Nepal - Malaysia

Nepal Malaysia


Malaysia’s rapid economic development has been largely possible due to the inflow of migrant workers.

In recent years, the contribution of Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia has been significant. Nepal receives almost a third of its Gross Domestic Product from remittances. However, the high fees which Nepalis have to pay to recruiters combined with low pay and forced labour conditions, limit the amount remitted to families in Nepal, restricting its developmental benefits.

Our research in this corridor focuses on the gendered nature of migration and resource flows. We also examine the impact of recent agreements and policies in both countries on recruitment practices and the decision-making and perceptions of Nepali migrant workers at all stages of their journeys.

Nepal - Malaysia corridor brief

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Overview of the Nepal - Malaysia corridor.

Research Context

Nepali migrant workers sent home $8.1 billion in 2018, making it the 19th biggest beneficiary of funds sent by migrants around the world, according to a report released by World Bank on Monday. As a share of the gross domestic product for 2018, Nepal is among the top five recipient smaller economies, along with Tonga, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Haiti. Nepali migrant worker departures plunged 39.2% in the first seven months of the fiscal year, compared to a 4.9% drop during the same period last year.

For Nepali workers, Malaysia has been the top destination for labour migration since 2008 when the government started keeping records of labour migrants. In 2019, the Nepali mission in Malaysia reported around 500,000 Nepalese living in Malaysia. 4.23 % of total labour permit issued in 2018/19 were for the migrant who sought to work in Malaysia (IOM, 2019). Though the number has started decreasing since 2015, it still receives the highest number (24.1%) of Nepali migrants. The government of Nepal temporarily banned migration to Malaysia in 2018 due to the above mentioned high risks Nepali migrants faced in Malaysia. Devaluation of Malaysian currency and a government to government agreement between Bangladesh and Malaysia means competition for Nepali quota, but a bilateral talk between the two government in 2019 to have migration under the government to government agreement, is seen as more protective and beneficial for the migrants, which is again likely to result in an increase in the number of migrants to Malaysia. As in the overall case of migration, Malaysia has been the second most common destination for women since 2008 to 2019. In the time period, 15.72% of the total female migrants went to Malaysia.

Research Questions

  1. What are the reasons for Malaysia attracting large numbers of Nepalese women as migrant workers? (WP1)
  2. What gender inequalities are inherent in the Nepal-Malaysia migration corridor and what are their impacts on migrants and their families? (WP1)
  3. How do global, regional and national policies of Nepal and Malaysia impact migration perception and decision-making among male and female migrants? What implication does it have on migrants and inequality in the home country? (WP2)
  4. How does the intermediary process in Nepal and Malaysia function for Nepali migrants in Malaysia? What are its implication for migrants and their families? (WP3)
  5. How does the global, regional and local migration policy of Nepal and Malaysia impact on intermediaries and the intermediary process? What implications does it have on the migrants and the families? (WP3)

The Team