“Bangladesh, Nepal or others; they will use the same system,” the Prime Minister said at a press conference after chairing a meeting on foreign workers in Parliament yesterday.
In line with the decision, Dr Mahathir said the government had suspended the current system.
“Previously, only 10 agents were allowed to process applications from people wanting to come here from Bangladesh.
“This resulted in a monopoly situation with some (agents) charging as high as RM20,000.
“So, we want to open up to all agents there to allow competition,” Dr Mahathir said.
Recently, The Star reported that a human trafficking syndicate, spearheaded by a Bangladeshi businessman with alleged political connections with the Home Ministry, raked in at least RM2bil in just two years from Bangladeshi workers looking to land jobs in Malaysia.
An investigation revealed that the workers paid RM20,000 each to their local agents who then paid half of the sum to the syndicate to facilitate work permit approvals and flight tickets to Malaysia.
It is learned that since late 2016, more than 100,000 Bangladeshi workers had been brought into the country under the system, while more than 100,000 were waiting for their turn.
It was also reported that some of the 10 authorised agents were merely fly-by-night companies created solely to rake in money by playing middleman between the workers and their prospective employers in Malaysia.
Dr Mahathir said the government would form an independent committee that would be chaired by either a top government official, former judge or secretary-general, with the Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis being involved.
“This is to have an overview on the policies and management of foreign workers.
“We need the committee to address the issues,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the government would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Nepal on foreign workers.
“We want to have a government-to-government agreement just like we have with Bangladesh, but the system will be the same,” he said.