Nepal demands insurance coverage for off-duty deaths
OM ASTHA RAI
KATHMANDU, July 24: Nepal has urged Malaysia to provide insurance money to the families of even those Nepali workers who die while off duty.
At a meeting with the Malaysian authorities in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, Nepali authorities took up the issue of those workers whose families are deprived of insurance money simply because they die off duty.
“The Malaysian authorities are very positive about revising the existing insurance policy to ensure that it covers off-duty deaths as well,” Lekhnath Bhattarai, Nepal´s acting ambassador to Malaysia, told Republica over phone after the meeting on Monday.
According to Bhattarai, Malaysian authorities have asked the Nepali delegates to incorporate the issue of insurance coverage for off-duty deaths in the Nepal-Malaysia Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which is still being drafted.
The current draft of the MoU, which has been in the making for the last nine years, is silent about the insurance coverage for off-duty deaths. “We have now realized that MoU should include clear provisions about insurance coverage for off-duty deaths,” said Bhattarai. “The Malaysian authorities took this issue very positively.”
Since the existing insurance policy for Malaysia-bound migrant workers covers only on-duty deaths, many Nepali families are deprived of insurance money when their relatives die off duty. “It is a big issue because most of workers die off duty,” said Kamal Tamang, spokesperson for Nepal Association for Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), who is also in Malaysia now. “Almost 80 per cent of Nepali workers die while asleep at night or in road accidents.”
If the data about the families of dead workers receiving financial assistance from Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) is any guide, Malaysia tops the list of countries where majority of workers´ deaths have occurred so far.
Workplace accident is the fourth biggest cause of Nepali workers´ deaths abroad.
No housemaid for now
When Malaysian authorities asked Nepal to resume the supply of housemaids, Nepali delegates stressed the need for finalizing the MoU before any decision is taken on housemaids.
“We are not in favor of resuming supply of housemaids, at least not before the MoU finalized,” said Tamang. “There are many issues that need to be addressed straight away to ensure the rights of all workers in general. We can think about housemaids only after that. We made it clear with the Malaysian authorities.”
In 2007, Nepal had suspended the supply of domestic help to Malaysia following reports of abuse and exploitation meted out to Nepali housemaids. Malaysia has been continuously asking Nepal for resuming the supply of domestic help especially after Indonesia, which used to supply the largest number of housemaids till 2009, banned Malaysia for Indonesian women workers.
The Nepali delegates include Binod KC, joint secretary at the Ministry of Labor and Purna Chandra Bhattarai, Director General of Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), among others. They had discussed several issues facing Nepali migrant workers with a team of Malaysian officials led by Mohammad Jeffery Bin Jokim, Deputy Secretary General of the Human Resources Department of Malaysia.