PETALING JAYA - Two of the biggest source countries of foreign workers in Malaysia are threatening to stop sending their workers here following steep hikes in visa fees.
Recruitment groups in Indonesia and Nepal have both stated their intention to stop sending workers to this country.
In Indonesia, the increase of RM230 (S$85) in processing fee for the Entry Visa was imposed last month after Malaysian authorities outsourced the service to a private company.
The processing of the Visa with Reference (VDR) or "calling visa" was outsourced to another private company, which uses the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS).
The process for Indonesian workers entering Malaysia begins with an application for the VDR, after which the Entry Visa is issued.
Asosiasi Perusahaan Jasa Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (Apjati), which represents over 500 agencies, has since written to the Indonesian Parliament and the country's Human Resources and Foreign ministries, calling for an immediate halt to the sending of workers to Malaysia, unless the fee is reverted to RM15.
Indonesians comprise about 70 per cent of the estimated 2.8 million foreign workers in Malaysia, working mainly in the construction, plantation and manufacturing sectors.
The second largest group of foreign workers in Malaysia are Nepalese, numbering an estimated 450,000, most of them in security services.
Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) vice-president Foo Yong Hooi said Nepalese recruitment groups were beginning to boycott Malaysia.
"Last week, we requested for workers, but the agents said no," he said.
It was recently reported that Nepal shut down a Malaysian visa processing company operating there.
The Malaysia VLN Nepal, which had been operating within the premises of the Malaysian embassy, was ordered to close after it was found to be charging an additional Rs3,200 (S$70) to process visa documents.
The workers are also required to undergo medical check-ups at company-approved clinics or laboratories, which are said to charge them a lot.
The agencies told Papa that the clinics were based in Kathmandu, and it was costly to transport workers from other parts of the country there for the tests.
When contacted yesterday, Nepal Labour and Employment Ministry adviser Ramesh Koirala said his government had requested the Malaysian Government to reduce the fee, which was "too high".
A local recruitment agent, who declined to be named, said the cost of bringing in workers from the Philippines had shot up although the visa fee stayed at about 600 peso (S$55).
"This is because the medical cost has more than doubled from 2,000 peso to about 4,850 peso and the company operating the FWCMS there charges US$15 (S$20) to upload the biometric information of the workers to its system," he said.
"Due to this, Malaysian employers hiring Filipino maids are forced to fork out an additional US$100 to bring them here."
According to him, similar companies have also been set up in Cambodia and Myanmar to handle visa processing and medical check-ups.