New Straits Times - - Letters -

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.


Dean, Ahmad Ibrahim Kul­liyyah of Laws, In­ter­na­tional Is­lamic Univer­sity Malaysia

Mi­grant work­ers con­trib­ute enor­mously to the devel­op­ment of the coun­try.

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