The scandal of NHS gloves and Malaysian working practices

Migrants who work in Malaysia are known to face discrimination and stigma and it is disconcerting to see just how wide spread and entrenched this is. A factory based in Malaysia has been accused of ill treating workers involved in the production of gloves for the British National Health Service (NHS).

The factory is operated by Top Glove, which describes itself as being ‘the world’s largest manufacturer of gloves’. Employed migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh are alleging that they are subject to brutal working practices such as having their pay withheld, forced to work overtime and being in debt bondage. Their liberties are, allegedly, being further infringed by having their passports confiscated and their movements restricted to only being allowed to leave the factory on Sundays.

The Guardian newspaper broke the story in December.

This isn’t an isolated case of immigrants from poor countries like Bangladesh being ill treated and the disgraceful practice isn’t confined to corporations only. Three cases have been officially reported of Bangladeshis being attacked last locally.

Earlier this month a waiter was slapped for asking customers to stop smoking in a no-smoking area. A Malaysian immigration officer slapped a Bangladeshi during an application process interview last year. Three years ago there was the case of a Malaysian man lashing out violently at immigrants. There are anecdotal instances of immigrants being verbally abused in shops , restaurants and on the streets.

This is the result of the politics of entitlement pervasive in Malaysia which seeps into the psyche of ordinary citizens. It is the politics of serving one’s interests without giving a damn about the impacts of your behaviour. When certain races claim a right to look down on others there is a downward spiral and pressure on the ladder of society. Immigrants from poor countries like Bangladesh are seen as being at the bottom rung of the ladder and, therefore, worthy of ridicule.

It really isn’t good enough for a country that was once a colony itself where others were seen as being superior.


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