Agents hail move to end use of SPPA system

The cutback in public infrastructure spending, coupled with the sustained weakness in the property sector, will have a direct knock-on effect on the demand and hence prices for steel and cement.

PETALING JAYA: The government’s decision to stop using the Foreign Worker Application System (SPPA) will reduce the financial burden on Bangladeshi workers and their families who have been paying up to RM20,000 to work in Malaysia.

Recruitment agents both here and in Bangladesh welcomed the decision as they said the move broke the monopoly of 10 companies which were previously the only authorised agents to bring Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia.

Md Mokbul Hossain Mokul, who operates a recruitment agency in Kuala Lumpur, said the decision was a relief for Bangladeshis who want to work here and for more than 1,500 licensed recruitment agents in Bangladesh.

He said the previous high fees was because sub-agents, who recruited the workers, also had to pay one of the 10 authorised companies under the SPPA system.

Now workers need to pay half of that amount, he said.

Malaysia, Mokbul said, became an unpopular destination among Bangladeshi workers in recent years because of the hefty fees.

The situation, he said, caused financial stress on a lot of workers and their families, who were forced to make great sacrifices to raise the money.

“The decision to stop SPPA is timely and will help change the negative perception about working in Malaysia,” he said.

Chirara Kannan, an owner of a consultancy service for employers in the Klang Valley, said he was happy employers no longer had to pay the RM305 SPPA registration fee for each Bangladeshi worker.

The move, he said, had reduced the cost.

“The SPPA was a controversial system which had a lot of flaws and red tape,” he said.

On June 22, The Star reported that a human trafficking syndicate, spearheaded by a Bangladeshi businessman with alleged political connections with the Home Ministry, raked in at least RM2bil in just two years from Bangladeshi workers looking to land jobs in Malaysia.

An investigation revealed that the workers paid RM20,000 each to their local agents who then paid half of the sum to the syndicate to facilitate work permit approvals and flight tickets to Malaysia.

It is learnt that since late 2016, more than 100,000 Bangladeshi workers had been brought into the country under the system, while more than 100,000 were waiting for their turn.

The Star’s investigation also re­­veal­ed that a businessman, who had a “Datuk Seri” title, masterminded the organised and “legalised” multibillion-ringgit human trafficking scam.

Due to his strong political influence in both Malaysia and Bangla­desh, the businessman was also instrumental in getting the two countries to sign the government-­to-government agreement two years ago.

The agreement ultimately sidelined about 1,500 recruitment agents in Bangladesh.

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