Nepali workers seeking employment in Malaysia being cheated in name of medical checkup

KIRAN BHATTARAI, Jan 17: In the context when reports about Nepali workers aspiring overseas employment becoming the victims of fraud on multiple fronts are common in the media, a Malaysia-based company cheating the Nepali workers entering the Malaysian labour market has come to limelight. The Malaysia-based MiGRAMS Company is unethically charging US dollars 30 equivalent to Rs 3,280 per person from a Nepali foreign job aspirant wishing to go to Malaysia since last May 1. The company is found not have acquired permission from the Nepal and Malaysia governments to operate. The Malaysia-based Bestinet SDN BHD Pvt Limited permitted to conduct a medical checkup of Nepali workers seeking job in Malaysia through biomedical system is found to have been illegally overcharging its clients in the name of MiGRAMS. The Government of Nepal has set the ceiling in the medical checkup fees to be raised from the Nepalis wishing to join the labour market in Malaysia. Any company authorised for conducting medical checkup of Nepali foreign job aspirants can charge up to Rs 4,500 per head. But contrary to this, the Company is found to have been charging extra 30 US dollars. The job seekers are forced to send the additional charge to Malaysia. According to the record, around 100 thousand Nepali youths leave their home in search for jobs in Malaysia every year which is enough to say that the company makes an illegal income of around Rs 3.2 million every year from the collection of unauthorized charge from those Nepalis setting out for Malaysia for jobs. In his response to this illegal but unchecked trend of fleecing Nepali job aspirants by the Malaysian company, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat said the Ministry has, in cooperation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Labour and Employment, been investigating into reported fraud by some Malaysia-based companies against the Nepali workers. He said earlier he had contacted with the representative of Malaysian Embassy in the capital to inquire about the matter, but he was told that the Embassy was unaware of the MiGRAMS Company and its business. But, our preliminary investigation ended with the finding that fund being raised by the MiGRAMS from the Nepali job aspirants going to Malaysia was illegal, Minister Mahat said, adding that he was preparing to go to Malaysia to officially talk with the Malaysian authorities on the issue. Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) Vice Chair Kumud Khanal said the Bestinet Company allows the Nepali worker for a medical checkup only after its clients deposit US dollars 30 in the bank account of its subordinate body MiGRAMS in Malaysia. Only with the permission letter from the Company, Nepali workers here are allowed to undergo biomedical checkup. Anyone else should clarify the reason or take permission from the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) before sending money to foreign country (ies), but foreign employment agencies send the additional money charged from the job seekers to MiGRAMS through an illegal channel (Hundi) as the MiGRAMS has not taken permission from the government for such business, foreign entrepreneurs said. The MiGRAMS entered the country with the implementation of the biomedical system for conducting the medical checkup of migrant workers, Khanal argued. There was a big game of money to enter this system into the country during the tenure of Minister of State for Labour and Transport Tek Bahadur Gurung, who gained popularity for taking his stance for the implementation of the free ticket free visa system for Nepali migrant workers going to Malaysia and some other Gulf countries. Until the biomedical system came into force, a Nepali aspiring for jobs in the Gulf countries was paying Rs 2,600 for medical checkup, but this amount was increased to Rs 4,500 with the implementation of the new system. It is noted that telephone talks between Kailash Khadka, President of Nepal Health Professionals Federation and health entrepreneur Chandra Kala Thapa on the issue of raising Rs 4.2 million each in commission from a health clinic given permission for conducting medical checkup of Nepali foreign job aspirants under the biomedical system. Now only 39 health institutes which were said to have paid the commission are allowed to conduct medical checkup of Nepali migrant workers. The November 24 meeting of the International Relations and Labour Committee under the Legislature-Parliament had instructed the Ministry of Home Affairs to stop Nepali migrant workers going for Malaysia from being cheated by different organisations including the One Stop Centre (OSC) and ISC. But the directives are yet to be implemented. Though the official visa fee for Malaysia is Rs 700 per head, the OSC is charging Rs 6,700 from a Nepali migrant worker going for Malaysia under the heading of visa fees. Likewise, the ISC has established its office in Maharajgunj since last September 15 and is raising Rs 3200 per head just for colleting fingerprints of the Nepali job seekers. In view of NAFEA General Secretary Rohan Gurung, the middlemen are causing an extra burden of up to Rs 1.39 billion annually on Nepali workers aspiring for jobs in Malaysia. Such organisations established with the petty interest of financially cheating the Nepali migrant workers have got an opportunity to spread their tentacles due to the apathy of the government to crackdown on such illegal means of raking in money. RSS

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