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Burmese overseas employment agencies have voiced complaint against Malaysia’s One Stop Service Centre (OSC) which increased migrant labour visa fees eightfold.
There are around 200 overseas employment agencies in Burma, sending a staggering 3000 migrant workers to Malaysia every month, according to the Burmese government.
Last year, the OSC flagged a sharp rise in its Malaysian work visa processing fee, jumping from US$6 to $51. The OSC is licensed by the Malaysian government and is operated by private companies Bukti Megah sdn. Bhd and Diamond Palace Group of Companies Limited. The OSC now processes all Malaysian visa applications made in Burma, a task that was handled by the Malaysian Embassy in Rangoon up until 1 December 2015.
The Myanmar Overseas Employment Agency says the hike is unfair and a potential block to Burmese citizens seeking legal employment in Malaysia.
“The Malaysian Embassy has put out a statement saying the visa fee remained unchanged but there was additional $25 system fee and a $26 service fee – in total $51, which is 8.5 times the actual visa fee. This is inappropriate and burdensome for migrant workers and so we are objecting to it,”said Min Hlaing, chairman of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation.
The federation demanded that Malaysian authorities postpone the new visa fee until 1 May, threatening to stage protests outside of the Malaysia Embassy in Rangoon.
Burma’s Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Welfare will reach out to Malaysian authorities via the Foreign Ministry to negotiate a lowering of the visa fee and a postponement of the date when it will come into effect, said the ministry’s permanent secretariat Myo Aung.
“The embassy said the visa fee remained unchanged from $6 but the additional service fee and online fees are too much so we are looking to negotiate on how much they can lower it by.”
Representatives of the Malaysian OSC, the Burmese labour ministry and employment agencies met at the Labour Department’s training school building in Rangoon on 10 January to discuss the issue.
Malaysia is the second largest host to Burmese migrants after Thailand, having received around 39,000 Burmese migrants in 2015, according to government statistics.