Human Resource Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri M Saravanan has been urged to clarify how and why he chose only 25 Bangladeshi agencies for recruiting workers in Malaysia.
To date, the Human Resources Ministry and Saravanan have yet to release the names of the selected 25 agencies.
Klang MP Charles Santiago said he wanted Saravanan to explain the reasons for choosing a specific number of agencies and how it would help solve the issue of migrant worker exploitation, reports Malay Mail.
The MP said, "They [Bangladeshi recruitment agencies] are saying that these 25 agencies selected are controlled by this one guy called Amin.
"It is up to the minister to clarify how these 25 agencies will solve the problem. This issue has been dilly-dallied long enough, and it's being done at the expense of the people and the country."
Charles referred to Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Abdul Nor, who is the founder of Bestinet — the company that provided the Malaysian government with the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS) and manages the system now.
Since 2018, Bangladeshi-born Amin has been accused a few times of running a syndicate that monopollise the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia.
Furthermore, in July 2018, Nepal put a ban on sending workers to Malaysia alleging that Bestinet's practices are "restrictive". The ban was later revoked in 2019 following a deal in favour of the workers.
Human rights organisations
Beyond Borders President Mahi Ramakrishnan said Saravanan owes a clarification to the public and stakeholders about how the 25 recruitment agencies were selected.
"Are there vested interests? Why are the given agencies selected and not others? Is anyone making huge amounts of money from the selected agents?"
Also about recruitment agents collecting thousands of ringgit from workers after arriving in Malaysia, Mahi Ramakrishnan said, "The minister has warned against Malaysian employers.
"However, Saravanan also said he has no power to stop Bangladeshi agents collecting money before departure," the refugee rights activist said.
"The question is this: Why are we recruiting [more foreign] workers when we have refugees and undocumented migrant workers in the country?" asked Mahi.
In April this year, the Malaysian Employers Federation issued a statement urging the government to allow refugees and undocumented migrant workers to work legally in the country to ease the current labour crunch.
However, no government response has been made public so far in this regard.
On June 10, Free Malaysia Today quoted Saravanan as saying that when the Malaysian government allowed all recruitment agencies to be involved in recruitment in 2008, 100,000 Bangladeshis were cheated and left stranded in Kuala Lumpur without jobs and food.
However, Saravanan did not explain how these workers managed to get visas from the Immigration Department without proof of a job waiting for them in Malaysia.
"I think he [Saravanan] is confusing the current issue with the human trafficking issue," said Adrian Pereira, founder of North-South Initiative, a rights based non-governmental organisation.
"Human trafficking is a totally different issue more to do with a lack of enforcement and a lack of due to diligence from companies (employers). The issue at hand is about setting the best standard for legal worker recruitment.
"Limiting the number of recruitment companies is anti-competition, and this creates leeway for a lot of practices such as forced labour.
"If there are companies that have better practices, in line with International Labour Organisation markers, why stop them from recruiting?" Pereira asked.