Saturday, 1 December 2012

Myanmar migrants in Malaysia

Khabar Southeast Asia reports on Myanmar migrant workers in Malaysia:
Foreign workers are a boon to the service industry due to a lack of local manpower, says Endrew Wong, 41, the co-owner of Chi Hao Dian. Yet Malaysia's large foreign workforce is a relatively new phenomenon.
Back in 1991, migrant workers were unheard of, save for those in higher management, Wong said. But now five-star hotels almost exclusively employ non-Malaysians for stewarding and housekeeping jobs.
According to Wong, his staff is mostly recruited via word-of-mouth, saving his company about 700 ringgits ($230) each per worker that would have gone to a recruiting agent. Still, levy fees and medical check-ups have cost him some 3,000 ringgits ($985) per worker. He also covers lodging, overtime and other on-job allowances.
Even the smallest businesses are getting in on the act. Steven Ng, 40, a stall operator in Petaling Street, said he'd have a hard time without foreigners.
"In the past eight years, I have worked 14-hour days with no holidays. I didn't even have time to go for lunch or for a drink with my friends. Now that I have two foreign workers, life is a little easier for me," Ng said.
Illegal workers pose a dilemma

Jelly has done well for herself, but not all foreigners are so fortunate. Many of those who come to Malaysia to work enter the country illegally. Without proper authorization, they are subject to exploitation.

Mo, 22, a Burmese national who works at a wallet and bags kiosk on Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown, is paid 1,500 ringgits ($492) a month. He gets no benefits, pays his own room and board, and risks being arrested at any time.
Mo arrived here by taking buses from his home country to Bangkok and Hat Yai. He entered Malaysia at Bukit Kayu Hitam, on the Thai-Malaysia border, hidden in a van.

"A visit to any of these places in Kuala Lumpur – Petaling Street, Chow Kit or Kota Raya – will give you an idea of the foreign influx from Indonesia, Burma, Cambodia, Nepal or Bangladesh. As to how many have entered the country legally, is anyone's guess," former Selangor director of customs Roslan Yusof told Khabar.
The influx poses a dilemma for authorities, who have sought to enforce the law without causing economic disruption. The government has cracked down on illegal workers and those who employ them, while also opening up avenues for legal employment.

A massive drive to legalise the foreign work force was launched earlier this year. Dubbed the Comprehensive Legalisation Programme for Illegal Immigrants, it is known informally as the "6P programme".
A staggering 480,995 illegal workers were legalised under the initiative, according to a Bernama report, which cited Mahmood Adam, secretary general of the Home Ministry at the time.

Meanwhile, more than 13,492 illegal workers were arrested and legal action was taken against 337 employers, according to the report.
A further 146,979 illegals were given amnesty and allowed to return home – the vast majority to Indonesia (89,026).

The list also included India (11,080), Nepal (11,153), Burma (8,955), Bangladesh (5,452), Sri Lanka (1,879), and Thailand (615).

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