Malaysia to tighten laws against abuse of foreign workers

Malaysia will tighten laws to prevent local employers from abusing foreign workers following long-standing complaints that migrant laborers are underpaid and live in deplorable conditions, a report said Monday. Amendments will compel Malaysian employers to submit regular reports on the condition of their foreign workers, detailing salaries, benefits and their working environment, Human Resources Minister Fong Chan Onn was quoted as saying by The Star. Currently, Malaysian employers are required to submit reports on their foreign workers upon request by the ministry.

"Now, we will require the employers to submit to us (regular) reports. This will help us monitor the working conditions, particularly in the construction and services sectors," Fong said. The move will ensure foreign workers are treated in accordance with international labor laws, he said, adding that the ministry will conduct random checks at work sites to verify reports filed by the employers.

Fong could not be reached for comment.

Malaysia, one of the most thriving economies in Southeast Asia, has about one million legal foreign workers, mainly from Indonesia, working in construction and at plantations and restaurants. Thousands more work without valid permits for a better living and to escape from poverty back home, government officials said.

The Indonesian government and local activists have charged that a great number of foreign workers in Malaysia, especially illegal laborers, are being exploited.

Most are poorly paid, given irregular wages and live in shabbily built homes made of planks and zinc without basic amenities such as clean water and electricity, they say, reports the AP. I.L.

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