In a move replete with diplomatic possibilities, Malaysia has “suspended” the recruitment of all categories of workers, including professionals, from India and Bangladesh. The work permits of existing workers from the two countries will also not be renewed with effect from the beginning of this New Year. The move will hit the nearly two-million-strong Indian workforce employed in the construction, information technology, and financial services sectors.
Although no specific reason has been assigned, the timing of the move and the manner in which it targets India although Indians make up only 8 per cent of the two million foreign workers, arouses suspicion that the move may be a followout over the recent trouble over ethnic Tamils. Malaysia may claim that the ban applies to Bangladesh as well, but it is difficult not to entertain the feeling that it is just a convenient afterthought a small Islamic nation.
The announcement came just hours after defence minister A.K. Antony had left Kuala Lumpur after a three-day visit. In November, there were mass protests by the ethnic Indians, led by non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Forum (Hindraf), against the alleged marginalisation of the community.
Questions: Is Malaysia’s move right or wrong? Is Malaysia correct in cracking down on trouble makers thus? In a globalised world, is a country well within its rights to bar people of specific nationalities from working on its soil? Will Malaysia’s move result in a diplomatic row with India, especially given the kind of statements that Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi has made? Are Indian and Bangladeshi workers paying the price for Karunanidhi’s loose tongue? How should India respond?
YVONNE FOONG: “A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.”
BYTEMUNCHER: “I wonder what will happen to all the Mamak shops and MNCs that employ foreign workers.”
Also read: Should India care for ethnic Indians abroad?