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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19, 2016:

Myanmar recruiters reportedly will no longer be sending migrant workers to Malaysia to protest against the almost tenfold increase in visa fee, from US$6 (RM26) to US$57 (RM250) which came into effect recently.

The Myanmar Times quoted Mohd Fadzli Kadir, project director of a one-stop centre set up to handle visa applications under the new system in Malaysia, as saying that the Malaysian government was unlikely to bow to public pressure from Myanmar’s recruiters.

“The scheme has been approved by the (Malaysian) government. They will not lower the charges. If the agencies want to stop sending workers, that’s up to them.

“Any decision on visa fees also involves Malaysia’s other neighbours, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, India and China,” he was reported as saying.

The one-stop centre is apparently the only way to legally bring in Myanmar labourers.

The Myanmar Times added that according to U Thein Than, chairman of Diamond Palace, a Myanmar recruitment firm acting as the sole service provider for the one-stop visa application process, his company has no say on the application fee.

“However, I can say that the application process will be much easier and applicants can be sure of being admitted and not sent back on suspicion that the visa is fake.”

He added that the new scheme would make it cheaper to recruit migrant workers from Myanmar, as the overall cost would drop from US$850 (RM3,720) to about US$650 (RM2,840).

“The new scheme would lead to a reduction of about US$200 (RM873) in the overall cost of sending a worker to Malaysia, from US$850 (RM3,720) to about US$650 (RM2,840).

“The centre could put workers directly in touch with Malaysian employers, eliminating the need for Malaysian brokers and their associated fees.”

He also noted that Malaysian authorities were planning to bring more than 200,000 workers, as requested by Malaysian employers.

The lower recruitment cost, as claimed, had been refuted by several recruitment agencies in Myanmar, with one expressing its dissatisfaction that Diamond Palace was chosen as the sole service provider.

“The MOEAF is planning to kick out this company from the federation soon,” the owner of one recruitment agency told The Myanmar Times, referring to the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation (MOEAF).

Recruiters at the MOEAF had also noted that they did not put much faith in Diamond Palace’s boasts, with regards to the increase in fees, as the Malaysian government appeared to have.

Meanwhile, The Myanmar Times added that the country’s Labour Ministry said it had not been consulted on the visa fee increase.

The ministry also had no plans to change the US$850 (RM3,720) fee agencies are charged for sending a worker to Malaysia.

According to U Myo Aung, director-general of the Labour Ministry, the ministry had written to the Malaysian government to reconsider the fee increase.

The ministry intended to raise the matter with its counterparts in Kuala Lumpur.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has taken a similar initiative, according to its director-general, U Sein Oo.

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