Burmese migrants given work permit lifeline in Malaysia

Burmese migrants given work permit lifeline in Malaysia

Malaysian authorities have announced a plan to provide legal work permits for undocumented migrant workers in the country previously registered under what was known as the “6P programme”.

According to a Kuala Lumpur-based Burmese migrant group, Myanmar Migrant Rights Centre (MMRC), the Malaysian government is to initiate a three-month programme to issue work permits to migrants, many thousands of whom are Burmese workers, in a plan that the Home Affairs Ministry commenced on 21 October in Putrajaya on the southern outskirts of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

Burmese migrants under the 6P programme were permitted to seek work permits through “service companies”, but many found themselves cheated and out of pocket.

Yan Naing Htun of the MMRC said the current programme will not allow third parties such as the services companies, brokers or agents to handle the applications, but rather the migrants will be obliged to apply for the work permits themselves.

“Labour unions in Malaysia have been questioning the fees that migrants paid to these agents,” he said, adding that those migrants who already paid money to service companies or agents for work permits can now take their cases directly to the Home Affairs Ministry by providing all the necessary documents: receipts, reference letters from the immigration department, details of employers, etc.

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Than Soe Oo, a Burmese migrant in Malaysia, said he previously tried to acquire a work permit through a service company but his fee was stolen and he was not provided with documents.

“My former employer said he could not wait any longer as it was taking me too long to get a work permit,” he told DVB. “In the end, he hired someone else to replace me. I can only hope that he will hire me again and give me some advance pay so I can reapply for a work permit.

“Otherwise, the only option for me is to go back to Burma,” he said.

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