India seeks clarification from Malaysian govt

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New Delhi, Jan 9 (UNI) India has sought clarification from the Malaysian government on the reported freeze on recruitment of Indian workers there.

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, while speaking to some reporters on the sidelines of a Conference here, said (the reports) were a matter of concern.

''Surely, it is a matter of concern. We have sought clarification from the Malaysian government,'' he said.

The Minister, who was the Chief Guest at a 'Working Session' on 'Africa' at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), said the Indian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur was in touch with the Malaysian authorities.

He declined to elaborate saying this was a sensitive issue and he would rather wait for the Malaysian government's clarification before making any further comment.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Works Minister Dato Seri Samy Velu had a 30-minute meeting with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee at his South Block office.

After the meeting, the Malaysian Minister refused to speak to the media.

Sources, however, said the issue of Indian workers figured during the meeting which was also attended by Mr Sharma and Malaysia's Acting High Commissioner in Delhi.

The Malaysian Minister, who is here to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, yesterday categorically denied reports that the Malaysian government had put a freeze on recruitment of workers from India.

''There is no such thing. The...report is not true,'' Mr Samy Velu said.

Mr Velu, who was the Chief Guest at the PBD session on 'Investment and Infrastructure,' told reporters after the session that he had spoken with the Malaysian Prime Minister, Secretary General of his country's Home Ministry and also the Human Resources Minister, and was told that there was no such thing.

However, sources said the freeze had indeed been imposed. But it covered only priests and artisans from Southern Indian states.

A foreign news agency reported from Kuala Lumpur earlier in the day that Malaysia had suspended the recruitment of workers from India and Bangladesh.

The ban took effect on December 31, 2007, the news agency said, quoting Malaysian Home Ministry officials. The report added that those already in the country would not have their work permits renewed.

It also said the (Malaysian) cabinet had decided about two weeks ago to freeze the intake of workers from India and Bangladesh.

UNI RB PB AS1834

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