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Seeking an end to the maid ban

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MATARAM (Lombok): The last time they met for their annual consultations, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono agreed that the ban on Indonesia domestic maids to Malaysia would be resolved within two months after their Putrajaya meeting.

That meeting was in May last year and yet the issue remains unresolved as Indonesia has refused to lift the moratorium to allow its maids into Malaysia. The moratorium has been in effect since June 2009.

It was the leaders’ close relations that almost brought the problem to a conclusion, but alas, that instruction did not filter down the line.

When amendments were made to the MoU on the Recruitment and Placement of Maids from Indonesia and eventually signed five months ago in Bandung, the agreement was that the moratorium would be lifted immediately.

Yet, the maids are still banned from coming to Malaysia.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who came to Kuala Lumpur last week, insisted that Indonesia was in no rush to lift the ban until a proper framework was in place and the welfare of maids protected.

Malaysian officials are puzzled by Indonesia’s refusal because as far as Kuala Lumpur is concerned, everything is in place and a joint task force has met to improve on the details.

The MoU was meant to protect the interest of employees and the conditions include a day off for the maids every week and that they will get to keep their passports.

For employers, the maids’ salaries would depend on market forces and steps were made to prevent the problem of maids running away.

Indonesia stopped supplying maids following several high-profile cases of abuse that caused protests in Jakarta over concerns about the risks faced by more than 200,000 maids in Malaysia.

The two leaders are meeting here in the Indonesian province of West Nusa Tenggara for their eighth annual consultation.

Malaysian officials are keeping their fingers crossed that the maids issue will be resolved when Najib meets Susilo today.

“While the Indonesian moratorium is still in place, we now have Cambodia banning their maids from going to Malaysia over cases of abuse,” lamented an official.

“Hopefully, the maids issue and the moratorium will be resolved by this year. We want a more serious commitment from Jakarta,” he added.

The leaders will also discuss the problem of the maritime border which has seen fishermen from both countries being detained for encroaching into each others’ waters.

Malaysia’s ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Syed Munshe Afdzaruddin, in a briefing to reporters yesterday, was confident that the matter would be ironed out at the leaders’ level.

“Bilateral relations are at its best at political, economic and defence level. There is no other way but to move the ties forward,” he added.

Source : The Star

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