ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

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.
Content may be subject to copyright.
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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
Adam Andani Mohammed
Social Work Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities,
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Received: Oct. 31, 2019 Accepted: Dec. 16, 2019 Online published: Jan. 3, 2020
doi:10.5296/ijhrs.v10i1.16172 URL:
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
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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,
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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
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.
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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,
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.
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
Table 1. Distribution of workers based on their income in Malaysia
Percentage (%)
RM0 500
RM501 1000
RM1001 1500
RM1501 2000
RM2001 and more
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
Percentage (%)
12 and more
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.
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
Table 3. Distribution of workers based on the way they spend their leisure time
Leisure Activities
Percentage (%)
Reading (Qur'an, books, magazines,
Sight seeing
Shopping, cooking, watching TV DVDs,
and gossiping
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
Percentage (%)
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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
Permission to pray at the workplace
Percentage (%)
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)
Percentage (%)
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
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
that from the hygienic point of view, the workers live in very congested and unhealthy
Table 7. Distribution of workers based on apartment
Number of workers per apartment
Percentage (%)
1-5 persons
6-10 persons
11 and more persons
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
Std. Deviation
I have basic facilities (electricity and water) at my
living place
I don‟t have a comfortable space to sleep and eat
My living place is near to public facilities such as
clinic, bank, grocery and night market
There are always infighting at the place where I live
My living area is safe and sound
I like my living place
I have no problem living with other countrymen
I do not like to stay at the same place where other
national co-workers also live
I always chat with other nation co-workers at my place
of living
My company provides basic furniture/TVs, freezers,
Chairs, Tables for me to use
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
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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
Percentage (%)
Not at all
Very little
Quite a bit
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.
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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
Percentage (%)
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.
Thanks to Prof. Dr. Jamil Farooqui, International Islamic University Malaysia for his
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
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.
Abdul-Aziz, A. R. (2001a). Bangladeshi migrant workers in construction sector. Asia-Pacific
Population Journal, 16(1), 3-22.
Abdul-Aziz, A. R. (2001b). Foreign workers and labour segmentation in Malaysia's
construction industry. Construction Management and Economics, 19, 789-798.
Abubakar, S. Y. (2002). Migrant labour in Malaysia: Impact and implications of the Asian
financial crisis. EADN regional project on the social impact of the Asian financial crisis.
Retrieved from,
Bryman, A. (2008). Social Research Methods (3rd edn.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dustmann, C. (1994). Speaking fluency, writing fluency and earnings of migrants. Journal of
Population Economics, 7(2), 133-156.
Fernandez, I. (2008). Recruitment and placement of migrant workers in Malaysia. Paper
presented at the Malaysian Bar Council conference on developing a comprehensive policy
framework for migrant labour.
Haas, D. H. (2008). Migration and development: A theoretical perspective. Oxford:
International Migration Institute, University of Oxford.
Hill, D. (2009). Where the streets are not paved with Gold: The rights of Bangladeshi
migrants in Malaysia. Just Change, 16(16).
Jackson, J. A. (1986). Migration: Aspects of modern Sociology. New York: Longman Inc.
Kanapathy, V. (2001). International migration and labour market adjustments in Malaysia:
The role of foreign labour management policies. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal,
10(3-4), 429-455.
Kanapathy, V. (2006, December). Migrant workers in Malaysia: an overview. In Country
paper prepared for Workshop on East Asian Cooperation Framework for Migrant Labour,
Kuala Lumpur. http://www. isis. org. my/files/pubs/papers/V
K_MIGRATION-NEAT_6Dec06. pdf (Accessed 13 January 2007.)
Karim, A. H. M., Zehadul, A. M., & Isa, M. (1999). Foreign workers in Malaysia: Issues and
implications. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications & Distributiors Sdn. Bhd.
Kassim, A. (1998). Contemporary labour migration in Malaysia: An overview. Paper read at a
seminar on „The Media and Labour Migration in Malaysia. Asian Institute for Development
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
Communication (AIDCOM), Kuala Lumpur, (October 27-29).
Kassim, A. (2001). Integration of foreign workers and illegal employment in Malaysia. In
International Migration in Asia Trends and Policies: Trends and Policies (pp. 113-135).
Kaur, A. (2007). Migration matters in the Asia-Pacific region: immigration frameworks,
knowledge workers and national policies. International Journal on Multicultural Societies
(IJMS), 9(2), 135-157.
Kaur, A. (2010). Labour migration trends and policy challenges in Southease Asia. Policy and
Society, 29, 385-397.
Mahmood, R. A. (1994). Adaptation to a new world: Experience of Bangladeshis in Japan.
International Migration, 32(4), 513-532.
Massey, D. S. et al. (1993). Theories of international migration: A review and appraisal.
Population and Development Review, 19(3), 431-466.
Moser, S. C., & Kalton, G. (1980). Survey Method in Social Investigation. London:
Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.
OSHA. (1994). A Guide to Occupational Health and Safety for the Construction Sector in
Malaysia. International SOS Foundation. Online retrieved from
Parrado, E. A., & Cerrutti, M. (2003). Labour migration between developing countries: The
case of Paraguay and Argentina. The International Migration Review, 37(1), 101-132.
Petra, D. (2005). Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia: The construction of the "others"
in a multi-ethnic context. Asian Journal of Social Science, 33(2), 246-267.
Ramachelvam, M. (2008). A rights based policy framework and plan of action. Paper
presented at the Malaysian Bar Council conference on developing a comprehensive policy
framework for migrant labour.
Ramassamy, P. (2004). International migration and conflict: Foreign labour in Malaysia. In
Aris Ananta & Evi Nurvidya Arifin (Eds.) International Migration in Southeast Asia
(pp.273-295). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Siddiqui, & Abrar. (2000) op.cit; Rita Afsar, Mohammad Yunus and Shamsul Islam, Are
Migrants Chasing after the Golden Deer: A Study on Cost Benefit Analysis of Overseas
Migration by Bangladeshi Labour', IOM and UNDP, 2000; K.A.S Murshid, Kazi Iqbal and
Meherun Ahmed: A Study on Remittance Inflows and Utilization, IOM and UNDP, 2000.
Siddiqui, T. (2004). Efficiency of migrant workers' remittance: the Bangladesh case. Asian
Development Bank, Manila.
International Journal of Human Resource Studies
ISSN 2162-3058
2020, Vol. 10, No. 1
Turner, J. H. (1994). Sociology: Concepts and uses. Publisher: McGraw-Hill College.
Wickramasekera, P. (2000). Asian Labour Migration: Issues and Challenges in an Era of
Globalization. Geneva: International Migration Programme.
Zamir, Z. (2006). Migrant workers contributions in Malaysian economy. Dhaka: Cosmic
Copyright Disclaimer
Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s), with first publication rights granted to
the journal.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative
Commons Attribution license (
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
This article surveys contemporary theories of international migration in order to illuminate their leading propositions, assumptions, and hypotheses. It hopes to pave the way for a systematic empirical evaluation of their guiding tenets. The authors divide the theories conceptually into those advanced to explain the initiation of international migration and those put forth to account for the persistence of migration across space and time. Because they are specified at such different levels of analysis, the theories are not inherently logically inconsistent. The task of selecting between theories and propositions thus becomes an empirical exercise, one that must occur before a truly integrated theoretical framework can be fully realized. -Authors
Full-text available
Labour migration in Southeast Asia since the 1970s and 1980s must be understood as an integral part of the post-colonial new geographies of migration. The scope and scale of transnational movements have grown rapidly and major states like Malaysia and Thailand between them currently host about 70 per cent of the estimated 13.5 million migrant workers in the region. Singapore's foreign labour force accounts for 25 per cent of the country's workforce. Two phenomena characterize these labour movements. Like labour-importing Western democracies, the major Southeast Asian labour-importing countries rely on the guest worker program to solve their labour shortage problems. They regulate immigration through elaborate administrative frameworks that are focussed on border control while brokerage firms and labour recruiters carry out recruitment, transportation and placement of migrant workers. These countries’ immigration policies also often provide incentives for skilled workers, boost circular migration flows among low-skilled workers, and include severe penalties for unauthorised migrants. Additionally, comparisons between these countries point to patterns of convergence among them. This paper explores migration trends in the post-colonial geography of migration against the backdrop of growing regionalism and the development of regional migration systems and migration corridors. It also examines the “new world domestic order” and the development of gendered migration linkages that have resulted in the expansion of the domestic work sector and care-giving migration.
Full-text available
The debate on migration and development has swung back and forth like a pendulum, from developmentalist optimism in the 1950s and 1960s, to neo-Marxist pessimism over the 1970s and 1980s, towards more optimistic views in the 1990s and 2000s. This paper argues how such discursive shifts in the migration and development debate should be primarily seen as part of more general paradigm shifts in social and development theory. However, the classical opposition between pessimistic and optimistic views is challenged by empirical evidence pointing to the heterogeneity of migration impacts. By integrating and amending insights from the new economics of labor migration, livelihood perspectives in development studies and transnational perspectives in migration studies – which share several though as yet unobserved conceptual parallels – this paper elaborates the contours of a conceptual framework that simultaneously integrates agency and structure perspectives and is therefore able to account for the heterogeneous nature of migration-development interactions. The resulting perspective reveals the naivety of recent views celebrating migration as self-help development “from below”. These views are largely ideologically driven and shift the attention away from structural constraints and the vital role of states in shaping favorable conditions for positive development impacts of migration to occur.
Despite the historical and numerical importance of international migration between Paraguay and Argentina, the socioeconomic forces affecting the dynamics of the flow remain largely unexplored. This article contributes to the understanding of migration movements between the Latin American countries by analyzing patterns of labor migration from two Paraguayan communities to Argentina. The analysis separates the process of migration into four segments representing different migration decisions that Paraguayan men face throughout their life course: first trip, first return, recurrent trips, and duration of additional trips. Results confirm that Paraguayan migration to Argentina is closely related to individual characteristics and wealth, the extent of migrant networks and experience, and changes in macroeconomic conditions. The relative importance of these factors on migration varies depending on the aspect of migration under consideration. More generally, the analysis shows that unlike migration between Mexico and the United States, Paraguayan migrants to Argentina tend to be positively selected with respect to educational attainment and skills. This reflects the higher transferability of skills between the two countries and the absence of large urban centers attracting internal migrants in Paraguay. In addition, results show that migration between Paraguay and Argentina is very responsive to fluctuations in macroeconomic conditions, particularly income differentials and peso over-valuation. Government policies oriented towards the regulation of migration flows in the Southern Cone should pay closer attention to the impact of macroeconomic fluctuations on migration decisions, especially in the context of the Mercosur agreement.
There has been an increase in the global mobility of labor, and political and social imperatives will continue to compel nations to impose restrictions on international migration. The paper examines Malaysia's experience in regulating the inflow of foreign workers to facilitate its labor market adjustment process. The use of immigration policies to meet the competing objectives of unfettered growth and industrial upgrading has recorded mixed success. Immigration policies are necessary but insufficient. They must be complemented and supplemented by labor market development strategies to foster quality growth based upon “high path” structural transformation.
This article concerns a dilemma that can be observed world-wide: nation-states are seeking to maximize the opportunities from economic globalization processes and transnational cooperation, and are simultaneously closing their doors to the forms of migration that these economic shifts have stimulated. In Malaysia, for example, migrant workers have contributed to the remarkable economic success, but are hardly ever mentioned in analyses of this "miracle economy". Due to economic restructuring and the economic downturns, migrants are increasingly treated as scapegoats for all kinds of problems Malaysia is facing. By analyzing the "Othering" of the Bangladeshi migrant community in Malaysia within this transformation process, it will be shown how through the interlocking aspects of movement and industrial growth concepts like national identity, citizenship and culture are getting challenged and renegotiated.