Dr. Akm Ahsan Ullah

Country of current residence


Current position

Associate Professor and Deputy Dean

Current institute employer

Research and Grad Studies, FASS, Universiti Brunei



Website current institute
Previous positions

2007 - 2009 University of Ottawa, Canada 2009 - 2015 Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS). The American University, Cairo, Egypt


Social Scientist


globalization, migration, refugee, HIV/AIDS, development and poverty


Ul-Hassan, M., A.-K. Hornidge and the FTI team.  2009.  ollowing the Innovation: developing a participatory approach in Uzbekistan.  Further Information


Ullah, AKM Ahsan and A. Ragsag.  2008.  Listening to Asia from the Atlantic: Migrant, Trafficked and Refugee Populations.  VDM Verlag, Saarbruecken.

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads
Research countries
  • Bangladesh
Thesis title

Rationalizing migration: Bangladeshi migrant workers in Hong Kong and Malaysia

Thesis abstract

In view of the growing significance of migration as one of the defining elements of contemporary globalization, there has been an abundance of studies that are carried out to explore the many facets and dynamics of population migration. With the scaling up of the volume of migration flows worldwide, Bangladesh has likewise seen considerable expansion in its flows of labour migration. Today, migration has become a public policy matter for Bangladesh and the countries receiving Bangladeshi migrants – among which are Hong Kong and Malaysia, which are being explored in this study. Although Hong Kong is not among the best destination of choice for most Bangladeshi potential migrants, this study confirms that a small but a significant group of Bangladeshi labourers have been in this metropolis since the last three decades. Malaysia, on the other hand, have been a major host to Bangladeshi migrant workers since it came into an agreement, during the nineties with the Bangladeshi government, of hiring around fifty thousand skilled and unskilled manpower annually to cover the severe shortage in its labour market


The present study examines how Bangladeshi migrant workers in Hong Kong (HKRs) and Malaysia (MRs) go about their decisions to migrate and how they rationalize their migration decision, by looking at two perspectives in the migration process. The first is the migration decision-making; and the second is the rationalization of post-migration experiences. While decisions for working overseas are often based on expectations and promises of better jobs, opportunities, economic gains and, eventually, a better future, such assumptions may not always be realized, and even when they are - partially, migrants suffer numerous adversities in the migration process. The major hardships are problems in paying back the exorbitant migration costs obtained from borrowing and selling of assets and properties; under-payment by employer, anxieties and real threats arising out of their illegal stay, forced confinement in their work places resulting to problematic emotional health, subhuman living and working conditions, employers who withhold or give late, if not irregular payment of salaries and seize the travel documents of their employees, among others. Apart from the financial costs migrants incur, social and psychological costs, while difficult to measure in absolute terms, are also things that migrant workers pay at a steep price. These sticky situations place migrant workers in a state where they justify their migration decision. While theories and the treatment of migration issues in various researches have addressed these factors of rationalization in migration decision, most were presented in a dispersed manner. This study tried to come up with a unified understanding of rationalization of migration decision.


While different circumstances have different effects on individual’s migration choice, economic considerations have always registered a high influence throughout the migration process. However, networking, financial cost, living and working condition, income benefit, remittances and its impact on the well-being have been taken into account as the key variables of rationalization. While networking and household strategy play a stronger role at the decision-making stage, economic and assimilationist factors have strong influence on both the processes.


Dissertation, City University of Hong Kong

Akm Ahsan Ullah

Former Junior Researcher

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