Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians waiting to work in Malaysia, along with would-be Malaysian employers, can let out a sigh of relief as Indonesia has agreed to end the moratorium on its maids working in Malaysia.
During a meeting in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, on Thursday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak agreed that Indonesia would end the moratorium on Dec. 1, pending a report by a task force established to verify the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on safeguarding the well-being of Indonesian maids.
“We agree that on Dec. 1 we will resume sending [workers] if the joint task force returns a positive report,” Yudhoyono, who met Najib for their annual consultation on the island, told a press conference
The task force will submit its report to both leaders by Nov. 18.
Najib also said he did not foresee any problems for the lifting of the moratorium. “So far so good. It looks like all clear, but we have to go through the process of verification when the [human resource] ministers report to us,” he said.
“God willing, when everything is resolved, the moratorium will be lifted on Dec. 1,” Najib said.
Indonesian and Malaysian officials have resolved stumbling blocks, including regulations to allow workers to keep their passports, a mandatory one-day off per week and matters regarding workers’ salaries.
The agreement sees the lifting of a two-year moratorium on the recruitment of domestic workers from Indonesia to Malaysia, after Jakarta decided to ban sending workers following a series of abuse cases involving Malaysian employers against Indonesian maids, which sparked nationwide protests against Malaysia.
Prior to the ban, there were about 2 million Indonesians working in Malaysia, approximately half of whom worked illegally. Most of them worked as domestic workers while others worked in construction, on plantations and in factories.
The number of illegal Indonesian workers in Malaysia decreased significantly after Malaysia introduced their so-called 6P foreign workers legalization program.
The Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur announced recently that at least 442,131 illegal migrant workers may soon be granted legal permission to work in Malaysia, after registering to take part in the legalization program.
The embassy added that under the same program, 200,000 other illegal workers would be repatriated to Indonesia.
Malaysia, which has been heavily dependant upon foreign workers to boost its economy, has suffered during the moratorium. Cambodia’s recent decision to ban its domestic workers from Malaysia, following a series of killings of Cambodian maids, hit the country even further as the media reported that thousands of families were in dire need of domestic help.
Regarding the Indonesia-Malaysia border disputes, both Yudhoyono and Najib agreed that progress had been made in negotiations between the two countries.
“We hope we can make more progress when we meet with each other next year,” Yudhoyono said.
He added that both countries had discussed standard operating procedures and rules of engagement when both militaries faced off against each other in the disputed areas.
A fresh debate over the border issue recently erupted after Maj. Gen. (ret.) T.B. Hasanuddin, a House of Representatives lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), who had just returned from a working visit in West Kalimantan, alleged that Malaysia had claimed ownership of both
Camar Bulan and Tanjung Datu.
The government has denied the allegations, but some lawmakers insisted that Malaysia might have seized Indonesian territory.
Source : The Jakarta Post