Manpower recruiting agencies in Bangladesh and Malaysia have jointly expressed their stance against the "25-agency syndicate" recruiting workers bound for Malaysia.
A group of Bangladeshi recruiters, virtually joined by recruiters from Malaysia, demanded equal opportunity for all agencies, at the Hotel Intercontinental press conference on Thursday.
"Bangladesh, as a sovereign country, should be allowed to send its workers to Malaysia without any syndicate," said Abul Bashar, former president of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira).
"All recruiting agencies are of equal qualifications and they have acquired licenses by providing the same amount of caution money so they cannot be considered sub-agents of the 25 chosen ones," he added.
A debate over syndication in labour recruitment for Malaysia is currently ongoing, especially after Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard on 19 December.
At the heart of the debate is the syndicate of 25 Bangladeshi agents and 250 sub agents mentioned by Malaysian Human Resources Minister M Saravanan in a letter to Bangladesh Expatriates' Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad on 14 January.
Responding to the letter, Minister Imran Ahmed sent a letter to the Malaysian government on 18 January, reiterating the ministry's position against any sort of syndication in manpower export to Malaysia, which was lauded by Bangladeshi recruiters.
Dr Sukumaran Nair, secretary-general, National Association of Private Employment Agencies Malaysia, said, "We do not want any syndication or monopoly of special privileged agencies in the recruitment of foreign workers. We want a similar system to hire workers from all 14 sourcing countries, including Bangladesh."
Malaysia is home to around eight lakh Bangladeshis, according to an unofficial estimate. Earlier in 2018, following allegations of labour exploitation and high migration costs, the Malaysian government had frozen recruitment from Bangladesh.
Although some ten agents and 210 subagents were approved back then, in reality, only the ten agencies could send workers to Malaysia, claimed recruiters. Unique Eastern (Pvt) Ltd was one of the ten agents. Mohd Noor Ali, managing director of Unique Eastern (Pvt) Ltd, and also the former president of Baira, was present at the press conference on Thursday.
In response to a question about the mistakes and corruption of the previous syndicate, Noor Ali said, "The previous syndicate was a farce and the syndicate did not do what it was supposed to be doing."