Malaysia records a total of 1.9 million registered (documented or regular1) migrants, constituting approximately 21 per cent of the workforce (MOF 2010), thereby making Malaysia the largest importer of labour in Asia (Prasai 1993; Gurowitz 1999, 2000;Kanapathy 2006; Amarjit 2004, 2007). (Devadasen and Chan, "A Critical Appraisal of Policies and Laws Regulating
Migrant Workers in Malaysia")
One in five people in Malaysia's work force carry a non-Malaysian passport. As astounding as this number is, it only accounts for those who are officially registered in the system. It is anyone's guess as to how many more are here from other nations as migrant workers and as refugees.
Recently, a visiting friend flying in from Nepal noticed many of the passengers on his flight appeared to be flying for the first time. Upon landing they will be put right to work. Many will have labor long hours (12 hours a day is the norm) and are lucky if they have one day off each week. Often they have their passports taken away from them by their employer which leaves them vulnerable to being scooped up by the police (if they do not give the police a rea$on to let them be). It has become so normal to see migrant labor that we have become desensitized to their plight. We complain when they don't work hard (yet few of us work nearly as hard as they do). We fuss when they take a moment to send a text message (yet we can't let 15 minutes pass without playing on our phones). We get upset when they don't understand our orders (yet we forget the mind-boggling number of languages and accents used in this country). Life is not easy for these migrant workers.
God knows the plight of these migrant workers. He loves the sojourner and calls us to love them (Deut. 10:18-19). This calling to love diaspora peoples goes beyond a mere charity handout, we have a calling to love them as one of our own. To find out how, join us at the National Diaspora Symposium, September 6-9 in Kuala Lumpur. Register here: www.ndsmy.org