PETALING JAYA: Human rights organisation Tenaganita has reiterated its call for the human resources ministry to take responsibility for the recruitment of foreign workers in the country.
Its executive director Glorene A Das said although the hiring process could look good on paper, the human resources ministry should act as the main hiring agency as it would have a better idea of Malaysia’s labour needs.
“The immigration department should only be responsible for the security vetting of potential recruits and the issuance of visas,” she said.
She also criticised the use of private agencies in the recruitment and placing of foreign workers, saying such organisations were often driven by profit.
“When profit is the main and only priority, private agencies place very high recruitment fees,” she said.
Not only do these agencies leverage on loopholes to widen the surplus value of labour, she said, their focus on profit created opportunities for corruption among enforcement authorities.
“The role of private agencies in the hiring process completely transforms it into an opaque, corruption-ridden system which makes a mockery of the official processes, so that anything and everything is possible with the right amount of money paid to the right persons,” she said.
Glorene also warned of an inclination for source countries to conduct “business to business” recruitment instead of “government to government” through bilateral agreements.
This in turn fostered the human trafficking situation, she said.
She was responding to the home ministry’s recent crackdown on illegal migrant workers which saw 1,475 illegals and 28 employers arrested between July 1 and 6 in 595 operations nationwide.
Glorene said the logical solution would be an overhaul of the system to remove the focus on direct profiteering and increase regulation.
“This would be the most possible in a system where the hiring process is carried out between governments instead of private entities,” she added.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) had also called for foreign worker management to come under the human resources ministry instead of the home ministry as at present.
It said there was also a need to review policies in order to curb problems related to foreign workers.
Glorene agreed, saying a more comprehensive policy was needed for the recruitment, placement and employment of migrant workers in the country.
“Changing of employers (within the same sector) should also be made much easier for workers if they are faced with abuse, violations or if the employer is financially unable to continue their employment,” she said.
“Failure to do so often forces the worker to abscond and become undocumented.”
When asked if problems related to foreign workers could be solved by a review of policies, Glorene said improving aspects of the hiring process could help tackle the human trafficking issue.
However, she added that authorities must analyse such issues and understand them from their roots instead of “skimming the top” with policies which only address surface matters.