Bangladeshi youths misusing student visas to work illegally in Malaysia

Thousands of illegal Bangladeshi workers, banned from Malaysia because local women were finding them too attractive, are now entering the country on student visas under the pretense of learning English, a news report and an official said Monday.

The New Straits Times quoted Home Affairs Minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad as saying Sunday that the Bangladeshis come as students, only to work in low-paid menial jobs in the country, which has a severe labor shortage because rising economic prosperity has provided many Malaysians with white-collar jobs.

Bangladeshi workers were banned from Malaysia two years ago, mainly because they were creating "social problems" by entering into romantic liaisons with local women, said Saiful Islam, a spokesman for Radzi.

He told The Associated Press that they were found to have harassed young women and eloped with married women, who apparently succumbed to their good looks and charms.

On Sunday, Radzi said Bangladeshi men look like Indian movie stars.

Most of the men, aged between 25 and 30, were recorded as studying English, he said.

"This is really fishy. The age bracket is suitable for employment. Bangladesh is an English-speaking country and it makes little sense for them to study English here," Radzi was quoted as saying. "The abuse is glaring because Bangladeshis are not allowed to work here, but we can see hundreds working in construction sites and restaurants."

Radzi said most were brought by agents who made deals with colleges to bring in the workers as students, then place them for employment. He said his ministry was taking the necessary action to curb the practice.

"I can assure you there are thousands of them. Of course, Malaysia is striving to be an education hub but abuse of provisions is something that cannot he tolerated," he said, reports the AP.

I.L.