MP SPEAKS | I have recently received appeals from concerned Malaysians about the plights of migrants on how they are bullied by blood-sucking Malaysian agents and held to ransom by our authorities.
According to them, the migrant worker is paid about RM1,800 a month. The salary is paid through the agent who takes an RM800 commission monthly. The worker only takes homes RM1,000 each month after the 44 percent commission cut.
It is not uncommon for migrant workers to have paid all kinds of fees before coming to Malaysia, only to be told that there are additional fees and a new contract to be signed when they arrive. If this is not called unscrupulous, I don’t know what is.
We should rid the use of private agents in the recruitment of migrant workers. These workers are subject to all types of fees and commissions, and these agents are making very high profits and generating income for little work done.
We should look to government-to-government arrangements through bilateral agreements, instead of going through agents who oftentimes are exploitative and unethical.
Migrant worker management should come under the Human Resources Ministry instead of the Home Ministry. The Home Ministry will still be responsible for security vetting of potential recruits and the issuance of visas.
The Human Resources Ministry should act as the main hiring agency as it would have a better idea of Malaysia’s labour needs.
Secondly, it is a well-known fact that migrant labourers are subject to random inspections by our various enforcement agencies.
Every day, migrant labourers are being extorted in Malaysia. They are not criminals, they are merely sweating their blood out to provide food and a better life for their loved ones at home. Very few will report the abuse for fear of retribution.
I support Tenaganita’s proposal to set up a 24-hour migrant workers’ helpline that workers can call should they be harassed by the authorities. The helpline could help to root out corruption in our enforcement agencies.
The government must also repeatedly announce and warn its agencies that only the Immigration Department can stop and check foreigners under normal circumstances.
I have highlighted this to the relevant cabinet ministers and awaiting their responses. As policymakers, we need to formulate a clear policy on recruitment, placement, monitoring, and finally the return of migrant workers to their homeland.
A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members. How do we measure up?
LIM LIP ENG is the MP for Kepong.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.