New agreement brings resumption of labour migration to Malaysia a step closer

A Malaysian team will arrive in November to inspect medical facilities, which is expected to restart labour migration to the Southeast Asian country.

A new agreement between Nepal and Malaysia is expected to pave the way for the resumption of labour migration to the Southeast Asian country.

Migration to Malaysia for work has remained suspended since May 2018. According to Thursday’s agreement, signed between a visiting Nepali delegation and Malaysian officials from the Ministry of Human Resources in the Malaysian city of Putrajaya, a Malaysian team will soon arrive in Kathmandu to inspect health facilities conducting medical examinations of Nepalis aspiring to work in the Southeast Asian country.

The Malaysian team will be visiting Nepal in early November, according to Ram Prasad Ghimire, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.

“This is a significant development in implementing the memorandum of understanding reached between the two countries in October 2018,” Ghimire, who is leading the Nepali delegation to Putrajaya, told the Post over the phone.

The October agreement between Nepal and Malaysia had relieved Nepali workers of all expenses, including recruitment service charges, airfare, visa fees, medical check-ups and security screening costs, all of which Malaysia-bound workers were required to pay earlier. But the agreement has yet to be implemented due to various hurdles, including one related to the medical examination of outbound workers.

“Since the labour deal, a joint technical committee consisting of officials from both countries had not met. Finalising medical facilities was the topmost agenda of the meeting,” said Ghimire.

According to the agreement, the Malaysian team will inspect 86 health institutions—out of 122 enlisted by the Nepal government—to include them on a list of authorised medical examination facilities.

Earlier, only 36 health institutions selected by the Malaysian side were mandated to conduct medical examinations of Nepalis aspiring to work in Malaysia, which had given rise to a monopoly.

The departure of new Nepali migrant workers to Malaysia had remained suspended since the government launched a crackdown on a syndicate offering various pre-departure services to Malaysia-bound workers. Both countries then had to appoint new health facilities, work on which began only after the Malaysian side forwarded its medical examination standard in March, five months after the signing of the labour agreement in Kathmandu.

However, a delay in implementing the deal, which was expected to resume migration to Malaysia, has prevented Nepali workers from working in Malaysia.

The prolonged delay in the reopening of Malaysia has been criticised by recruitment agencies and the opposition parties as a failure of the government. Many feared that Nepal would forever lose its most popular labour destination.

Malaysia’s closure was also reflected in the country’s foreign employment sector as the number of workers migrating abroad dwindled significantly last year. In the fiscal year 2018-19, only 42,146 Nepali workers left for work in Malaysia.

While workers with calling visa had been allowed to take up jobs, migration of new workers has remained stalled for months now. A lack of confusion about the status of departure to Malaysia had also resulted in instances where Nepali workers were duped by recruiting agencies.

“With today’s agreement, the process of sending Nepali workers as per the labour deal has begun,” said Ghimire.  “Our aim was to provide zero investment jobs to our workers, which we have secured. Departures will now take place accordingly.”

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