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What Do You Think About Migrant Workers?

Wong Shu Lee  


  June 29, 2021

Since this week we’re featuring our partner, ClicknCare across our social media accounts, we’re thinking to establish some discussions regarding the welfare of foreign workers in our country. 


Do you know? There are estimated to be somewhere between three and six million migrant workers, both documented and undocumented, in Malaysia. 


Many migrant workers are set up for exploitation by a combination of unscrupulous recruitment agents and employers, strict immigration policies, unmonitored supply chains, and a lack of enforcement of labour protections. 


They are subjected to passport confiscation, low pay in violation of minimum wage laws, poor living conditions, punishment by fines, high recruitment fees and debts to recruitment agencies and employers, forced labour, human trafficking, and salary deductions. 


All this while, Malaysia is widely credited to have achieved universal health coverage for citizens. However, when it comes to migrant workers, our country has removed subsidies for them to access public healthcare in 2016. 


Given that migrants rely mostly on public medical services, this measure resulted in declining quality and access to healthcare by migrants, both documented and undocumented, as the high cost of private alternatives usually deters them from getting any healthcare. 


Since the beginning of Covid-19, many migrant workers have lost their source of income. As a result, they can’t pay for food, rent and medicines, unless they have tested positive for Covid-19, in which case their quarantine and care are covered by the government. 


Because of the bad living conditions and lack of access to healthcare services, migrant workers are more prone to various diseases, including the Covid-19. Due to these reasons, they have received more discrimination during this period of time.  


Let’s be honest, our attitude and treatment of foreign workers here are often undesirable. They are amongst the first to be victimised and discriminated against during the pandemic as they are neglected and don’t have strong safety nets. 


The reason why we are sharing about this is not to urge people to donate or provide support to migrant workers. However, we would like everyone (including our team members) to do some self-reflection. Let’s ask yourself, have you done or said anything that is discriminating migrant workers?


At the same time, do you remember we have thousands of Malaysians (maybe including your family members) are working abroad as well? How would you feel if the locals there treat our countrymen in the same menial way we treat theirs?


People who are suffering from Covid-19 have done nothing wrong. Please keep in mind that Covid-19 can happen to anyone, including your loved ones. Viruses do not discriminate, and neither should our response. 


Let’s treat others how you want to be treated. 


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