Indonesian migrants in Malaysia ‘going hungry’ during MCO

An Indonesian lawmaker has urged her government to look into the plight of Indonesian citizens working in Malaysia who are under a movement control order (MCO) because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Christina Aryani of the Golkar Party said the livelihoods of Indonesians in Malaysia are severely affected because of the MCO, which was issued two weeks ago and will continue until mid-April, according to The Jakarta Post.

“Many of our migrant workers in Malaysia are construction workers, factory workers, waitresses or janitors. They are paid daily or weekly,” she said in a statement on Friday.

Aryani said she has received reports of Indonesian citizens struggling to meet basic needs 10 days after the MCO was imposed.

“They need food aid immediately. We have urged the government to send them food via the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur,” she said, adding that the workers also desperately need face masks.

“I hope the government can ensure that both urgent needs (are met) for our migrant workers,” she said.

On March 18, Malaysia enforced the MCO to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. The order was initially set to expire on March 31, but Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that it would be extended to April 14.

The director of the Indonesian Citizen Resolution Centre in Malaysia, Datuk M Zainul Arifin, said many migrant workers are afraid they might go hungry.

“Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia aren’t afraid of Covid-19, they are afraid that they will be starving since they can no longer work,” he said, according to

Zainul said the problem is worsened by the fact that many are in Malaysia illegally.

“Many of them are illegal immigrants, and some don’t have the necessary permits for their jobs. For example, they have a permit to work at a plantation but work at a restaurant instead. That means they don’t have employers or bosses who can legally take care of them,” he added.

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The Closing of Immigration Security Clearance Due to Corona Virus

Announcement by Immigration Security Clearance (ISC)

The Government of Malaysia has declared that the entire country will be on a movement control order starting from March 18 to April 14 to deal with the rise in COVID-19 cases in Malaysia.

The current ISC Centre that is closed based on the local Government instruction is as follows:

1) All ISC Centre in Indonesia
2) All ISC Centre in India
3) ISC Manila, Philippines
4) ISC Kathmandu, Nepal
5) ISC Islamabad, Pakistan
6) ISC Bangkok, Thailand

Should you require any clarification, please contact the nearest ISC Centre for more details.

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Recruitment Terms And Conditions of Foreign Workers According to Malaysia Immigration Department

Only permitted to work in these sectors – Manufacturing, Construction, Plantation, Agriculture and Services;

Quota of foreign workers must be obtained by employers / companies from Ministry of Home Affairs, One Stop Centre (OSC);

Age of not less than 18 years and not more than 45 years at the time of application;

Certified  PASS for Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) at the source country; List of ISC Centres

Certified as fit and healthy by the approved medical centre in the source countries; List of medical centre

Not listed as foreign individuals who are prohibited from entering this country under Section 8 (3) of the Immigration Act 1959/1963; and

Foreign workers must come from approved source countries as below: 

Vietnam//All Sectors (Construction, Plantation, Agriculture, Services, Manufacturing)
Sri Lanka//
Indonesia//Male workers from Indonesia are allowed to work in all sectors except Manufacturing, while female workers from Indonesia are allowed to work in all sectors stipulated.
Bangladesh//Plantation via G to G agreement


Phase 1 (Pre Arrival )
–       Employers must first get the PASS Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) result at the ISC centre in the source countries.

–       Employers must first apply to the Immigration Department for a Visa with Reference (VDR) approval before employing foreign workers.
–       Application forms for VDR can be submitted either at the Immigration counters or online via e-Services system.
–       VDR application must follow this checklist:
·           VDR application form
·           Approval letter from Ministry of Home Affairs (Quota approval)
·           Original receipt of payment for levy
·           IM.12 and IM.38 Forms
·           Security bond – deposits / insurance guarantee / bank guarantee (insurance guarantee must be stamped and valid for at least 18 months )
·           Copy of the foreign workers’ passports
·           Latest photo of the foreign workers (passports size)
·           Medical certificates from the medical centre in origin countries (valid for 3 month from the date of issuance)
·           Foreign Worker Compensation Scheme (insurance)
·           Insurance policy of Health Insurance Protection Scheme Foreign Workers (SPIKPA) – Except for Plantation Sector
–       Foreign workers must remain in their respective countries while pending VDR approval from Malaysia Immigration Department.
Note: For Sabah and Sarawak, the approval for foreign worker’s employment is governed by the State Government accordingly.

Phase 2 (Post Arrival)
–       Foreign workers will only be allowed to enter the country at the authorized entry points using the VDR issued by the Immigration Department and entry visa issued by the Malaysian Attachés Office in the country of origin.
–       Employers must ensure that the clearance process of foreign workers at the entry points is done within 24 hours from the arrival time.
–       The issuance of Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) [VP(TE)] to the foreign workers will only be done after they have passed the FOMEMA medical examination within 30 days which can be done at any medical centres registered with FOMEMA.
–       VP(TE) will be issued once the foreign worker is certified fit by clinic/ medical centre registered with FOMEMA. Failing which, the foreign worker will not be allowed to stay and work in this country. Employers are required to apply for Check Out Memo for the repatriation of the foreign worker.
–       Issuance of VP(TE) shall be made at the Immigration Office which issued the VDR approval letter.


–       VP(TE) is valid for a period of 12 months. Employers can apply for VP(TE) extension 3 months before the expiry date.

–       Employers must ensure the extension application is made before the VP(TE) expires. Any application submitted after the expiry date will be referred to the Immigration Enforcement Division for consideration.

–       Application of VP(TE) extension must adhere to this checklist :

·           Passport of the foreign worker is still valid for 12 months and above
·           Application letter to extend the VP(TE)
·           Identification document of employee/ company representative (SSM company / Form 49 / Form B & D / Card Company Representative / Form Company representatives have endorsed / copy of the employer ‘s identity card)
·           Security bond in a form of bank guarantee / insurance guarantee / deposit ( validity period of bank guarantee / insurance guarantee is at least 18 months )
·           Insurance policy of Health Insurance Protection Scheme Foreign Workers (SPIKPA) – except for plantation sector
·           Slip of Foreign Workers Compensation Scheme ( FWCS )
·           Foreign workers must undergo medical examination and certified fit by the clinic/ medical centre registered with FOMEMA (for 2nd and 3rd year extension only).


–       Foreign workers are allowed to work in this country on a yearly basis up to 10 years. However, those registered under the 6P Program is allowed to work up to 3 years only.

–       Upon completion or termination of employment, the employers must ensure that foreign workers are deported to their origin countries by using Check Out Memo. Security bond can be claimed provided the repatriation process is done accordingly through Check Out Memo.


The following fees must be paid to the Immigration Department for VP(TE) extension application:

ManufacturingRM1,850.00RM1,010.00RM60.00RM125.00Based on nationality
Services (island resort)RM1,850.00RM1,010.00RM60.00RM125.00

Table 1 : Rate of levy, VP(TE) and process fee based on different sectors


Sri Lanka15.00750.00

Table 2 : Rates of Visa and security bond based on nationality
–       Payment can be made in cash or bank drafts to the “Director General Of Immigration Malaysia”.
–       For the state office, address it to the “Director Of Immigration of (the respective states)”. For example; Director Of Immigration Selangor)
–       Foreign workers who hold the VP(TE) permit must adhere to these conditions :
–        family members are not allowed to accompany or live in this country;
–        must not work as front liner;
–        change of employers or employment sectors is not allowed; and
–        marriage is prohibited with local or foreign citizens.


Foreign workers can be categorized as absconded when:

–     leaving work place without notifying the employers with the intention to escape; and
–     not returning to work place after coming back from origin country

–       Employers are required to notify the Immigration Department for absconded cases and must provide these documents:

·      identification document of employer/company representative
·      Copy of foreign worker’s passport
·      Foreign worker absconded form
·     Valid police report

–       Foreign workers who commit the act of abscondment will be blacklisted by the Immigration Department.
–       Their security bonds will be confiscated as well.


–       Foreign workers with valid VP(TE) will also be issued the i-Kad and its validity period is the same with the VP(TE).

–       The issuance of i-Kad does not incur any additional cost to the employers and it will be sent directly to the employer/company by the authorized vendor.

–       The issuance of i-Kad is based on 6 employment sectors allowed in this country and they are indicated by different colours, as follows:

Foreign Domestic HelperBrown

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Malaysia-Bangladesh to Finalise Zero-Cost Recruitment Deal Soon

MALAYSIA and Bangladesh are close to finalising the zero-cost recruitment agreement that will facilitate the hiring of Bangladeshi migrant workers into the country soon.

“I’m sending the Malaysia-Bangladesh Joint Working Group to Dhaka, Bangladesh, soon to iron out the remaining issues on the zero-cost recruitment agreement.

“Almost all matters have been settled and we have come very close to finalise it,” said Human Resources (HR) Minister M Kulasegaran (picture).

“The Bangladeshi government has said they won’t be sending workers without due compliance and there must be due compliance to the necessary provision, just like what we reached with Nepal,” he added.

Malaysia is looking to establish another zero-cost recruitment agreement for migrant workers to eliminate forced labour and avoid possible trade sanctions from importing countries.

The new terms agreed by Bangladesh and Malaysia would be similar to the recruitment agreement signed with Nepal last year.

Under the agreement, employers are responsible for the recruitment service charges, two-way airfare, visa fees, health check-up, security screening and levy charges.

Meanwhile, Kulasegaran urged local rubber glove makers to immediately submit the Social Compliance Audit Report (SCAR) as importing countries continue to seek Malaysia’s resolution on the issue of sustainability recruitment.

He said as the world’s largest producer and leading exporter of rubber gloves, Malaysian companies should adhere to the highest standard of social compliance and commit to the welfare of migrant workers.

“We have been discussing with industry players for the past two years to encourage them to speed up the submission of their audit report, which must come before Jan 1, 2021.

“With the pressure from the importing countries, primarily the US, they should voluntarily be having it now to address the issues,” Kulasegaran said after a town hall session for rubber industry in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“We are the largest rubber glove manufacturer in the world, so we should play by the rules,” he added.

Last October, the US Customs and Border Protection blocked imported goods from five companies that were accused of practising forced labour, including Malaysia’s glove maker, WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd.

The US Customs said imported goods that are wholly produced or in part of forced labour are illegal to be imported under the US law. The forced labour in its definition includes convict labour, indentured labour and forced or indentured child labour.

The instruction by the US Customs came after about 2,000 of WRP Asia Pacific’s migrant workers from Bangladesh and Nepal staged a three-day strike for being withheld from their salaries early last year.

The blockage also has taken a toll on WRP Asia Pacific as it has temporarily suspended its business operations in December and appointed interim liquidators.

The SCAR is an internal mechanism commissioned by a company that covers all of the requirements under the purview of the HR Ministry.

The audit report includes the validation of the employees’ wages, Social Security Organisation and Employees Provident Fund contributions being paid on time, implementation of allocated leave entitlement, and housing accommodation for workers.

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Recruitment in Malaysia: Bangladesh won’t send workers unless cost is cut, says minister

DHAKA (ANN): The government doesn’t want to send Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia before a low-cost and transparent system of recruitment comes into place, Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad said.

“If I allow high charges for recruitment (of Bangladeshi workers abroad), I will betray my constituents, ” he told a press conference at the ministry on Sunday (Jan 5).

The biggest challenge facing overseas job sector is the high recruitment cost.

In 2016 and 2018, Bangladeshi workers were charged up to Tk 4 lakh (RM19,000) for jobs in Malaysia, he said at the event organised by Reporters for Bangladeshi Migrants.

Malaysia suspended recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in September 2018, alleging that a cartel of 10 Bangladeshi recruiting agents patronised by several influential politicians of previous Malaysian government was charging exorbitant sums of money from migrant workers.

Despite several negotiation meetings between officials of the two countries over the last year, the market has not opened yet.

Members of the cartel had passed the blame onto illegal manpower brokers in Malaysia and Bangladesh.

Imran Ahmad has been expressing similar views, but he has not taken any concrete action to legalise the brokers or eliminate them from the recruitment system.

Asked, the minister said if the system was transparent, the brokers’ involvement would have disappeared. But he didn’t clarify what he meant by a “transparent system”.

He said the government had asked the recruiting agencies to recognise the brokers. The ministry will get them registered and will be able to hold them accountable when they do something illegal.

“My prime target is to ensure that the workers can go abroad by spending an amount set (by the authorities).”

He didn’t say what that sum could be.

According to a 2015 World Bank study, Bangladeshi migrants pay the highest amount of money for recruitment, but get one of the lowest wages. Researchers say the workers often remain in debt.

In many cases, they are sent abroad with forged work visas and then remain undocumented or return home empty-handed.

Globally, the UN is promoting zero cost migration, which means that the fees incurred due to migration will be borne by the employer. Neighbouring Nepal follows this policy and has a corresponding labour agreement with Malaysia.

Imran has never spoken of ensuring zero cost migration.

Expatriates’ Welfare Secretary Salim Reza said a total of 701,000 Bangladeshis migrated abroad for jobs last year, which is 51,000 more than that of the previous year. Forty-four percent of those who migrated last year were skilled workers.

Besides, 111,000 were women, and some 50% of them were either divorced or left by their husbands. This has prompted the government to ensure better protection of women migrants, Salim said.

Abuses faced by women migrants in Saudi Arabia were widely reported at home and abroad. Salim said they negotiated with Saudi Arabia and ensured that the employers accused of abusing women migrants were brought to justice.

He said the remittance sent by Bangladeshi migrants last year was US$18bil, which is 16.2% more than that of the previous year. He added that the growth can be attributed to the government’s 2% incentive on the remittance.

A total of 214 recruiting agencies were accused last year of not ensuring protection of female domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and violation of laws, he said. Licence of one agency was revoked and two other agencies were suspended.

A total of 3,658 dead bodies of Bangladeshi migrants arrived last year, he said. – The Daily Star/Asia News Network

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