Nepali workers caught in Malaysia’s ‘unfair’ system

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 19, 2016-

Nepali migrant workers aspiring to take up jobs in Malaysia are forced to cough up tens of millions of rupees every year due to expensive pre-departure services provided through well-laid syndicates of its agents against the laws.

Malaysia, which outsourced the visa processing service to an agent making fivefold increase in cost in 2013, now has absolute control over the pre-departure services that Nepali migrants are supposed to get before leaving for the work destinations.

As such, Nepali workers have to undergo health check-ups from its authorised agents—Malaysian companies and their sub-agents in Nepal—and pay heavy charges to three different outsourcing companies that respectively process visa and stamp a hologram on the passport and works on biometric identification of the concerned workers.

Nepali workers going to Malaysia to work as security guard have to take up an additional training, paying Rs 20,000 to another agent named Teleport Sdn Bhd.

The introduction of these agents by the Malaysian government have added Rs34,000 in additional financial burden on the migrant workers. On top of that, the workers have to pay additional charges for work permit, insurance coverage and service charges to the recruiting agencies, training centre.

The government’s failure to take proper action against such unscrupulous agents has raised serious question on its commitment to enforce the free-visa-free-ticket policy.  Recruiting agencies in Nepal accused Malaysia of exploiting poor Nepali workers and urged the government to suspend their operations. Representatives of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (Nafea) said that Nepali workers are still spending a minimum of Rs80,000 for a job in Malaysia due to added burden.

Nafea Chairman Bimal Dhakal said that Malaysia has been raking in Rs1.39 billion from Nepali migrant workers each year in the name of unnecessary services.

“We urge the government to immediately shut down and take action against such organisations that are duping Nepali migrants,” said Dhakal.

Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd was the first Malaysian agent to enter Nepal with a visa processing duty at the Malaysian Embassy in Kathmandu. Visa processing fee for Malaysia rocketed from Rs700 to Rs3,900 after its arrival in November 2013. It is working in partnership with the Hong Kong-based Ultratech (HK) Limited and Malaysia VLN Nepal, a company based in Nepal.

Last year, Malaysia introduced two more agents in Nepal under the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS) and biometric health check-ups. Though the Bestinet Sdn Bhd had assured that it would conduct health check-up at usual fees, it started charging Rs7,700 from each migrant through two different agents. Earlier, migrants used to pay Rs2,625 for the purpose.

Officials at the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) said they had tried to shut down the offices, but could not do so due to pressure from within and outside the country.

“Malaysia has threatened to stop hiring Nepali workers if we take any action against its agents. Furthermore, there was a strong lobby from within Nepal to give continuity to these agencies,” said an informed source at the ministry.

Most of the agents in operation in Nepal are owned by close aides of influential Malaysian politicians, stakeholders said, adding that senior Malaysian officials were influencing policies to serve their business interest in the pre-departure hiring process due to large amount of money involved.

Fewer Nepali migrants are now taking jobs in Malaysia due to the increasing associated migration cost. Only 60,979 Nepalis took jobs in Malaysia in 2015-16, a sharp come down from 202,828 a year earlier.

Published: 19-09-2016 07:53

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