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The Migrant Workers in Malaysia

South East Asian countries like Malaysia have been focusing on developing their manufacturing industries which are mostly export oriented in order to grow their economies. In an attempt to develop these industries, these countries rely heavily on cheap migrant labour. The governments of these countries have therefore set up various policies that tend to favour the growth of these industries which include setting up these industries in concentrated areas which have rendered the workers powerless in terms of protection and access to good leadership and representation services. This has therefore resulted in a situation where an underground system has emerged to help the workers. Brokers and other business people take advantage of migrant workers where they help them search for jobs, organise transport for them and also arrange systems of remitting their pay to their home countries but end up charging them very expensively for these services (Robertson, 2008).

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The lack of non-governmental organisations like churches to represent the interests of the migrant workers in Malaysia has resulted in a situation where these workers are exploited economically and therefore end up being socially insecure (Piper, 2009). Setting up an organisation to provide a meaningful leadership model to reach migrant workers in Malaysia could help influence government policies in all stages of the migration process. Such an environment can be created through establishing institutions that will provide empowerment to workers through knowledge provision and capacity building through education. The church therefore should develop such a model in order to ensure that such important leadership is provided to these migrant workers in order to protect them from human rights abuse. Most migrant workers have been abused in terms of human rights deprivation and the fact that they are not able to protect themselves leads to the need for churches to develop leadership strategies that will help improve this situation (Grugel & Piper, 2011).

In Malaysia, the church has had notable influence over the social aspect of people’s lives for the last 500 years and this importance is evident from the increases in the number of new conversions and new membership to religious organisations. Researchers have however revealed the need for churches to expand their religious activities from the church grounds to the provision of empowerment to marginalised groups such as the migrant workers who have continued to face various problems in their work environment in Malaysia. Church leaders therefore need to come up with strategies that will empower these migrant workers and help them have a comfortable stay in Malaysia as they offer their labour services to the various industries. Offering training on leadership qualities to church leaders who are constantly in contact with migrant workers is one of the strategies that can be used to ensure they are able to offer the needed guidance to them (Musa, 2010).

Various studies have been carried out on the plight of migrant workers in South East Asian countries like Malaysia although the search for literature has not found any that specifically deals with church interference in establishing leadership models targeting the migrant workers in Malaysia. Bastia, Piper, & Prieto (2011) carried out a study on geographies of migration, geographies of Justice, migration, intersectionality and human rights. Battistella & Khadria (2011) carried out a study on the labour migration in Asia and the role of bilateral migration agreements in terms of market access facilitation by informal means. The review of literature indicates that no specific study has focused on issues related to the leadership models being used by Malaysian churches to reach migrant workers. This is the gap that this study seeks to fill by carrying out a study on establishing a leadership model for reaching migrant workers in the Malaysian churches.


Bastia, T., Piper, N. & Prieto-Carron, M. (eds) (2011) Geographies of Migration, Geographies of Justice? Migration, intersectionality and human rights, Environment and Planning Development, 43(1): 1-8

Battistella, G. & Khadria, B. (2011), Labour Migration in Asia and The role of Bilateral Migration Agreements: Market Access Facilitation by Informal Means, Markets for Migration and Development (M4MD), 8-12

Grugel, J.B. & Piper, N. (2011) Global governance, economic migration and the difficulties of social activism, International Sociology, 26(4):435-454

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Musa, D. (2010). The local church as primary development agent. Web.

Piper, N. (2009) Editorial Introduction: The Complex Interconnections of the Migration-Development Nexus – a social perspective, Population, Space and Place, 15(2): 93-102

Robertson, P. (2008). Migrant workers in Malaysia: Issues, concerns and points of action, Fair Labour Association, 1-15

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1. StudyCorgi. "The Migrant Workers in Malaysia." January 5, 2022.


StudyCorgi. "The Migrant Workers in Malaysia." January 5, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Migrant Workers in Malaysia." January 5, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Migrant Workers in Malaysia'. 5 January.

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