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Pact Would Protect Indonesian Maids in Malaysia

June 25, 2006

Malaysia would give Indonesian maids better protection from abuse and might offer education for children of Indonesian workers in their native language under proposed agreements between the countries, reports said.  1

The accord on maids’ rights could be signed by the middle of the year, the national news agency Bernama reported. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said the planned pact ‘is part of Malaysia’s commitment to ensuring the continued good relations between the two countries’, Bernama quoted him as saying. The agreement would provide ‘more rights and shelter’ to the thousands of Indonesian maids working here, Najib was quoted as saying in The Star newspaper. Najib spoke to local media after a meeting with Indonesian counterpart Jusuf Kalla.

The proposals included barring employers from docking their maid levy fee from the salary of the maids, The Star reported. Currently, foreign maids do not get paid during the first few months of employment to cover the levy. Rights groups have complained that Indonesian domestic helpers do not receive adequate protection from abusive employers because of insufficient laws governing employer conduct in Malaysia, a wealthy nation of 26 million. Jakarta has also requested that schools be set up for children of Indonesians working in plantations across Malaysia, Bernama added.

Indonesia would supply the teachers if such a deal is worked out, the national news agency said. Details on such an arrangement were not released. There are about 1.8 million registered foreign workers in Malaysia. Indonesia is the main source of labour, contributing 65 percent of the total foreign workforce. Malaysia depends heavily on foreign labour, as rising affluence has made Malaysians reluctant to do menial jobs in manufacturing, construction, plantations and service industries, Maids account for about 18 percent of the foreign workforce.

1 Adapted from: ‘Pact Would Protect Indonesian Maids in Malaysia.’ Cambodia Daily. 31 March 2006. (Source: UNIAP)

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