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Malaysia labour market reopens for Bangladeshis

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After a hiatus of over three years, Malaysia has officially reopened its labour market to Bangladeshi workers for five years until December 2026.

To meet the growing demand of workers following the Covid-19 pandemic, the Southeast Asian country has started hiring workers from potential countries, and as part of the move, the Malaysian cabinet on 10 December decided to resume the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers.

Expatriates’ Welfare Minister Imran Ahmed and Malaysian Minister for Human Resources, Seri Saravanan Murugan, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard at 11am Sunday in Malaysia.

Under the new deal, Malaysian employers will bear all costs of Bangladeshi workers, including immigration fee, visa fee, health examination cost, insurance cost, Covid-19 test cost and quarantine related cost, read a press release from the expatriate welfare ministry.

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Besides, employers can hire Malaysian recruiting agents at their own expense and they will be responsible for ensuring quality accommodation, medical care, and the welfare of workers, it added.

Earlier on Sunday, a four-member team led by minister Imran reached Kuala Lumpur to sign the deal.

After signing the deal, Malaysian minister Saravanan, in a statement said, “The inking of the MoU is expected to meet the urgent need for foreign workers.”

He also said the MoU outlined the responsibilities of both countries, including those related to employers from Malaysia and workers from Bangladesh, as well as the duties of private employment agencies in both countries, reports Bernama, the national news agency of Malaysia.

“The implementation of the MoU would be regulated by a Joint Working Group (JWG) with members from both countries,” added the minister.

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The new deal has opened the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in all sectors including plantations, agriculture, manufacturing, services, mining, construction, and household services.

Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Secretary Dr Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Md Golam Sarwar, Director General of Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) Md Shahidul Alam, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of Human Resources of Malaysia, Datu Muhammad Khair Ajman bin Mohammed Anwar, were also present at the signing ceremony.

According to the MoU, the employers will select Bangladeshi agents in accordance with the rules of the Malaysian government from the list of legitimate recruitment agencies sent by Bangladesh. The MoU further states that the Malaysian government will ensure transparency and fairness in this regard.

The recruitment process of new workers is expected to begin soon after the necessary formalities are completed.

According to the ministry press statement, both countries acknowledged on the occasion that Bangladeshi workers are contributing to the economic development of Malaysia as well as to the development of Bangladesh.

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The agreement has further protected the rights and dignity of workers in accordance with the laws, rules, regulations, national policies and guidelines of both countries, it added.

Abul Bashar, former president of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) told TBS, “Under the new MoU, migration costs would not cross the range between Tk80,000 to Tk1.20 lakh. If employers bear air tickets, the cost would further decrease. The migration cost used to be around Tk4-4.5 lakh.”

He also said that before closing the market, around 10-15 thousand workers went to Malaysia each month.

“Now, some 20-30 thousand workers will migrate to Malaysia in the coming months as employers there need a large number of foreign workers,” he said.

Malaysia is home to around eight lakh Bangladeshis, according to an unofficial estimate.

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The country suspended hiring Bangladeshi workers in September 2018 over allegations of malpractice in the recruitment process and high recruitment costs.

Mohammad Rasheduzzaman, assistant personal secretary to the expat minister, told TBS, “There is no decision yet on how many recruiting agencies will send workers.”

Commenting on recruiting agency syndicates, the Expat minister on Friday said, “I am not in favour of any syndicate to send workers to Malaysia. We want to send workers in a process where all recruiting agencies can participate, not some particular agencies.”

In line with the decision of the Malaysian cabinet meeting on 10 December, the Malaysian minister said on Sunday that the standard operating procedures (SOP) for the entry of foreign workers had been fine-tuned and improved.

He said the SOP covered four phases, namely pre-release, upon arrival, after arrival (quarantine) and post-quarantine.

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Vast majority of Bangladeshis want good relations with neighbours: FM tells South Asia Correspondents

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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has said the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh now understand that it should have good relations with neighbours – for its own prosperity as well as that of the region.

He said his party (Bangladesh Awami League) is painted as a ‘pro-Indian’ party but AL is a pro-Bangladeshi party.

“There are anti-Indian elements. We specifically see this issue during elections. But the anti-Indian sentiment is gradually diminishing in Bangladesh,” he told the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia during an interaction in New Delhi on February 9.

The Foreign Minister said the tablet or capsule of blaming Awami League as a pro-India party does not work anymore like the past.

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“Today, the vast majority of the people understand that for the prosperity of Bangladesh and the region, neighbours should have good relations,” he said while responding to a question.

Asked about balancing relations, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh-India relationship is not comparable to any other relations.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are bonded by blood and shared sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971,” Hasan said.

He said although China is not Bangladesh’s immediate neighbor but it is a neighbor and a development partner of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister said they face a lot of challenges due to the wave of fake news. He said this is a problem even in Europe and shared how fake news was spread during Covid-19.

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He mentioned that this is an area where all need to work together. “We can work together to fight against fake news.”

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Last national election was open for all AL members for sake of democracy: PM Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (9 Februay) said if she did not allow her party members to take part in last month’s election as independent candidates the democracy of the country would have been snatched away.

“If the election was not open for all (AL members), then not only the election would have been stained, the democracy of the country would have been hijacked too,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech at the extended meeting of Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban.

This election was important to maintain the country’s status as a developing country, she said.

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“We should not forget the election manifesto that we announced before the election to retain this achievement. Every year during the budget formulation we follow the election manifesto,” she said.

Hasina, also the chief of ruling Awami League, said that her party has also opened the upcoming upazila elections for all her party members to make it participatory.

“It will also be scrutinised how much work has been done for the common people in the last 15 years while in power, and who could not deliver. Through it we will see who is accepted by the people,” she said.

She issued warning against any sort of confrontation in the upcoming local government elections.

“We do not want any kind of confrontation. Stern actions will be taken against the individuals responsible for it no matter who they are,” she said.

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Claiming that the 12th parliamentary election was free, fair and impartial, Hasina said that those who want to dispute the election, they must give clear evidence.

She said that elections have been held in many developed countries of the world, but these are yet to be accepted by their opponents.

“Even the post-election violence has resulted in murders. But the election in Bangladesh was very fair. Public administration, the armed forces, law and order enforcement and all those involved in the election have performed their duties impartially,” she claimed

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Political crisis nearing climax: Rizvi

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The BNP today said the country’s long-standing political crisis is now nearing its climax as people are taking to the streets risking their lives to resist a one-sided election.

“The chief election commissioner surrendered to Sheikh Hasina instead of protecting the interests of the people and taking proper steps to ensure a free, fair, and participatory election,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, said in a virtual press conference.

The BNP leader alleged that the EC announced the schedule for the next election ignoring the continuous movement for free and fair elections.

Rizvi also alleged that the commission announced the election schedule on the instruction of the government, ignoring the appeals of the country’s civil society, the international community, and foreign diplomats.

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“When the CEC announced the schedule, he should have also mentioned the time of voting, whether it will be at night, or during the daytime, or early morning.”

The BNP leader said the government has established a regime where those who demand free and fair elections are being attacked.

He said their ongoing movement to restore the power and rights of the people will be a warning for all the autocrats.

Rizvi said the BNP leaders and activists are being arrested indiscriminately. “If they [law enforcers] can’t detain them, they are arresting their fathers, fathers-in-law, younger brothers, and even women in the house.”

He said law enforcers arrested more than 12,900 leaders and activists in 289 cases across the country since October 28.

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