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December 30, 2008

Malaysia, India to sign labour protection pact

Malaysia and India are to sign a labour accord Saturday to govern the recruitment and welfare of their workers in each other's country, AFP quoted a local daily as reporting Monday.

Malaysia's Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam said the document would address abuses by recruiting agents and others against Indian workers brought into the country.

It will be signed by Subramaniam and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi in New Delhi on January 3, The Star newspaper reported.

Malaysia is one of the largest importers of foreign labour in Asia. Foreign workers, both legal and illegal, account for about 2.6 million of its 10.5 million workforce.

The Star said there were about 150,000 Indian workers in the country, many of them in the plantation, construction and services industries.

Subramaniam cited cases where Indian workers arrived in Malaysia to find they had no jobs, despite having paid recruiting agents to find them work.

The agreement would set up a body comprising representatives from the two countries to ease the situation, he said.

Abuses against foreign workers are frequently reported in Malaysia's media.

In May last year, a Malaysian employer and his family were accused of starving and torturing an Indian migrant worker and then leaving his body in a remote jungle.

The three had allegedly beaten Ganesh Kumar Ramamoorthy, 28, from Tamil Nadu state, with canes and steel chains. They have been charged with manslaughter.

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