The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

MOEAF requests for lifting of worker ban to Malaysia

The Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation (MOEAF) has urged the Myanmar government to lift its temporary suspension on sending workers to Malaysia, according to MOEAF officials.

The Myanmar government issued an order on December 6, 2016 to the MOEAF to stop sending workers to Malaysia temporarily after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak gave a public speech and led a street protest two days earlier, accusing the Myanmar government of human rights violations in the Rakhine State.

“We have requested many times for the government to re-send the workers to Malaysia. But we haven’t gotten any reply till now.

“Many workers go there illegally since they can’t go legally. There are so many problems that workers have been sent back again,” said U Kyaw Zaw, the joint-general secretary of MOEAF.

Some employers and recruitment agencies in Malaysia have been accepting illegal workers because of the high demand for workers there, he added.

“Now, workers are going there with visitor visas and they try to convert their visas to work visas when they get there.

“They have no legal work permit and they are not confirmed of proper jobs. They can face many grievances,” an agency’s official told The Myanmar Times yesterday on condition of anonymity.

She also said that Malaysian employment agencies and employers have been eagerly waiting for the lifting of the suspension because of the country’s high labour demand.

Thousands of workers also have been waiting for the government’s approval to go to Malaysia, she added.

“We have asked for feedback from the Myanmar embassy in Malaysia via the Myanmar Foreign Affairs Ministry about the current situation there,” U Thein Win, director of Migration Affairs Department of the Ministry of Labour, told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

“If the conditions are good, we will send out labour again.”

The Malaysian government has been issuing the E-Kad, a temporary living and work permit for a one-year period, to all illegal migrants in order to fill the labour requirements and to monitor the movement of the workers.

The government has also been conducting almost-daily arrests of illegal migrants from wards, streets, work place and factories, according to U San Win, chair of Kathpone Free Funeral Services which is based in Kuala Lumpur.

“I absolutely don’t want workers to come here illegally. They are very sure to be arrested and imprisoned. Now, illegal migrants will be caned and jailed as punishment, and already a lot of migrants have been jailed,” U San Win told The Myanmar Times.

The Myanmar government made exceptions to the December ban for workers who have been permitted by the Committee of Education, Health and Human Resources Development to be sent abroad. However, processing for permits for all other workers have been suspended.

There are an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 Myanmar migrant workers living in Malaysia, most of them without legal documents.

Around 3000 to 4000 Myanmar workers used to go to Malaysia for work every month before the temporary suspension.

Crimes involving Myanmar nationals as victims have also been increasing in Malaysia recently.