A four country study – Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea – on public attitudes to migrant workers.

The study that demonstrated widespread misunderstanding and negative attitudes towards migrants.

Highlights (for Malaysia):

1. 50% of the respondents encounter migrant workers regularly, while 44% occasionally. Most encounters take place in the general community.
2. More than 70% feel that migrants are threatening the country’s culture and heritage
3. More than 80% believes that migrants commit a high number of crimes (although a recent statement by the Minister stated that approximately 1% of crimes are committed by foreigners)
4. More than 60% feel that migrants workers are a drain on the national economy
5. More than 60% belives that the authorities do enough to protect migrants from being exploited
6. More than 80% feel that unauthorized migrants cannot expect to have any rights at work

These attitudes matter because they may translate in actions and behaviours that negatively impact on individuals and groups in society.

For migrant workers this can lead to marginalization and social exclusion, and discrimination and exploitation in the workplace and society. In addition, where opinion surveys report negative attitudes towards migrants, policy makers may be drawn into introducing policies which reflect misconceptions and public hostility.

A summary of the findings can be downloaded here: ILO study on public attitudes to migrant workers

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