Malaysian immigration department barred the entry of 63 Bangladeshi workers and deported them on Saturday, two days after their arrival in Kuala Lumpur International Airport, though all of them had valid travel documents.
The Bangladesh government could not explain the reasons behind the deportation, but the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) said it was because of “miscommunication” between the hiring company and the recruiting agencies.
“We don’t know why they were denied entry and then deported. They all had visas and immigration clearance,” said Tanvir Hossain, an official of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
BMET Director General Selim Reza could not be reached for comments immediately as his phone was switched off.
“[The] visa period expired the day our workers arrived in Malaysia. The employer did not go to the airport to pick them up on time,” BAIRA Secretary General Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman told The Daily Star yesterday.
However, The Daily Star obtained documents of at least five of the deportees which shows that their visas were issued in August, meaning that the three-month period of visa expiry had not ended.
Asked about it, Shameem Ahmed said “There might be miscommunication. We will look into it.”
Deported worker Md Mukhlesur of Meherpur said they arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport around noon on October 11. After checking the passports, they were kept waiting.
“Nobody came to receive us that day. We stayed the whole night there,” he told this correspondent over phone yesterday.
The next day, a Malay man from the hiring company went to them and saw their passports before handing those over to the police there, Mukhlesur said.
“The Malay man only said ‘problem’. Police then sent us to a room in the airport and the next day we were sent back,” Mukhlesur said.
He said the recruiting agency that arranged his job is Catharsis International, one of the ten recruiting agencies accused of monopolising the labour recruitment in Malaysia under the G-to-G Plus arrangement.
It is not clear how Catharsis International is involved in arranging the job visas of the 63.
BAIRA Secretary General Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury also said Catharsis International Managing Director Ruhul Amin flew to Kuala Lumpur as the problem arose. This suggests the very agency’s involvement in recruitment of the workers.
However, contradicting Shameem’s claim, BMET officials said the recruiting agencies that arranged job visas for the workers were Biplob International and Barakat Dynamic Overseas Employment Agency.
The Daily Star also obtained copies of the immigration clearances of a few deportees, which suggested that the BMET statement is correct.
Asked about it, Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury said, “This is not supposed to be. It is only through the ten agencies through which the workers’ visas should be processed.
“We are looking into the matter.”
Shameem also said the workers had job visas for a public listed company named Supermax Globe, but according to the deportees’ immigration documents, they had different employers including Mesra Buddi Sdn Bhd, Ab Inafnno Sdn Bhd, Nninndo Sdn Bhd and Onnnnadnd.
He said this may have given suspicion over how they got immigration clearance and required an investigation.
The BAIRA leader said he already had talks with the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry and the recruiting agencies concerned.
“We are assuring that the workers who were deported are not responsible for what has happened,” Shameem said.
“We will arrange travel of the workers to Malaysia in a week or so. If we cannot, we will make sure that they get their compensation.”
Catharsis International Managing Director Mohammed Ruhul Amin could not be reached for comments.
Following allegations that a syndicate of 10 recruiting agents monopolised the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia under the G-to-G Plus mechanism since early 2017, the new Malaysian government suspended the online recruitment system, SPPA, since September 1.
Since then, the recruitment of nearly 60,000 workers, who were approved for jobs by Malaysian home ministry, had been halted for nearly a month. The freeze was withdrawn following a meeting between Bangladesh Expatriates’ Welfare Minister Nurul Islam and Malaysian Human Resources Minister M Kulesegaran on September 25.
Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury said none other than the ten agents were yet authorised for the visa processing job.
The BMET is also not supposed to issue immigration clearance if any agencies other than the ten want to process it, he said.
“As there are names of recruiting agents other than the said ten agents, we need to look into the matter seriously.”