Malaysia mulls removing agents from worker hiring process

Published On: March 4, 2019 07:36 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 4: Malaysia is considering removing outsourcing agencies or agents involved in the hiring and management of foreign workers as the country prepares to streamline policies governing foreign workers. An estimated half a million Nepalis are currently employed in Malaysia. 

Malaysian media reported that local stakeholders including the Malaysian Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) have suggested introducing a single end-to-end online processing and approval system by eliminating third parties from the hiring process. Their suggestion comes as an independent committee formed to recommend the government on streamlining the hiring of foreign workers is due to submit its report. 

“We are hoping to streamline this under one roof, or one ministry,” Malaysian Minister for Human Resources told the media, adding, “There is a proposal from local stakeholders to introduce a single end-to-end online processing and approval system for migrant workers so as to get rid of third-party agencies. The legislation also aims to introduce more scientific levy scheme for migrants.”

Malaysia’s preparations to change the law come amid protracted standoff with labor-supplier countries which have been accusing the Malaysian government of profiteering from foreign workers through several layers of agents.

It has been around ten months since Nepal stopped sending workers to Malaysia accusing the latter of charging exorbitant visa processing fees from workers. Currently Malaysia-bound workers have to pay to Rs 18,000, excluding service charges, to get a visa, around 25 times more than what they were paying five years ago, thanks to the installation of four different outsourcing companies by Malaysian government to provide various visa-related services. 

Until 2013, Malaysia-bound workers would pay just Rs 700 for a visa. 

In October, five months after Nepal barred its citizens from visiting Malaysia for employment, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that required employers to bear the expenses associated with the hiring of workers. Nepal has refused to allow Nepalis to go to Malaysia until the Malaysian government removes agents providing visa processing facilities and health and security screening of workers. 

In a recent interview with Republica, Labor Minister Gokarna Bista had said that the government was seeking greater assurance from the Malaysian government on promotion and protection of workers before the ban could be lifted. 

It is not immediately clear whether the proposed overhaul in hiring system will remove the outsourcing agencies operating in Nepal. 

Amid lingering in negotiations to resume the hiring of Nepali workers, Malaysia is mulling over filling the vacuum created by the shortage of Nepali workers through hiring from other countries. In August, Malaysian ambassador to Nepal had told Republica that Nepal should reopen the hiring of Nepalis in the security sector or else his country would look elsewhere for security guards.

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