A question for Cabinet: To have or not to have foreign workers

By Nurul Samad


RECENTLY, there has been a lot of attention given to the issues associated with foreign workers – the sheer numbers of documented and undocumented foreign workers, economic and social implications as well as the management of the foreign workers.

Not least is the concern that why we are considering even more foreign workers into the country when clearly the COVID-19 pandemic has cost us job opportunities and more people are unemployed – the highest in 27 years.

An article in a Bangladesh newspaper, put Malaysia in the limelight and in a rather negative manner. A group of Bangladeshi recruitment agencies had organised a demonstration in Dhaka, claiming there was an “evil attempt” to resurrect a “syndicate” that involved recruitment of Bangladeshis to work in Malaysia under the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS), despite, or in spite of the repeated statements of the company that runs the system – that they are just an IT company.

In the first place, how did this issue erupt in such a manner?  Shouldn’t this issue be sorted out among the agencies themselves, within Bangladesh in this instance, through the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira)? It was alleged that there was hanky-panky involved – another ‘Made in Malaysia’ scandal.

We do not need these kinds of scandals anymore. Malaysia needs to move away from being the world’s poster-boy of corruption as well as wheeling and dealing. These reports effect our reputation and sovereignty.

They hurt us all where it matters the most at the moment – our economy and our businesses.

This particular piece of foreign news raised many eyebrows.  It did not take long to realise over the years, this issue was constantly dodged from a full-blown investigation.

It was reported by the media that former Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran announced the developer and owner of FWCMS, a local company named Bestinet Sdn Bhd was suspended from operating its system.

The media was rife with the public feud between the minister, and the executives of Bestinet, where the former was insistent that the suspension was valid based on strong grounds of the alleged misconduct.

A little more than a year later, the same minister, announced to the Dewan Rakyat that the ministry had cleared Bestinet of any wrongdoings and that is without any inquiry or report. 

Did the ministry have their own Royal Commission of Inquiry to conduct the investigation on the allegations? If yes, why did they not announce the findings to the public?

Malaysia was already in the infamous limelight of human trafficking syndicates, 1MDB and a slew of scandals. Do we really want to add on the list of negative reporting?

Perhaps the Minister of Human Resources should consider this question. – March 2, 2o21


Nurul Samad is from Kuala Lumpur.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


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