Saturday, August 31, 2013

Levy Payable For Employing Migrant Workers in Malaysia, Approved Sectors for Migrants from which country?

Employment of Foreign Worker

In Malaysia, foreign workers can be employed in the manufacturing, construction, plantation, agricultural, services and domestic help sector.

Services sector consists of eleven sub sectors: (restaurant, cleaning services, cargo handling, launderette, caddy in golf club, barber, wholesale/retail, textile, metal/scraps/recycle activities, welfare homes and hotel/resort island.

Only nationals from the specified countries below are allowed to work in the selected sectors:

Approved Sectors Nationals of:
  • Manufacturing
  • Plantation
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Services sector
  • Indonesia
  • Cambodia
  • Nepal
  • Myanmar
  • Laos
  • Vietnam
  • Philippines (male only)
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Services (cooks, wholesale/retail, barber, metal/scraps/ recycle, textile)
  • Construction (fixing of high voltage cable only)
  • Agriculture
  • Plantation
  • India

Approval is based on the merits of each case and subject to conditions that will be determined from time to time. Applications to employ foreign workers will only be considered when efforts to find qualified local citizens and permanent residents have failed.

An annual levy on foreign workers is imposed as follows:

Approved Sectors
Annual Levy
RM 590
RM 410
Domestic Help
RM 410
- Welfare Home
- Island Resort
- Others

RM 600
RM 1,200
RM 1,850

All applications for foreign workers should be submitted to the One Stop Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs except for applications for foreign domestic helpers which should be submitted to Malaysia’s Immigration Department.

For further information on employment of foreign workers, please visit the Ministry of Home Affairs website at

Malaysian plans to insert tracking device in migrant worker identity cards -

RFID in Identity Cards - tracking Migrant Workers like cattle and criminals is unacceptable - will soon all Workers, Malaysians also be deprived their privacy?

Now, Malaysian government is seriously going to infringe the privacy of migrant workers (and maybe later Malaysians too) with the introduction of  Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) into their identity cards. That means their movement can be tracked as though they as though they are cattle or criminals.
A total of 1.4 million Bangladeshi workers, scheduled to be recruited in stages from early next year, will be issued special identity cards (IC). 

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the ICs would have Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and biometric technology, and would function as a debit card and stored-value card (such as Touch & Go).

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID tags, a technology once limited to tracking cattle, are tracking consumer products worldwide. Many manufacturers use the tags to track the location of each product they make from the time it's made until it's pulled off the shelf and tossed in a shopping cart.

Outside the realm of retail merchandise, RFID tags are tracking vehicles, airline passengers, Alzheimer's patients and pets. ...the noncommercial uses of RFID tags and how the Departments of State and Homeland Security are using them. Lastly, we'll examine what some critics consider an Orwellian application of RFID tags in animals, humans and our society. - Wikipedia

Malaysia also announced that they will soon be using electronic monitoring device (EMD) on suspects - this also is unacceptable because a person is innocent until proven guilty. Maybe, it may be acceptable as a 'new' bail condition, that too should be restricted to serious and violent crimes only and a for a limited short period only, for trials should be speedily held - if not, it will be abused and be akin a 'punishment without trial' where people may be simply charged and held on bail indefinitely. We really need a criminal compensation scheme in place so persons can be compensated for loss of liberty and other freedoms, if their charge is subsequently withdrawn, found not guilty, ... The other category of persons maybe those let out earlier on parole - i.e. earlier than their prison sentence by reason of good behavior - and that too maybe for serious and violent crimes only. As it is ex-convicts are already facing discrimination and hurdles to re-integrate into society resulting in many returning to their ways of crime by reason of no other choice.

The Home Ministry plans to use the electronic monitoring device (EMD) on offenders charged under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 by end of next month.

Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail confirmed that the government had approved the use of EMDs to track organised and violent crime suspects to ensure they would not commit other crimes while out on bail.- Malaysiakini, 24/8/2013, Electronic monitoring device to be implemented in Sept
EMD and this RFID may be different devices/technology but their intent is the same, to track people and their movement. There was some talk before that our new MyKad may have been something similar to RFID - maybe some MP should ask that question in Parliament to just make us all feel safe, and that our privacy is not being infringed by our government.

In any event, migrant workers should never be treated LESS - they are human beings. They are workers - and they should not be treated like some product in a supermarket, cattle or like criminals (or suspected criminals).

What happens to migrant workers today may soon be happening to LOCAL workers later - then maybe even all Malaysians. The 'contractor for labour system' which erodes direct employment relationship between the worker and the owner/operator of the workplace(principal), weakens unions, erodes worker rights, etc... started out with Migrant Workers around 2005 - but today LOCAL workers are also victims of this very unjust system.
We  have to protest these plans by the Malaysian government which undermine human dignity, freedoms ...and yes, the right to personal privacy.
Published: Thursday August 22, 2013 MYT 7:14:00 PM
Updated: Thursday August 22, 2013 MYT 7:18:23 PM

Ahmad Zahid: Bangladeshi workers to get special IC

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 1.4 million Bangladeshi workers, scheduled to be recruited in stages from early next year, will be issued special identity cards (IC). 
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the ICs would have Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and biometric technology, and would function as a debit card and stored-value card (such as Touch & Go). 
"The cards would be colour coordinated to indicate different employment sectors to prevent the workers from switching jobs," he told reporters after a courtesy call from Bangladesh Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain here on Thursday. 
He said the workers would be screened to ensure that they had no prior criminal records before being recruited and those found moving sectors would be fined up to RM12,000. 
"One of the issues discussed was temporary housing for the workers, so they will be taken care of and to prevent assimilation problems with locals," said Ahmad Zahid. 
He said the Bangladesh workers' entry had been agreed during Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein's term as Home Minister, to cater to the shortage of workers in the plantation and services sectors. 
"They will be brought in under a government-to-government agreement to prevent exploitation by middlemen. 
"We're also discussing the same approach with other countries such as Indonesia and Myanmar," he said.
Meanwhile, Khandker said the government-to-government deal would reduce cost from US$4,000 (RM13,284) to US$400 (RM1,328) per worker.
"Before this, they had to work four to five years to repay the cost due to exploitation by middlemen, but now they can settle the amount in two months," he said. - Bernama - Star, 22/8/2013, Ahmad Zahid: Bangladeshi workers to get special IC

MTUC ticks off employers, saying probation period would shortchange foreign workers

MTUC ticks off employers, saying probation period would shortchange foreign workers

30 July 2013 
  Malaysia’s main workers group has criticised employers who want a probation period and to pay 30% less for foreign workers with temporary work permits despite a government ban on the practice.

Putrajaya had issued a circular on July 11 saying that probation periods would not be applicable to foreign employees holding temporary work permits. There are an estimated two million foreign workers in Malaysia.

“The employers’ call on the government to withdraw the circular issued on July 11 which stated that a probation period is not applicable to foreign employees holding temporary working permits is most inconsiderate and inappropriate,” Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general Abdul Halim Mansor said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur today.

He pointed out that all contracts of foreign workers do not stipulate a probation period, adding the workers had already been interviewed on their fitness and capabilities to fulfil the job requirements.

He also said the government had already given a blanket approval to Malaysian firms to pass the workers’ levy from employers to the workers although the MTUC was critical of that decision.

Abdul Halim also said despite all concessions, the employers’ are now demanding a further 30% reduction on the grounds that the workers are probationers, adding this was unreasonable.

“If we accept the employers’ unreasonable demand that foreign workers should be paid less during their probationary period then they will only be getting a miserable RM450 – after the deductions for the levy and accommodation.

“Employers demanding this should first check their conscience to see if one can survive with just RM 450. The employers should not be so inconsiderate,” Abdul Halim said.

He said the government must stand firm on its decision not to allow employers to mandatorily reduce the minimum wage of foreign workers during the period of probation.

“It is very clear that employers are only thinking of their profit and not the welfare of the employees,” the MTUC secretary-general said. – July 30, 2013.
Source: The Malaysian Insider

Source: MTUC Website

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shocker in Migrant Worker court case: Evidence with ‘blanco’ (ALIRAN)

Observers in court were stunned when an employer in a labour dispute with a migrant worker produced evidence with liquid paper marks on it. Rani Rasiah reports.
court sentencing

On 29 July 2013, the hearing continued in the Aye Cho versus New Zonic Enterprise labour case.

S Somahsundram of MTUC appeared for the worker and Yang Berhormat Thomas Su, lawyer and MP for Ipoh Timur, represented the boss.

Aye Cho had filed a case in early 2012 at the Labour Department in Ipoh against his employer for non-payment of overtime work, denial of annual leave and unlawful levy deductions. He and four other Myanmar workers had tried to raise these with the employer, who responded by sacking two of them on the spot.

On the 29th morning, Chan Lark Sye, the employer, his face expressionless as usual, sat in the dock. It was Soma’s turn to cross-examine him.

Soma: How many days of annual leave did Aye Cho take in 2011?

Aye Cho had complained that he had been denied annual leave (AL) for his entire four and a half years of employment at New Zonic Enterprise, a printing company.

Boss: 14 days.
At an earlier hearing, Thomas Su had tendered photocopies of the clock cards for 2011 as exhibits to show that the company had indeed granted Aye Cho annual leave. Fourteen dates had been mentioned as Aye Cho’s annual leave days in 2011, and these had been shown by Su to correspond with 14 blanks on the clock card copies.

For the 29th hearing, the original clock cards for 2011 were produced.

Soma: (referring to the original clock cards for 2011): Why has ‘blanco’ (liquid paper) been used for 16 and 17 April 2011?

Boss: I think, some other worker mistakenly punched the card.

Soma: What about 25 April 2011? Has blanco been used?

Boss: Yes.

Soma: Why?

Boss: I think same reason as on 16 and 17 April.

Soma: June 2011, 11 and 12 June. Was blanco used?

Boss: Yes.

Soma continued in the same manner, for the remainder of the 14 days, including 1 September 2011, where there were ink marks as well over the blanco. Fourteen days of annual leave appeared to have been created on paper by blanking out machine print marks with liquid paper.

What a bold piece, I thought, of the employer to coolly produce such evidence before the court. No register of records of annual leave etc was produced to back up his claim. 

Also, the cards had apparently been tampered to reflect two and a half hours less overtime every day to justify paying two and a half hours less than the actual overtime hours worked.

How should the various actors in this hearing react when faced with such evidence? We leave it to the wisdom of the court to decide. 

Seeking justice in this instance is a desperate migrant worker, unexpectedly dismissed and unable to return home empty-handed to his family of six young children, wife and aged mother. With our help, Aye Cho had filed complaints in March 2012 at the labour department for monetary claims and the industrial relations department for reinstatement. The boss went on to unilaterally cancel his work permit, making the worker illegal and exposed to all the risks entailed.

It took five months before the cases were heard at the labour and industrial courts. During this entire period, Aye Cho remained ‘illegal’ not because he was naturally inclined to flout rules, but because the Immigration Department refused to entertain his application for a pass to remain in the country. Their stand was that the dismissed worker should return to his home country and come back after the court dates were fixed. Clearly, the Immigration Department did not recognise the right to redress provided by the Employment Act, and was free to invalidate it.

Once court dates were given, Immigration issued the Special Pass for Aye Cho. It was not the end of his woes though. The Special Pass is issued at a charge of RM100 for a maximum of 30 days each time, and generally it is renewable only for three months.

The worst and most cruel thing about the Special Pass for people like Aye Cho is that it forbids the holder from working. The pass holder can remain in the country to attend court hearings but he is not allowed to earn.

But there are essential expenses to meet – upkeep, legal fees and interpreter charges. In essence then, the sacked migrant worker has no choice but to return home without his grouses being heard and dealt with.

Malaysian laws related to redress belong to the era of slavery and all migrant workers are potential victims. Aye Cho is already victimised by such bad immigration policies. He shouldn’t be doubly victimised by evidence with blanco. - ALIRAN Website

Rani Rasiah

About Rani Rasiah

Rani Rasiah is an Aliran member based in Sungai Siput. She is also coordinator of the Oppressed People’s Network (Jerit).

Monday, August 5, 2013

Myanmar workers flock to Malaysia (Myanmar Times, 2/8/2013)

Myanmar workers flock to Malaysia

The line of eager job seekers standing in the daily monsoon rain stretches for nearly a block outside the Malaysian embassy in Yangon.

They are testament to the fact that, despite recent violence between Myanmar workers in Malaysia and a subsequent ban on sending workers there, the number hoping to be allowed to work in the Muslim nation has not diminished.

About 3000 Myanmar nationals apply each month for Malaysian work visas and the embassy says there has been no noticeable decline.  

Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims from Myanmar occurred between May 30 to June 4 and were mostly confined to areas around Kuala Lumpur. The most recent reports put the number killed at six but details are scarce and the Malaysian authorities are still investigating.

The violence prompted Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs U Zin Yaw and Deputy Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Daw Win Maw Tun to visit Malaysia on June 11. Two days later the Ministry of Labour announced it would stop granting migrant labour cards that enable Myanmar nationals to seek employment in Malaysia.

Despite the stoppage there has been no slump in applications, the Malaysian embassy said. It is likely, however, that those applying for work visas obtained the required documentation from the Ministry of Labour prior to the ban being put in place and the number could drop in coming months when the backlog has cleared.

Ministry of Labour officials insist that the measure is a temporary one but say no end date for the measure has been decided.

“As situation the settles down, we will send workers again. We are worried about [Myanmar workers] as they could face an uneasy situation there,” said Daw Moh Moh Thwin, an officer from the Yangon Region Labour Department.

However, there appears to be no solid evidence that the violence in Malaysia is linked to clashes between Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and the minority Rohyinga Muslim group in Rakhine State.

Charles Hector, a lawyer and human rights activist in Malaysia, said the religious violence in Myanmar and migrant workers clashes in Malaysia were “not connected”.

Zafar Ahmad bin Abdul Ghani, president of the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia, agreed and said that Rohyinga in Malaysia were “not involved in these attacks”.

The concerns over the violence appear to have mostly emanated from Myanmar. For many of the 300,000 legal Myanmar workers in Malaysia, this presented the difficult choice of whether to leave their relatively high-paying jobs and return home to their concerned relatives.

“My mum was so worried so I had to come back,” said Ko Myo Aung, 43. He had worked in Malaysia for 16 years and was running his own metal shop when his elderly mother urged him to return home in early July. “I was ok there. The situation was calm. I tried to explain that to her but it didn’t work.”

He blamed sensationalised media reports, including from Myanmar’s state-run outlets, for causing the uproar at home. Since returning he has struggled to find a job and was disappointed with the salary offered at a recent fair organised by the Department of Labour for those who have come back from Malaysia.

“I’m glad that my daughter graduated from high school last year. Otherwise, I don’t know how I would handle it,” he said after receiving an offer of K6000 a day from a local construction firm – not enough to make the K300,000 to K400,000 a month he estimated he would need to cover his expenses and live comfortably.  

Thirty-one year old Ko Thant Zaw Oo was also disappointed by Myanmar’s low wages after spending three years working on construction sites in Malaysia, where he earned about K450,000 a month.
“I was preparing to go back [to Malaysia] then this happened and my family won’t let me go back,” he said.

He said he was treated well while working in Malaysia, and was paid overtime, given medical leave and allowed to take public holidays off.

For undocumented workers, however, the reality of life in Malaysia can be strikingly different. Lured by false promises of high-paying jobs and comfortable accommodation, many find themselves working long hours in dangerous conditions with few avenues for gaining better conditions or pay.

Despite Malaysian efforts to better manage the undocumented workers, including a 2011 amnesty program, they “basically have no rights”, Mr Hector said.

The Malaysian embassy estimates that there are 100,000 illegal Myanmar workers in Malaysia.

Pranom Somwong
Pranom Somwong, a representative of the Worker Hub for Change and Network of Acton for Migrants in Malaysia, said workers’ efforts to push for the authorities to ensure better conditions are often stifled by employers or agents.

“When migrants do attempt to claim their rights they are threatened, harassed, become victims of violence, summarily ‘shipped back’ to their home country by employers or their agents, many times with no real or effective protection or intervention by the state authorities to prevent this injustice,” she said.

Until the recent violence, Myanmar nationals also lacked any support from their own embassy.

“The Burmese embassy [in Malaysia] has always been a problem,” Mr Hector said. “They are not keen to help.”

But the recent violence has spurred nationalist pride among not just government officials but also some of the country’s leading businessmen. U Zaw Zaw, the managing director of Max Myanmar, U Tay Za, chairman of Htoo Group, and officials from KBZ Bank and Myanmar Airways International have all rushed to help undocumented workers who have been injured or detained return to Myanmar.

About 2500 have returned so far, the Ministry of Labour said. Their arrivals at Yangon airport in corporate-branded shirts have been splashed across media outlets, including Eleven Media Group, which last week said it had helped pay for the return of over 120 workers.

Mr Hector said that he felt this increased private sector role would be welcomed by the Malaysian government, which has long been pressed Myanmar to take more responsibility for its undocumented workers.

“The [Malaysian] government doesn’t want to keep people locked up,” Mr Hector said. “It is expensive.”- Myanmar Times, 2/8/2013, Myanmar workers flock to Malaysia