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By Eileen O. Oreiro

KOROR, Palau (March 12, 1999 - Marianas Variety/Palau Horizon)---The Republic of Palau has temporarily banned the entry and hiring of Bangladeshi workers due to problems emanating from their "cultural beliefs."

The suspension, which took effect last February 20, will continue until such time as the Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) enacts Senate Bill No. 5-59, now pending at the House of Delegates. The bill seeks to legalize the creation of recruitment agencies in the Republic.

This was the first time that Palau banned foreign workers on the island.

Commerce and Trade Minister Okada Techitong took this urgent action as he noted the mounting social tension between local employers and Bangladeshi employees.

"The increase in Bangladeshi population contributes a great deal to the almost insurmountable social tension between local employers and the former," Techitong said.

He further stated that there is a grave concern which presents the urgent need to enforce the ban, as the desire by local people to employ these nationals is still on the rise despite persistent calls made by he Division of Labor (DOL) not to hire them.

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