Malaysia, Kuwait ask Jakarta to rethink migrant worker moratorium

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Malaysia and Kuwait asked Jakarta on Wednesday to rethink its moratorium on sending migrant workers, saying it would be detrimental to Indonesia if it carries on with the plan.

There would be more cases of illegal employment, such as the one involving the late Adelina Lisao, if Indonesia carries out the planned moratorium, Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Zahrain Mohamed Hashim told journalists at the embassy. The 21-year-old Indonesian domestic worker died earlier this month in Penang, Malaysia, with severe injuries all over her body, allegedly a result of abuse by her employers.

“Unilateral measures to impose a moratorium will not solve the issue,” Zahrain said. “It is feared the move would cause more sending of Indonesian migrant workers through unofficial tracks by irresponsible parties.”

He suggested that officials from both countries should instead sit together to talk about standard operating procedures (SOP) for sending Indonesian domestic workers to Malaysia, as well as their payment and protection.

Zahrain said Malaysian Deputy Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had invited Indonesian Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri to Kuala Lumpur to discuss the SOP “so that domestic work could be a safe, decent, professional and honorable profession”.

“I am also planning to make an official visit to Bapak Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri soon to discuss the same issue,” he added.

Indonesia and Malaysia had an agreement on migrant workers but the treaty ended in 2016 and did not cover regulations for domestic workers, Zahrain said. He said the “Malaysian Human Resource Ministry will meet with the Indonesian Manpower Ministry on the issue.” The discussion would include technical matters, including mechanisms for hiring and payment of the workers.

Similar suggestions were also made by Kuwaiti Ambassador to Jakarta Abdulwahab Abdullah Al Sager on a separate occasion.

“We call the Indonesian government to open dialogue and negotiations to allow the sending of Indonesian migrant workers to Kuwait,” he said through an interpreter at his official residence in South Jakarta. “Indonesia closed the doors for such negotiations when it placed a moratorium on sending migrant workers
to Kuwait in 2009.”

A ban involving all Mideast countries was enforced in 2015.

“We had labor problems with other countries such as Bangladesh, India, the Philippines and India, but we sat down together to straighten the issues out,” he said. “Indonesia never tabled its proposals, such as minimum wages, the number of days off and any other form of protection.”


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