Extend e-card registration timeframe for BD workers

Dhaka,  Mon,  21 August 2017
Published : 11 Jul 2017, 00:42:39
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Extend e-card registration timeframe for BD workers

Dhaka urges KL amid drive there
Arafat Ara


Dhaka has requested Kuala Lumpur to extend the timeframe for registration in the enforcement card (e-card) programme for Bangladeshi workers staying in Malaysia, officials said.

Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur in a letter made the request, as many workers failed to avail the opportunity due to different reasons, including involvement of middlemen in the process, officials have said.

"We have officially sent request to the Malaysian government to extend the timeframe to help our workers avail the e-card," Bangladesh High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur Shahidul Islam told the FE over phone.

The Bangladesh envoy said his office is also keeping communication with the authority concerned to come up with a solution regarding the detained Bangladeshi workers there.

"We have taken all-out efforts to cooperate with the detained Bangladeshi workers," he said.

The temporary e-card, launched on February 15, works as a provisional confirmation of employment for the illegal workers, who went to the Southeast Asian country via sea route, and replaces valid travel documents from their countries. The card is given to the employees for free, and it is valid until Feb 15, 2018.

So far 88,000 Bangladeshi workers have received e-card, which is 54 per cent of the total card receivers in Malaysia until the deadline (June 30), according to Bangladesh High Commission.

But a significant number of Bangladeshis were arrested, as they failed to receive e-card until July 09. Many of them went for hiding in different remote areas to avoid arrest, as Malaysian government launched a large-scale drive from July 1 to catch them.

At least 2,800 undocumented workers were detained during the last nine days. Of the total, 1,101 workers are Bangladeshis. Besides, there are 658 Indonesian, 223 citizens of Myanmar, 98 Thai, 95 Filipinos and 94 are Vietnamese, according to Malaysian local media.

The Bangladesh high commissioner urged the undocumented workers to take the opportunity of rehiring programme, which started from early 2016.

He said the workers, who went to Malaysia with different visas like tourist, student and professional, but somehow became illegal, are entitled to be regularised under the rehiring programme. It will continue until December 31.

"We also requested the Malaysiam government to bring the e-card holders under the rehiring programme, so that they can stay in the country."

When asked, the Bangladesh envoy said a vested quarter is always active in Malaysia to cheat the workers. They motivate them to help get registration, but they take money and exploit the workers. For the reason, a large number of Bangladeshis have failed to receive their e-cards.

The high commission took different awareness programmes for the workers about e-card over the months. But many of them could not receive it and are facing difficulties, he added.

Meanwhile, migration experts urged the authorities of the two countries to take proper initiatives, so that the irregularities can be stopped.

As both of the countries have failed to ensure safe and orderly migration, the workers are going through various irregular ways. If such unauthorised recruitment is not stopped, the countries will be loser, as irregular migration cannot bring any fruitful impact to the economy, they opined.  

They also emphasised strengthening the Bangladesh mission office in Malaysia to make the workers aware of all amnesty programmes.

As there is a good demand for workers in Malaysia, workers are willing to go to the country. But the government initiatives, like - government to government (G2G), have failed to create desired number of jobs for the workers. So they are going through illegal way, said Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) executive director C R Abrar.

Replying to a query, Mr Abrar said illegal migration will obviously increase further, if the recruiters take high migration cost under the current G2G plus migration process.

The job-seekers will choose unauthorised channels, like - sea route, as they will go to the country at their desired rate of migration cost.

He also said there is an information gap among the workers and mission offices, and the employers also do not perform their due role. They recruit undocumented workers, but do not take their responsibilities.

So a large number of workers also missed the deadline of such programme earlier, he added.

Faruque Ahmed, secretary general of WARBE Development Foundation, said, the government should equip the high commission in Malaysia well, as a large number of Bangladeshi workers are staying there.     

According to Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia, over 250,000 Bangladeshis have so far been regularised under the rehiring programme since February 2016. Over 800,000 Bangladeshis are working in Malaysia, most of whom are engaged in construction sector.

    arafat_ara@hotmail.com
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