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The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Secretary-General N. Gopal Kishnam has complained about the lack of accountability by the Home and Human Resources Ministry in documenting Malaysia’s large migrant workforce.
His statement, published in The Malaysian Insider, came in response to Human Resources Minister, Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem, admitting that only half of Malaysia’s 5.8 million foreign workers were documented.
Kishnam’s retort, based on investigations conducted by the MTUC, found almost all foreign workers entered Malaysia legally, but became undocumented due to exploitation by their employers.
The Human Resources Ministry’s reasoning, he explains, is that the approval to bring in foreigners lies with the Home Ministry, and that it has no control on the number of foreign workers required.
In his statement, Kishnam also lamented underhanded tactics used by employers: “What was promised at the country of origin was not honoured when they arrived here. Some were paid peanuts.”
The migrant workers’ problems are compounded when employers withhold their travel documents, giving the example of foreign workers recruited in 24-hour restaurants who have no other means to seek financial assistance.