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Page added on September 22, 2010

Letter on expatriate workers

To the Employment Minister,

If one asks me what time it is, I would say it’s time for us to check and screen the expatriate workers working throughout the country, and the expatriate staff doing tourism and fishing industry jobs that Maldivian young men and women could do.

And if someone asks me why we have to do this, I would say it’s for the sake of developing our economy, for the sake of repairing the country’s damaged social fabric, for the sake of not making our country famous for spitting here and there (the majority of the laborers working here do it as if it’s part of their life or habit).

Minister, it’s unbelievable that we see 300-400 expatriate laborers standing at various corners of the capital Male’ like a minor demonstration, and at the same time the country’s Immigration Department and the Employment Ministry keep quiet and silent, enjoying the art of doing nothing.

I agree that we have to recruit laborers for government and private construction projects and also an individual can recruit laborers for building a house. But it doesn’t mean that these laborers live here for the rest of their life. I think the reason why we see 300-400 expatriate laborers at various corners of Male’ are because the country’s relevant authorities do not work together for the sake of the country.

In Malaysia, I have seen Malaysian young men and women working in the shops and restaurants, but here we see expatriate unskilled laborers doing everything for us. In Dubai we see same scenario as our country but I think we better look at Malaysia for making our fragile economy better. I tried to get a job in Malaysia and Singapore and it was impossible, but here a foreigner gets a job much easier than a Maldivian.

A friend of mine living in Malaysia told me that if the government authority knows someone making even a boakiba (short eat) and sells it, immediate action is taken by the authority, and that no Maldivian could think of earning an income there.

But here we see expatriates moving like the nationals – they can prepare lunch packs in their rooms and make money freely. I think this is a problem to be solved for the sake of the country’s economy and the country to remain as an independent country.

Thanking you,

Mohamed Saeed

All letters are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write a letter piece, please submit it to minivan.news@gmail.com

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27 Comments on "Letter on expatriate workers"

  1. Zainab on Wed, 22nd Sep 2010 9:38 PM 

    Dear Mohamed Saeed, you should think about why it is that many employers prefer expatriat workes. It is not only the fact that many of them are working for less money for the same work, which I personnaly regrett. But their attitude is often much different. As they have a family to feed back home, or because of what reason ever, many of them are much more reliable and better and more friendly at their jobs, specially in service areas what I can see. I have a business and I am very happy with the performance of our expatriate staff. We would like to employ more Maldivian men and women, but their attitude regarding certain jobs is not acceptable. I belive it is not only up to the government and ministries to change laws, but as well to change attitudes within the Maldivian society to improve economy etc. And by the way, spitting around is definately not only an expatriate disgusting habit…..

  2. Ninni on Wed, 22nd Sep 2010 9:50 PM 

    I guess he is entitled to his opinion, but this appears to me as a load of racism and stereotyping based solely on xenophobia. but ofcourse, a very common attitude amongst us.. Exactly when was this ‘social fabric’ so intact in our society that these expatriates have subsequently destroyed? Are they really damaging our economy, or contributing to its growth? And are Malaysia and Singapore the countries with the best human rights records that we should be emulating?

  3. bengali on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 12:23 AM 

    @ninni & Zainab…is “attitude” something only known to business owners in the Maldives or other similar places?

    Business owners in Maldives only see that their local employees have “attitudes” when they don’t behave like slaves but more like wage earning employees with certain rights as humans beings.

  4. Hussain on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 5:20 AM 

    Hope the editor will remove the false ‘beng…’ It may be an enemy trying to set up hatred towards them. Your website is being manipulated by racists and anti-Muslims.

  5. Azhad on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 6:40 AM 

    @Zainab
    You mentioned that the wage difference argument is null, but yet regret it. Are you an advocating reduced wages for the expatriates then.!!?

    @Nini
    I don’t understand why you brought up Singapore and Malaysia, does it have any relevance to the problem’s being discussed.

  6. Armed Buffallo on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 8:13 AM 

    Mohamed saeed is racist..the Bangladeshi workers earn so little and they have to buy dollars from the black market..not the 10 rf per US as promised by Moh. Nasheed..these workers they have ppl depending on them back home , what you are suggesting will cause a poor people to become poorer..as long at the lazy drug laden youth of maldives continues to waste their pathetic life things will not change..expatriate workers need to be regulated in a humane way.

  7. Rasheed on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 8:17 AM 

    I am with the author on this. You cannot have expatriates standing around street corners looking for work. Somebody local has to be responsible to house them, feed them and pay them.
    I have nothing against overseas enterprenaurs as long as they are regulated. A guy preparing and selling lunch packets must be registered, GOM Agency must inspect their premises for hygene and they must pay taxes (when introduced).

  8. luthfi on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 3:14 PM 

    I totally agree with Mr. Saeed. Most of the developing countries do employ expatriate workers to do their odd jobs which the locals normally don’t do. But what differs us from the rest of the world is that we don’t have a properly installed system to monitor and regulate them. The previous government staff at the ministry of Labour & employment are thought to have purposely sabotaged the whole computer systems monitoring foreign labourers in the Maldives with the sole aim of paving the way for them to play fouls.

    Maldives lately, have become a heaven for illegal immigrants for the simple reason that they know that this country is bottomless now. Arrival and departure by the illegal immigrants is quite easy when it comes to Maldives and they do it with so much ease and on their own wish .
    They are doing enormous damage to the economy of this country. An avarage 500 us dollars, somehow earned monthly by each foreign labourer ( we now have more than 150,000 of them) and sent out of this country is quite an enormous amount which does a great damage to our economy. in my view the money sent out of this country on monthly basis is more than the US dollars or any other currencies brought into this country by the arriving tourists .

    The current government that seemed, in the beginning, to take actions against the illegal foreigners in Maldives , are not going to celebrate the triumph of their success any time soon since they don’t have the means to tackle it because of the enormous damage done by the previous government.
    One thing sure is that this government of Mr. Nasheed is also heading to the wrong direction I which I don’t like very much.

  9. shaufa on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 3:31 PM 

    i think the point is why is the huge number of workers hanging around the country without work visas???? Hmmmmmmmm Racism? it’s quite different from what Saeed says isn’t it???? No doubt, a country can never afford letting it’s citizens involve in unsocial habits or crimes like what we experience here by simply saying Maldivians (the country’s beloved citizens) ATTITUDE is not acceptable in certain jobs and so on….

  10. Ahmed Aliased on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 4:32 PM 

    Maldivians are just too high and mighty to do menial labour. That’s why they’re here.

  11. Ninni on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010 10:31 PM 

    ofcourse, its very easy to calculate a dollar figure on the total salaries they are paid. but what about their input, which is not so easy to put a value on? dont they toil day and night for unfair wages, to build the foundations of our economy? constructing the buildings, constructing our resorts, our roads, infrastructure, all important national tasks which few maldivians would be willing to undertake… is it fair to blame expatriates for all our social ills, before proper verification?

  12. luthfi on Fri, 24th Sep 2010 12:46 AM 

    The topic in my view, is not about the Maldivians and them being lazy or not.
    We are talking about the illegal foreign workers in this country, and the social and financial damage caused to this country because of them . And we are talking about legal foreign workers in this country whose work is neither being monitored nor regulated which, in turn, is taking a toll on our social fabric and economy.
    We are talking about the weak Governments , whose loopholes,have allowed others to invade into this country by using illegal means.
    One should distinguish these two different topics of which each can be discussed separately if one wishes to do so.
    In my view, our freedom is at stake now. One should not think that protecting our independence and freedom is merely being in readiness , focused only to a few potential threats coming from few Tamils attacking us here and there, which i think , in my view, can easily be repelled. But the country must be prepared to prevent us from being looted of our treasures.
    Controlling of both legal illegal Foreign workers are of vital importance,should the country be prospered.
    A government unable to controlling foreign workers which is the easiest part of the governance , is considered a failure.

  13. meekaaku on Fri, 24th Sep 2010 2:54 PM 

    Typical xenophobic response.

    The whole reason expats come here in the first place is they think this country offers better opportunities for them to earn than their own. Now, some of them have been disappointed due to fraudsters both in private sector and government, which clearly needs to be addressed. But apart from that, they are hardworking, law abiding people who does the menial work that maldivians do not do.

    Author states:
    “they can prepare lunch packs in their rooms and make money freely”

    Are you seriously saying they should not be allowed to make lunch packs? or that they should only eat from Maldivian hotaa? They are selling a service, mostly to their own people. It is hilarious to think that they are making money freely. They are doing productive work. Do you have a problem with people making an earning with honest hard work just because they are expats?

    Luthfi:
    “An avarage 500 us dollars, somehow earned monthly by each foreign labourer ( we now have more than 150,000 of them) and sent out of this country is quite an enormous amount which does a great damage to our economy”

    Most expats are paid in local currency. They buy usd in the legal or black market with their own rightfully earned money. They send it back to their families. What do you suppose they do??? Spend only here?? Can they take MRF to their own country? Are we to deny them conversion of currency, because to them MRF is nothing in their home town! What you seem to be suggesting that we pay them in worthless paper!! MRF is only worth to an expat taking to their own country ONLY if it is convertible.
    And plus, they EARNED that money.

  14. luthfi on Fri, 24th Sep 2010 4:02 PM 

    @Ninni: i don’t think that you are giving full consideration to the very point about which we are discussing here. Its good if they make inputs. Its good if they ” toil day and night” as u put it. Its good if they work in the fields where Maldivians don’t work. But are they doing that! We don’t see most of them doing that. We see them hanging around , and loafing on the job just like the Maldivians are doing. We see them selling toys in the artificial beach, We see them cleaning cars and motorcycles etc. We see them sitting at the cash counters of all the shops and cafes in the country. We see them spitting on the roads on which our kids go to school every day. Are these worthwhile ? Are these really the fields to which they have been employed for ! Is any one checking about what they are doing in this country? Does anyone know the social and economic damage which they are causing to this country?
    So, Ninni ; think about the key issues and give ur opinion please!

  15. shaufa on Fri, 24th Sep 2010 5:18 PM 

    Ninni, i’m sorry dear…this is too much u pretending to be not knowing what the topic v r discussing…maybe yr total income involving this DIRTY ILLEGAL recruiting haraam money or yr thinking capacity is so limited..whatever reason u don’t understand the topic, i feel sorry for u NINNI. May Allah guide u to the right path, Ameen

  16. Zainab on Fri, 24th Sep 2010 6:07 PM 

    bengali, with attitude i mean how people behave in general, and as this was an article about business it’s meant about business. I am myself an expatriate and grow up in a different way and in a different culture, and i don’t have the opinion that all workers need to be slaves to be considered as having a good attitude. being at work in time, doing a good job, not quiting immediately when critizised, being polite and helpfull to customers and other staff and people in general, you can add more things and take it to every day life as well, not only what is concerned jobs. it is as with other problems here in the country, and elsewhere as well, first always the government will be blamed. i am not saying they they do a very good job in everything, but see both sides, government and society.
    Azhad – how comes you think i want to reduce expats wages? i regrett that they often have to do same job for less money.

  17. maldivesresortworkers on Sat, 25th Sep 2010 6:14 AM 

    The fact that our job market is distorted by an unregulated illegal expatriate force is a fact. That they are being exploited is also a fact. Another fact is that this same crisis can be turned around so as to create more jobs for the local so that the local economy grows. Its not simply a matter of sending illegal aliens to their countries. There are other measures that needs to be taken such setting a minimum wage, and making sure the employers respect the rights of the workers.
    A typical example of how the money flows in a project is like this:
    1. A company is awarded a contract to build an office/house or whatever.
    2. The contractor sub-contracts to another contractor.
    3. The sub contractor again sub contracts to another party..
    4. the chain of sub-contracting goes a little bit further
    5. Till somebody low in the ranks of subcontracting arrives with a horde of illegal workers and finishes the job.
    6. Once the job is finished, the sub-contractor vanishes collecting all the moneys from the people who gave him the project and money.
    7. the workers are left with nothing (sometimes). The project is completed, the contractors all got shares of the work, but the workers none!

  18. hammeed on Sat, 25th Sep 2010 11:15 AM 

    then what about our own people doing menial jobs in foreign country dont want expats ok frankly refuse them no one will come but bringing them by dupping saying that they wil pay them 500 dollars per month that is cheating many maldivians agent cheat them saying that they will pay 500 dollars but pay them 80 dollars this is our attitude no body is interested to come and work cheaply here

  19. nasry on Sat, 25th Sep 2010 1:32 PM 

    since i lost my chance regulating illegal expatriate workers’ issue during the last Election, i hereby call on the Employment Minister to streamline the whole process in such a way that Maldives become a country that the country’s citizens lead the job market, making the diseased ECONOMY gets well soon….

    A country can never ever afford keeping a blind eye on this CRITICAL ISSUE…. Our friend Zainab & Ninni talks something else..don’t worry coz there are people who see things using Recruiting Agents’ glasses for various reasons

  20. Ninni on Sat, 25th Sep 2010 2:34 PM 

    I am not against regulating them. What I want to point out is, they are here. We employ them. We exploit them. Maybe we even need them. So, please accord them the dignity and respect they deserve as human beings. May Allah guide us not to judge people on the passport they hold.

  21. luthfi on Sat, 25th Sep 2010 7:43 PM 

    Ninni: u r not against regulating them, are u? if so, u r with us. That is what has been talked here. but just becoz the illegal immigrants r here, that doesn’t mean that we hav to accept them. eg. drugs and alcohols are here today. but is that a reason for us to accept them!
    You said “maybe we even need them” i said: ‘maybe u even need drugs and alcohols; what now!
    The point is that nothing can be done above the law. We are not racists. This is nothing to do with racism. No illegal immigrant should be allowed into this country. Its a crystal clear thing. The Government must do everything possible to regulate and uphold laws and regulations of this country. ;Nobody is above the law;

  22. glove on Mon, 27th Sep 2010 9:21 AM 

    I am glad someone wrote this, shows that some people are thinking about this huge problem which will effect our lives forever.

  23. glade on Mon, 27th Sep 2010 9:29 AM 

    I know of bangladeshis employed at the municipality for 50 dollers. they drive municipalty lorry, and through the many bangladeshi contects they let this municipalty lorry be hired for different errends,making handsome ernings for themselves at govt expense. After the 5.00 workhour elapses they go to 3-4 house to do house cleaning from which they earn another 2-3000 bucks and later at night there is garbage disposal errends from which they earn 100 bucks per house. after delivering an overloaded bicycle full of garbage they may earn anouther 1000 bucks…and there is gondu hovun, they collect metal and clean and sell it…all in all each one of them would send around a 1000 dollers home a month.(their food and accomodation are provided for and their breaks are taken during working hours—bangladeshis are known for slow speed)

  24. luthfi on Mon, 27th Sep 2010 2:23 PM 

    I have many reasons to believe that things are not going well in this country.
    Not long ago i met a 55 yr old lady who told me that she has a young girl studying in Male’. And this lady, because she has to pay for her daughter’s study,badly wanted a municipality’s road cleaning job which was available then. As she requested for the job from the Municipality, the response she received was that they were not in need of Maldivians anymore, not now and not for ever. I told her that the irresponsible response would not have come from a responsible person and that she had to meet a person of higher position. She told me that she met Sarangu Adam Manik and the mischievous response came direct from him.
    So, this is our country now and that the situation of the country is so that we all have to worry now. Pls think abt this!

  25. goggle on Fri, 1st Oct 2010 2:24 PM 

    SAABAS SARANGU ADAM MANIK!!!! U treated a 55 year old Maldivian woman like Luthfi mentioned here????? wow! shame on u Adam Manik….be careful on what the people of this country would think about or how people would rank u when u talk on TV pretending to be a nice man, a wise man and a kind man working as a very senior person in an Oagaatheri Sarukaaru hehehhe Adam! if what is mentioned here is a truth, u are a bloody fool Adam

  26. Dopel on Sat, 16th Oct 2010 10:12 PM 

    I cant believe people haven’t realized the problem before Mr. Saeed haven’t pointed it out. Thank you. Seriously when you go out of the house, you see everything manual is done by some expatriate worker. The parks are filled with them. The roads are filled with them. The schools are filled with them. The high positioned jobs like managers are filled with them. Where is the Maldivians? Where is the youth? Where are Maldivian scholars? I am not saying the expatriate workers are wrong, but something is definitely wrong here. Once again, I thank Mr.Saeed for thinking about this damage done to our country. People need to take action about our country, rather than trying to pity our expatriate workers. Who is there to pity our country?

  27. Plain observer on Mon, 1st Nov 2010 5:09 PM 

    Thank you Maldives for cheating expatriates and bringing them over with false hopes. Thank you for keep making them work and hardly pay them. Thank you for finally sending them back with a ticket and more promise to pay them later..Thank you to pay them a miserable amount which is further reduced to buy $. Thank you also to not allow them to transfer money with restriction on debit cards, transfer etc. Thank you Maldives to marry foreign women,bear children with them, make them leave their country and stay here. Thank you for not giving them properties they should inherit when their spouse dies…even though its their rightful inheritance in Islam but Maldives do not give property to non Maldivians. Thank you for giving agony to expat widows to beg for their visa every 6 months even though they have maldivian childres. Thank you for sending away expat divorcee with no consideration of how long she has been living in Maldives or how many maldivia children she has…Thank you maldives for Maldives….Ur great indeed.
    Me Maldives….


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