KUALA LUMPUR: More than 70,000 Bangladeshi workers are expected to arrive in Malaysia soon to take up employment in the plantation, construction and services sectors, the Labour Counsellor at the Bangladesh High Commission here, Talat Mahmud Khan, disclosed Sunday.
Talat said that despite the economic downturn and rising retrenchment in Malaysia, Bangladeshi workers were still in demand as they were considered to be hardworking, efficient, obedient and trainable and did not demand a high salary.
Bangladeshi workers were known to be able to handle multiple tasks, he added.
He explained that though there was a temporary freeze on the intake of foreign workers in the services sector, the visas for these Bangladeshi workers were approved before the imposition of the restriction.
With the upcoming arrival of more Bangladeshi workers, their number in the country would swell to almost 500,000, including 2,000 women, he told Bernama.
Talat said that at present Bangladeshi women workers were confined to the manufacturing sector, mainly in the garment and glove-making factories. They were not allowed to work as domestic maids.
He said the main grouse of the Bangladeshi workers here was that many of them were not given the promised proper living quarters and medical benefits by their management.
They were also unhappy with the delay in the renewal of their visas, which sometimes took up to three months. In the interim period, they were considered illegal immigrants, he added.
"This is why many of the Bangladeshi workers get caught by the Malaysian immigration (authorities)," he explained.
The Bangladesh High Commission has set up a halfway centre in Semenyih to house such workers. The centre, which can accommodate about 1,000 workers at any one time, has modern facilities from kitchen to television and also computers.
Talat said he hoped that the Malaysian government would reduce the transfer fee for workers wanting to change their sector of work. The fee now is RM350.
He said the compound fee for expired visa was also high, at RM30 per day, and suggested that this fee be reduced to about RM100 for the first three months.
Talat said he was happy with the cooperation extended by the Immigration Department as it had helped the High Commission to resolve many issues pertaining to the workers.
On the social impact of the Bangladeshi workers on Malaysian society, he said the impact was low as the workers were confined mostly to their workplaces and seldom ventured outside.
"However, considering the huge Bangladeshi population in Malaysia, I do not discount the possibility of a few Bangladeshi youths getting involved with local girls, but this is very rare," he stressed.
By and large, Bangladeshi workers were here to earn a honest living and return to their homeland after finishing their contract, he said - Bernama