Thousands of job seekers are allegedly being sent to Malaysia by several travel agencies on visit or tourist visas making them illegal in their host country.
In the wake of a nationwide crackdown in Malaysia on illegal expatriate workers, including Bangladeshis, concerned ministries have been requested to protect the intending migrant workers from the clutches of unscrupulous travel agents, who have been sending Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia on visit or tourist visas.
The Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment made the request.
At least 4,500 illegal foreign expatriates, including 500 Bangladeshis, have so far been picked up by the Malaysian law enforcers in the crackdown that began on January 21.
"It was found that using visit or tourist visas, a number of workers have been leaving this country for Malaysia," Begum Shamsun Nahar, director general of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), told The Daily Observer yesterday.
"Without having work permits or legal documents they have been trying to get jobs in that country, she said, adding that finally they become illegal.
"Taking this matter into consideration, we have requested Home Ministry, Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry and Education Ministry to take steps so that no one can leave the country on tourist or visit visas other than the genuine tourists and visitors," the DG, BMET said.
"The Malaysian government had declared amnesty for foreign workers in five phases since 2011 to legalise their papers but about 35,000 Bangladeshis have failed to avail of the amnesty programme," AKM Atiqur Rahman, Bangladesh high commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, told The Daily Observer yesterday.
"The Malaysian police are carrying out raids at different worksites and living quarters to detain foreigners staying without valid documents," he said.
Bangladeshi detained workers are being held at 12 different detention centres in Malaysia.
About 600,000 Bangladeshi workers are currently living in Malaysia. The crackdown will continue until the year-end to detect, detain, charge and deport illegal foreigners.
On September 2 last year, the Malaysian government, in a similar crackdown, arrested 2,433 illegal immigrants, including 387 Bangladeshis.
"A section of corrupt Bangladeshi immigration officials are involved in sending workers to Malaysia on tourist or visit visas," Alamgir Hossain, a resident of Kapong in Kuala Lampur, told The Daily Observer.
He alleged that thousands of Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia had become illegal due to the negligence of the Bangladesh High Commission officials, as they failed to issue the workers passports on time.
"Besides, due to non-cooperation of the mission the workers could not obtain proper documents from their employers."
As a result, he said, the workers could not finally be legalized. The ill-fated workers now have to face legal action.
The detained workers in Malaysia would be deported to Bangladesh next week bearing repatriation cost by themselves.