Bust Bangaldesh/Malaysia syndicate, open labour market for all
May 31, 2022
Bust syndicate, open labour market for all
Thousands of recruiters threaten demo with burial shrouds if syndicate-free Malaysian market not ensured
31 May 2022 23:26:45
Bust syndicate, open labour market for all
Recruiting agency owners and other stakeholders attend a discussion on ‘Low Cost Reopening the Malaysian Labour Market with Participation from All Valid Recruiting Agencies,’ held at Sheraton Hotel in Dhaka on Tuesday. Recruiters raised their hands in solidarity for opening the Malaysian labour market for all valid recruiters — TBP Photo
The owners of more than 2,000 recruiting agencies will dress up in burial shrouds and hold a demonstration in front of the capital’s Probashi Kallyan Bhaban, if the 25-agency syndicate gets the opportunity to send migrant workers to Malaysia.
A syndicate-free market would allow everyone to send workers overseas at a cost of Tk 1.20 lakh. But if the market goes under the syndicate’s grip, workers will have to spend Tk 4 lakh to Tk 4.5 lakh for the same service, industry insiders said.
The decision in this regard must be finalised at the joint working committee meeting on June 2. Minister of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmed and his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri M Saravanan will represent their respective nations at the meeting.
Recruiting agency owners, addressing a discussion by the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies’ (BAIRA) anti-syndicate alliance on Tuesday, demanded that a syndicate-free and open Malaysian labour market be ensured at that high-level meeting.
The event titled “A discussion on Low Cost, Dignified Reopening the Malaysian Labour Market with Participation from All Valid Recruiting Agencies,” was held in the capital’s Sheraton Hotel.
Former BAIRA president Mohammad Abul Bashar presided over the discussion.
Another former BAIRA president Mohd Noor Ali spoke at the meeting through video conference , along with BRAC Migration Programme Head Shariful Islam Hasan, former Secretary General Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, journalist leader Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) Founding Chairman Tasneem Siddiqui, RMMRU Executive Director Dr CR Abrar, Welfare Association of Repatriated Bangladeshi Employees (WARBE) Chairman Syed Saiful Haque, former lawmaker and Parliamentarians Caucus on Migration and Development Secretary General Mahjabeen Khaled, The Centre for Non-Resident Bangladeshis (Centre for NRB) Chairman M S Shekil Chowdhury, Parliamentarians Caucus on Migration and Development Executive Committee member Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary, and lawmaker Syeda Rubina Akhter.
Speakers demanded that the syndicate mastermind Dato Seri Amin and his Bangladeshi associate Ruhul Amin Shwapan be brought to book. They also demanded an open labour market in Bangladesh, just like the ones in 13 other source countries.
Adding that the people involved in the syndicate process are engaged in anti-state activities, speakers demanded their arrest. They also demanded that the people backing these 25 agencies be identified.
Speakers spoke in favour of keeping the Malaysian labour market suspended if it cannot be made free from syndication.
Urging that those in Malaysia, who are involved with the matter, be identified as well, BAIRA leaders said though there is no syndicate here, a syndicate is being created. This racket has already backed down in Malaysia.
If a syndicate is formed, Bangladesh will never be able to meet the demand for its workers in Malaysia. If a syndicate is made, the country’s image will be tarnished, the labour market will face unrest, and migration costs will go up.
Malaysia will soon have an election, and Bangladesh must reopen a syndicate-free labour market before it takes place.
Speakers at the discussion said they will meet with the expatriate welfare minister to inform him about the overall situation, before the joint working committee meeting on June 2 takes place.
Participating in the discussion online from Singapore, Mohd Noor Ali said, “If there are 25 syndicates, then it will not be possible to send 10-20 lakh workers in a year. Malaysia takes a lot of workers without any fee.
“If there is syndication, Dato Amin and Ruhul Amin Swapan will not allow the sending of workers without a fee. They do not understand anything except money.”
He continued, “Dato Amin and Ruhul Amin Swapan did not keep their promise before. Those who support these 25 syndicates are all corrupt.
“Malaysia takes workers from other countries through an open system, then why can’t our government break the syndicate of Dato Amin and Ruhul Amin Swapan? Why isn’t the government making a new system?”
Former BAIRA president Mohammad Abul Bashar said, “Recruiting agency owners will dress up in burial shrouds and hold a demonstration in the capital if a syndicate is formed in the Malaysian labour market.
“Make sure that all legitimate recruiting agencies get the opportunity to work. The Malaysian market should not be closed like before.”
He further said, “After Mahathir Mohamad formed the government, it stopped taking workers from Bangladesh due to corruption. That country’s government confessed that there was corruption. That country’s government confessed that extra money was taken from workers.”
“If a syndicate is formed again, then is it possible to keep it free of corruption? Because a gang took the money. That money needs to be raised.”
In regards to the audio that went viral on social media he said, “On it, it was heard that many thousands of crores of money were trafficked abroad. We want to say, if the government gives us the chance, then we will send workers to Malaysia with the fee that the government has fixed. We will send a worker to Malaysia with Tk 1.20 lakh.”
Lawmaker Shameem Haider Patwary said, “The whole process will lack transparency if a syndicate is formed. Our efforts to ensure zero-cost migration will be severely disrupted as well. Some people are trying to obtain a mountain of wealth by exploiting people.
Reason for 2018 labour market shutdown
In 2016, the labour market began with just ten agencies under the FWCMS online system controlled by BESTINET SDN BHD, but workers’ migration was suspended after just one and half years due to irregularities, corruption and high migration costs.
It should be noted that though the system provider was supposed to take 105 ringgits (around Tk 2,100) from each employer under this method, Bangladeshi-origin Malaysian Dato Seri Amin and his business associate in Bangladesh Ruhul Amin Swapan hiked the amount by almost fifty times, and embezzled a large amount of money from poor and innocent local workers.
This matter was later covered by a number of local and foreign media. As a result, the then Malaysian government led by Mahathir suspended Dato Seri Amin’s system in September of 2018 due to this syndicate’s systematic corruption.
The government directed that workers be sent abroad at minimal costs and with the involvement of most recruiting agencies, but due to the irregularities and corruption in the system, the country could not even send 25 per cent of the targeted 12 lakh workers.
Discrimination in sending workers between Bangladesh and 13 other countries
It is undignified to send workers from Bangladesh through a syndicate while Malaysia hires workers from 13 other source countries in regular ways without syndication. For other countries, migration cost is much lower as employers can choose recruiting agencies themselves.
Like the 13 other source countries, we think it is a matter of the Bangladesh government itself to decide how many agencies will be selected and the selection criteria. So, while selecting legal and qualified agencies, the Malaysian government deciding solely to select 25 agencies is illogical and unacceptable.
Even Malaysia has more than 500 approved recruiting agencies
It should be noted that the Malaysian government – after facing much criticism and protests in their own country – approved more than 500 recruiting agencies (those having the C licence), instead of selecting the proposed 25 firms.
So, for the best interest of Bangladesh, it is essential that all legitimate and eligible recruiting agencies in the country get the opportunity to work.
The agencies have to be allowed to work equally and competitively in both countries in a 1:1 ratio. If 513 Malaysian recruiting agencies (those having the C licence) work with only 25 agencies in Bangladesh, the 1:21 work ratio will be illogical and unacceptable.
According to the Bangladesh Competition Act 2012, it is compulsory to allow all legal and qualified recruiting agencies to work considering our country’s interests.
Impossible for 1.6% recruiting agencies (25 firms) to send 15-20 lakh workers
When there is a projected demand for 15 lakh to 20 lakh migrant workers, how is the involvement of 25 incompetent agencies – instead of all eligible ones – in this process is logical?
Around 1,500 recruiting licencees in Bangladesh have been sending workers across the globe, so why is it necessary to create a 25-agency syndicate, which is only 1.6 per cent of the recruiting licencees?
Why more than 98 per cent of the recruiting agencies are being left out? This will prevent Bangladesh from sending the lion’s share of workers, and fully utilising the golden opportunity.
Considering the circumstances, the effort to send a large number of workers, through inept agencies that are 1 per cent of the sector, is quite illogical and impossible.
31 May 2022 23:26:45