Kota Kinabalu: About 2,000 Indonesians are working as domestic helpers in Sabah based on the number of passports issued by the Indonesian Consulate here.
Acting Indonesian Consul-General Rudhito Widagdo said the passports were issued to those working in Sabah without valid travel documents and work permits during its registration programme to legalise them.
"Throughout the registration programme for this year, we have issued about 2,000 Indonesian passports to those working as domestic helpers or maids in the State.
"Our requirements for issuance of the passports are that the employers or applicants must make sure their levy is paid, a contract between the employer and the maid is prepared to be endorsed by us and that the employers buy insurance to safeguard the safety of the maids," he said.
Rudhito was commenting on the Indonesian Government imposing a temporary ban on sending domestic helpers to Malaysia starting June 26 pending review of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on migrant workers.
Indonesian Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno had said the moratorium applies only to domestic helpers. While waiting for a revision of the MoU, they will temporarily halt sending them to Malaysia until discussions are concluded.
According to Rudhito, the employers must prepare the work contract between them and the Indonesian domestic helpers either in Bahasa Melayu or Bahasa Indonesia so that the terms and conditions stated in the contract can be understood by the employees.
As for complaints on physical abuse of Indonesian maids in Sabah, he said so far, the Consulate has not recorded any commended Sabah employers for being kind.
However, the Consulate has received many complaints about employers deducting the agreed amount from their monthly salary to cover the cost of paying the levy in installments.
By right, Rudhito said, the employers should be the ones bearing the cost of the levy as they are not supposed to pass the cost on to the Indonesian workers.
"There were one or two cases where the employers did not pay the salaries of their workers. For example, there was one case where the Indonesian maid never received any salary for seven years. We did pursue the case but at the end, we found out that the employer had vacated his residence.
"Not paying the workers' salaries, salary deduction of the levy and no day-off for the maids are among the issues that have not been complied with by employers here in accordance with the signing of MoU between Malaysia and Indonesia in 2006.
"These issues, among others, will be highlighted in the coming discussion between Indonesia and Malaysia in a Joint Working Group meeting believed to be held in mid-July," he said.
On June 26, Erman was also reported as saying that the MoU should be reviewed to restrict Malaysian employers to hiring only legal workers. The moratorium is expected to affect thousands of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia.
Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Tan Sri D'ai Bachtiar said there were 1.2 million registered Indonesian workers in Malaysia, of whom 300,000 works as domestic helpers, 200,000 in the construction sector and 400,000 in the agricultural sector.
Among other issues, he said Indonesia also wants the MoU to acknowledge the domestic workers' rights to wage increases, regular salary, day off and holidays.