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Ramu Sapkota

Kathmandu, Nepal
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About Ramu
Ramu Sapkota is an investigative journalist based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He is a contributor for Himal News Weekly Magazine and fellow investigative for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) Nepal. His work has been featured by Columbia Journalism Review, The Kathmandu Post (Nepal's English daily newspaper) and The Medium ( German Magazine) #100hiddendstar.
English Nepali
Science & Environment Investigative Reporting Research

Inside Story: Unveiling an International Network of Corruption

17 Jun 2024  |  blog.hostwriter.org
An investigation by Alyaa Alhadjri and her Malaysian colleague revealed a corrupt collaboration between the migration agencies of Nepal and Malaysia, along with private companies, to exploit Nepali workers. The investigation led to significant actions, including the suspension of Bestinet's operations, the arrest of former Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and a labor pact between Malaysia and Nepal. The story, published in various media outlets, prompted further investigations in neighboring countries like Bangladesh.

Migrant worker import quota won via fake deals, then traded for millions

20 Nov 2023  |  www.malaysiakini.com
On April 7, Rinji Rai, a Nepali labor recruiter, was found dead in a hostel toilet in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan. Malaysian authorities have ruled out foul play, but Rinji’s widow, Indrasuwa Rai, and the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agency suspect mysterious circumstances and are calling for a murder investigation. The article highlights issues surrounding the import quota for migrant workers, which is allegedly being manipulated and traded for millions.

An international investigation has revealed how many Nepali business persons and companies have used tax havens to stash wealth and avoid taxes.

04 Feb 2022  |  CIJ
The article discusses the findings of the 'Pandora Papers', a global investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which has exposed the use of tax havens by Nepali business persons and companies to hide wealth and avoid taxes. Prominent entities like Chaudhary Group and Golchha Organization have been implicated. The investigation reveals that individuals such as Binod Kumar Chaudhary, Nepal’s sole dollar billionaire, and his family, as well as other Nepali nationals, have set up offshore companies in tax havens like the British Virgin Islands. The Act Restricting Investment Abroad 1964 prohibits such investments, and the article highlights the legal and ethical implications of these findings. Despite previous investigations like 'NepaLeaks', there has been little action from the state to address these issues, suggesting possible complicity among Nepali politicians.

Illegal sand mining on Chure rivers displaces farmers, decimates a fragile landscape

29 Jan 2022  |  Nepali Times
The article discusses the severe impact of illegal sand mining on the Chure rivers in Nepal, which has led to the displacement of farmers and significant ecological damage. The mining has increased the velocity of monsoon floods, destroying crops and farmland, and altering the natural landscape. The once fertile Tarai plains, known as Nepal's grain basket, are now facing a crisis that is driving farmers away from agriculture. The local governments and contractors are implicated in this environmental crime, with little to no regulation or enforcement of laws to protect the region. The crisis is also affecting towns across the border in India, with rising river levels and increased flood risks. Despite the existence of a masterplan to protect the Chure-Tarai region, rampant extraction continues, especially in an election year when local leaders are focused on campaign funding rather than environmental protection.

The nexus between corrupt bureaucrats and officials at medical council and universities, colluding with the Supreme Court judges, lawmakers and private colleges, have infected Nepal’s medical education system.

21 Feb 2021  |  CIJ
The article by Ramu Sapkota from the Centre for Investigative Journalism exposes a corruption scandal in Nepal's medical education system. It details how medical colleges, through political connections and bribery, have circumvented the rigorous process of obtaining and maintaining accreditation, leading to the proliferation of ill-equipped institutions producing underqualified doctors. An expert committee in 2010 found massive irregularities in the licensing process, but the report was ignored. The Nepal Medical Council (NMC) and the anti-graft body, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), are implicated in the scandal, with evidence of meddling in seat allocation decisions and conflicts of interest involving CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki. The investigation also reveals that medical colleges have been admitting students without proper entrance exams and manipulating examination results for financial gain.

How was Rs 5 billion collected from Malaysia-bound Nepali workers in the involvement of government agencies?

21 Feb 2021  |  CIJ
The article exposes a collaborative scheme between Nepali and Malaysian government agencies and private companies to exploit Nepali migrant workers bound for Malaysia. Workers were charged exorbitant fees for visa processing, biometric tests, and other services, amounting to a total of Rs 5 billion over five years. The charges were imposed under various pretexts without proper authorization, and companies like Malaysia VLN Nepal Pvt Ltd, Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd, and Bestinet Sdn Bhd were involved in collecting these fees. The investigation reveals that the Nepali government's mechanisms, including the Department of Foreign Employment and the Nepal Rastra Bank, facilitated this exploitation. Despite legal challenges and directives to halt these practices, the companies continued to operate with apparent impunity. The article also touches on the involvement of high-ranking officials and the use of illegal Hundi transactions to transfer money to Malaysia.

This is a short documentary about impact of human-wildlife conflict in Madi, Chitwan, a southwestern part of Nepal. This story is produce and directed by a investigative journalist, Ramu Sapkota and filmed by a prominent video/photo journalist Bikram Rai.

Nepalis in Malaysia to gain from amnesty

13 Nov 2020  |  nepalitimes.com
The Malaysian government has launched the 'Illegal Immigrant Recalibration Plan,' an amnesty program allowing undocumented migrants, including Nepalis, to return home or be employed legally in sectors with labor shortages. The plan, effective until June 30, 2021, aims to address the country's reliance on foreign labor and its labor shortage. Industries like rubber gloves and palm oil are facing severe worker deficits, exacerbated by the pandemic. The US has listed these industries for forced labor conditions, but companies like Top Glove have made changes, such as reimbursing recruitment costs. The glove industry has seen a price surge and extended lead times due to high demand. Nepali workers in Malaysia, including those at Top Glove, anticipate relief from the addition of workers. The Malaysian Home Minister's comments on the program have been criticized by labor groups, while undocumented workers express hope for better employment opportunities.

Malaysian police says Nepali beat Nepali

03 Aug 2020  |  Nepali Times
A video showing a Nepali security guard being beaten by a Malaysian supervisor went viral, leading to controversy over the abuser's nationality. Malaysian police and the Nepal Embassy in Kuala Lumpur suggested the supervisor was Nepali, but evidence and testimonies, including from victim Santosh Sapkota, indicate the abuser was a Tamil Malaysian. Sapkota, who had previously been assaulted by the same supervisor, criticized the embassy for not supporting him and for notifying his employer about his complaint, which led to further violence against him. Migrant rights advocates call for justice and government intervention to address the abuse of Nepali workers in Malaysia.

Nirmala Pariyar’s 2nd life

19 Apr 2019  |  Nepali Times
Nirmala Pariyar, a young girl from Okhaldhunga, experienced a life-altering event during the 2015 earthquake in Kathmandu, resulting in the amputation of her right leg. Despite the trauma, she remains optimistic and aspires to be like her idol, Nepali actress Rekha Thapa. Supported by a charity, she has adapted to using an artificial leg and continues to pursue her interests, including playing badminton and table tennis.

Nepal-Malaysia Labour pact

29 Oct 2018  |  nepalitimes.com
Labour Minister Gokarna Bista and Malaysian Minister for Human Resources M. Kulasegaran signed a labor agreement in Kathmandu ensuring Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia will not incur any fees, with employers covering airfare, visa fees, and medical checkups. The contract duration is now two years, with mandatory salary deposits by the 7th of each month, and provisions for bonuses and overtime. Additional security measures for female workers and obligations for employers in cases of worker disability or death were established. This follows an exposé on the exploitation of Nepali workers.

Starving for Justice

26 Jul 2018  |  nepalitimes.com
Govinda KC's 15th hunger strike resulted in the Nepali government meeting his demands for affordable and accessible healthcare by addressing corruption in medical education. Despite previous agreements, this strike was critical due to the Nepal Communist Party's attempt to pass a Medical Education Bill without honoring past commitments. The government conceded to a moratorium on new medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley for 10 years and other demands. KC's activism has faced opposition, including claims of manipulation by political parties and attempts to discredit his efforts. The agreement's future remains uncertain due to the financial interests involved.

Not as easy as it seems

22 Feb 2018  |  Nepali Times
Despite winning a significant majority in recent elections, the UML-Maoist alliance in Nepal faced uncertainty regarding political stability. Maoist Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal initially pressured UML leader KP Oli for a rotational prime ministership but later agreed to let Oli serve a full term, with the expectation of eventually leading the unified party. The unification of the two largest communist parties may lead to stability, but questions remain about the party's future direction. Oli, now one of Nepal's strongest prime ministers, aims to build a legacy of nation-building without relying on nationalist rhetoric.

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