PETALING JAYA | The government has been urged by a migrant rights activist to guarantee sufficient compensation for 171 Bangladeshi immigrant workers who went viral after taking part in a protest after coming to Malaysia for jobs that did not exist.

The workers, who were arrested were deceived into paying high recruitment fees back home for non-existent jobs, according to Andy Hall.

“They should be fully compensated at minimum wage levels for the months spent waiting for a non-existent job promised to them. They should also have all the recruitment costs and related fees paid by them in Bangladesh fully returned to them, with interest.

“In addition, these workers should also be fully compensated for their suffering from the destitution they have experienced as a result of their unemployment and isolation, akin to a situation of forced labor,” he said in a statement.

Hall also said the company director, manager, or officer involved must be charged and blacklisted by the home and human resources ministries.

He adds it is insufficient to merely blacklist legal entities or companies, citing a joint statement by home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and human resources minister Steven Sim.

The ministers of home affairs and human resources declared that their departments took the Pengerang case seriously and would not make concessions to any organization engaged in the exploitation of foreign workers. They concurred that the employers will be held liable for breaking multiple laws, including the anti-human trafficking law.

The companies would not be allowed to hire any more foreign workers, their approval letters and remaining quotas would be revoked, and they would not be allowed to renew the work permits of their current foreign employees.