Clear the mess

A lot of concern was generated among the public over the erratic pattern in the delivery of Nepali workers by certain manpower agencies to Malaysia following the incident in February when 45 Nepali labourers were stranded at Kuala Lumpur International Airport for five full days. Fresh reports have it that hundreds of Nepalis are philandering in the streets of Malaysia without a place to live and work, marooned and hapless after finding that they were swindled somewhere in the course of obtaining work and travel documents. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has rightly sought information regarding those stranded in this east Asian country, where a lot of migrant Nepali labourers go in search of menial work.

It is surprising how unwary Nepalis are almost always headed for trouble when it comes to going abroad for work. If at all they succeed in finding genuine employers, it does not preclude their chances of being hoodwinked by a few notorious of the 450-odd manpower agencies at home. Malaysia has so far deported over 50 Nepalis and five of them have been imprisoned there. This has been a long-standing problem and does not look like it will end anytime soon. And it is not as if the government and alert agencies have not done anything to prevent this trend. Despite a range of corrective measures introduced to rein in the unscrupulous manpower agencies and enforcing of rigid requirements to qualify to go overseas for work, not all is altogether right with this sector. Now that the inevitable has happened to a lot of Nepalis headed for Malaysia, the government could spare further harassment to this lot by rescuing them at the earliest. Meanwhile, this instance underlines a clear need to tighten the screws on the inconsistent manpower agencies. But the mess cannot be cleared unless the Malaysian authorities cooperate with Nepal to find out who the real troublemakers are.

Fake visas seem to be at the epicentre of the crisis. Although the manpower agencies have blamed the Malaysian Embassy for issuing “spurious visas,” the Embassy, however, has been swift in denouncing the claim. A probe must, therefore, be instituted to identify the culprit. Insignificant as such issues might seem, it nonetheless contributes to sour the growing bilateral ties between Nepal and Malaysia. Diplomatic missions in either country were established to deal with problems like this. As remittance has become the mainstay of Nepal’s economy, the answer does not lie in barring the workers from going abroad. Instead bringing the culprits to the dock would be a better way in the direction of eliminating inconsistencies and further setting right the foreign employment industry in Nepal.