Malaysia has been a member of the ILO since 1957 and has ratified 16 ILO Conventions of which 15 are in force. In 1990, the Government denounced C.105, one of the ILO’s eight core conventions (Abolition of Forced Labour). Of the remaining seven fundamental conventions, Malaysia has ratified all but C.87 (Freedom of Association). Internally, the regional authorities determine which Conventions are in force. In Peninsular Malaysia, five Conventions are in force, Sarawak recognizes nine and Sabah has five Conventions in force.
As Malaysia is a high middle-income country, the ILO’s technical engagement focuses on building the capacity of social partners and government, facilitating dialogue, providing technical advice and promoting international labour standards. In line with Malaysia’s significant resource capacity, technical cooperation is implemented through direct trust funds rooted in the employment-related provisions of the Malaysian Government’s “New Economic Model”.
In 2010, the Ministry of Human Resources requested ILO assistance in the reformation of its national labour laws and policies, especially those relating to minimum wages and social security schemes (actuarial review and unemployment insurance). Since then, trust fund technical cooperation initiatives have been developed. The Ninth Actuarial Review and Unemployment Insurance initiative was concluded and implemented in 2011. In 2012, the Government endorsed a new ILO Green Jobs Malaysia project. The ILO’s five-year AusAID-funded project to protect migrants within and from the Greater Mekong Sub-region from labour exploitation – TRIANGLE – was also launched in Malaysia. It aims to strengthen recruitment and labour protection policies and practices for the benefit of the large number of migrant workers in Malaysia. An ILO National Project Coordinator, based in the capital Kuala Lumpur, oversees the project’s activities.
Overall, the ILO’s technical cooperation work in Malaysia is also supported through the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, based in Bangkok, Thailand.