Indonesia reviewing ‘obsolete’ worker deal with Malaysia on six formal sectors

A migrant worker looks on outside his room in a factory-converted dormitory in Singapore. Photo: Reuters. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 20, 2022, MalayMail. The Indonesian government is reportedly reviewing a 16-year-old labour-related memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Malaysia, following the signing of a new deal to protect its people working as domestic workers here earlier this month, MalayMail reported.

Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Hermono said President Joko Widodo had mooted the matter as the MoU signed in 2004 is now “obsolete”, Free Malaysia Today reported today.

The 2004 MoU reportedly covers six formal sectors: construction, agriculture, plantation, manufacturing, services and mining.

Hermono said the revision of the 2004 MoU would entail different elements than the recently signed on domestic workers.

“So I guess the business model will not be as rigid as the MoU on domestic workers as the formal sectors are less problematic compared to the domestic sector.

“The main problem is that most of the workers are undocumented, so they are a vulnerable group as they don’t have permanent employers and health protection schemes. This needs to be addressed,” he reportedly said.

The news portal also quoted the labour attaché at the Indonesian embassy, Erga Grenaldi, as saying that the agreement was needed since the Indonesian government has reallowed its citizens to go abroad for work starting April 18.

“Both countries have agreed to proceed with formal meetings on the matter. The pact signed on domestic maids on April 1 will be a reference point in many ways.

“Like domestic helpers, we definitely want to do away with the practice of allowing Indonesians to come in on a tourist visa and apply for a work permit later. Otherwise, we will lose track of these workers,” he was quoted as saying.

It has been almost two years since Indonesians were allowed to come into Malaysia due to bans on both ends.

Malaysia stopped the intake of foreign workers in June 2020, but lifted the ban in December last year.

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