Indonesia: Temporary ban to safeguard workers’ welfare

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 06 Mar 2003


KUALA LUMPUR: The temporary ban on women leaving Indonesia to work is to safeguard the welfare of its domestic workers, Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Hadi A. Wayarabi Alhadar said. 

He said that the latest move by the Indonesian Government was to standardise the recruitment process, thus enabling its embassy here to monitor the well-being of its domestic helpers.  

Another reason for the move was to ensure workers were properly trained before going abroad, he said, adding that he was unsure when Indonesia would lift the ban. 

“What we are concerned with is the recruitment of Indonesians by people with bad intentions. They are promised lucrative jobs but when they arrive here, they are caged and forced into vice. These irresponsible actions are causing problems for us,” he told reporters at the embassy here.  

According to Hadi, under the new process, only 350 licensed labour recruitment agents in Indonesia are allowed to source for domestic helpers. 

“Before leaving, the agents will train them, and help them to obtain a calling visa from the Malaysian Immigration Department and a temporary working pass from the Malaysian Embassy in Indonesia.  

“By doing so, at least we know how many workers are leaving and the workers know where to seek help,” he said, adding that only 81,000 registered themselves with the embassy here. 

The current number of domestic Indonesian workers in Malaysia, he said, stood at 162,830 and 65,132 were courted by unlicensed agencies.  

On whether Malaysia had indicated its willingness to complement Indonesia’s actions, he said “the response was good.” 

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) president Meera Samanther said the training for foreign domestic helpers should also include information about migrant workers’ rights and how they could seek redress in the foreign countries they work in. 

She said foreign domestic workers should not only be domestically trained but should also have training in human rights. 

“We seem very keen to safeguard employers’ rights but what about the rights of migrant workers,” she said during a press conference in Petaling Jaya yesterday.  

Meera said this rights training should be conducted by recruitment agents in both Indonesia and Malaysia, adding that Malaysia should also ratify the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families which came into force last year.  

WAO law reform officer Lee Shook Fong said the move by the Indonesian government may be in response to calls by their civil society for better protection and working conditions for their nationals in the light of continued abuse and exploitation in receiving countries. 

“The Indonesian government has acknowledged that there is a problem. Now, it is time for the Malaysian government to do the same,” she said.  

Meanwhile, investigations would be conducted in all companies specialising in exporting Vietnamese workers to Malaysia, according to an official from the Department for Guest Workers Management in Hanoi. 

“Following meetings with companies licensed in exporting workers to Malaysia, the department will send a fact-finding team to check on the selection and training of workers, the management of workers while they are in Malaysia as well as the financial health of the businesses,” Deputy Director of the Department Pham Do Nhat Tan said. 

“If fraud is found, their licences will be revoked.”  

Forty-six Vietnamese enterprises are involved in this business. Almost 30,000 Vietnamese currently work in Malaysia, a major destination for the Vietnamese labour force.  

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