Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
BY KAMLES KUMAR
KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — The contract between Putrajaya and a company handling the management of foreign workers from Bangladesh has been placed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), the Home Ministry said today.
Its minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the contract with Synerflux Sdn Bhd, the company which provides the online system to manage the foreign worker intake, is confidential for the time being as talks have yet to be finalised.
“In relation to that, the classification of the document will be considered along the lines of the Official Secrets Act 1972,” he said in his written parliamentary reply to Klang MP Charles Santiago.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also deputy prime minister, reiterated that the hiring of Bangladeshi workers was solely a government-to-government deal.
Santiago had asked if the government had plans to declassify documents related to Malaysia’s planned intake of 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers.
The opposition lawmaker was dissatisfied with the minister’s reply however, insisting that Malaysians have a right to know how much is being paid for the migrant workers.
The DAP lawmaker demanded the government disclose the documents, saying employers and business owners would like to know the expense breakdown of the future foreign workers they are hiring.
“This should be a public document. It makes no sense that is a secret, it should be publicly available as people need to know.
“People are paying for it. They should know how much. There is no transparency or accountability when the document is out under OSA,” Santiago told Malay Mail Online.
The proposed Bangladeshi worker intake previously sparked controversy after reports claimed that the contract was to be awarded to Ahmad Zahid’s brother, businessman Datuk Abdul Hakim.
The Home Ministry denied a report claiming that Ahmad Zahid had ordered it to award a management system contract for Bangladeshi workers to his brother’s company, saying the matter is still being discussed.
Ahmad Zahid on Saturday announced that the government has decided to stop the recruitment of new foreign workers with immediate effect.
He said following the Cabinet’s decision, the issue of bringing 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers into the country could be considered closed.
Source: Malay Mail Online
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