Abusive employers risk losing Indian visa, PIO card

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Local employers who ill-treat Indian labourers risk losing privileges extended by the Indian government like the visas and the People of Indian Origin (PIO) status.

In a statement by the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 23, it said that the commission has still been receiving complaints about treatment of Indian labourers working in Malaysia by local employers, including cases of physical abuse and ill-treatment.

“In order to curb this practice which are also contrary to the laws and regulations of Malaysia, the Indian High Commission has decided that in cases where there is an evidence of abuse and ill-treatment, the employers responsible will be withdrawn the privileges which the Indian Government has extended to them, like PIO card, visas etc,” it said in the media statement.

The PIO card, short for Person of India Origin (PIO), facilitates visa free entry and stay in India, allows holders to acquire property, open bank accounts and gain admission in various education institutions in India.

The High Commission said it had been working closely with the Malaysia’s Ministry of Human Resources to address their grievances.

“We appeal to all employers to kindly cooperate with the Indian High Commission, in ensuring the safety, security and well-being of all the Indian labourers employed by them in Malaysia,” it added.

In statistics provided to Parliament last October, Malaysia’s Home Ministry said there are 1.3 million foreigners registered under its 6P programme — which was meant to legalise labourers here without proper work permits, with 733,000 of them working in the manufacturing sector. In the data made available last October, India placed fifth in the list of countries that supplied the highest number of workers to Malaysia at 117,000, reports the Malay Mail Online.

Bad received bad press recently when a report by an US-based body revealed that its survey showed that 32% of foreign migrant workers in the Malaysian electronics industry, nearly one in three, were working in conditions of forced labor.

The results of its extensive interviews indicate that forced labor is present in the Malaysian electronics industry in more than just isolated cases, and that the problem is indeed widespread, according to Verite, which badges itself as a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that people around the world work under safe, fair, and legal conditions.

“This could mean that many electronics products reaching American consumers are produced using forced labor,” it said in a press release dated Sept 17.

Migrants from Bangladesh represent a significant part of the overall population of foreign contract workers in Malaysia, but neither they nor migrants from India are currently approved to work in the manufacturing sector, Verite said in its 244-page report.

The Indian High Commission, however, did not make mention of the survey.

PHOTOBusy scene at an Indian restaurant in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, just nights before Diwali.

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