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Title: Rationalizing migration : Bangladeshi migrant workers in Hong Kong and Malaysia
Other Titles: You li hua qian yi yan jiu : zai Xianggang ji Malaixiya de Mengjiala ji wai di lao gong an li
Zai Xianggang ji Malaixiya de Mengjiala ji wai di lao gong an li
有理化遷移研究 : 在香港及馬來西亞的孟加拉籍外地勞工案例
Authors: Ahsan Ullah, A. K. M
Department: Dept. of Asian and International Studies
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: City University of Hong Kong
Subjects: Alien labor, Bangladeshi -- China -- Hong Kong -- Case studies
Alien labor, Bangladeshi -- Malaysia -- Case Studies
Notes: CityU Call Number: HD8753.A47 2007
Includes bibliographical references (leaves [250]-279)
Thesis (Ph.D.)--City University of Hong Kong, 2007
xvii, 328 leaves : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm.
Type: Thesis
Abstract: In view of the growing significance of migration as one of the defining elements of contemporary globalization, there has been an abundance of studies that are carried out to explore the many facets and dynamics of population migration. With the scaling up of the volume of migration flows worldwide, Bangladesh has likewise seen considerable expansion in its flows of labour migration. Today, migration has become a public policy matter for Bangladesh and the countries receiving Bangladeshi migrants – among which are Hong Kong and Malaysia, which are being explored in this study. Although Hong Kong is not among the best destination of choice for most Bangladeshi potential migrants, this study confirms that a small but a significant group of Bangladeshi labourers have been in this metropolis since the last three decades. Malaysia, on the other hand, have been a major host to Bangladeshi migrant workers since it came into an agreement, during the nineties with the Bangladeshi government, of hiring around fifty thousand skilled and unskilled manpower annually to cover the severe shortage in its labour market. The present study examines how Bangladeshi migrant workers in Hong Kong (HKRs) and Malaysia (MRs) go about their decisions to migrate and how they rationalize their migration decision, by looking at two perspectives in the migration process. The first is the migration decision-making; and the second is the rationalization of post-migration experiences. While decisions for working overseas are often based on expectations and promises of better jobs, opportunities, economic gains and, eventually, a better future, such assumptions may not always be realized, and even when they are - partially, migrants suffer numerous adversities in the migration process. The major hardships are problems in paying back the exorbitant migration costs obtained from borrowing and selling of assets and properties; under-payment by employer, anxieties and real threats arising out of their illegal stay, forced confinement in their work places resulting to problematic emotional health, subhuman living and working conditions, employers who withhold or give late, if not irregular payment of salaries and seize the travel documents of their employees, among others. Apart from the financial costs migrants incur, social and psychological costs, while difficult to measure in absolute terms, are also things that migrant workers pay at a steep price. These sticky situations place migrant workers in a state where they justify their migration decision. While theories and the treatment of migration issues in various researches have addressed these factors of rationalization in migration decision, most were presented in a dispersed manner. This study tried to come up with a unified understanding of rationalization of migration decision. While different circumstances have different effects on individual’s migration choice, economic considerations have always registered a high influence throughout the migration process. However, networking, financial cost, living and working condition, income benefit, remittances and its impact on the well-being have been taken into account as the key variables of rationalization. While networking and household strategy play a stronger role at the decision-making stage, economic and assimilationist factors have strong influence on both the processes. This research reflects on the role of networks in providing support to the migrant during both pre and post-migration periods. Both the formal and informal migration networks provide information about the labor market in the host country, which, in most cases, make it possible for the migrants to negotiate or seek for better paid and more stable jobs, like in the case of the Hong Kong respondents. Conversely, the deadly combination of “shady” networks i.e. illegal recruiting agencies; the unemployed who are desperate to take any job at any cost, lax government regulations, and corrupt immigration officers lead to a long, dangerous, and costly journey for the Bangladeshi respondents in Malaysia. The research shows that the migrants borrowed from a number of sources, often in the form of fat commissions from the migrants’ future salaries, or by the loans they incur from multiple sources. Data show that majority of the respondents in Malaysia took a long time, varying from 6 months to three years after they migrated to pay off the loan, often continuing to bear the burden of paying off their loans until they return to Bangladesh. What follows after the financial factor is the living and working conditions in the host country, as the intention to stay is largely dependent on the extent and process by which migrant workers can assimilate culturally, economically or socially to the receiving society. The assimilation of migrants into the Malaysian and Hong Kong labour market is influenced by factors such as their holding of valid work permits, working arrangements and how they are arranged, the type of work they normally manage to acquire, the neighborhood they work in, and finally by their living conditions. The research shows that the respondents in Malaysia take up riskier and more dangerous jobs with less income benefits than those of the migrants in Hong Kong. While both the migrants in Hong Kong and in Malaysia were both subjected to varying degrees and forms of vulnerabilities and exploitations, the level of suffering among the migrants in Malaysia were higher than the former. Despite being offered similar categories of job, the income level of the migrants in Hong Kong was significantly higher than that of those in Malaysia. Similarly, the Hong Kong migrant workers remitted higher amounts than the migrants in Malaysia. This study has demonstrated that a large amount of remittances are being transferred to Bangladesh through informal channels due to the relative inefficiency associated with the process of the formal systems. Although the remittances significantly contribute to the country’s GNP, however this is not equally contributing at the micro level as the study revealed that the major portion of remittances goes to unproductive expenses. However, despite all adversities the migrant workers suffer, they still intend to stay abroad because they cannot revive their decision as they already moved. Their primary concern now is to realize their hope to gain back the money incurred to finance their migration. This research claims to have comprehended a broad spectrum of migration perspectives and it shows the would-be migrant workers the means of rationalizing their migration decision.
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