By Transparency International

DHAKA, Bangladesh--Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and Transparency International Malaysia (TIM) have jointly called for public disclosure of the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between their Governments on December 19, 2021 on recruitment of expatriate workers from Bangladesh for employment in Malaysia.

In a media statement issued today simultaneously from Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur, the two national chapters of the Berlin-based global coalition against corruption Transparency International (TI), urged upon the two Governments to take all preventive measures against corruption in the recruitment process including potential syndicated control so that the interests of the workers from Bangladesh and their employers in Malaysia can be protected.

Referring to recent media reports in both countries about the possibility of syndicated capture of the process of recruiting the Bangladeshi nationals who could migrate to work in Malaysia by a vested group of Bangladeshi Recruiting Agencies (BRA) in collaboration with their Malaysian cohorts, TIB and TIM expressed deep concern that the two Governments have failed to disclose the terms and conditions that they have agreed between themselves on such a subject of direct public interest.

This secrecy is contradictory to both Governments’ national and international commitments to control corruption and ensure public access to information, the statement said. 
Not only that, the lack of disclosure is creating opportunity for potential syndicated capture of the recruitment process by a handful of BRAs, as widely reported in the media of both Bangladesh and Malaysia, thanks to collusion with powerful quarters in both the countries.

The statement referred to media reports that while there are over 1,500 interested and legally authorized BRAs, by some evil design of some powerful quarters only 25 of them may secure the Malaysian government’s permit to recruit workers from Bangladesh with the provision of ten sub-agents for each of them.

Iftekhar Zaman and Muhammad Mohan, executive director & president respectively of TIB and TIM said, “the scope of manipulation created by the secrecy around the contents of the MoU will not only subvert the mandatory provisions of open and fair competitive process of selection of agencies for the purpose, but also limit the scope of accountability in the process and substantially increase the cost of migration for the Bangladeshi expatriate workers and their Malaysian employers”.

Recalling that in 2018 Malaysia was forced to ban recruitment from Bangladesh in the backdrop of allegation of corruption including similar syndicated capture, they said, “we urge upon our respective government to disclose the MoU in full details for public information and urge concrete actions at the respective national level as well as collaboratively to ensure that the recruitment process is not held hostage once again to such evil designs of powerful syndicates”.

The statement further said that migration of Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia serves the national interest of both the countries including direct economic benefits, and hence, TIB and TIM expect that the two Governments will attach highest priority to preventing secrecy and corrupt practices around this mutually beneficial sector.