PETALING JAYA: Some 35 Bangladeshis thought the worst was over when they were told that a factory in Johor Bahru was looking to hire workers.
They were part of a larger group that were left in the lurch after they travelled to Penang in December to work, only to be left without jobs.
However, their hopes that their ordeal was over were dashed after the bus they were in was told to turn back hours into the journey to Johor on Tuesday.
One of the workers said no reasons were given.
They were placed in a dormitory in Subang Jaya which had only one toilet.
The worker said he and the others in the group appreciated the efforts by their high commission in Kuala Lumpur, which not only promised to help them find jobs in Johor, but also gave them RM1,500 each.
Still, they were left shocked and frustrated by the entire episode.
“We want our passports back and we are pleading with the Malaysian authorities to help us get jobs or send us back to Bangladesh,” he said.
“We have been enduring hell over the last few months. We are mentally and physically broken and cannot take this anymore.”
Migrant workers activist Andy Hall said he had been in touch with the workers’ representative and the authorities.
“Their documents have been seized. This is tantamount to human trafficking and forced labour,” Hall said.
He warned that Malaysia could remain in Tier 3 of the US human trafficking report if the situation continued. Countries placed in Tier 3 are those that do not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and are not making significant efforts to do so.
Bangladeshi high commissioner to Malaysia Golam Sarwar said he would give his response soon.