Indonesia has issued a statement strongly condemning the persistent abuse of an Indonesian migrant worker by her Malaysian employer, underlining the many reports on such cases that it had received in recent years.
The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) on Tuesday rescued MH, an Indonesian national who had been a domestic worker with a family in Kuala Lumpur, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur first alerted the ministry with information on MH it had received from Tenaganita, a Malaysian human rights NGO committed to the protection of vulnerable people, including migrants.
“MH was tortured. She was beaten with blunt objects, cut with sharp objects, scalded with hot water and not given food,” the ministry said in statement, adding that Malaysian authorities had admitted MH to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment and detained MH’s employer.
“The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is continuing to assist MH and will appoint a retainer lawyer to monitor the legal process against her employer,” the statement said.
Indonesia also called on Malaysian authorities to exercise strict supervision and monitoring of employers of migrant workers, guarantee protection for migrant workers and rigorously enforce the law against perpetrators.
“Indonesia is still pushing for the immediate finalization of the extension to the MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] on the placement of domestic workers,” the foreign ministry said.
Frequent cases of Malaysian employers abusing and exploiting their Indonesian migrant workers, who are often employed as domestic workers, have led to diplomatic tension between the neighboring countries.
In early 2018, Adelina Lisao from East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) died at Bukit Mertajam Hospital in Penang after reportedly suffering prolonged abuse by her Malaysian employer. She was 21.
Adelina, who went to Malaysia as a migrant worker when she was just 17, had endured abuse at the hands of her employer for more than a month. It also emerged that she was not given meals and was forced to sleep outside with her employer’s Rottweiler.
Malaysian authorities arrested and charged Adelina’s employer, but the trial at the Penang High Court resulted in an acquittal, which angered Indonesian activists and the general public.
Adelina’s case also sparked public discourse on the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia, while a dismayed government threatened to stop sending Indonesian workers to Malaysia.
Later that same year, migrant workers Melkianus Omenu, Dionisius David and Regina Bianco, also from NTT, died in Malaysia over a single week. Melkianus was found in the middle of the forest in Kuching, Serawak.
Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur have yet to open discussions on renewing a 2011 bilateral agreement on the placement and protection of Indonesian domestic workers that expired in May 2016.
In 2019, Kuala Lumpur expected to conclude discussions on the agreement’s renewal during the annual consultation between President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, but the discussion never happened.