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TI Bangladesh, Malaysia calls for MoU on recruiting migrant workers to be made public

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KUALA LUMPUR: Bangladeshi and Malaysian chapters of Transparency International called for public disclosure of the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on recruitments of Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia.

In a joint statement, the two chapters urged the two governments to take all preventive measures against corruption in the recruitment process including potential syndicated control so that the interests of the workers from Bangladesh and their employers in Malaysia can be protected.

“Referring to recent media reports in both countries about the possibility of syndicated capture of the process of recruiting the Bangladeshi nationals who could migrate to work in Malaysia by a vested group of Bangladeshi Recruiting Agencies (BRA) in collaboration with their Malaysian cohorts, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and Transparency International Malaysia (TIM) had expressed deep concern that the two Governments have failed to disclose the terms and conditions that they have agreed between themselves on such a subject of direct public interest.

“This secrecy is contradictory to both Governments’ national and international commitments to control corruption and ensure public access to information, the statement said. 

“Not only that, the lack of disclosure is creating opportunity for potential syndicated capture of the recruitment process by a handful of Bangladeshi Recruiting Agencies BRAs, as widely reported in the media of both Bangladesh and Malaysia, thanks to collusion with powerful quarters in both the countries,” said the statement.

On December 19, 2021, Malaysia’s Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan and Bangladesh’s Expatriates’ and Overseas Welfare Minister Imran Ahmed signed the Bangladeshi workers recruitment agreement, lifting a freeze imposed since September 1, 2018, by the previous Pakatan Harapan government.

The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) then called for equal opportunity to allow its 1,600 members to send workers to Malaysia as previously only 10 agencies chosen by Malaysia had monopolised recruitment between 2016 and 2018.

In a letter to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on January 13, Baira warned that recruitment syndicates could result in workers becoming victims of labour exploitation and lead to increases in corruption and human trafficking.

Saravanan however, had denied the existence of a syndicate and monopoly in the BRAs appointment, saying the MoU is merely a continuation of the previous deals that were suspended.

“If we want a recruitment monopoly, we can just keep the 10 agencies on the ground as stipulated in the old MOU. But I increased it to 275 sub-agents. There is no monopoly,” he was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini on January 26.

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