Vol. 4 Num 237 Sat. January 24, 2004  
Front Page

KL to issue ID cards for foreign workers
Dhaka welcomes the move

Malaysia has decided to introduce identification (ID) cards for foreign workers in the country, a move Bangladesh welcomed.

The Malaysian government is making the move to monitor and protect the foreign workers in that country from harassment, a leading Kuala Lumpur daily reported.

Reacting to the news, State Minister for Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Mohammad Quamrul Islam said: "We appreciate introduction of the system because it would bring discipline and protect the expatriate workers from harassment and help to differentiate between the legal and illegal workers."

With the ID cards, the legal workers would be able to save themselves during police raids if they are picked up by law-enforcement agencies, he said.

The Kuala Lumpur newspaper said such a clause (of introducing ID cards) had been included in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently signed between Malaysia and Sri Lanka, which would gradually be applicable to all foreign workers.

Quoting home ministry sources, the report said the move was taken mainly to protect foreign workers from undue harassment when picked up for verification of their status.

The card will carry the holder's name, sex, nationality, photograph, workplace address, passport number, employment sector, expiry date of the card and name of the state where it was issued.

Presently, around 1.2 lakh Bangladeshis work legally in Malaysia.

Although a formal MoU was signed between Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur in October last year, fresh recruitment of workers from Bangladesh to Malaysia is yet to resume.

Sources in the expatriates' welfare ministry told The Daily Star that the fresh recruitment would start in two to three weeks. The workers will go through an orientation and primary language course before going to Malaysia.

The source said Kuala Lumpur was yet to send the syllabus of the language course and the process would start immediately after getting it.

The government is also determined to keep the migration cost below Tk 70,000 per head and Bangladesh Association of International Recruitment Agencies (Baira) in a recent meeting with the ministry agreed to keep the cost within that ceiling, the source said.

Malaysia also signed such agreements to hire workers with a number of other countries including Pakistan and Uzbekistan during the later part of last year.

According to that newspaper report, another such agreement is going to be signed with Indonesia shortly. Indonesia also welcomed the move of introducing ID cards and urged Kuala Lumpur to include such a clause in the MoU to be signed between the two neighbouring countries too.

About 1.2 million foreigners work legally in Malaysia, most of whom are from Indonesia.

Around half a million foreign workers who had been staying in the country for long without valid documents left Malaysia last year. Around 17,000 Bangladeshis also returned home during that time from Malaysia facing deportation threat.