Malaysian Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan has backtracked on his previous statement on the approval of 25 local recruiting agencies by Bangladesh's prime minister and expatriates' welfare minister for sending workers to Malaysia.
"I hereby would like to state that any allegations about the involvement of honourable prime minister of Bangladesh in the selection of the 25 recruitment companies are false and unfounded," the Malaysian minister said in a statement on Sunday.
"My meeting with her excellency was to narrate the current situation of foreign workers and the initiatives taken by the ministry for better working conditions," the statement further read.
Earlier on Thursday, Seri M Saravanan had claimed that Bangladesh's prime minister and expatriates' welfare minister had already approved the syndicate of 25 local recruiting agencies for sending workers to Malaysia.
"When I had met the Bangladeshi prime minister, she agreed on recruiting 25 agencies. The expatriate minister had also concurred," a local daily in Malaysia quoted him as saying.
However, Bangladesh Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed contradicted the Malaysian minister's remarks and told the media in Dhaka that neither Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, nor he had approved any syndicate of 25 Bangladeshi recruiting agencies.
In the statement on Sunday, Saravanan also reiterated his position regarding the syndication of 25 agencies and 250 agencies.
The 250 companies will be selected from the list of 1,520 recruitment companies provided from Bangladesh, from which the 25 companies were previously chosen, he said.
However, Malaysia will still deal only with the initially chosen 25 companies, he added.
"Hence, what is the difference between the 25 and 250 companies? First of all, the human resources ministry only deals with the 25 designated companies. They are monitored by the ministry closely, to ensure that International Labour Organisation guidelines relating to the welfare of the workers are adhered to, especially in terms of living and working conditions of foreign workers."
The Malaysian human resources minister has come under fire recently for selecting only 25 companies for the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers.
Saravanan's statement to clarify and explain the current situation on the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers was issued after he was called on by migrant workers' rights groups to explain his decision to only allow 25 Bangladeshi agencies to recruit workers for Malaysia.
Bangladesh is going to resume sending workers to Malaysia this month, as issues relevant to the matter have finally been resolved in a joint working group meeting on 2 June in Dhaka, five months after the signing of a memorandum of understanding in this regard.
Bangladesh has left it up to Malaysia to decide how many agencies will send people from Bangladesh to Malaysia.
As a result, according to Malaysia's proposal, a syndicate of 25 recruiting agencies will send people to that country, said the recruiters who have been protesting against the syndication.