Malaysia visit successful, manpower export will increase: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her three-day Malaysia visit has been “very successful and effective”.

Published : 5 Dec 2014, 06:22 PM
Updated : 5 Dec 2014, 08:39 PM

She said it would have a long-term impact on boosting manpower export to Malaysia, one of Bangladesh's largest manpower markets.

Hasina addressed a press conference on the 18th SAARC Summit and her Malaysia trip at Ganabhaban on Friday.

The prime minister went to the Southeast Asian country on Tuesday and returned on Thursday.

The countries signed four deals – one agreement and two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and one protocol – to ease visa, promote tourism, art and culture and drive manpower export.

Under the protocol on manpower export, jobs would be created for 12,000 more workers from Bangladesh initially and in phases 60,000 workers would be recruited.

Responding to a question, the prime minister on Friday said, "There were 267,000 illegal workers (in Malaysia) during BNP-Jamaat's regime. We had them legalised after coming to power. We had 157,000 more legalised after assuming office in 1996."

She discouraged travelling to Malaysia without proper documents and said, "The government is training and sending people at low cost. They are on our database and informed about everything."
"We don’t want to lose the position we have."
In her written speech, she said, "Overall, the visit was very successful and effective. I strongly believe this tour will have a far-reaching positive impact on boosting Bangladesh and Malaysia's bilateral ties as well as expanding trade, commerce and investment and increasing manpower export."
Hasina said she had set these goals before the visit.

On her meeting with Najib Razak, she said the Malaysian prime minister promised effective steps when she asked for importing more Bangladeshi goods to reduce the trade gap.

She said he also pledged to take measures in response to her call to implement the proposed Free Trade Agreement between the countries.

Razak also agreed to hold the next Joint Commission meeting in Kuala Lumpur next year.

The last meeting of the joint commission, formed for better cooperation, was held in Dhaka in 2005.

The prime minister said she had also called for a joint investment forum to boost Malaysian investment in Bangladesh.

"I hope an effective discussion on this will take place in the next joint commission meeting," she added.

After she reached Kuala Lumpur last Tuesday, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and Razak's Special Envoy S Samy Vellu had called on her at the hotel she was staying.

Regarding the meeting with Samy Vellu, Hasina on Friday told reporters that he had said Malaysia was interested in investing in Bangladesh's housing, energy and railway sectors.

"He also expressed interest in investing in a housing project to build multi-storey buildings and low-cost flats for people with low income at Kamrangirchar when I raised the issue."

She said Mahathir, who was appointed chairman of Malaysian carmaker Proton in June, had offered to set up a car plant in Bangladesh.

The prime minister added that she had urged leading Malaysian entrepreneurs and investors to invest in several Bangladeshi sectors including communication, energy, power, ICT, tourism, housing, waste management and water supply when she attended a dialogue on Wednesday.

SAARC Summit

The prime minister described the recently held SAARC summit in Kathmandu as ‘very successful’.

“Several of our proposals have been adopted in the summit declaration.”

In her speech at the summit, she had urged the SAARC-member states to set aside differences and work for the progress of the region’s people.

Hasina held bilateral meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The summit had begun with the hope of getting three pacts signed, but the SAARC leaders at the last minute signed only one framework agreement for a common regional grid to share electricity.

The summit ended on Nov 27 with the adoption of the 36-point Kathmandu Declaration.