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Malaysia suspends approval for foreign workers until further notice

19 March 2023

Staff Reporter  :
Human Resource Ministry of Malaysia has suspended the approval of recruiting new foreign workers from 15 source countries, including Bangladesh until further notice.
A number of news portals of Malaysia, quoting their Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar reported that foreign worker employment quota approvals, including the Foreign Worker Employment Relaxation Plan, will be halted from Saturday (March 18) until further notice to shore up utilisation of approved quotas.
In announcing the decision, Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar said 995,396 foreign worker employment quota applications have been approved as of Tuesday across various sectors, namely manufacturing (387,122), construction (342,106), services (143,568), plantation (76,325), agriculture (45,899), as well as mining and quarrying (376), Free Malaysia Today, a Malaysian news portal, reported on Saturday.
"These involve normal approving processes and also relaxed procedures for five critical sectors which are manufacturing, construction, plantations, agriculture, as well as food and beverage," Sivakumar said in a statement. He also said, the 995,396 foreign worker employment quota applications were sufficient to meet the demands of the workforce needed in all sectors, including the critical areas.
He urged employers who have been given approvals for their respective quotas to speed up the process of bringing them into the country within the stipulated period, adding that the number of those entering is low compared with the total approved.
The concerned stakeholders of Bangladesh said that such decision taken by the Malaysian government would generally create a concern among the expected Bangladesh workers as Malaysia is a good market for Bangladesh to earn remittances.
Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) and Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) sources said until March 5, nearby 121,000 workers have gone to Malaysia from Bangladesh.
In addition, BMET has issued clearance letters to 190,500 workers until March 5. Officials have informed that now authorized recruiting agencies are able to arrange flights for more than a thousand workers daily.
On the other hand, the employers in Malaysia have received permission from the government to hire 314,473 workers from Bangladesh until March 5.
The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment of the country has given approval for 314,473 quotas for Bangladesh so far.
Earlier on February 8, during a courtesy meeting with Malaysia's Minister of Human Resources, M Saravanan, Bangladesh's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Md Golam Sarwar, conveyed a request to him to organise a joint working group meeting between the two countries to ensure transparency in worker recruitment.
The Malaysian Human Resources Minister in reply gave assurance to talk on the issue in the upcoming joint working group meeting in the current month.
Sources said that the manpower recruitment process is always plagued by an alleged 'syndicate' which control the market, resulting in the increase of recruitment cost for the workers.
The upcoming joint working group meeting this month will discuss about how to simplify the process of hiring Bangladeshi workers and to control the immigration cost, sources said.
The meeting may also discuss regarding the possibility of introducing online methods for recruitment of workers between Bangladesh and Malaysia.
Earlier, on February 5, during a joint briefing in Dhaka, Malaysian Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Bangladesh Expatriate Minister Imran Ahmad had expressed the need for enhancing the pace of workers' migration to the country and controlling the cost of living expenses, and discussed the possibility of revising the bilateral agreement between the two countries.
Since September 1, 2018, the recruitment of workers from Bangladesh to Malaysia had been suspended.
After prolonged negotiations and uncertainty, on December 19, 2021, a memorandum of understanding on worker recruitment between Malaysia and Bangladesh was signed.
Then on June 2, 2022, a meeting was held in Dhaka between the two countries led by Malaysia's Minister of Human Resources M Saravanan, where solutions were reached on various issues, including labor markets.
The two ministers announced the official opening of the labor market. According to the new memorandum of understanding, the recruitment of workers to Malaysia begun on August 8, 2022.

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