Burma’s Labour Ministry issued a directive to prevent labourers from moving to Malaysia after more than a dozen Burmese migrants were violently assaulted in Kuala Lumpur during the last month.
On 13 June, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security called on overseas employment agencies, which help broker jobs for Burmese nationals planning to work abroad, to stop sending workers to Malaysia.
“We are imposing a temporary suspension on [sending workers to Malaysia] due to the recent incidents – the workers will be allowed to go when the situation is calm again,” said an official with the Ministry of Labour who spoke with DVB.
“We asked the [employment agencies] to understand this is an inappropriate time to be sending workers there.”
However, brokers say the order as it stands will not prevent all migrants from relocating to Malaysia.
According to the the managing director of Win Star Overseas Job Employment Agency Kyaw Win, the ministry’s directive will only stop individuals without migrant labour cards from resettling in Malaysia.
“The ministry’s order didn’t suspend sending migrants to Malaysia – they only officially suspended issuing migrant labour cards [which are required for migrants leaving the country for jobs overseas],” said Kyaw Win.
“Those who have labour cards and plane tickets are allowed to go.”
While media outlets have reported varying figures, between two and six people have been killed and several injured in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur during the series of violent assaults that began in late May, which officials claim are tied to recent spate of sectarian riots back in Burma.
In the violence’s wake, social media outlets have been awash with frenzied claims that Burmese migrants were being massacred in Malaysia, which has led to calls from Burmese officials and businesspersons for migrants to return home.
According to a report published by Eleven Media Group (EMG) on Sunday, 167 Burmese nationals who had been working in Malaysia flew back to Rangoon this weekend. Out of the returnees who landed in the country’s commercial capital on Saturday, more than half were working in Malaysia without the proper documentation, reported EMG.
Last week, Burma’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Zin Yaw led a high-level government delegation to Malaysia to meet with the country’s officials and discuss the recent violence involving Burmese nationals.
Following the delegation’s visit, Malaysian authorities announced that they planned to help repatriate more than 4,000 Burmese nationals, according to an AFP report.
In Malaysia, there are an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 Burmese nationals living in the Southeast Asian nation, which includes a large number of Muslim Rohingya who settled in the country after fleeing religious persecution in Burma.