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Employment agencies threaten to stop sending Indonesian workers


No labour from neighbour?: Over 150,000 Indonesians come to Malaysia to work each year. But the sharp rise in visa processing fees may cause the steady supply to cease. — AZMAN GHANI / The Star

No labour from neighbour?: Over 150,000 Indonesians come to Malaysia to work each year. But the sharp rise in visa processing fees may cause the steady supply to cease. — AZMAN GHANI / The Star

PETALING JAYA: The visa-processing fee for Indonesian workers headed to Malaysia has seen a steep hike – from RM15 to RM250 – and angry employment agency operators have threatened to stop sending workers here.

Asosiasi Perusahaan Jasa Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (Apjati), which represents over 500 agencies, has written to the Indonesian Parliament and the country’s Human Resources and Foreign ministries, calling for an immediate halt to the sending of workers to Malaysia.

The steep increase of RM230 in the processing fee for the Entry Visa was imposed last month after the service was outsourced by Malaysian authorities to a private company.

The processing of the Visa with Reference (VDR) or “calling visa” was also outsourced to a private company, using a system called the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS).
The process for Indonesian workers entering Malaysia begins with an application for the VDR, after which, the Entry Visa is issued.

“We strongly reject the increase in fees. It is an exploitation of our citizens. Such an increase must be done through an agreement between both governments.

“Malaysia should have negotiated with our government first,” Apjati president Ayub Basalamah said yesterday.

Apjati is the largest association of private recruitment agencies in Indonesia. Its members send more than 150,000 Indonesians to work in Malaysia each year.

He said the additional fees for the cost of applying for a Visa with Reference (VDR) or “calling visa”, were a huge burden on Indonesian citizens wanting to work or study in Malaysia.

With the estimated 150,000 Indonesians coming to Malaysia every year, it would mean an additional cost of about RM34.5mil per year.

The VDR is required for those who want to obtain work permits, student permits or professional passes in Malaysia.

The fees are borne by the workers and not by their Malaysian employers, except in the case of domestic maids.

The Malaysian embassy in Indonesia had last month issued a statement to employment agencies announcing the new fee structure.

It said this was in line with the setting up of “one stop centres” in Jakarta, Medan, Pekan Baru and Pontianak to process the visa applications.

“What is worse is that, in addition to paying the new RM230 processing fee, the previous RM15 and other minor charges, we have to provide details of our workers to a private company instead of to the Malaysian embassy,” said Ayub.

Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim said the embassy had been instructed by the Home Ministry to outsource the visa processing.

Zahrain admitted that there had been written protests and complaints about the increased fees since the implementation in December.

“The complaints are not only from workers groups but also from agents sending students to Malaysia,” he said.

However, Zahrain felt the fees were fair as the company had its own costs to cover.

“The company conducts background checks on those applying for visas and sends the information to the Immigration Department which then approves the visa.

“Previously, we have had problems with false documents. This company is now taking care of this problem,” he said.

He added that other countries such as the United States had also raised their visa charges.

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