How Zahid Hamidi's Brother Plans To Manage 1.5 Million Bangladeshi Workers In Malaysia

The company, which was registered in Malaysia on 5 March this year, is proposing an online system on recruitment and monitoring of Bangladeshi workers.

Cover image via Borneo Asean Reports

DAP's Zairil advises Home Ministry to disqualify the bid by Zahid's brother

In the interest of public accountability, said Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari, the Home Ministry must immediately disqualify the bid by Real Time Networking for the import of workers from Bangladesh.

Additionally, he said Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must come clean and clarify his role in the introduction of his brother’s company (Real Time Networking Sdn. Bhd.) to the Home Ministry as well as the Bangladeshi authorities.

“If Zahid has been found to violate ethical boundaries, then he should resign as Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister,” said Zairil who is also DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary.

Zairil was commenting on a report by Malaysiakini that Real Time Networking Sdn Bhd, of which Zahid’s brother Datuk Abdul Hakim Hamidi is executive chairperson, was in negotiations with Malaysian and Bangladeshi governments to provide an online system.

He said the fact was that Hakim could do as much business as he wanted to, as long as it did not involve any government agency or department that any of his direct family members had an interest in.

Zairil also suggested that the Home Ministry should "learn from the Penang state government", who has forbidden any family member of elected representatives to conduct business dealings with the state

"As his brother is the home minister and the ultimate approving authority for all foreign workers in our country, there is no denying the glaring element of conflict of interest involved."

"They must take Malaysians for fools if they think that the obvious conflict of interest in this case can be simply glossed over by an assurance that they will evaluate the proposal by the home minister’s brother in a fair and objective manner."

"Zahid Hamidi and the rest of the federal government would also do well to learn from the Penang state government, which has since 2008 explicitly forbidden any family member of an elected representative from conducting any business dealings with the state."

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has alleged that the plan to bring in 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh to Malaysia contradicts the objectives of the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP)

Image via MTUC

MTUC secretary-general N. Gopal Kishnam said reliance on foreign workers would not help Malaysia achieve developed nation status by 2020 if locals were left wanting for jobs and better wages.

"I am not in agreement with the government's proposal to bring in 1.5 million (workers from Bangladesh). This is as big as the population in Kelantan. I don't see the reason why we have to do this when we already have so many illegal immigrants," he said.

"Local workers have no hope to find jobs as employers like to hire those they can pay cheaply. This always happens and Malaysia will not achieve developed nation status by 2020 where one of the goals is to raise workers' salaries," Gopal added.

MTUC fears that reliance on foreign labour would not help push up wages, which have been largely stagnant or seen only marginal growth for working class jobs.

11 August: Ahmad Hakim Hamidi, brother of Deputy PM Dato' Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is proposing a management system to the Malaysian and Bangladeshi governments to handle the 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers that Malaysia intends to bring in within the next 3 years

The online management system - called Workforce Management & Networking System (Workman) - will be provided by Real Time Networking Sdn. Bhd., an IT firm in which Abdul Hakim serves as executive chairperson

Real Time’s online system is similar to that provided by Bestinet, a firm owned by former home minister Azmi Khalid.

Bestinet’s agreement with the government was suspended earlier this year after outcry by recruitment agents in sending countries over its high service fees.

Real Time and Bestinet have been lobbying for the introduction of their online system in maintaining data on recruitment, visa processing, medical checkup, insurance and monitoring

Image via Malaysia Kini

According to officials at the expatriates' welfare ministry and Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), Malaysia plans to introduce an online system for the management of workers' recruitment, visa processing, medical checkups and the monitoring of workers.

Real Times’ network said that sending of laborers through online process is just like a one stop service which is termed as Workers Management and Monitoring System.

This system will ensure and preserve all data regarding the concerned laborer and the management of a laborer from A-Z.
Image via MalaysiaKini

If approved, agencies such as the Immigration Department and Manpower Department will be linked to Real Time's system and all recruitment agents must go through Real Time to send workers to Malaysia.

It is proposed that applicants will have to pay 60,000 Bangladeshi Takas (approximately RM3,000) in order to work in Malaysia

“We have the model of a system where we get a payment for a package (service) and we can send people (from Bangladesh) for 60,000 Bangladeshi taka (RM3,000), including the air ticket," Hakim said.

According to Bangladeshi online news portal Bangla News, Zahid Hamidi played a crucial role in paving the way for Real Time to engage with the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA)

Bangladeshi origin Mohammad Abu Hanif bin Abul Kashem is the managing director (MD) who is the middle man through whom BAIRA made contacts with Zahid Hamidi that led to the opening of Malaysian labor market.

BAIRA president admitted the fact and told banglanews, "This Hanif has arranged our contact with Real Times."

Sources said that the newly posted high commissioner to Kuala Lumpur Shahidul Islam also set up contact with Zahid Hamidi through Hanif and after that ‘Real Times’ came into surface just few days before the decision.

The sources further said that Malaysian deputy prime minister Zahid Hamidi-led intervention has paved the way of monopolizing the Bangladeshi labor market by ‘Real Times’ after removing Bestinet.

Malaysiakini also reported that Real Time presented its proposal to the Malaysian government through a letter to Zahid

Image via Malaysia Kini

Zahid’s private secretary Nur Azman Mohd Aminuddin forwarded both Real Time’s June 17 proposal and Baira’s June 25 endorsement to Home Ministry secretary-general Alwi Ibrahim on July 8.

Zahid had, in a handwritten note, instructed Alwi to review the proposal “for comparison”.

However, Hakim argued that he is experienced in the field, refuting any claims of nepotism

Image via emily2u

“My brother is the minister but I am a businessman. It is a democratic country and I can do anything, other than be a drug pusher."

“Malaysians are very difficult. They say if my brother is a minister, I cannot do anything. They want us all to be jobless."

“I have experience in the field and I am an IT man. All these designs are from my brain,” Hakim said.

Hakim is currently in Dhaka present Real Time's management system to government officials and BAIRA

According to Hakim, there are at least two other firms vying for the deal, but the Bangladeshi government is keen on the Real Time system.

“I met with Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam on Sunday and he is very happy with our system,” he said.

Baira has also endorsed the system in the June 24 letter.

Meanwhile, Real Time is also presenting its proposal to Indonesia, Nepal and Philippines

Image via NST

While the 1.5 million workers is the focus for now, Hakim added, Real Time is also heading to Indonesia, Nepal and The Philippines to propose the same system for the recruitment of workers into Malaysia.

Zahid made headlines in June when he revealed that 1.5 million Bangladeshis will be brought in to Malaysia to meet the demands of employers from various sectors, amongst others:

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