Indonesia freezes sending of maids to S’pore temporarily

THE Indonesian government has suspended the sending of maids to Singapore temporarily, Indonesia’s State Minister for Women’s Affairs Mien Sugandhi said.

Radio Republik Indonesia quoted her as saying the move was to send out a signal to agents and employers in Singapore to be more mindful of workers. She said she had received a report from the Indonesian embassy in Singapore on cases of maid abuse.

She lambasted both employers and unscrupulous agents who were more interested in profits than safeguarding worker welfare.

Her comments came days after a 37-year-old woman and her teenage son, each of whom faces more than 10 maid abuse charges, were accused of forcing their maid to eat dog faeces. They allegedly abused their Indonesian maid, Miss Hartati, 15, in their apartments in Nassim Hill and Meyer Road over two months, May and June, this year.

Indonesia’s ambassador to Singapore, Mr H.B.L. Mantiri, said that he had sent a letter to Jakarta last week recommending such action as he was concerned about recent cases where Indonesian maids were abused.

“It was a trend that I found very worrying and so I decided that the best course of action was to prevent maids from working in Singapore for the time being,” he said yesterday in a phone interview.

He said that the main aim was to use the “next few months” to get Indonesian workers more fully prepared for their tasks as a maid in Singapore.

He acknowledged that not many were fully prepared because of language and cultural differences. Many also came from the villages and needed to adapt to living in a city. “So we need to train them. Teach them how to use electrical instruments like vacuum cleaners and equip them with the necessary skills to work without any problems,” he said.

He did not give details of where and when they would receive such training.

He stressed that there was no excuse for employers to ill-treat such maids if they were not up to the mark. “There are limits to what they can do to a maid and abusing them falls outside such boundaries.”

He hit out at agents who took in these maids while recognising that they did not have the prerequisite skills to work abroad. “These agents are out to make money only. They are not interested in what happens to the maid once she starts working. I hope this move will hit them hard,” he said.

Madam Sugandhi said that government agencies would be more selective in granting permits to recruitment agencies.

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