The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 11/19/2011
As the Indonesian government looks set to lift a moratorium on sending migrant workers to Malaysia, workers’ advocate group Migrant Care is wondering whether the two countries can guarantee protection for workers.
The government issued the ban on sending workers to the neighboring country in June 2009, following reports of mistreatment and abuse of Indonesian migrant workers by their Malaysian employers.
However, the government recently decided that it would lift the moratorium on Dec. 1, after it had signed an MoU with Malaysia earlier in the year. The agreement, the government said, was a response to Malaysia’s “improving” stance on the treatment of foreign workers.
The MoU consists of clauses that regulates workers’ rights, such as the right to retain their passports, have their wages transferred via an approved bank and a minimum wage of RM 700 — basic rights, of which they were previously deprived.
On Friday, the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) announced that around 80,000 Indonesian workers were ready to be flown to Malaysia after the lifting of the moratorium next month.
Prior to the ban, there were around 2 million Indonesians working in Malaysia, approximately half of whom worked illegally. Most of them were employed as domestic workers, while others worked in construction, on plantations and in factories.
Anis Hidayah, executive director of Migrant Care, an organization working for the protection of domestic workers, expressed skepticism at the announcement.
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