SECURING international publicity for the wrong reason seems to be something that Malaysia has grown accustomed, if not, getting immune to.
Fair enough if the bad press stemmed from biased judgment of our ethnicity, colour or creed but what if there is indeed strong evidence of truth that we have indeed erred in our action?
Doubtlessly, the recent glove fiasco has threatened to have widespread repercussion to Malaysia’s position as a trading nation.
The country now risk getting scrutinised by potential investors not only within the confines of the glove industry per se, but across a wide array of other laborious industries, notably the manufacturing, plantation and construction/property development sectors, to name a few.
The time is now for all stakeholders to initiate a roundtable; they include the relevant authorities – particularly the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Human Resources Ministry (MOHR) – and the glove makers (both listed and private) to find a win-win solution to safeguard Malaysia’s reputation as a world leader in the glove industry.
Apart from the recent forced labour issues that Top Glove Corp Bhd is embroiled in with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Malaysia is also ‘hitching a ride’ from the threat of legal action that the UK Government is facing, no thanks to the links between personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the country and alleged modern slavery in Malaysian factories.
According to a news report in The Independent, the UK Government has failed to address labour abuses in its National Health Service (NHS) supply chain.
This has prompted lawyers at Wilson Solicitors, a London-based firm, to write to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), raising concern over how gloves made by Malaysian manufacturers with a history of exploiting workers have been provided to frontline healthcare staff in the UK.
Throughout the pandemic, NHS doctors and nurses have used gloves produced by Brightway Holdings Sdn Bhd, Supermax Corp Bhd and Top Glove – all three of which have been accused of “dire human rights abuses” by Wilson Solicitors.
The companies deny these claims and insist they comply with Malaysian labour regulations, according to The Independent.
Apparently, the UK Government has not sourced its PPE directly from Brightway and Top Glove, but acquired their stock from suppliers who were later found to have sourced gloves from the two companies.
In March of last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, DHSC bought 88.5 million gloves from Supermax. – April 2, 2021