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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Freezing all foreign workers just "an eyewash", says Bangla official

PETALING JAYA - An official of the Bangladesh government is confident that Malaysia could continue to take Bangladeshi workers despite announcing a suspension of intakes of all foreign workers on Thursday.

Begum Shamsun Nahar, the acting secretary of the Bangladesh overseas employment ministry, was quoted as saying the freeze was “an eyewash”.

She said Bangladesh had not received any official statement from Malaysia, according to the Dhaka Tribune newspaper.

“The Malaysian government has made the announcement to calm local pressure groups who are opposed to recruiting foreign workers,” she was quoted as saying.

The Malaysian freeze was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister. He  said all intakes of foreign workers were being suspended for further study of the issue.

Despite the announcement, Begum Shamsun believed that Bangladesh would send workers to Malaysia under an agreement signed between the two countries on Thursday, the Tribune reported.

The agreement has been previously reported as opening the doors for the intake of 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh over three years, but the Malaysian government said on Thursday that the figure referred to the total number of Bangladesh workers being sent abroad, not solely to Malaysia.

The Dhaka Tribune also reported that the Bangladesh government has been criticised for failing to analyse criticism in Malaysian media about the manpower deal before signing the agreement.

Migration expert Dr CR Abrar said: “Their media continuously focused on this debate going on regarding this manpower hiring from Bangladesh. Then why were we not prepared before signing the MoU?” He said the Bangladesh government had also failed to learn any lesson from an earlier agreement that resulted in many skilled Bangladeshi migrants becoming illegal aliens in Malaysia.

“Without making any assessment, signing another deal with the same government was not a good decision. Actually our government always negotiated with them from a weak position,” said Abrar, who is also a professor of international relations at Dhaka University, the Tribune reported.

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