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Malaysia called out on MoU

Malaysia needs to start “paying attention” to a worker protection agreement with Cambodia that has languished for almost two years, a Ministry of Interior official said at a meeting yesterday.

The meeting, which included officials from the ministries of Interior, Women’s Affairs, Tourism, Foreign Affairs and other related ministries, along with NGO partner Winrock, aimed to find ways Cambodia can combat human trafficking and facilitate the signing of memoranda of understanding (MoU) with countries like Malaysia to protect workers.

“We want to make sure the MoU is signed on time to protect our citizens, but it seems that Malaysia is not paying attention,” said interior ministry under-secretary Sieng Lapresse.

According to Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labour program, Cambodia began drafting the MoU with Malaysia nearly two years ago, suggesting a poor outlook for its speedy signing.

“There is no evidence that the Malaysian government has a commitment to the improvement of migrant worker conditions,” he said.

In July, Malayisa cancelled a meeting to negotiate the MoU at the last minute.

The draft MoU has so far remained confidential between the governments, said Tola, who along with An Bunhak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruiting Agencies, and Chuon Chamrong, Head of the Women and Children Section of rights NGO Adhoc, had not seen the draft’s contents.

Weak enforcement and a lack of NGO input hobbles MoUs, Tola said, adding that migrant conditions in Thailand have barely improved since a 2003 MoU was signed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Justine Drennan

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