Tenaganita blasts authorities over Nepali worker’s suicide, blames recruitment agents
The lack of empathy shown towards migrant workers by the authorities here and Malaysians in general could have driven a Nepali worker to suicide in Taman Tun Dr Ismail last week, said Tenaganita.
The non-governmental organisation which champions the rights of migrant workers and women said lack of enforcement against recruitment agencies which exploit foreign workers is the main cause of the deplorable conditions the foreigners are subjected to.
“These workers are being exploited. There is an urgent need to review our system and the government must be held accountable,” said Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez (pic).
The 30-year-old Nepali jumped off the roof of a shoplot along Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 1 in TTDI on Wednesday morning, reportedly after being laid off.
According to reports, with mounting debts and the on-going crackdown of illegals by the Malaysian authorities, the Nepali decided to end his life.
“The policies here state that migrant workers must come into the country via recruitment agents and this is where the whole problem starts,” said Fernandez.
“They pay between RM5,000 and RM8,000 to agents, depending on the sectors they are to be employed in. Nepalis usually go for jobs in the security industry here as it pays higher.”
However, from the numerous complaints Tenaganita has handled, it was revealed that more often than not, Nepali workers are brought in to work in the plantation sector when their visas state otherwise.
“The migrant workers are not aware of this until they are brought into the country and told to work in a different sector.
“They don’t protest. They keep silent and work where they are told to for the sake of their families back home and to pay off the debts to the agents.
“The problem starts when they are laid off. They know they cannot go to the authorities for help because they will be arrested and deported for flouting the visa.
“When the authorities move in, the workers are stripped off their work permits and visas, and are deported. Their side of the story goes unheard,” she told The Malaysian Insider.
Fernandez said, this is why Tenaganita has always questioned the recruitment procedures and laws practised in the country.
She stressed that companies intending to hire foreign workers must do it themselves by hiring directly.
“However, the existing laws and red tape do not not allow for this, putting the workers in an extremely volatile and vulnerable situation.
Fernandez also does not discount the possibility of more suicides among foreign workers if measures are not taken immediately to deal with the recruitment process.
“This particular worker who took his own life must have been thrown into a situation where there was no hope, since he had no money to support himself. He had no legal paperwork on him and with the crackdown on llegals, he realised his situation was hopeless,” she said.
The Nepali’s suicide has also triggered an exchange among netizens, particularly those from the affluent TTDI area, as reports had claimed that many onlookers goaded the Nepali while he stood on the rooftop.
One even lamented about how “heartless” netizens in TTDI were over the incident. A reader of The Malaysian Insider also complained about the lack of preparedness by the Fire and Rescue Department and the police during the incident. – September 13, 2013.-BY YISWAREE PALANSAMY-TMI