COVID-19 Pandemic, Changing Views of Mobility and Migration’s Aspiration-Ability Model: A Critical Reflection of Nepal-Malaysia Migration Corridor

Andika Wahab, Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, National University of Malaysia


Impacts and Responses in Southeast Asia


For decades, Malaysia has been dependent on unskilled and temporarily-contracted migrant workers to fulfil labour gaps in critical economic sectors. While Malaysia’s economy continues to rely on migrant workers, the alleged discrimination, neglect, and lack of workers’ protection aggravated during the COVID-19 outbreak has changed their (migrants) views of mobility in Malaysia. In-depth interviews with Nepali migrant workers conducted between July 2020 and June 2021 in Malaysia revealed incidence of employers’ abandonment and labour rights violations, compounded by a prolonged isolation, crisis of legal identity, and the absence of redress mechanism. Besides, workers are no longer benefiting from the competitive wages, subsequently limiting the value of their remittance to the origin country. The pandemic has drastically shifted their views on work migration in Malaysia, both monetary and labour conditions, and that they began persuading aspiring Nepali workers to reconsider their migration dream to the country. This raises both empirical and theoretical questions: (i) empirically, what does this imply to future migration landscape, particularly in Nepal-Malaysia migration corridor; (ii) theoretically, how the changing views of mobility among the existing Nepali workers in Malaysia shape the emigration environment in which social construction of migration exists in Nepal? This study reflects the migratory realities in Nepal-Malaysia migration corridor, subsequently responds to the evolution of migration’s aspiration–ability model.

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CCSEAS Conference 2021 |