Migrant Care slams foreign activists with unfounded allegations on Malaysia’s labour governance

Letter to editor

THE Malaysian Human Resources (HR) Ministry has been serious in fighting modern day slavery linked to migrant recruitment and placement mechanism in the transnational labour supply chains networks involving organised syndicates.

Yesterday (Feb 8), the Johor Bharu branch Labour Department has achieved a significant mileage after charging an unscrupulous employer in Pengerang at the Industrial Court in a case involving 733 Bangladeshi migrant workers with unpaid wages amounted to RM1,035,557.50 (RM1.03 mil).

Following the swift action, both parties have reached a mutual agreement with the said employer agreeing to compensate the Bangladeshi migrant workers with the stipulated sum.

This is inline the enforcement of Malaysian labour law which requires the employer to pay the workers recruited from Bangladesh even without the availability of immediate jobs.

In a way, this latest action serves as a stern warning to employers that all migrant workers recruited must have ready jobs available and that they are entitled to monthly salary payment upon their arrival in Malaysia or as per stated in their employment contract.

In this regard, Migrant Care Kuala Lumpur is strongly against unfounded allegations made by foreign activists to tarnish Malaysia’s labour governance without ethical research that is based on the evidential facts.

NGOs (non-governmental organisations) as well as international bodies need to be responsible and accountable in making allegations based on unbiased study beyond the grey literature or unfounded perceptions.

The Malaysian government has made praiseworthy progress in ensuring inclusive fair and good practices in the transnational labour market dynamics. Migrant labour protection mechanism has also made a small progressive step towards further transformation.

We are looking forward to multiple stakeholders’ ethical collaboration in fighting the common causes of modern slavery.

Migrant Care is also hopeful of further concerted actions by both the Malaysian and Bangladeshi governments to investigate agents in Dhaka over imposing charges on the Malaysian agent cohort and potential recruiters/employers.

In the same light, the HR Ministry and its foreign workers division must constantly conduct due diligence to ensure further enhancement to the transparency of Malaysia’s migrant workers management with the supplying countries. – Feb 9, 2024


Alex Ong is country representative of Migrant Care Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) aimed at safeguarding the welfare of migrant workers in Malaysia.

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

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