‘Labour issue over soon’

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is hoping the Indonesian foreign worker issue can be resolved in the coming days, with both governments already engaged in talks on the matter, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.

He said the issue came about as a result of a “communication breakdown” with Indonesia, and the Malaysian government is looking to clear the air on certain “misunderstandings” between the two countries.

“Both the Human Resources Ministry and the Immigration Department are having talks with Indonesia to ensure that this matter can be settled as soon as possible.

“We want this matter to be resolved swiftly. There are details that need to be ironed out,” Hamzah told a press conference at Bukit Aman yesterday. Also present was Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan.

Both ministers earlier co-chaired a meeting on the management of foreign workers.

Last week, Indonesia issued a temporary freeze on the sending of migrant workers to Malaysia.

It is understood that Indonesia was not satisfied with Malaysia’s continued use of the Sistem Maid Online (SMO) recruitment system to hire maids, which it said was a breach of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by both countries in April.

Ironing out details: Hamzah answering questions during the press conference in Bukit Aman. With him is Saravanan. — BernamaIroning out details: Hamzah answering questions during the press conference in Bukit Aman. With him is Saravanan. — Bernama

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had directed both ministers to resolve the Indonesian foreign labour standoff as soon as possible to avoid further disputes with the republic.

He said the matter should not be prolonged as he was worried that it could affect relations between the two countries.

When asked if Malaysia is prepared to do away with SMO, Hamzah said this needs to be discussed with Indonesia.

“Some maid agencies and associations said we should do away with SMO. But what do the general public say? Do they agree with these agencies?

“Do not just listen to one side, we need to listen to all.

“There are some things that need to be ironed out here, so let’s wait for the discussions with Indonesia to conclude,” he said, adding that certain matters between the two countries should remain private and not revealed to the media.

Hamzah said Malaysia will always prioritise the rule of law and the safety of workers when it comes to handling foreigners working in the country.

“The government will always ensure the management of foreign workers in Malaysia is in accordance with the rule of law and that they will always be protected and treated fairly,” he added.

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