Malaysia deaths alarm Vietnamese
The authorities in Vietnam have voiced concern over the unusually high death rate among Vietnamese migrant workers in Malaysia.
Since 2004, more than 300 Vietnamese labourers are thought to have died while working there -one person a week on average.
Last year alone, more than 100 deaths were registered.
Malaysia has recently become the most popular destination for Vietnamese migrant workers.
Since 2002, more than 130,000 Vietnamese workers have travelled there, mainly to work in manufacturing and construction jobs.
Most of the deaths were caused by exhaustion, change in climate and traffic accidents, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
Vice minister Nguyen Thanh Hoa was quoted in the local media as saying that the ministry was making efforts to resolve this "sensitive issue" and to provide migrant workers with better protection.
Health screening will be tightened in order to make sure the labourers were fit to work overseas, he said.
But the public is demanding to know why the statistics were not revealed until now.
Each year some 80,000 Vietnamese are being sent to work overseas.
The government wants to promote labour export in order to reduce the unemployment rate inside the country and to generate hard-currency revenues.
Vietnamese labourers sent home nearly US$2 billion ( UK pound 1 billion) last year.
BBC News - March 7, 2008.