KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysia may be exceptionally accommodating to foreigners but it appears this does not extend to migrant workers.
According to the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report 2009, Malaysia fared poorly in its treatment of migrant workers.
United Nations Malaysia resident coordinator Kamal Malhotra said it was clear that immediate action was needed to reverse the international perception of Malaysia's policy towards such workers.
"There will be serious repercussions for both migrants and Malaysian society as a whole if the situation is left unchecked," Malhotra said at the launch yesterday of the report which was entitled "Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development".
He said the findings of the report should be of special concern to policymakers.
The report included the results of a survey carried out in 46 countries with regards to attitudes towards migrants.
He said the report indicated that migrant labour was perceived as a threat to local employment and that this became exaggerated in times of economic uncertainty.
"As such, we strongly urge more education on the role played by migrants as well as their rights by the relevant government bodies, civil society groups and the mass media," added Malhotra, who is also the UNDP resident representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.
Report director Jeni Klugman, who presented the report, said recommendations to the government included ensuring basic human rights of migrant workers, such as protection against arbitrary arrests.
THE NEW STRAITS TIMES