Employment agents required to give more info on workers from Bangladesh

Eight Bangladeshi workers, who were part of a group called the Islamic State in Bangladesh, have been arrested under the Internal Security Act for planning to carry out terror attacks in Bangladesh.

SINGAPORE - Employers hoping to hire workers from Bangladesh have had to wait a bit longer for their work permits to be approved.

Several employment agents told The Straits Times some additional particulars, such as names of parents and hometown details, have also been required in applications since late last year.

"We've been asked for more information about family background," said KF Employment Consultants owner Kent Ng.

In November and December last year, the Internal Security Department arrested 27 radicalised Bangladeshi workers.


After the detention of eight other Bangladeshis was announced on Tuesday (May 3), a Manpower Ministry spokesman said Bangladesh remains an approved source country, and it "assesses and approves work pass applications in consultation with relevant agencies".

Bangladesh is one of two main sources for workers in the construction, marine and process industries, and most agents doubt there will be a big drop in demand for its nationals as they sometimes command slightly lower salaries than workers from India.

Mr Ng said most Bangladeshi workers are seen as "very hard-working and good people". But Mr David Leong of People Worldwide Consulting has seen a large drop in the number of applications for Bangladeshi workers in the past 12 months.

Some agents said they would be open to additional screening measures to detect potentially radicalised workers, but are unsure what form these could take.

Mr John Leow, an agent for 23 years, said educational messages could be shown at training centres in the source countries.


Some, like Mr G.H. Fong, are stepping up education, saying: "We do our best, but we can't do much to control the people they mix around with."

KSP Employment Agency founder Jacky Lee tells workers about dos and don'ts over Skype before they come here.

"If a radicalised worker comes here, it's bad for everyone... It may make people look at Bangladeshis in a negative way, which is unfair to the other workers," he said.