The Indonesian government made a decision to halt its workers from entering Malaysia yesterday, which is due to an alleged breach of MoU signed last April between the two countries. According to Hermono, the Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia, an official letter had been sent to Human Resources Minister, Datuk Seri M Saravanan detailing the reasons for the move.

Based on a report in New Straits Times, the breach of MoU involved the use of the Maid Online System (MOS) instead of The One Channel System (OCS). The latter is one of the main reasons for Indonesia initial agreement to continue sending its workers to Malaysia as it gives better protection for workers. Among its benefit is that it allows for authorities to know the whereabouts of workers, identity of employers, and detail of employment contract.

Also, Malaysia’s immigration department can only issue an employment visa once the Indonesian embassy has endorsed the employment contract, thus adding a layer of protection for workers.

MOS, however, according to Hermono, allows even ‘illegal’ agents to bring Indonesian workers into Malaysia using a tourist visa.

Hampered Productivity
Since the announcement, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has commented that the freeze will further burden industries which rely on foreign workers.

Its president, Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman, said “Effort by businesses to bring back their operations to pre pandemic levels will be hampered by the suspension of supply of new foreign workers from Indonesia. Indonesian is an important source country for the supply of foreign workers as about 35 per cent of foreign workers come from Indonesia. The supply of domestic from Indonesia is even more critical as they made up about 70 per cent of all domestic maids in Malaysia.”

“Some businesses in the manufacturing sector had to turn down new orders for fear of not being able to meet the deadlines. Construction companies had to bear penalties for late deliveries. Restaurants being bombarded with complaints from customers for slow services and hotels were also being criticized for not being able to check in the guests on time due to rooms being not ready.”

The Show Must Go On
Thus, the MEF proposes that special approval is given to tap into available labor already within the country.

“We can source for the required labor from among the refugees and paroled prisoners. These people with the special approval of the government may be deployed immediately to fill up the acute shortage until the new foreign workers finally arrive. It was reported that there are about 168,000 refugees holding UNHCR card and more than 60 per cent of them are potentially employable.”

“The Joint Committee on the Management of Foreign Workers should review the conditions under the Labor Recalibration Program to regularize foreign illegals in the country to allow more PATI to participate in the program,” Syed Hussain added.

In the meantime, MEF also proposes to the government to arrange for more foreign workers from other source countries such as Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos and Philippines to be recruited.


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