Approximately 2,000 Lao workers are unregistered and working illegally in Malaysia.
Vientiane Times reports that Lao authorities intend to collaborate with Malaysian counterparts to ensure that all Lao nationals working in Malaysia are legally registered and legally employed.
The Ministry of Labor and Welfare’s Director General of Department of Employment, Ms. Anousone Khamsingsavath, said that the department’s goal is to ensure that no Lao nationals are working illegally in Malaysia and that the two governments take steps to legalize Lao workers.
“We will collaborate with the Malaysian Embassy in Laos to determine what steps can be taken to correct the situation, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on multifaceted labor cooperation between our two countries.”
“However, we may face challenges because Laos and Malaysia do not have an MOU that supports a strong relationship in this area. An MOU must be signed by both governments for all areas of cooperation,” Ms. Anousone said.
A Memorandum of Understanding would strengthen the two governments’ relationship and move the two countries closer together on labor issues.
An agreement of this form would address workforce development, employment, protection, social security, human trafficking prevention, academic cooperation, and other issues.
Many of the illegal workers from Laos living in Malaysia are believed to be sex workers.
According to the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, sex work is restricted in all parts of Malaysia, despite it being widespread in the country.
There has been an influx of foreign sex workers in Malaysia over the last ten years, with workers from China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia now outnumbering locals.
Kuala Lumpur has a number of red-light districts where street prostitution, massage parlors, and brothels can be found.