Give working Indonesians more respect, Malaysians told

09/10/07 11:52 Kuala Lumpur (ANTARA News) – Malaysians must treat menial Indonesian labourers better or risk damaging relations between the two countries, Malaysia’s ambassador to Indonesia has warned, according to reports Monday.


“It’s only fair we change our perception towards Indonesians. Even if many of them are maids and contract labourers, they are human beings and should be treated with fairness and dignity,” Zainal Abidin Mohd Zin was quoted by AFP as telling the New Straits Times.

Zainal said Malaysians should realise many Indonesian professionals work in Malaysia and that millions more visit as tourists, adding the treatment of Indonesians aroused strong emotions and could affect bilateral relations.

The ambassador, speaking during Malaysian deputy premier Najib Razak’s trip to Indonesia’s Sulawesi province, said that bad treatment meted out to Indonesians had given Malaysians a reputation for arrogance.

He urged prompt handling of complaints of abuse towards Indonesian workers, which have triggered bad press in the Indonesian media after a string of disturbing cases.

“With more than two million Indonesians working in Malaysia, legally or otherwise, there are bound to be problems and cases of abuse,” Zainal was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

“But the thing is, if they happened, why are these cases not resolved? From the point of view of the Indonesians, we are practising double standards.”

The Indonesian government last month upped the pressure on Malaysia to take swift action against abusive employers, saying too many Indonesian maids were being mistreated.

Malaysia relies heavily on foreign workers for menial jobs and the Indonesian embassy says about 300,000 Indonesian maids are employed here.

While local authorities have denied abuses are on the rise, the Indonesian embassy said more than 1,000 abused or unpaid workers seek refuge in its compound every year.

Relations between the neighbouring countries have become strained after an alleged assault on a karate referee by Malaysian police sparked protests outside the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta last month. (*)

Copyright © 2007 ANTARA

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