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LETTER | Engage in ethical migrant worker advocacy

LETTER | Malaysia has been upgraded to Tier 2 by the US State Department’s annual Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report.

We must appreciate the efforts of the Labour Department and their quick response in dealing with the ordeals of Bangladeshi workers.

This is compared to remote desktop advocacy by foreign activists who have no direct interaction with migrants, have no valid and reliable data, and which is done to attract media attention.

There have been widely circulated KLIA video clips claiming labour exploitation and victimisation which are unfounded allegations as the migrants have not started working. The crowded scene was a result of the last-minute rush to meet the entry deadline.

On the labour recruitment supply chain from the source country where placement expenses were conveyed as recruitment fees, it was a complex migrant management challenge in the sending countries that had a labour surplus.

It is timely for Malaysian activists to engage migrant communities with ethical advocacy based on “do no harm” principles rather than finding blame and making allegations to attract media attention with overrated foreign activists.

There are still discrepancies in the policy delivery system due to multidimensional challenges including a database of documented and undocumented migrants, a monitoring system of domestic workers and abuses of the outsourcing business model, as well as a lack of migrant policies for micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Unregulated non-institutional cleaning services still require policy interventions to eliminate the exploitations by house-to-house cleaning companies cum domestic workers agencies that developed illicit deals in making cleaners into domestic workers causing violations of immigration acts.

Further collaborations with active grassroots NGOs will enhance the effectiveness of policy development and its delivery system.

We still need strong political will to improve migrant management.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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