National

Govt ban may lead to increase
in illegal migration to
Malaysia

Indonesia's decision to ban women from going to Malaysia to find employment as domestic workers in protest over a string of cases of reported abuse could prompt more Indonesians to work in the country illegally, a group representing maid-supply agencies said Sunday.

Raja Zulkeply Dahalan, president of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Housemaids Agencies, said some 4,000 Indonesian maids were recruited each month in Malaysia before Indonesia announced last week it would enforce a ban until greater protection and rights are ensured. More than 300,000 Indonesian women work as maids in the more prosperous Malaysia, outnumber those from every other country.

"If this deadlock continues, everybody will lose," Raja Zulkeply told The Associated Press. "There will be a shortage of maids, and it could encourage more illegal Indonesians to come here for work."

The association represents 153 of Malaysia's 350 private maid agencies, which recruit the maids, arrange for their visas and place them in homes, but are not responsible for their safety.

Raja Zulkeply said the agencies have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in advance bookings to their Indonesian counterparts who supply the workers.

Senior officials from both countries will hold talks July 15 to seek a resolution to the dispute, which emerged after a series of cases involving the abuse of maids at the hands of their employers.

In the most recent case, a 25-year-old Indonesian claimed she was beaten and punched by her employer and had not been paid for two years. She was rescued with bruises and scars after a neighbor called the police. The case is under investigation.

Earlier this month, a Malaysian woman was charged with scalding her 33-year-old Indonesian maid with hot water and injuring her with scissors and a hammer.

Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged over the weekend that Malaysia would increase enforcement to curb abuses and improve the welfare of maids.

Malaysia has said it would change its labor laws to give maids a weekly day off and other benefits such as compensation for accidents at work. They will also get a list of telephone contacts for embassy, police and welfare officials to report abuse.

Raja Zulkeply said the association has urged the government to recruit domestic workers from other countries, such as Myanmar and China.

 

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