Nepalis prefer to work in Malaysia—deadliest destinationAngesh Tamang, a 22-year-old from Kavrepalanchok, was planning to return to Nepal last March. But days before his flight, he died while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Malaysia. Tamang wasn’t alone—he was one of the nearly 300 Nepali workers who died in Malaysia last year, making the Southeast Asian nation one of the deadliest for Nepali workers.
Angesh Tamang, a 22-year-old from Kavrepalanchok, was planning to return to Nepal last March. But days before his flight, he died while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Malaysia. Tamang wasn’t alone—he was one of the nearly 300 Nepali workers who died in Malaysia last year, making the Southeast Asian nation one of the deadliest for Nepali workers.
Malaysia has been the preferred destination for thousands of Nepali workers, but according to a new report released by the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB), as many as 20 Nepalis die in the country on an average every month.
According to the latest government data, 2,443 Nepali workers died in Malaysia between 2008 and 2018. During the same period, 1,841 Nepali workers died in Saudi Arabia and 1,326 died in Qatar, the top two Gulf destinations for migrant workers. Last year alone, 289 workers—285 men and four women—died in Malaysia.
Of the total deaths, 219 resulted from road and workplace accidents, according to the report.
“Death of poor migrant workers and injuries sustained by them in foreign countries have a huge impact on labour migration,” said Barun Ghimire, programme manager at the Law and Policy Forum for Social Justice, an organisation that works on migrant rights issues. “Such tragic incidents affect the family back home because, in most cases, its breadwinner is dead or unable to work anymore.”
Ghimire suggests that the government should focus on investigating, and learning from, the increasing number of migrant worker deaths with unspecified causes.
Malaysia-bound Nepali workers are often scammed by recruiting agencies during their visa-processing phase. A senior official at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security said the government has to protect the rights of its citizens, both at home and abroad.
“The government has to make foreign employment secure,” said the official who asked not to be named because he didn’t want to be seen as critical of his own government. “But we also have to think about finding employment for young people at home.”
The government has already invited Malaysian Minister of Human Resources M Kulasegaran to discuss issues related to migrant workers. On Wednesday, Nepali officials said the government plans to implement government-to-government modalities, in hopes that it would spare workers harassment and trauma in the host countries. Both Malaysia and Qatar, two most popular destinations for Nepali workers, have expressed interest in hiring through the government-to-government model.
Deaths in Malaysia
Fiscal year Fatalities
Source: Foreign Employment Promotion Board