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Migrant workers pass in Nepal, fail in Malaysia

10 Jun 2016 | 22:05pm
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KATHMANDU, June 11: The controversy over the newly-implemented biometric medical system has deepened with Malaysia rejecting a large number of Nepali migrant workers declared fit by the same system here in Nepal.

Ever since the Malaysian government implemented biometric examination for migrant workers, the system has been heavily criticized for being expensive, incompetent, security sensitive and one that has been rejected by many countries.

According to Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), over 1,000 migrant workers have been rejected by the Malaysian biometric medical system, forcing them to return home and file complaints with the police.

“How can a person be declared fit by the same system at one place and unfit at another place?” questioned Kumud Khanal, first vice president of NAFEA.

Malaysia, which recruits the highest number of Nepali migrant workers, introduced the new system from July 10, 2015 for a trial period of six months. The government bodies have remained mum about whether to give continuity to the system in Nepal.

As per the government’s earlier decision, aspiring Nepali migrant workers have to clear the biometric screening from the only 39 medical centers and clinics authorized by the Malaysian government.

Before the implementation of the system in Nepal, migrant workers were told that they won’t have to go through the Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (FOMEMA) rescreening in Malaysia. Instead, the workers are required to pass through FOMEMA screening every two to three months bearing heavy expenses, with some sent back home with no specific reasons.

The Ministry of Labor had agreed to implement the biometric system in Nepal on the condition that all 14 countries supplying migrant workers implement the system.

But, reportedly, none of the countries have implemented the system citing various reasons.

“We have tried to get in touch with concerned agencies in Malaysia through diplomatic channels, but we have not heard anything from them until now,” Joint Secretary Govinda Mani Bhurtel, spokesperson at the Ministry of Labor and Employment, said.

Over 284 medical test centers and clinics have filed case at the Supreme Court against the biometric system stating that it puts additional burden on migrant workers, with costs rising every year.

Last February, the Malaysian authorities sent a notice to implement Foreign Workers Centralize Management System (FWCMS) along with Migrant Management System (MiGRAMS) for facilitation of recruitment process for Malaysia-bound migrant workers.

“The two systems for a single job would add additional confusions for the migrant workers and add more financial burden,” Khanal said adding.
The migrant workers have to pay Rs 45,000 to undergo biometric tests, with Malaysian authorities charging additional USD 30 from each migrant workers for the same test. Most Nepali migrant workers won’t be in a position to pay the additional fee, NFEMA officials said.

However, Kailash Khadka, President of Nepal Health Professional Federation, denounced the allegations and claimed that the system has ended the lengthy process of visa approval, was cost effective and has high accuracy rates.

Biometric system is a fingerprint scanning system with security features to match identity details of an individual with the data recorded in the passport and examine physical gestures, retina, voice among others and verified with the online data transferred with the original ones.
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