Authorities in Bangladesh are up in arms over millions of dollars lost in annual remittance incomes and stuck paid deposits likely to expire with no returns – all because Malaysia continues to be shady over when Bangladesh nationals will be allowed to resume existing and new contracts to work in the Southeast Asian nation.
Despite recent assurances that Malaysia will reopen borders for essential manual labor supply from Bangladesh to meet the high demand for various industries – where locals refuse to be employed due to lowly-paid jobs seen as dirty and demeaning – continued excuses citing the coronavirus pandemic has seen Malaysia government-set deadlines being postponed again and again.
Just days after the 15 oct 2020 Zoom government-to-government agreement reached during a Zoom meeting between Malaysian Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Saravanan Murugan and Bangladesh Minister of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmad, Malaysia reiterated closure of its borders once more.
At the Budget 2021 announcement on 6 November 2020, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz stressed again all jobs in Malaysia will be for Malaysians – with the avowed aim of eventually having no foreign workers at all.
While this policy has largely remained rhetoric in past decades, job losses among Malaysians due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has made it a hot-button political matter for this government administration – as it is barely able to command a slim majority in Parliament.
Seeing the writing clear on the wall, Bangladesh authorities have expressed their anger via diplomatic channels – as repatriated income from Bangladesh workers in Malaysia make up a significant chuck of the South Indian nation’s economy. Loss of this income stream – especially with other revenues shrunk amid Covid-19 economic ravages – will stoke more anger within Bangladesh against the government there.
Around 30 appointed employment agencies in Bangladesh are also angry at this Malaysian border stonewalling as they had paid deposits of 5 million Malaysian ringgit (US$1.2 million) to guarantee quotas for Bangladesh migrant workers they get to handle. This deal was originally for a 3-year period till end-2022.
But as no deal period extension has been agreed to by Bestinet Sdn Bhd – the Malaysian agency with a chokehold on all Bangladesh workers inflow into Malaysia – the Bangladesh employment agencies are crying foul any likely income in the contract period left won’t cover the deposits paid.
As such, they have pressured the Bangladesh government to renegotiate their deals with Bestinet – but there has so far been only silence from the Malaysian government. Stay tuned as this brewing diplomatic bubbles over.