52 bodies stuck in Malaysia due to lack of adequate international flights

Published On: July 14, 2021 09:20 AM NPT By: RUDRA KHADKA

KATHMANDU, July 14:  As the government has not been able to arrange adequate international flights, as many as 52 bodies of Nepali nationals are stuck in Malaysia for months. 

Officials at the Embassy of Nepal in Malaysia said they are unable to send dead bodies home for a long time as there are no adequate international flights operating in Kuala Lumpur-Kathmandu sector. 

“On an average, two people die every three days in Malaysia," said Deepak Dhakal, a labor counselor at the Embassy of Nepal in Malaysia. “But we have not been able to send them back to Nepal because of lack of adequate flights to and from the destination.” 

Dhakal said that if wide body aircraft carried out flights the transportation of bodies would not be a problem. A large number of dead bodies are stuck in Malaysia as airline companies are flying only narrow body aircraft to Malaysia.

“If a wide body is to be flown, 20-25 bodies can be transported at a time. But a narrow-body cannot carry more than two or three bodies,” he said. Even after the death of the workers who reached Malaysia for employment, the families remain in great pain as they cannot bring the body home.

According to the Foreign Employment Act, in case of death of a person who has secured a labor permit, the employer  concerned as well as the Foreign Employment Board are responsible for making necessary arrangements to transport the body to the house.

The relatives of the deceased have not been able to get the body on time due to various reasons even though voices have been raised that the body should be taken home as soon as possible. Stakeholders have been failing to bring the body of the deceased home for years due to delays by employers and inability to obtain required documents.

The board provides financial assistance of Rs 700,000 to the families of those who die in the course of foreign employment, while the insurance companies provide Rs 1.4 million to the families of workers with term life insurance. Dhakal said that the government did not schedule enough flights for the Malaysia-Kathmandu sector and those who tried to return home were in a lot of trouble too.

"Currently, there are three Kuala Lumpur-Kathmandu flights a week," he said. "Due to the low number of flights, tickets for up to two months are almost booked." Malaysia is the largest destination for employment in terms of the number of labor permits issued so far.

According to the department, out of the 5.5 million people who have received labor permits for all destination countries so far, about 1 million have received it for employment in Malaysia. It has been almost a year and a half since employment to Malaysia was put into halt for Nepalis. With the view of global pandemic, Nepal government had halted the service of foreign employment for its citizens in the beginning. However, this time the Malaysian government has barred foreign nationals from entering the country for employment.  

According to Dhakal, there are about 160,000 legal workers in Malaysia currently. Manpower entrepreneurs say that if the number of unregistered workers is added, there are about 300,000 Nepalis in Malaysia.

Dhakal said there is still uncertainty about the resumption of employment in Malaysia as the country is still experiencing an outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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