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Malaysian embassy launches bio-medical system

  Government says proper consultations were not held prior to introduction of the new test

SUBARNA POUDEL

KATHMANDU: Malaysian embassy in Kathmandu has ‘unilaterally’ introduced Biometric Medical Test (Bio-Medical) System in Nepal, which is expected to add financial burden on Nepalis seeking jobs in southeast Asian country.

The system, which was introduced yesterday, is expected to raise medical check-up fee for Malaysian

job seekers as health centres that conduct check-ups of job aspirants have to first purchase medical equipment and software worth $8000 (approximately Rs 800,000) from Malaysian companies.

Earlier, there were rumours that the medical check-up fee for Malaysian job seekers would go up by $15 (approximately Rs 1,500) following the introduction of the system. However, Nepal Health Professional Federation (NHPF)’s senior vice president Kailash Khadka said: “No medical centre will increase the check-up fee by $15 for the time being.” But since he did not rule out possibilities of a fee hike in the coming future, it is likely the cost will eventually go up.

Because of the cost related factor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) had earlier asked the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) to look into the matter soon after the Malaysian embassy here officially informed about the possible launch of a new medical test system.

“Soon after we got this information, we started doing our studies, particularly in terms of cost minimisation so that the new system does not add financial burden on Nepalis seeking jobs in Malaysia,” MoLE spokesperson Buddhi Bahadur Khadka said. “But the Malaysian government has introduced the bio-medical system without taking Nepal government into confidence.”

MoFA spokesperson Dipak Dhital said: “Malaysian government has the right to implement bio-medical system in Nepal. But since it will have an impact on so many workers, the embassy should have properly consulted with us before taking the unilateral decision to implement the system.”

MoLE’s Buddhi Bahadur said the Malaysian embassy’s decision has ‘confused’ the Nepal government, as ‘we still do not have knowledge on whether this system is compulsory’. Malaysian embassy officials were not available for comments.

However, NHPF claimed it had informed the government about the new system in June. “We even held a conference back then which was participated by government officials and representatives of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies,” said NHPF’s Kailash. “If the government had problems they should have told us then.”

But MoLE’s Buddhi Bahadur said the embassy should not have introduced the system now as his ministry had invited various government officials and private bodies associated with the foreign employment sector to a meeting on Monday. “The embassy should have waited till then.”

The NHPF, however, said the system will benefit those seeking jobs in Malaysia, as medical reports of workers will be directly sent to the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System of Malaysia. Currently, workers seeking jobs in Malaysia have to undergo medical tests here while applying for jobs. If their application is approved, they go to Malaysia where they have to undergo medical tests. But if they fail the tests there they are sent back to Nepal.

“With the introduction of the new system, medical reports of workers, who undergo check-up here, are sent directly to the Malaysian authority, which immediately gives a decision on whether the worker is fit to work in Malaysia. And once their medical reports are approved by the Malaysian authority, visas are immediately issued,” NHPF’s Kailash said, claiming the latest system is ‘more systematic and reduces chances of Nepalis turning into medically unfit people once they reach Malaysia’.

Earlier on December 23, NAFEA had staged a protest in front of the Malaysian embassy in Kathmandu protesting the launch of the biometric medical test system.

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