A State of Dependency: The Political Economy of Labor Migration in Malaysia

Title

A State of Dependency: The Political Economy of Labor Migration in Malaysia

Published Date

2022-07

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Abstract

This study examines the erratic policy swings that have come characterized Malaysia’s regulation of foreign labor inflow. To develop my argument, I trace the evolution of Malaysia’s migration regime (1980-2010) focusing on three periods: 1) the rise and fall of the 1984 Medan Agreement (1980-1991); 2) failure of the 1991 Comprehensive Policy on the Recruitment of Migrant Workers (1990-1997) and 3) the role of private employment agencies in recruitment practices (1997-2011). I foreground Malaysia’s foreign labor dependency (FLD) as an analytical lens to examine the power dynamics between foreign labor, as well as those who employ and supply these workers, and the state. In brief, I argue that these wild policy swings are emblematic of a foreign labor dependent state, a unique subset of labor receiving countries. Unlike other labor importing states, the policymaking process in foreign labor dependent states like Malaysia is plagued by a dilemma: both the restriction and the enabling of foreign labor can create discontent within the populace.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2022. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Teri Caraway. 1 computer file (PDF); 181 pages + 3 supplementary files.

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Nguyen, Oanh. (2022). A State of Dependency: The Political Economy of Labor Migration in Malaysia. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/241723.

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