Friday, 19 September 2014

Report on “forced labor” in Malaysia not truly accurate


It was reported in New York Times that a research conducted by a US based group Verite, commissioned by the US Department of Labor over the period of two years found that forced labor are common in Malaysian tech factories. The report, which made its conclusions from interviewing 501 migrant workers from nearly 200 factories which employs a total of about 200,000 migrant workers, only represents 0.25% of the total number.
Based on a sampling of 0.25%, how can a reputable for profit organization such a Verite come to conclusion with the report that nearly one in three migrant workers in Malaysia’s electronics industry toiled under forced labor conditions, therefore, essentially trapped in the job?
While I agree that there are certain plights that foreign workers in this country, which mainly made up of Bangladeshi, Pakistanis, Indians, Burmese, Vietnamese, Nepali and Indonesians, face, I can’t agree with the claim by Verite because 0.25% is just too little to represent an accurate scenario of the conditions of foreign workers in this country. Even if we are to have a more reputable 10% of the total workforce in the electronic industry who responded to the questions posted by investigators from Verite who claimed they are toiling in forced labor conditions, many other external factors will still have to be factored in.
It is also totally absurd to read the comment by Verite’s Chief Executive Daniel Viederman that the problem is not one of a few isolated cases but it is widespread. Hey Mr Viederman, based on 0.25%, how widespread can it be? From the very beginning, Verite’s report is totally unacceptable because of its mere 0.25% representation and it is a shame for you to comment whether it is widespread or not. I am curious too, have you personally visit Malaysia and speak to the foreign workers here yourself?
How about the respond from the management of the electronic companies? Shouldn’t it be fair that the respond from both sides are being heard and tabulated to represent a complete picture of the situation of foreign workers in Malaysia?
As a responsible and impartial organization, Verite should conduct a survey from both sides and do a more reputable representation, instead of mere 0.25% of workers before coming up with a conclusion that forced labor is present in the Malaysian electronics industry. As a suggestion, Verite should look into numbers before making any conclusion. What would Daniel Viederman say if I am to do a survey and come to a conclusion that 0.25% of Verite’s employees in United States responded that they are underpaid? Would I be made a laughing stock if I am to do that?

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