3 December 2012
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police have reported they removed some 105 domestic workers who had been held against their will and forced to work as maids without pay.
Police officials told Bikyamasr.com that the majority of those discovered were from Indonesia, although others were from Philippines and Cambodia.
“They will be sent back to their countries after a processing period because they were not in Malaysia on work permits,” one official said.
An immigration department official in the central Selangor state reported that the women had been transported to local homes to perform cleaning services during the day and locked in a four-story building at night by a recruitment agency.
The officials said Monday that the women “were promised monthly wages before entering Malaysia but received nothing for up to 6 months.”
Authorities in Malaysia also arrested 12 agency supervisors while raiding the building following a tip Saturday.
It is the latest in an ongoing dilemma surrounding domestic workers, especially those from Indonesia.
On May 30 last year, Malaysia and Indonesia had signed a protocol to amend an agreement on the recruitment and placement of Indonesian maids 2006 by streamlining the provisions, especially those concerning the protection and well-being of maids and their employers.
Still, despite the lifting of the ban, Indonesian activists have continued to demand an increase in security guarantees for domestic workers in Malaysia.
Last summer, activists called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to stop all diplomatic relations with Kuala Lumpur in protest of how the country is dealing with immigrants.
The activists called on the government to demand protection of migrant workers.
Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah said last week that Yudhoyono did not have to consider the serumpun (brotherhood). Instead, he needed to be tough.
“Among the destination countries for migrant workers, Malaysia is the most unsafe for Indonesian workers as between 600 and 700 Indonesians die of various causes, including torture, shooting and exploitative acts by their employers,” she said.
Thaufiek Zulbahary of Solidaritas Perempuan, an NGO providing legal advocacy for female migrant workers, said the government should delay sending workers to Malaysia again until its government took steps, including establishing a legal framework, to protect them.
Indonesia recently lifted the moratorium in labor supply, but Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar has repeatedly said the government would not send workers until the Malaysian government ensured their protection.
Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Association (ATKI) chairwoman Retno Dewi also condemned the shooting deaths of three Indonesian migrant workers in Negeri Sembilan, saying it was a serious rights violation.
The activists also accused the Malaysian government of intimidating Malaysian human rights defender Irene Fernandez, the executive director of Tenaganita, who has long stood up for migrant workers.