Malaysia detains RI family
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Hikmah binti Kamaruddin was desperate about her future.
The 32-year-old former migrant worker in Malaysia was frustrated as she had little money to pay for food for her four young children while her husband Kamaruddin served a two-month jail sentence at the Umbai Prison, in Melaka, Malaysia.
Upon her arrival with her children last week, they moved into a small bamboo hut which she had built in 2008 but which fell into disrepair after she left to work in Malaysia following her first husband’s death.
“I make bamboo fish baskets which earns me around Rp 30,000 (US$3.12) a day to support my children while waiting for my husband’s release later this month,” she told Kompas daily and The Jakarta Post in her hut on Saturday.
Hikmah and three children were deported through Tanjung Pinang, Riau Islands, without being able to bring any Malaysian ringgits home following their release from the Malaysian Immigration detention center in the middle of July. They finally reached home with financial assistance from the Riau Islands provincial government.
She said she and her foster sister in Johor Bahru planned to sue the Malaysian immigration authorities who detained her three children who had been born in Malaysia.
“The Malaysian government had no sense of humanity in jailing my children who should not have been detained because they have their own birth certificates,” she said, adding the family was netted in an immigration sweep led by an immigration official who almost everyday bought vegetables from her.
Hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrant workers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia have been netted under the so-called 6P program jointly carried out by the Malaysian police and immigration authorities, most have been deported after being detained for 10 days while others have been legalized after paying high prices for their documents.
Hikmah left for Malaysia in 2010 to seek work and to help support her poor family and her daughter from her late first husband. But after working for a month as a housemaid to an ethnic Indian family, she escaped because she felt exploited and was not allowed to practice her Islamic religion.
“I ended up overstaying and married Kamaruddin. I worked as a vegetable vendor and we had three children. We were deported following the raid and detention,” she said.
She added that she was worried by the condition of her youngest children, twins, who had been sick since the raid and the detention.
Hikmah, who has only an elementary-school education, said that like many other uneducated women in the province, working in Malaysia was the only option for her because she had no other alternative to improve her life and she was aware of the risks prior to her departure.
“I am not as lucky as many others who have succeeded in upgrading their house and buying modern goods such as freezers, motorcycles and sewing machines.”