Malaysia asks Jakarta not to suspend flow of workers

Death of Indonesian servant after alleged torture brings warning that more must be done to protect migrants
Malaysia asks Jakarta not to suspend flow of workers

Indonesian Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri said there would be a moratorium unless Malaysia renews a 2006 memorandum of understanding covering migrant workers. (ucanews.com photo)

Malaysia has appealed to Indonesia not to impose a moratorium on sending domestic workers amid an abuse furore.

Adelina Jemira Sau, an undocumented Indonesian worker, died after her Malaysian employer allegedly tortured her.

Her body was covered in wounds and she was reportedly made to sleep with a dog on the porch of a home where she was employed as a domestic servant.

Sau, aged in her 20s, died in a Malaysian hospital in February, a day after being rescued by a migrant welfare group.

The Malaysian government has said that even the imposition of a temporary migrant workers' ban would disadvantage both countries.

However, Indonesia has demanded that Malaysia make a serious effort to prevent future abuses.

Malaysian ambassador Datuk Sri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim on March 3 discussed the issue in Jakarta with Indonesian Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri.

Hashim said that although imposing a moratorium was Indonesia's right, he hoped it did not happen on the basis of isolated abuses.

However, Dhakiri said there would be a moratorium unless Malaysia renews a 2006 memorandum of understanding covering migrant workers. Among other things, the MoU regulated working hours, pay and leave.

In November 2017, ASEAN states signed a consensus covering the protection of migrant workers.

Ita Purwandari, 36, formerly an Indonesian migrant worker in Malaysia for three years, supported a moratorium as a warning to the Malaysian government.

Stricter regulation is needed to save migrant workers from exploitation and violence, she told ucanews.com.

However, Wahyu Susilo, director of Indonesia's Migrant Care, warned that suspending the flow of workers could exacerbate illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

He said lessons should be learned from the negative consequences of a moratorium on migrant workers going to Saudi Arabia.

Problems could be greater because of the proximity of Indonesia and Malaysia, he told ucanews.com on March 5.

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Susilo called for negotiation of a bilateral monitoring mechanism to make sure such work permits were not issued by Malaysia without proper protections being in place. He also urged Indonesian local authorities to control the recruitment of workers.

According to Migrant Care, in the past three years at least 145 migrant workers, including illegal recruits, have died in Malaysia.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, an Indonesian Catholic human rights coordinator, on March 6 said a moratorium was justified.

The church is cooperating with dioceses in Malaysia to monitor and advocate for Indonesian migrant workers facing difficulties.

About 2.7 million Indonesians work in Malaysia, including as domestic workers and on palm oil plantations.

Indonesians convicted of breaking Malaysian laws have been imprisoned or sentenced to death.

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