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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bangladesh mission warns against monopoly of workers by Malaysian company

The government's appointment of Synerflux Sdn Bhd to manage the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers has sparked worries that the private company will monopolise the labour market, leaving the Bangladeshi government with no say in the recruitment process.

Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star today reported that the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur sent a letter advising the expatriates' welfare ministry in Dhaka to study the issue seriously before signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Malaysia on labour recruitment.

According to the report, the December 6 letter states: “The Malaysian government will select Bangladesh Recruiting Authorities through online system supervised by a [Malaysian] company. The Bangladesh government will not have any control to ensure whether any recruiting agency will get work or not.”

The report also named former home minister Tan Sri Azmi Khalid and Aminul Islam, a Bangladeshi who resides in Malaysia, as the owners of Synerflux that would be the “sole and exclusive entity” to develop, maintain and manage a fully online system known as Bangladeshi Workers Management System (BWMS).

In October last year, it was reported that Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in a written parliamentary reply to PAS MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar that Synerflux was shortlisted to handle the labour transfer; however, the deal was not yet finalised.

The following month, Zahid told DAP lawmaker Charles Santiago in a written parliamentary reply that the government had not appointed Real Time Networking Sdn Bhd, a company owned by his brother, Datuk Abdul Hakim Hamidi, to bring in 1.5 million Bangladesh workers.

Civil society organisations had warned that the bid by Real Time Networking smacked of conflict of interest, nepotism and collusion as it gave Zahid, who is also the deputy prime minister, oversight of approvals for incoming migrant workers.

The Dhaka-based newspaper also reported that Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) president Muhammad Abul Basher was opposed to the appointment of Synerflux, and urged the government not to allow "a syndicate that will control and monopolise labour recruitment and breed irregularities in the market".

Bangladeshi's Expatriates' Welfare Minister Nurul Islam, however, was quoted as saying he was unaware of an alleged syndicate and that discussions between governments would be held before the MoU signing, that has been deferred following a request from Malaysia.

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