Thursday, 10 May 2012

Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez speaks out

Tenaganita: Undocumented migrant workers constantly exploited in Malaysia

Tuesday May 8, 2012 The Star Online

MALAYSIA hosts approximately two million migrant workers from Indonesia who work mostly as domestic workers and labourers in the agriculture sector. A large number of these workers face problems because they are undocumented. Rights activist Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez (pic) has been working to provide legal assistance to Indonesian illegal migrant workers. The Jakarta Post's Ridwan Max Sijabat spoke with her at her office in Kuala Lumpur about their plight.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: Do you find Malaysia safe for Indonesian migrant workers?
A: Completely not.

Q: Why?
A: Malaysia has no legal framework or a particular law to protect workers. Even worse, the Malaysian Government has upheld discrimination against housemaids and plantation workers, both of whom are excluded from the newly-issued regulation on minimum wages. Migrant workers have been objects of exploitation, physical abuse, violence and rape in line with the emergence of caregiving industries and the privatisation of healthcare, which are part of the neo-liberal capitalism which has damaged Malaysia's economic system and raised inequalities among migrant workers, mostly women.
Too many migrant workers have become undocumented and developed troubles with authorities since their passports are withheld by their employers or sponsors. The Indonesian government should not resume sending workers to Malaysia until the government and employers change their mindsets and make a particular law to protect them and their rights


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