Archipelago

Indonesian migrant workers
sent back home by Malaysia

Seventeen Indonesian migrant workers were returned home from Malaysia via Batam on Monday afternoon. Most of the group had worked in Malaysia without a legal employment permit.

The repatriated Indonesian citizens, comprising 17 female adults and two babies, arrived at the Batam Center International Seaport, yesterday afternoon, after they took the two-hour ferry trip from Pasir Gudang Port, Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

The Batam administration’s migrant workers unit head, Ahmad Yani, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the Indonesian Consulate General (KJRI) in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, sent the women back home as they experienced various employment problems, such as being arrested by the Malaysian police due to the absence of proper immigration documents and legal work permits.

“For the time being, we will accommodate them in temporary shelters in Batam. They are expected to depart for their hometowns using a Pelni ship to Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta on Wednesday,” said Ahmad.

According to Ahmad, the number of illegal Indonesian migrant workers returned via Batam reached 277 in 2012, down from 311 in 2011. As of March 18, 28 illegal Indonesian migrant workers and four babies had been deported from Malaysia.

Many Indonesian female migrant workers worked as domestic workers or waitresses in coffee shops or restaurants in Johor Bahru, the second biggest city in Malaysia, and Kuala Lumpur. Most of waitresses in restaurants in the center of Bandar Johor Bahru, also known as the City Square area, are Indonesian citizens.

Some migrant workers are employed at palm oil plantations in the southern part of Johor, such as Aer Keroh, Kinai and Moar. Many workers live in settlements inside the plantations located deep in the forests. They earn a monthly salary of around 700 Ringgit and 1,200 Ringgit.

Living inside the plantations, which are quite far from the town area, makes it difficult for workers to complete their immigration requirements. Many officers in Malaysia take advantage of this situation and collect pungli (illegal levies) from plantation owners, locally known as toke, who employ illegal workers from Indonesia. (ebf)

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