Action sought against bio-med test providers

- Roshan Sedhai, Kathmandu

Feb 4, 2015-

Stakeholders have sought action against 39 medical centres for providing biomedical test services, without government endorsement, to Nepali migrant workers going to Malaysia.

Foreign employment recruiting agencies claim an estimated 5,000 Malaysia-bound Nepali workers underwent biomedical screening. Of them, around 2,400 migrants were workers going to work in Flextronics, a firm based in Malaysia.

On January 26, Malaysia suspended the controversial biometric system, barely two weeks after it came into operation, from Nepal and Bangladesh due to criticism in both home and migrant-sending countries.

Representatives of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (Nafea) said that Malaysian government and concerned medical centres should be held accountable in case of misuse of workers personal details and for the security threat it could pose. “Those providing the biomedical tests should take responsibility if these workers fail medical test or are exposed to threats. The government in the destination country should ensure that the private firms do not misuse the data as it has now been suspended,” said Kumud Khanal, Nafea general secretary. Malaysia had also suspended Foreign Workers Centralised Management System, a central visa processing of the Malaysian immigration, alongside biometric system due to possible misuse of data and high level influence while outsourcing the job to private firms.

Issuing a joint statement on Wednesday, Nepal Foreign Employment Medical Association (NeFMA) and Nepal Foreign Employment Agent Association demanded stern action against 39 medical institutions that provided the service without permission from the government. They claim that “few profit-minded people were enforcing the system despite six-point reservation of the government”.

“The suspension of biometrics has made it apparent that few middlemen were forcefully trying to add burden upon the shoulder of workers even when there was no discussion between two governments to endorse the system. The medical institutions have committed fraud. The government should punish them so that they will not to dare do such activities in the future,” reads the press statement.

Officials at the Ministry of Labour and Employment said chances of action against the companies are unlikely as there was silent support of senior officials, including State Labour Minister Tek Bahadur Gurung, to start the service.

Talking recently to the Post, Gurung had said that the government was positive to allow the system as Malaysia was ready to address most of its demands.

“Its ironic that many people previously advocating for entry of system are demanding the punishment following its suspension by Malaysia. NeFMA chairperson Kailash Khadka himself is requesting for action against these institutions despite the fact that two of his firms have taken accreditation. “It is just a publicity stunt,” said a ministry official.

Malaysian officials supporting biometric system claim that it will reduce cases of identity fraud and medical fail. Local news reports claim up to 30,000 new migrant workers in search of jobs in Malaysia failed their Malaysian medical tests within the first month of arrival.

The Post, however, has come across a case where Nepali workers undergoing bio screening in Nepal had also failed medical test in Malaysia.

Published: 05-02-2015 09:20

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