Workers’ delay due to visa issues

For the benefit of workers: Saravanan at the launch of the Perkeso contribution campaign for volunteers in Kuala Lumpur, flanked by Perkeso board chairman Prof Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Haniffa Abdullah (right) and chief executive Datuk Seri Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: A batch of Indonesian workers did not arrive in Malaysia as scheduled on May 31 because of a misunderstanding over issues involving visa and travel documents, says Datuk Seri M. Saravanan.

The Human Resources Minister said the misunderstanding was being resolved.

“The visa process has caused confusion because the workers cannot start work until they have completed the process.

“Migrant workers must have a visa before entering Malaysia and they will then have to undergo medical checks by the Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema) to get the approval to start work.

“Their minister agreed to it but an agency in Indonesia found the statement confusing and they then enlisted Indonesia’s ambassador to resolve it,” he said at a press conference after the launch of the Social Security Organisation’s (Perkeso) contribution campaign for volunteers.

After the trip was cancelled at the eleventh hour, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Hermono was reported to have said the group of workers from the republic could not be brought in to Malaysia as scheduled due to visa factors and incomplete travel documents.

Hermono said clarification was being sought on the procedure.

Saravanan said the batch of workers was supposed to have arrived with the Indonesian Manpower Minister who had to cancel the trip due to another engagement.

An announcement on their arrival will be made on a later date, he said.

On reports about a protest against him in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during his working visit to the country this week, Saravanan said they were not true.

“There was no protest in Dhaka,” he said, adding that the reports were mere speculation.

“I was well-received in Dhaka. In 24 hours, I met the (Bangladeshi) Prime Minister as well as the Labour, Home and Finance Ministers.

“It is a warm welcome when any minister gets to see four ministers within a day,” he said.

Reports have said that Saravanan was greeted by a group of demonstrators in front of the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry when he met his counterpart on June 2.

The Bangladeshi group had previously voiced their objection to Malaysia’s proposal to appoint only 25 agencies to supply workers to Malaysia, claiming that the move would encourage syndication.

Saravanan said he had a fruitful discussion with the minister Imran Ahmad, adding that the committee concerned had agreed to recruit workers for the plantation, manufacturing, construction and agricultural sectors.

He said the government would vet through about 200,000 applications according to the sectors’ manpower needs.

The plantation sector, which is heavily dependent on foreign labour, recorded up to RM20bil in losses last year due to manpower shortage.

Saravanan noted that Bangladesh had previously required Malaysia to select 25 out of 1,520 agencies, and the committee had vetted the list and selected the 25.

He said that the zero-cost agreement, where employers have to foot the cost of accommodation, flights and other costs for the workers, had always been in place.

“As far as Malaysia is concerned, employers who recruit foreign workers from Bangladesh and other countries must bear the cost, and not take from their employees.

“Don’t pay first and deduct from the workers’ salaries,” he said.

However, he added, dealings between the agents and employees in their country of origin were out of Malaysia’s jurisdiction.

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