Indonesian ambassador: Refusal to follow maids MoU a ‘disgrace’

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Temporary freeze on all Indonesian workers entering Malaysia.

Indonesian ambassador Hermono has slammed Malaysia’s refusal to adhere to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Indonesian maids, which was signed just three months ago, describing it as a “disgrace”.

Hermono said Indonesia had imposed a temporary freeze on all Indonesian workers entering Malaysia since yesterday due to the immigration department’s continued use of the Maid Online System (MOS) to facilitate the recruitment of Indonesian maids.

The envoy said this was a “total breach” of the MoU on the placement and protection of Indonesian maids which was signed on April 1.


President Widodo, better known as Jokowi, and Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob witnessed the signing of the much-heralded MoU in Jakarta.

“What’s the point of signing this MoU in front of my president if it is not honoured?” Hermono asked FMT.

“Ismail is the one who wanted our president to witness the signing, and he agreed. You would think that with the presence of the (Malaysian) prime minister and the (Indonesian) president, all parties would honour the MoU – but the reality is far from it.


“Our president witnessed the MoU… But now… What’s the point? This is a disgrace to our president.”

Hermono pointed out that the One Channel System that was introduced in the MoU had continued to be bypassed by the MOS – which allowed Indonesian workers to enter the country using a tourist visa before applying for a work permit, a practice which Jakarta wanted to end due to the risk of forced labour.

The ambassador said the Indonesian government decided on the freeze after a virtual consultation session he attended with the country’s foreign ministry and manpower ministry officials yesterday.

Hermono added that while the country had stopped processing new requests from Indonesians looking to work in Malaysia, those already in the pipeline would go through.

Around 15,000 to 20,000 applications have been received – with around 10,000 applications from the plantation and manufacturing sectors.

Hermono said he was not thrilled with the latest development but felt that he had no choice if he wanted to protect the welfare of the workers.

“We need assurances from the Malaysian government that they are going to stop using the MOS. If Malaysia gives such an assurance, we will lift the ban,” he said.

“I’m not happy with this, but we have to do this. If not, we will never solve this problem.”

It remains to be seen what effect the freeze will have on the Malaysian labour market, which currently lacks 1.2 million workers in various sectors largely due to the ban on foreign worker recruitment which was implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apart from a shortage of 627,000 workers in the manufacturing sector, the country also lacks 550,000 workers in the construction sector and 120,000 workers in the plantation sector.

FMT has reached out to human resources minister M Saravanan for comment. – FMT