Biometric screening is a go

  • nepali migrants to malaysia
- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Jan 21, 2015-

Preparations are underway to allow entry to a controversial biometric medical check-up system for Nepali migrant workers going to Malaysia after reported ‘assurance’ of the destination government to address most of its concerns including a pledge to provide the facility at present cost.

Ministry of Labour and Employment officials said that the longstanding row over the biometric screening might end soon as the Malaysian side is positive to authorise further medical centres and not to increase the costs.

“We have received a positive response from the Malaysian side. We will soon make our decision after weighing the pros and cons of biometric system in consultation with governmental and non governmental partners,” said Labour State Minister Tek Bahadur Gurung.

Responding to a six-point query sent to the Foreign Ministry earlier this week, Malaysian embassy in Kathmandu had clarified that the new system was being introduced as a national plan to start biometric screening in 14 labour sending countries.

In the letter sent to Malaysia, Nepal had raised concerns over cost, security and necessity of the proposed system and suspended its proposed entry until further decision.

Biometric screening--a fingerprint scanning system with security features to match an individual’s identity with the data recorded in the passport--- has drawn much criticism in Malaysia and Nepal since the former decided to begin health screening for migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh.

Nepal Foreign Employment Medical Association (NeFEMA) said that some 38 medical companies accredited for biometric screening have begun to provide service from January 15. The workers are getting the new service at the old rate of Rs 2500 for now.

A majority of the 284 medical companies authorised to provide health check-up facilities have stood against the new system claiming that it will lead to a syndicate in the health checking system. The companies said that they cannot take the accreditation since it is too expensive to bring the equipment required for the new service.

Kailash Khadka, chairman of Foreign Employment Medical Association (NeFEMA), said that the government should make the letter public and end the long standing row over the new system. He added that he is in favour of allowing all medical centres within the new system.

“The government should immediately take a decision or hold discussions with other stakeholders. This indecisiveness is not acceptable,” said Khadka.

Recruiting agencies sending workers to Malaysia argue that the government should not approve the new system as it will skyrocket the processing cost in the long run and promote a syndicate culture. They also claim that the private firm might misuse personal information of workers.

Malaysia, the largest work destination of Nepali workers with daily outflow of 500-600 workers each day, is a costly place for the migrants for they have to pay a minimum of Rs 120,000 in recruitment charges.

Malaysian authorities say that “almost two thirds of 30,000 new foreign workers” passing medical tests in their home countries, but failed a second test in Malaysia, according to Malaysian news reports.


Published: 22-01-2015 09:24

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