GOOD TO PROTECT
THERE are many legally employed migrant workers in Malaysia, from professionals on fixed-term contracts to labourers.
Many are predominantly employed as labourers in the construction and plantation sectors, restaurants and as domestic workers.
They have contributed enormously to the country.
Although these workers are accorded rights and protection through national and international instruments, it is not uncommon to hear of physical violence, verbal abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace.
A good employer is the hope of every migrant worker.
A bad employer spells trouble. Cruel and inhumane treatment of migrant workers has become a global phenomenon.
This country has had its fair share of hell-on-earth cases where these workers were subjected to ill-treatment and discrimination by their employers.
Many work and live in inadequate conditions, without access to basic services and are at risk of physical and sexual abuse.
One reason why some employers engage in inhumane practices could be because they know how desperate these workers are.
They know that migrant workers need the job and cannot afford to go back to their country or find another job.
Further, employers know that migrant workers are not familiar with the criminal justice system of the host country, and even if they are, it would be costly for them to hire a lawyer.
Inevitably, employers take the upper hand by invoking fear in workers if they seek to leave the employment.
Thus, the workers remain loyal to the employer even if they are underpaid or their wages are withheld for months.
Good employment laws for foreign nationals and related laws are necessary for a better economy, with an increase in foreign investment.
If a country ensures good laws and protection, takes care of foreign nationals and guarantees them their rights, the response would be better for the growth of the country, in terms of peace and foreign investment.
Ensuring these rights would also reflect the concerns of its leaders and its people.
Steps should be taken to protect migrant workers from being abused.
This includes taking action against errant employers.
This is advocated in all religions, international instruments and laws of every nation.
People must know their rights to stand up for themselves if they are abused.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 2017
If they are unable to do so, then a body should act on their behalf.
Hence, the move by a private developer in Sungai Buloh to provide adequate standards of housing equipped with cabins, cafeteria, surau, sick bays and washing facilities to its migrant workers should be lauded and emulated by others.
PROFESSOR DR ASHGAR ALI ALI MOHAMED,
Dean, Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws, International Islamic University Malaysia
Migrant workers contribute enormously to the development of the country.