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Migrant workers are a different community as they have leave their origin country and entered to a new nation where the social life they had to dealt with differently. Because social life is very important as an individual has hold an ideology, special socio-cultural background and religious affiliation. It is, thus, an important phenomena to assess the perception of migrants about social life, the nature of their involvement in the social setting, the meaning they attach to it and their priorities and preferences in interacting with others. The study is based on the face-to-face interview of 100 Bangladeshis migrant workers who were selected according to two stage sampling procedure. On one stage, an area where Bangladeshi workers reside was selected through random sampling procedure. On the second stage, 100 respondents were selected from the area according to purposive and snowball sampling procedures. The study suggested that adequate measures should be taken to provide pre-departure training on job and Host County’s culture to the expected migrant workers.
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International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
http://ijhrs.macrothink.org
186
Exploration of Migrants‟ Social Life: A Case Study on
Bangladeshi Temporary Contract Worker‟s in Malaysia
Md. Sayed Uddin
Sociology and Social Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, Arts & Heritage,
Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Jalan UMS, 88400, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
E-mail: sayed@ums.edu.my
Adam Andani Mohammed
Social Work Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities,
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Sarawak, Malaysia.
E-mail: maandani@unimas.my
Received: Oct. 31, 2019 Accepted: Dec. 16, 2019 Online published: Jan. 3, 2020
doi:10.5296/ijhrs.v10i1.16172 URL: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijhrs.v10i1.16172
Abstract
Migrant workers are a different community as they have leave their origin country and
entered to a new nation where the social life they had to dealt with differently. Because social
life is very important as an individual has hold an ideology, special socio-cultural background
and religious affiliation. It is, thus, an important phenomena to assess the perception of
migrants about social life, the nature of their involvement in the social setting, the meaning
they attach to it and their priorities and preferences in interacting with others. The study is
based on the face-to-face interview of 100 Bangladeshis migrant workers who were selected
according to two stage sampling procedure. On one stage, an area where Bangladeshi
workers reside was selected through random sampling procedure. On the second stage, 100
respondents were selected from the area according to purposive and snowball sampling
procedures. The study suggested that adequate measures should be taken to provide
pre-departure training on job and Host County‟s culture to the expected migrant workers.
Keywords: social life, socio-economic activities, migrants cultural events and community
gatherings, temporary workers, Bangladeshi migrants, Malaysia
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1. Introduction
The story of migrants labour in Malaysia especially temporary contract workers were always
been centered discussions in academics, policy analysts, and other agencies. Generally, issues
were more exposed on foreign workers in Malaysia focused mainly irregular or
undocumented migrants, hazardous working and living conditions, existing policy and laws,
foreign workers involved in criminal activities, lack of social securities and services
provision are central discussion by numerous studies (Kaur, 2010; Ramasamy, 2004; Petra,
2005, Zamir, 2000, Abdul-Aziz, 2001). It was reported that a huge number of contract
workers approximately 1.2 million working in Malaysia from labour surplus countries such
as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam. While there is a limited study focused
on social life especially their leisure time and recreational activities, cultural and religious
events and community gatherings. Obviously maintain a healthy social life and observing
homeland cultural activities is very important and should not be neglected. Social life is the
place where individuals manifest the ideals and principles of living together, accomplish the
meanings of life and make their survival possible. Therefore, this study focuses on
Bangladeshi temporary workers social life, community gatherings and cultural events while
they are staying on foreign assignment, like Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia.
1.1 Labour Mobility From Bangladesh to Malaysia
Asian region is witnessing a massive movement of non-permanent labour, mostly the flow of
contract migrant workers from labour surplus countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, the
Philippines, and Myanmar to non-surplus countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and
Thailand (Abu-Bakar, 2002). It was observed that last few decades, due to rapid
industrialization Malaysia import foreign workers from different countries and socio-cultural
backgrounds (Petra, 2005; Abdul-Aziz, 2001a). Bangladesh, being a labour surplus country,
exports a considerable number of workers to different countries, includes Malaysia (Zamir,
2006). One of the observations of Bangladeshi migration is that the workers come, work in
Malaysia and Malaysia welcomes them because of Muslim brotherhood (Petra, 2005). The
flows of Bangladeshi migrant workers number are presented in Figure 1, it can be
summarized that Bangladeshi worker started flowing to Malaysia in 1986 when about 500
labors came to work in plantations on a trial basis (Abdul-Aziz, 2001b). Later on, Malaysia
entered into an agreement with Bangladesh for systematic labour transfer. The agreements
were made gradually between Malaysia and Bangladesh in 1994 onwards. Accordingly,
annual importation of 50,000 workers specifically in the construction sector was allowed. The
agreement was halted due to the Asian financial crisis in 1997. During 2008 and 2009
Malaysia witnessed the arrival of about 404963 Bangladeshi workers. According to BMET
official report, a total of 1,056,684 Bangladeshi temporary workers came to Malaysia
between 1978 to up to June 2019 (as attached in Figure 1; Bureau of Manpower, Employment
and Training, http://www.old.bmet.gov.bd/BMET/viewStatReport.action?reportnumber=34).
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Figure 1. Labour mobility from Bangladesh to Malaysia between the years 1978 to 2019
(up to June) (Note: Author‟s construction using data from the Bureau of Manpower,
Employment and Training (BMET) website)
2. Review of Existing Literature
Kaur‟s (2010) article entitled “Labour Migration Trends and Policy Challenges in Southeast
Asia” highlights the issues of labour migration trends in Southeast Asian regions namely,
Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. She notes that growing regionalism in Southeast Asian
countries facilitates labour migration in the region. Kaur (2010) finds that Southeast Asian
labour importing countries face problems in the supervision for low skilled migrant workers.
In the case of Malaysia, Indonesian workers are preferred owing to culture, religious and
linguistic similarities between the two countries. With regard to Bangladeshi workers, the
study found that due to the outsourcing system, many workers have been found to being
exploited. Kaur (2010) and others like Fernandez (2008) and Ramachelvam (2008) criticize
the outsourcing system regarding Bangladeshi workers where they are easily exploited and
many horror stories have been reported in this context. To him, the treatment and exploitation
also varies between countries. He suggests that labour exporters need to exchange
experiences among themselves and also engage on more equal terms with labour importing
countries. For instance, Singapore has made the most strides in promoting labour protection.
Social scientists has been claimed that because of religious background Malaysia opened jobs
to the Bangladeshi workers (Petra, 2005).
According to Ramasamy (2004), there is currently an exodus of non-permanent workers,
mostly on contractual basis, from labour surplus countries to those experiencing a shortage.
He asserts that the movement of people from one country to another stems from a search for
better economic, social and political opportunities. Apart from this, movement of migrants
can also be attributed to the nexus formed among agents, recruiters, middlemen, and corrupt
officials that leads migrants from one place to another. He describes economic opportunities,
geographical proximity between different territories in the region and cultural and religious
links provided for the movement of peoples of different nationalities. Since migrants are
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saddled in the lowest rung of the socio-economic order, Ramasamy (2004) argues that they
fall prey to the differential process of development in different places, particularly in the
Southeast Asia region. And once migrated, these workers sometimes get embroiled in
sporadic conflicts with the locals, giving rise to the social distance between the two groups.
He calls for taking up a regional approach instead of a bilateral one to address the problems
concerning the migrant workers. His study is crucial for the present research as it pertains to
Malaysia having a considerable migrant population, thus offering a unique example to delve
into the migrants‟ treatment and impact on its economy, society and culture.
Siddiqui (2004) discusses factors contributing to migration decision making in the case of
Bangladeshi workers. Her research is based on an empirical study conducted at the empirical
level by Siddiqui and Abrar (2000) on 200 returning-migrants in four districts of Bangladesh.
Siddiqui (2004) study is very crucial for this present study regarding migrant‟s decision
making from social and economic aspects. She found five categories of out migration that
occurs among Bangladeshi workers overseas. These are (a) distress economic condition, (b)
future improvement of economic status, (c) social factors, (d) political factors and (e) access
to information and demand in receiving countries. Siddiqui gives an account that social factor
remains the most influential factor for out migration. Her study indicates that besides
governmental organization like (Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting
Agencies), and private recruitments agencies, at least 60 percent of the recruitment is done
through individual initiatives and social networks. Many researchers also emphasize that
social network is an influential factor for international migration and it is also supported by
Massey et al. (1993) Wickramasekera, (2000); Parrado and Cerrutti (2003), and Haas de
(2008).
Petra (2005) published an article on “Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia: the
construction of the “Others” in a multi-ethnic context”. From the methodological perspective,
the study is crucial and conducted by narrative interviews of Bangladeshi workers, NGOs,
union leaders, other organizations, and resource persons working in Malaysia. According to
Petra (2005), Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia are playing a role in forcing the “other” to
construct a common identity and culture to cope with the alienation they experience in their
daily interactions. He observers that employers are very satisfied with Bangladeshi migrant
workers (Petra, 2005; Rudnick, 1996). However, the workers claim that they never get the
salary that have been promised to them by the agents (Petra, 2005).
Above all literature displaying an overview of the cause of migrants to host country and
expressed some of the situation that migrant workers facing while they are in a foreign
assignment in Malaysia. However, none of article did focused on migrants social life,
adoption to new work milieu, their social networks, community gatherings and practicing
events, festivals etc. The current study will focus on this certain issues to understand while
they have their huge number of community people working in Malaysia, how they get
connected to each other and engaged with their community.
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3. Methods and Procedures
3.1 Data Collection, Research Sites, Sample Technique
The study use quantitative method for the collection of the relevant data. This study focuses
on Bangladeshi male temporary migrants in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to Jackson
(1986:5), “temporary migration implies that the place of permanent residence is maintained
while the migration is away for a period of work in another country or another part of the
country.” The passes (work permit visa) which issued to workers are only for migrants, not
for migrants‟ family members. Temporary migrant workers are officially classified as
semi-skilled and unskilled foreign workers who earn less than RM2500 a month (Kanapathy,
2006).
The site of the present study is Port Klang, an industrial area in Selangor, Malaysia. There are
many manufacturing factories in this area and it is characterized as an industrial zone in
Malaysia where many foreign workers are working includes Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh,
India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
The study proposes to adopt two stage sampling procedures. At one stage, an area where
there is concentration of Bangladeshi workers is selected according to random sampling
procedure. Generally, there are five major areas where we find large concentrations of
Bangladeshi workers. They are Port Klang, Meru, Sri Muda, Sungai Buloh and Kajang. To
ensure true randomness from these areas, the study areas of Port Klang were selected in
random sampling procedure. All places (Port Klang, Meru, Sri Muda, Sungai Buloh and
Kajang) were given numbers and from these the selected area was chosen randomly. The
purpose to use random sampling procedure is because with this kind of sampling, each
possible sample of n different units has an equal chance of being selected, which also implies
that every member of the population has an equal chance of selection into the sample
(Bryman, 2008: 171; Moser & Kalton, 1980: 81). At the second stage, 100 respondents were
selected by using convenience sampling technique. In addition, in-depth individual interviews
were conducted to get the opinions of migrants social life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
4. Results
4.1 Income
According to the data, 53% earn from RM501-1000 and 37% earn from RM1001-1500 per
month. Only a small percentage of them, that is 10%, earn from RM1501-2000 per month.
Overall more than half of the respondents under study earn up to RM1000 per month. It
shows that most of them are engaged in lower income jobs.
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Table 1. Distribution of workers based on their income in Malaysia
Amount
Frequency
Percentage (%)
RM0 500
0
0.0
RM501 1000
53
53.0
RM1001 1500
37
37.0
RM1501 2000
10
10.0
RM2001 and more
0
0.0
Total
100
100.0
4.2 Length of Stay in Malaysia
Length of stay is important for socio-cultural adjustment of expatriate migrants and their
adaptation to the host conditions (Mahmood, 2007). According to the data, the majority of
respondents (60%) have been working in Malaysia for 4-5 years. It is followed by 23% who
have been working for 2-3 years. Only 3% of them have been working for 6-7 years.
Historically, Bangladeshi workers‟ arrival in Malaysia is not new. They began to come in
1985. In 1997, the government of Malaysia decided to send Bangladeshi workers back to
their home country due to economic recession. Thus, Malaysia stopped the import of workers
from Bangladesh. In between 2006 and 2007, Malaysia again allowed the import of
Bangladeshi workers. As a matter of fact, a large number of Bangladeshi workers used to
come to Malaysia to fulfill labour shortage in various sectors.
Table 2. Distribution of workers based on length of stay in host country
Year(s) in Malaysia
Frequency
Percentage (%)
2-3
23
23.0
4-5
60
60.0
6-7
3
3.0
8-9
0
0
10-11
8
8.0
12 and more
6
6.0
Total
100
100
4.3 Leisure Time
Most Bangladeshi workers live in Malaysia without their families. It is, thus, interesting to
know how they spend their leisure time. It acquaints us with the activities which they indulge
in besides their work. A considerable majority of the workers, i.e. 81% spend their leisure
time watching television and DVDs, gossiping, shopping and cooking. Only 8% spend their
leisure time sight seeing places of interest and importance while 11% spend their time
reading the Qur‟an, books and magazines.
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Table 3. Distribution of workers based on the way they spend their leisure time
Leisure Activities
Percentage (%)
Reading (Qur'an, books, magazines,
newspaper)
11.0
Sight seeing
8.0
Shopping, cooking, watching TV DVDs,
and gossiping
81.0
Total
100.0
4.4 Working Life
Working condition is important to understand the situation in which foreign workers work.
The place where they work should have proper instruments and facilities necessary to
perform the specific tasks. These, of course, affect the efficiency of the workers. Besides,
working hours, social security, access to gain resources, relation with co-workers, and
religious activities are some of the factors that provide encouragement to the workers and
should be assessed to know their efficiency at the work. Researchers Hill (2009), Kassim
(2001), Abdul-Aziz (2001a) and Zamir (2006) have observed that foreign workers have
inadequate security in their required condition. According to Zamir (2006: 58), occupational
hazards and fatal accidents are common in some factories, in construction and plantation
sectors. Further, Hill (2009) argues that safeguard is vital to protect the rights and to increase
the hopes of migrants in Malaysia. Abdul-Aziz has found about 2,591 workers have died in
industrial accidents between 1991-1994. To address the increasingly alarming industrial
accidents in all sectors of the economy, the government has revamped the Occupational
Safety and Health Act (OSHA), effective from February 1994. Under OSHA (1994), the
penalty for employers who fail to adhere to set safety guidelines has increased to RM50,000
or two-year imprisonment or both. Therefore, the present study investigates some of the
major aspects of the working condition.
Working at night is very risky and has a pernicious effect on health. Generally, large numbers
of accidental cases take place during the night shift. Table 4 demonstrates that the majority of
respondents, i.e. 61% work during the night shift. Most of the manufacturing factories,
particularly food processing and plastic factories, operate day and night to boost production.
Only 39% of workers under study do not work during the night shift. The reason is that they
work in furniture and electronic factories which do not operate night shifts.
Table 4. Distribution of workers based on work at night shift
Working Shifts
Frequency
Percentage (%)
Night
61
61.0
Day
39
39.0
Total
100
100.0
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4.4.1 Employers‟ Attitudes toward Workers‟ Religious Commitment
Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim majority country where 85% of the population
Muslims. One of the reasons that Malaysia‟s officials allow Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia,
according to Petra (2005) is Muslim brotherhood. Being Muslims, Bangladeshi workers are
very much particular about performing their daily obligatory prayers. Data reveals that 59%
of respondents do not get time for prayers since the company not allowed to perform during
working hours. Thus, workers under study face difficulties in performing daily prayers at
workplace. Only, 41% of workers are allowed to pray at workplace.
Table 5. Distribution of workers based on the permission by the employer to pray at the
workplace
Permission to pray at the workplace
Frequency
Percentage (%)
Yes
59
59.0
No
41
41.0
Total
100
100.0
The unique feature is that the companies allow workers to go for Friday congregational
prayers but they have to work for one extra hour. According to the data, 66% of the
respondents are allowed to go for Friday prayers. Sometimes the employers even provided
transportation for this purpose. But these facilities are given with the condition that they have
to work for one extra hour. Apart from this, 34% of the workers are not at all allowed to go
for Friday prayers. The employers who do not allow workers to go for Friday prayers are
mostly non-Muslims. These facts show that workers face innumerable difficulties in
performing obligatory prayers. Many workers want to pray but they cannot due to the
working conditions.
Table 6. Distribution of workers based on permission to pray on Fridays (juma‟ah)
Permission
Frequency
Percentage (%)
Yes
66
66.0
No
34
34.0
Total
100
100.0
4.4.2 Living Conditions
Individual social life is very much affected by in a condition that is the overall environment
of living place. Employers are supposed to provide adequate housing for their workers. Most
employers do honour this clause but the accommodation which they provide is often
inadequate in terms of space and facilities. Kassim (1998) and Abdul Rashid (2001) have
mentioned that construction foreign workers‟ living and sleeping spaces are minimal. The
accommodation provided by employers in the manufacturing and service sectors is generally
slightly better, but they are often overcrowded (Karim, 1999; Kassim, 1998). The present
study reveals that the majority of workers (67%) staying in a room with at least 6 to 10
persons in an apartment room includes one toilet. Besides, 24% of the workers live with 11
and more persons in an apartment rooom. Only 9% of them live with 1-5 persons. It shows
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that from the hygienic point of view, the workers live in very congested and unhealthy
conditions.
Table 7. Distribution of workers based on apartment
Number of workers per apartment
Frequency
Percentage (%)
1-5 persons
9
9.0
6-10 persons
67
67.0
11 and more persons
24
24.0
Total
100
100.0
Results summarized in Table (8) show the workers‟ opinion about their living conditions
provided by their employers. The majority of the workers have a positive opinion regarding
electricity and water facilities (M = 4.78, SD = .416) as well as availability of public facilities,
e.g. clinic, bank, grocery markets (M = 4.33, SD = 1.334) near their accommodations. Further,
a majority of workers find their accommodations safe and sound (M = 3.73, SD = 1.145) in
Malaysia. Thus, they are satisfied with their living conditions.
Table 8. Workers‟ opinion on their living conditions
Items
Mean
Std. Deviation
I have basic facilities (electricity and water) at my
living place
4.78
.416
I don‟t have a comfortable space to sleep and eat
3.06
1.613
My living place is near to public facilities such as
clinic, bank, grocery and night market
4.33
1.334
There are always infighting at the place where I live
2.63
1.353
My living area is safe and sound
3.73
1.145
I like my living place
3.60
1.223
I have no problem living with other countrymen
2.65
1.359
I do not like to stay at the same place where other
national co-workers also live
3.18
1.218
I always chat with other nation co-workers at my place
of living
3.45
.821
My company provides basic furniture/TVs, freezers,
Chairs, Tables for me to use
1.28
.900
In case of fighting between foreign workers at the place of living, workers are not happy with
the situation. There is always fighting between co-workers of different nationalities at their
place of living. Most of the foreign workers involved in fighting are non-Muslims (Nepalese,
Vietnamese). They drink at night and often fight with each other.
Moreover, the majority workers have a negative opinion (M = 1.28, SD = .900) regarding
basic facilities such as fans, furniture, cooking utensils, mats, and televisions provided by the
employers. The majority of the respondents do not get these facilities as most of the
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companies do not provide furniture, televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, and air
conditioners. The employers only provide them a bed for an individual. The researchers
visited the workers‟ rooms for interviews and found that their bedrooms and kitchens were
dirty and unhealthy for living a healthy life.
4.4.3 Level of Language Proficiency
A person‟s lack of communication skills makes it easy for him to be exploited. Thus,
language proficiency is crucial for migrant workers to communicate with their co-workers,
and officials. Generally, foreign workers manage to acquire this skill at the place of work in
their host society. In most cases, they learn it very quickly from their colleagues. In the
present case, Bangladeshi workers were very interested to learn Bahasa Melayu (Malaysian
official language) and speak it fluently other than English (Zamir, 2006: 68). Dustmann (1994)
has analyzed the determinants of language abilities of migrant workers and the impact of
language proficiency on their earning position. He observes that language abilities, especially
writing proficiency, significantly improve the earning positions of migrants.
Data presented in Table 9 indicate respondents‟ ability to speak the language of the host
country (Bahasa Melayu). Most of the workers (97%) use Bahasa Malayu to communicate
with co-workers and members of management. To investigate how well workers speak
Bahasa Melayu, the study used a 5-point Likart scale to measure their speaking skills (1= not
at all; 2= very little, 3= some; 4= quite a bit; 5= fluently). It was found that most of the
workers can speak Bahasa Melayu. Only 3% do not speak Bahasa Melayu at all. It shows that
these workers have basic proficiency in Bahasa Melayu and they use the local language in
their daily working and social life. As far as the proficiency of language is concerned, 36%
speak Bahasa Melayu to some extent, 33% quite a bit, 20% very little and 8% speak fluently.
Table 9. Distribution of workers based on their speaking skills in Bahasa Melayu
Proficiency in Bahasa Melayu
Frequency
Percentage (%)
Not at all
3
3.0
Very little
20
20.0
Some
36
36.0
Quite a bit
33
33.0
Fluently
8
8.0
Total
100
100.0
4.4.4 Celebration, Festivals and Social Gatherings
According to the Malaysian constitution, Islam is the main official religion and Bahasa
Melayu is the official language. The majority of the population is Muslims (65%). The
national culture and tradition, norms, and values are associated with Islamic values.
Bangladesh is also a Muslim majority country where 85% of the population is Muslims. It is
reported that a huge number of temporary migrant working in Malaysia and they are scattered
in every state with a huge number in Kuala Lumpur and other Industrial areas/states, except
in Sabah.
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Bangladeshi workers share Islamic cultural values with Malaysia and, thus, feel comfortable
performing various social events. The location of the present research in Port Klang
Pangsapuri is a very well-known place among Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia. This is the
place where workers used to gather on important festivals such as Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.
More than 5,000 Bangladeshi Muslim workers gather at each festival (Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul
Adha) to perform prayers (Salat) performed by Bangladeshi workers at Port Klang
Pangsapuri, in front of workers residential hostels, Block 21, Block 22, Block 23, and Block
25. There are also other social and religious activities performed by Bangladeshi temporary
wrokers. Most activities are couched in Islamic culture and tradition, particularly in the time
of the month of Ramadan (during fasting month), Maulidur Rasul, Nuzul Qur’an, etc., the
Green River furniture factory Bangladeshi workers used to organize Islamic talks, Qur’anic
recitation, and food distribution among workers. They also invite religious scholars to deliver
speeches. Sometimes occasions like these the workers from other countries were also invited.
Figure 2. Eid-ul-Fitr prayer performed by Bangladeshi workers in research study area
Port Klang Pangsapuri
Figure 3. Eid-ul-Fitr prayer performed by Bangladeshi workers in research study area Port
Klang Pangsapuri
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In addition, during public holidays, the workers cook their traditional food, invite friends
(local and co-workers) to join them. Sometimes they visited their friends too. Tables indicate
respondents‟ visit to their local co-workers‟ place and local co-workers‟ visit to Bangladeshi
workers‟ place. It was found that most of the Bangladeshi workers (57%) and local workers
(55%) had never visited each other places. Nevertheless, the study found that during Muslim
festivals the workers visited each other (sometimes = 31 percent; occasionally = 11 percent).
The workers were also active in various social welfare activities especially when any worker
face difficulty they extended their hand for him. For example, if a death occurred, they
collected money from all co-workers and gave to the person‟s family. They also showed their
sympathy to their co-workers.
Table 10. Distribution of workers based on visit to co-workers‟ place
Visit
Frequency
Percentage (%)
Regularly
1
1.0
Sometimes
31
31.0
Occasionally
11
11.0
Never
57
57.0
Total
100
100.0
5. Conclusion
Social life is generally explained in terms of the customs, traditions and cultural traits that
exist in a society. Social life is the arena where individuals come into contact and interact
with each other. Turner identifies it in terms of interaction. According to him, “social life
involves each of us as actors who perform and, in performing, interact with others. No
process is more fundamental to social life and to understanding ourselves and those around
us” (Turner, 1994: 62). It is an orbit where individuals establish relations with other fellow
beings, play certain roles, manifest themselves and fulfill certain goals. In all these activities
they observe certain rules that a society considers necessary to attain certain goals.
In a foreign assignment, the workers represent the cultural norms of their respective country
by demonstrating their level of upbringing, manners, dress and behavior. Foreign workers
should exhibit their respect toward host-country‟s cultures and values. The government of
Bangladesh would, therefore, do a world of good to the departing workers by providing
cross-cultural training in dealing with the host country‟s law and cultural values. The study
shows that most of the Bangladeshi workers spend their leisure time by watching television
or DVDs, and gossiping (81%) with their compatriots. Generally, the company, in which they
work, holds their passport. According to the workers, this makes them suffer from insecurity
as they are afraid to go out during the holiday without their passport. Thus, their recreational
activities are very limited and confined only around their living places. The government of
the host country should provide the foreign workers with immigration card which they can
carry anywhere in Malaysia they go to for the recreation.
Acknowledgement
Thanks to Prof. Dr. Jamil Farooqui, International Islamic University Malaysia for his
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expertise advices. The researchers also acknowledge for the cooperation and support from the
senior Bangladeshi migrant worker in Port Klang, especially Mr. Abdul Motin, during
interview session with the respondents.
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