Bangladeshis in Malaysia
|500,000 (2009 est.)|
|Related ethnic groups|
Bangladeshis in Malaysia form a large proportion of Malaysia's foreign labour force. When both legal and illegal residents are included, their population was estimated to total 500,000 persons, roughly one-sixth of all the foreign workers in Malaysia as of 2009[update].
Bengali people have long established in Malaysia, history record demonstrated that the traders from the Bay of Bengal had been involved in commercial activities in the Sultanate of Malacca in the 15th-16th century.
During the colonial era, both British Malaya and the Strait Settlements received Bengali-speaking communities bought by the British from the Bengal Presidency that constitute modern-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. The mass arrival from Bengal correlated with the larger migration from British India to work with the colonial government and companies. Many of them consist of traders, policemen, coolies, plantation labourers and colonial soldiers. This pioneer migration are largely taken place from the late 18th century to the 1930s. Today, there are estimated that around 230,000 people of Bengali ancestry in Malaysia. Among the legacy of the pioneers is the Bengali Mosque in Penang which was built in 1803.
The first migrant workers from modern-day Bangladesh are believed to have been a group of 500 who came in 1986 to work on plantations; the two countries concluded a governmental-level agreement on manpower exports in 1992, following which migration expanded sharply. Bangladesh is one of five countries, along with Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand, which have such agreements with Malaysia for manpower exports. As of 1999, official figures record 385,496 Bangladeshis as having gone to Malaysia for work, of whom roughly 229,000 were in the country at that time, forming 12% of all Bangladeshi workers overseas. This figure was roughly comparable to the numbers in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, but much smaller than the number in Saudi Arabia, the top destination, where roughly one million resided. Remittances from Malaysia to Bangladesh amounted to roughly US$5 million in 1993, but grew eleven times to US$57 million by 1999.
Construction workers form a large proportion of Bangladeshi migrant workers. From July 1992 until December 1995, of 89,111 Bangladeshis issued temporary work passes, 26,484, or 29.7%, worked in construction, forming one-fifth of all workers in the construction sector in Malaysia and making them the second-largest group behind Indonesians. 91.4% were first-time migrants, who had never previously worked abroad. Surveys showed between 6.4% and 14.9% admitted to working illegally, without proper employment authorisation or travel documents.
A scandal arose in 1996 when it became known that Bangladeshi consular officials in Kuala Lumpur had overcharged at least 50,000 workers applying for passport renewal by RM200-300, thus appropriating RM10-15 million for themselves. The situation resulted in many Bangladeshi workers becoming undocumented, and Bangladesh's government later came to an agreement with the Malaysian authorities to redress the situation and issue fresh passports to those affected. However, none of the officials concerned were penalised. The following year, an amnesty was offered under which 150,000 illegal workers were able to regularise their status.
- Recruitment and Placement of Bangladeshi Migrant Workers: An Evaluation of the Process, International Organization for Migration, November 2002, ISBN 984-32-0435-2, retrieved 8 April 2008[dead link]
- Abdul-Aziz, Abdul-Rashid (March 2001), "Bangladeshi Migrant Workers in Malaysia's Construction Sector", Asia-Pacific Population Journal 16 (1): 3–22, retrieved 8 April 2008
- Dannecker, Petra (2005), "Bangladeshi Migrant Workers in Malaysia: The Construction of the 'Others' in a Multi-Ethnic Context", Asian Journal of Social Science 33 (2): 246–267, doi:10.1163/1568531054930820
- Sultana, Nayeem (2007), Trans-national identities, modes of networking and integration in a multi-cultural society: a study of migrant Bangladeshis in Peninsular Malaysia ([dead link]), Working Papers 21, Bonn: Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung, OCLC 257622788
- Sultana, Nayeem (2009), The Bangladeshi Diaspora in Malaysia: organizational structure, survival strategies and networks, ZEF Development Studies 12, LIT Verlag, ISBN 978-3-8258-1629-2, OCLC 262720685
- Ullah, AKM Ahsan (2010), Rationalizing Migration Decisions: Labour Migrants in East and South-East Asia, Ashagate, ISBN 978-1-4094-0513-9