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Dismantle Bestinet, says Malaysian politician

Staff Correspondent
16 Apr 2023 11:10:09 | Update: 16 Apr 2023 18:54:04
Dismantle Bestinet, says Malaysian politician
File photo shows Bangladeshi migrants waiting in a queue to board their flight at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka — TBP Photo

Charles Santiago – a veteran politician of Malaysia’s Democratic Action Party – has called on his government to promote transparency in the recruitment of migrant workers by dismantling Bestinet Sdn Bhd, and eliminating labour brokers.

"(The government must) dismantle Bestinet portal. It's controlled by a major labour broker. The recruitment process must be open and transparent in both countries," the former Klang member of Parliament said in a statement on Facebook, reports New Strait Times.

Bestinet is an IT company that manages the government's Foreign Workers Centralised Management System, which oversees the recruitment of migrant workers.

Bestinet's founder was accused by a labour agency in Dhaka of persuading the government to limit the number of agencies that supply Bangladeshi workers to only 25. In response, in July last year, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission raided the company.

Santiago said the management of the recruitment of foreign workers should be shifted from Malaysia’s Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry to the Prime Minister's Office.

"[There should be a] department chaired by Prime Minister [Datuk Seri] Anwar Ibrahim and headed by a former judge, CEO (chief executive officer) or a retired senior government servant," he said.

He also urged the government to publicise the findings of the 2019 Special Committee on Foreign Workers Management report chaired by Court of Appeal judge Datuk Seri Mohd Hishammudin Yunus.

"Migrant workers' management could have been improved by leaps and bounds, but alas, we rather pay the price of inaction," he said.


Under Bestinet’s shadow

The Malaysian labour market is a big opportunity for Bangladesh. Bangladeshi migrant workers are happy with the working environment there and they feel at home while the local employers are also satisfied with their performance and services.

The Malaysian labour market reopened back for Bangladeshi workers in 2022 through the sincere efforts of both nations, but the monopolistic business practices and interference of Bestinet have become a serious threat to this sector’s rich potential.

The Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMH), owned by Bestinet, is now controlling every aspect of the labour recruitment process to Malaysia through quota approval, auto-rotation of demands, MiGRAMS, e-Visa, calling visa, medical check-ups and attestation.

This is causing the aspirant workers’ migration costs to skyrocket — in some cases the amount even crosses Tk 4 lakh, increasing the time needed to complete the procedures by at least three months, and preventing the agencies from covering the actual demand of workers in Malaysia, while hampering the whole recruitment process.

According to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) fair recruitment guidelines, only the Responsible Business Alliance-listed companies can recruit foreign workers if all of their expenses are paid. But under the Bestinet system, such companies in Malaysia cannot recruit from Bangladesh.

Thousands of Bangladeshi workers are missing out on employment opportunities at top Malaysian companies due to the Bestinet system, which in turn is leaving both the employers and the aspirant migrants in a heap of trouble.

Recruiting agencies from 13 source countries, including Nepal, receive work orders directly from Malaysian employers. But this is not the case for Bangladesh.


Amin controls whole system

In grabbing the whole business and making a hefty profit by holding migrant workers hostage, Bestinet owner Dato Sri Aminul Islam Bin Abdul Nor and his cohorts are involved in all sorts of business required to enter the Malaysian job market.

Amin has businesses in health screening, registration of workers, quota approval, auto-rotation, e-Visa, calling visa, workers registration in MiGRAMS and attestation.

As a result, the process of Bangladeshi workers’ migration to Malaysia has become complex, lengthy and costlier. This has put the potential of the labour market at risk despite a good relationship between Bangladesh and Malaysia based on good intentions.