Published:  12:30 AM, 26 February 2020

Malaysia urged to reopen labor market to Bangladeshis

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has urged Malaysian Minister for Human Resources M Kulasegaran to reopen his country's labour market to Bangladeshi migrant workers.

He made the call while the visiting Malaysian minister met him at his office in Dhaka on Sunday.Malaysia is considering re-opening the labour market "very soon", Momen told reporters after the meeting."I said you have stopped new recruitment from Bangladesh for two years.

I will be happy and you will be revered as a hero if you declare the opening of the market. He replied, 'we are working on it with the Bangladesh ambassador. A decision will be made very soon'," the foreign minister said.

"He (Kulasegaran) was very much hopeful and discussed many things positively. The ministry of expatriates welfare is working on it and the market will soon be opened," he added In 2016, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding by which Malaysia agreed to recruit workers from Bangladesh in five different sectors under a "government-to-government plus" scheme.

Ten Bangladeshi recruitment agencies were permitted to send workers to Malaysia under the five-year contract.But the Malaysian government stopped issuing visas to Bangladeshi workers in 2018 after allegations surfaced that the workers were paying Bangladeshi agents 10 times more the money agreed in the MoU for work permit and air tickets.

After visiting Malaysia last November, the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed had said the decision to resume sending Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia will be taken after meetings of a joint working group scheduled for Nov 24 and 25 in Dhaka. But the decision has not come out yet. Kulasegaran has now come to Bangladesh on a four-day visit. He also met Imran .

Momen asked the Malaysian government to regularise the undocumented Bangladeshi migrant workers there. They can "immensely contribute" to both local and home economies, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Kulasegaran will visit Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar later, a foreign ministry official said.The foreign minister thanked Malaysia for its continued support for Bangladesh both internationally and regionally over the Rohingya crisis, the ministry said.

Momen appreciated Malaysia's condemnation of atrocities committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar's Rakhine State and its bold actions in support of persecuted Rohingya.

He requested Malaysia to remain proactive in the ASEAN platform to convince Myanmar into creating an environment conducive to a safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya.

Terming Malaysia Bangladesh's important bilateral trade partner, Momen said the two-way trade can be expanded if Malaysia invested in Bangladesh considering the "liberal and investor-friendly environment" here.

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