Tuesday, 4 December 2012



3D.....The Al-Jazeera television station also claims that foreign workers in Malaysia work in so-called 3D conditions – dirty, dangerous and difficult.

PETALING JAYA: More than 1,000 foreign workers died from accidents, illnesses and suicide in Malaysia last year, while thousands of immigrant workers have lost their lives in the country over the last few years, an Al Jazeera report claimed.

“They [foreign workers in Malaysia] work in so-called ’3D’ conditions – dirty, dangerous and difficult,” the international television station said in a programme called 101 East.

In a 25-minute video report by Chan Tau Chou entitled “Worked to Death”, Al Jazeera claimed that the high death rate is a result of slack safety standards, poor housing conditions and weak enforcement of laws to protect the foreign labour.

It claimed that Malaysia was the largest importer of labour in Asia where migrant workers provide cheap labour in construction, manufacturing and plantation industries.

“There are more than three million foreign workers, of which nearly a third are undocumented. Most of the migrant workers come from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Nepal.

“Desperate to repay debts from the high recruitment agency fees and under financial pressure from their families back home, migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation. Many suffer non-payment of wages, abuse, serious injuries and even death,” the report claimed.

The video report depicts the mundane and often extremely dangerous lifestyle migrant workers are subjected to in Malaysia.

It also features the plight of these foreign workers, who are ill-protected against exploitation which involves the non-payment of salaries, physical abuse and most significantly, death.

Gruesome experiences

The report also features Human Resource Minister, Dr S Subramaniam, who denied these allegations.

“You are telling about 1,200 fellows dying a year… how can? No, no, no… this is not true, absolutely not true. We keep track of the numbers,” he said in the report.

The Al Jazeera report claimed that foreign workers were also exposed to various work-related mistreatment.

This, the report alleged, was because the workers do not have an institution to voice out their frustrations and gruesome experiences, as these migrant workers were not permitted to join trade unions.

“They come here to work, but they end up dying”, Bed Kumar Khatiwada, a Nepali trade unionist based in Malaysia, was quoted as saying in the report.

He said that there is a notable lack of enforcement of labour laws, especially when it involves foreign workers who are injured while on duty and are not compensated monetarily.

He said the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952 has compensation packages for migrant workers which sums up to an inadequate amount, compared to the amount offered by the Social Security Organization (SOCSO) for local workers. This is just one of many biased provisions in existing labour laws which clearly place migrant workers at the losing end.

The report summed up that the main issue here was a lack of a detailed and thoroughly solid migrant worker policy and unimaginably weak enforcement by the government. (FMT)

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