Indonesia: Suspends sending of workers in the ‘informal sector’ to Malaysia

Updated On: Jun 29, 2009

Indonesia has temporarily suspended the sending of workers to be employed as house helpers in Malaysia.

Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno said the suspension would last until the two countries could agree on improvements in the clauses of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of manpower, signed in 2006.

Erman said Indonesian manpower officials were likely to meet Malaysian counterparts to discuss revision of the 2006 MoU in the middle of July or after the presidential election. But he was also waiting for the Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia to open the talks on the ban.

"We will also talk with related ministers in Malaysia," he said, including the ministries of human resources, home affairs and public works.

Proposed amendments to the memorandum would require Malaysian employers to give Indonesian workers a day off each week and also provisions on their minimum leave, pay, political, educational and social rights.

Erman said Indonesia also would insist that workers have the right to keep their passports. Migrant workers often have their ` passports impounded by their employers. The government would also try to improve the manpower recruitment system and gradually end the sending of workers to Malaysia illegally.

In the meantime, Jumhur Hidayat, the head of the National Agency for the Protection and Placement of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BPN2TKI) said the dispatch of workers to Malaysia to work in the informal sector was stopped until their treatment and safety there were better ensured.

When asked to comment, Universiti Utara Malaysia College of Law, Government, and International Studies Research and Post-Graduate dean Prof Mohd Mustafa Ishak said that Indonesia’s decision was an electoral tactic.

“Bashing Malaysia is the most ‘juicy’ way to fish for votes because it appeals directly to the deep-rooted feeling and sentiments of the Indonesians,’’ he said.

Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak said on Saturday his government will take stern action against anyone abusing Indonesian maids and urged employers to show greater interest in their welfare.

Antara News, Indonesia finally stops sending workers to Malaysia, 28 June 2009, http://www.antara.co.id/en/view/?i=1246139535&c=FEA&s=

The Star, 'Malaysia-bashing over maids will end after Indonesian polls', 28 June 2009 , http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/6/28/nation/200906281525...

The Straits Times, Stern Action against Abuse, 27 June 2009, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/SE%2BAsia/Story/STIStory_396...

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