Indonesia mulls ban on maids to Malaysia

Image : Oxford Human Rights Hub

 

Indonesia is looking into revisiting a moratorium on sending its domestic workers to Malaysia, officials have said, sparked by a recent case of ill treatment that led to the death of an Indonesian maid who had allegedly been recruited illegally for work in the neighboring country.

The death of 21-year-old Adelina Lisao in Penang, Malaysia, last week renewed a national debate on the need to strengthen protection for migrant workers and raised questions about the need to send Indonesians to a country whose porous borders are part of a region-wide human trafficking route.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is on board with the idea of halting the recruitment of Indonesian domestic workers to Malaysia, having raised the issue during an annual consultation meeting hosted by Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuching last year, Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Rusdi Kirana revealed recently.

Rusdi said he had proposed halting the sending of domestic workers to Malaysia and working on restructuring the employment administration process, with the aim of mending diplomatic ties between the two countries, which had been strained by repeated cases involving migrant workers.

His proposal comes on the heels of the case of Adelina, who had allegedly been forced to sleep outside the house with her employer’s dog for a month. She died with severe injuries to her head and face, and had infected wounds on her hands and legs.

“A moratorium is important so we can restructure our TKI [migrant workers] employment system to prevent cases such as Adelina’s from happening again,” Rusdi said, referring to migrant workers in the
informal sector.

He said violations against Indonesian domestic helpers had caused tension between the two countries. “In order to promote cooperation, what happened to Adelina should not happen again,” the envoy told reporters in Jakarta on Thursday.

Rusdi, who is also the owner of Indonesia’s largest low-cost carrier Lion Air Group, has said he had talked to the President about a possible moratorium last year.

“The president also wanted a moratorium, because he had also conveyed this to the Malaysian Prime Minister in the [November] meeting,” he said.

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