Policymakers and other concerned stakeholders at a roundtable on Saturday called for breaking up the syndicate of 25 recruiting agencies and punishing those for illegally sending workers to Malaysia as a way to make the migration process more transparent.
At a discussion organised by the Bangladesh Association of International Recruit Agencies (Baira) Grand Alliance Against Syndicate in the capital, they noted that Malaysia wanted Bangladeshi workers to be recruited by 25 agencies only, which they would select. Bangladesh, however, opposed the step and wanted any recruiter to be able to send workers to Malaysia.
Praising the government move, they also said Bangladeshis had to spend more than necessary to secure a job in Malaysia due to the syndicate while also often getting lower paid jobs than workers from other countries.
"Malaysia wants to take workers from only 25 recruit agencies among the 1,700 agencies in the country which is not acceptable and justified. Due to this syndicate the migration cost has risen for people going abroad", said Anisul Islam Mahmud, chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment, while addressing as the chief guest.
He said except Bangladesh no other countries sending workers to Malaysia had to rely on such a syndicate.
Terming remittance as big earning source for the country, Anisul Islam emphasised the need to break the syndicate.
He also suggested searching for other labour markets so more people could be employed.
Chairman of Bangladesh Parliamentarians' Caucus on Migration and Development Shamim Haider Patwary said due to the syndicate, corruption in the process was rampant and migrants were being harassed.
He said the recruitment should be open for every agency to foster competition, transparency, accountability and fairness.
Patwary further said that if a syndicate was necessary, then one could be made with 500-1,000 agencies instead.
Former Baira President Md Nur Ali said, "It is impossible for only 25 agencies to send lakhs of workers to Malaysia. On top of that, 20 agencies among those have no experience. So indiscipline may occur."
He alleged the syndicate was formed to give advantage to a vested quarter.
Terming the syndicate a conspiracy, former BAIRA president Md Abul Bashar said, the syndicate members laundered money, so they should be punished and their licence should be revoked.
MS Shekil Chowdhury, chairperson of the Centre for NRB, echoed the same while Bhorer Kagoj Editor Shyamal Dutt urged blacklisting the 25 agencies allegedly involved in corruption.
He added, there are 13 source countries for Malaysia to get labour from, but none have syndicates except Bangladesh.
Malaysia has 513 agencies, so at least 513 of our agencies should be given the opportunity to work with them, he said.