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Oil Palm Workers

The life of oil palm workers in Malaysia


Oil palm plantation workers' quarter
Oil palm plantation workers' quarter, surrounded by thousands of hectares of oil palm plantations in Balung area of Sabah

Wedding of the daughter of a oil palm plantation worker


Major findings of the FFM were:

1. Migrant workers remain to be targets of oppression and exploitation. Even migrant workers with legal working permits have been arrested and detained.

2. From the time they leave their home countries, they are already caught in a vicious debt cycle as recruitment agencies and employers overcharge them on processing, visa and levy.

3. Migrant workers are forced into debt bondage as employers, both in urban and rural areas, hold their passports, deduct from their salaries without any justification and provide no benefits.

4. Corruption in the Malaysian government agencies has been alleged as immigration authorities have been reportedly collecting fees from migrant workers especially at the entry points and Malaysian police receiving or demanding bribes in exchange for the freedom of arrested migrant workers.

5. This web of deceit and corruption apparently leads to the seemingly easy inflow of migrant workers who are amassing by the minute despite massive crackdowns.

6. SUHAKAM, Malaysia’s National Commission on Human Rights, has admitted its limited capacity to effect change with regard to the situation of migrant workers. As its representative has stated, the Malaysian government itself does very little in resolving the problem and has, in turn, become part of the problem.

7. Indonesian migrant workers have little trust for the Indonesian Consulate’s capacity to address their problems. From marriage issues to urgent labor concerns, the Indonesian Consulate in Sabah has remained inconsistent and hence unreliable in providing support to Indonesian migrants.

8. While a memorandum of agreement exists to ensure Indonesian migrant workers’ rights, a problem ensues with one stipulation in the agreement allowing employers to hold their employees’ passports.

9. The establishment of Sekolah Indonesia Kota Kinabalu is a recognized development in the agreement between Malaysian and Indonesian governments to provide education to Indonesian children. While tuition is free, certain aspects of the program remain problematic, pertaining to the migration status of the children, the proximity of the school to migrant workers’ communities, among others.

10. There are more school-age children and youth in plantation areas yet provision of education is much more difficult due to a number of reasons: distance of the plantations from urban areas, lack or absence thereof of electricity, lack of access to needed materials, lack or absence thereof of school facilities, among others.

11. There is no functioning Philippine Consulate in Sabah due to the contention between the Philippines and Malaysia on the Sabah islands.

12. While a temporary working office in Kota Kinabalu has been established, services to migrant workers will depend mainly on the availability of the consulate representatives themselves.

13. The Philippine government’s ’s four-person team in Sandakan only provides passport services to its constituents. It is found out, however, that certain private establishments provide the same services and with the knowledge of the head of the four-person team.

14. No update has been obtained with regards to the mechanisms created by the Philippines-Malaysia working group as the Philippine Consulate representative chooses not to comment on the matter while the representative from SUHAKAM has denied any knowledge of such working group.

15. Trafficking of women and children has been noted through interviews made with migrant workers.

16. Institutions of faith (e.g. Roman Catholic, Anglican) with its organizations are the only existing groups in Sabah that provide assistance and refuge to migrant workers. Aside from the team by Tenaganita based in Tawau, there are no non-secular organizations that cater to the demands and needs of migrant workers.

With such findings, there can be no doubt that advocacy, organizing and education work for migrant workers in Malaysia are very much imperative. Services also should be made available to those who encounter abuses or any type of problems as a worker.

Malaysia indeed is deserving of its reputation as one of the worst areas where migrants are treated as no less than slaves with very minimal rights and protection. It is hoped that with the FFM, advocacy for migrants will be strengthened and actions would be taken to alleviate their plight.#

This is reprinted from APMM News Digest, June 2009. Monthly Newsletter of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM).

Retrieved from http://www.apmigrants.org/publications/ND%20June%202009.pdf

Source : http://www.barubian.net/


 | INDEX : New Oil Palm | 十二月 19, 2011 10:57:47 下午

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