaid, astatine hazard of maltreatment and confined to mediocre surviving conditions contempt calls for amended migrant idiosyncratic rights based connected beardown economical and humanitarian grounds. The abuses were further exacerbated during the pandemic.

Authorities held a slew of migration raids and detained galore migrants astatine the tallness of Covid-19. Picture from Tenaganita Facebook.

In fact,  the US State Department downgraded Malaysia to Tier 3, which is the worst category, successful its 2020 Trafficking successful Persons Report. It besides imposed punitive measures connected firms allegedly progressive successful enslaved labour by banning imports from glovemakers Top Glove and Supermax, arsenic good arsenic 2 large thenar lipid conglomerates.

Malaysia remains successful Tier 3 arsenic of past year. 

The secretary-general of Socialist Party Malaysia (PSM), Sivarajan Arumugam, told Coconuts the conditions for migrant workers person not improved contempt galore complaints from workers and civilian society. 

“Their grouses person not been rectified. Thus PSM would powerfully telephone for a halt connected each migrant labour intake until each reforms are executed,” helium said. 

PSM often works connected labour rights issues affecting some section and overseas workers. It has besides helped immoderate of these individuals triumph tribunal cases against their employers. 

Secretary-general of Socialist Party Malaysia, Sivarajan Arumugam.

Sivarajan besides highlighted that, during erstwhile curate M. Kulasegaran’s clip arsenic the Human Resources Minister (MOHR) nether Pakatan Harapan, helium had instructed an autarkic committee to survey the concern of migrant workers and taxable reports to the government. 

However, helium said the study has been kept nether wraps.

“We reiterate that the authorities should absorption connected implementing the projected reforms projected by the government’s ain reports and different CSO’s alternatively of continuing to bow down to the pressures of the employers that they are crying that they request migrant labour urgently,” helium added. 

Sivarajan shared with Coconuts a transcript of the betterment proposal.

Some of these projected reforms see lone allowing the MOHR to negociate and show each matters relating to migrant workers, speedy initiatives and policies to eradicate the engagement of backstage agents and companies successful the recruitment and proviso of workers, and the abolishment of indebtedness bondage by removing recruitment fees charged to workers. 

Glorene Daas, enforcement manager of Tenaganita, a quality rights non-profit organisation, said the ministry needs to code the deficiency of unit astatine the labour section successful bid for it to transportation retired labour inspections much efficiently. 

Glorene Daas (right) 

“During high-level authorities meetings betwixt the labour section and the ministry, the contented is ever that they bash not person capable personnel, truthful what are we doing astir it is the adjacent question. If we privation to code this efficaciously and seriously, they request to deliberation done however to summation the labour department’s personnel,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Su Shern, enforcement manager of Project Liber8, echoed Sivarajan’s concerns. 

“I deliberation archetypal we request to admit that the exploitation of migrant workers successful Malaysia is inactive not being addressed. The information is that migrant workers are inactive facing agelong moving hours, exploitative conditions, withholding of wages, etc. and I deliberation these are things that we perceive and spot each the time,” she told Coconuts. 

Project Liber8 is simply a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering younker to instrumentality enactment against quality trafficking, forced labour, exploitation and favoritism among trafficked victims, migrant workers and refugees.

“So what is the authorities doing presently to guarantee we are minimising this and holding the radical liable accountable?” Su said. 

Su said she would truly emotion to spot the authorities talk to applicable parties that are moving connected migrant issues arsenic good arsenic beryllium contiguous connected the crushed to recognize the lived realities. 

“Over the years, we’ve seen the authorities truly making an effort successful forced labour and trafficking issues but what is arsenic as important is the precedence of ensuring these laws and policies are executed decently too,” she added. 

MOHR Minister V. Sivakumar has refused to remark connected the substance erstwhile contacted by Coconuts.


Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar has assured that the introduction of 500,000 overseas workers into the state volition not impact section occupation opportunities. He said that the labourers would… Read more.