A list of 25 Bangladesh Recruitment Agents (BRAs) and 250 sub-agents are expected to be involved in recruiting workers bound for Malaysia.
According to sources familiar with bilateral negotiations leading up to a new agreement signed by both governments, reports Malaysiakini, a Malaysian news portal, on Monday.
This report has made true the fear of migration activists and manpower exporters that there would be a syndication again in sending workers to Malaysia although the Bangladesh expat ministry has been opposing it for the last some days.
The news portal obtained a document that outlined the proposed process and procedure on the recruitment and repatriation of Bangladesh workers.
The document shows the recruitment process -- starting from the application to workers' arrival -- will be done through the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS).
As per a section titled "Quota Auto Allocation to BRA and Engaging BRA", workers to Malaysia will be recruited from a list of 25 BRAs, supported by 250 sub-agents.
A Malaysian employer can directly liaise with the chosen BRA or appoint a Malaysian agent to facilitate the recruitment process.
Last 19 December, Malaysian Human Resource Minister M Saravanan and Bangladesh's Expatriates' and Overseas Welfare Minister Imran Ahmed had signed a five-year labour recruitment agreement that lifted a freeze imposed since 1 September, 2018.
Both of the governments, however, did not disclose specific terms of the MoU, including recruitment costs. But, there has been a limit set on the number of agencies permitted to send workers to Malaysia.
In Malaysia, migrant rights group Tenaganita were among those who urged to disclose the MoU terms, raising concerns over the possible revival of alleged "syndicate" which had attributed high recruitment costs and labour abuses.
Over the limit set on the recruitment agencies, the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) raised concerns and requested an equal opportunity for all of its 1,600 members to send workers to Malaysia.
Malaysia-based migrant workers' rights specialist Andy Hall told TBS, there were issues on how the recruiting agencies were selected as there was alleged abuse of political powers in Bangladesh and Malaysia at the expense of migrant workers.
"If the recruitment agencies were chosen through a transparent open tender process, based-on their proven track record, it would be acceptable," says Hall.
Hall said without more transparency, the new recruitment process risks being a revival of previous syndicates that ultimately contributed to issues of labour exploitation.