Firms owe migrant workers RM2 bil over failed rehiring process, says activist

An activist says migrant workers paid the companies between RM922.52 and RM4,513.86 for the opportunity to legally live and work in Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: An activist yesterday lodged a police report against three companies which he claimed had received around RM2 billion in registration and legalisation fees from illegal migrant workers but failed to get them jobs under the government’s rehiring programme.

The three companies were appointed by the home ministry to conduct the rehiring scheme which ran from Feb 15, 2016 to June 30, 2018.

They are MYEG Services Bhd, Bukti Megah Sdn Bhd and International Marketing and Net (Iman) Resources Sdn Bhd.

The illegal migrant workers paid the companies between RM922.52 and RM4,513.86 for the opportunity to legally live and work in Malaysia.

Speaking to FMT, Selangor Anti-Human Trafficking Council (Mapmas) task force member Abdul Aziz Ismail said that only 110,489 of the 744,942 illegal migrant workers who registered for the programme were successfully rehired.

As a result, Aziz said, migrant workers were being detained, arrested, prosecuted and deported because their legal status was unclear.

He urged the police to probe the three companies for failing to complete the rehiring process.

“They took the money but didn’t complete the rehiring process. This is illegal gains. Is money laundering legal in Malaysia? What is MACC (the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) doing about this?” asked Aziz, who had been an activist against labour trafficking since 1984.

“I hope the authorities will forfeit the illegal gains because they rightfully belong to the migrant workers and can be utilised if they are to be repatriated home.

“The (police) investigating officer said they will refer the case to the home ministry. I will also bring it up with the Immigration, MACC and the Attorney-General’s Chambers,” he said after lodging the report at the Petaling Jaya police station.

On June 1, 2018, Immigration Department director-general Mustafar Ali said the services of the three government-appointed agents would be terminated at the end of that month.

Last December, the director and consultant of migrant workers group Tenaganita, Joseph Paul Maliamauv, estimated that migrant workers were owed around RM2.5 billion after paying on average RM5,000 each to be absorbed into the local workforce via the rehiring programme.

FMT has been unable to get comments from representatives of the three companies.