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TENAGANITA: Letter to the Jakarta Post on Corrections to Be Made on Irene Fernandez’s Statements

Sent to The Jakarta Post via email on 8th May 2012.

ATTN: Editor: Mr. Taufik 

CC: Journalist: Mr. Ridwan Max Sijabat


Thank you very much for your write up in the Jakarta Post on the 7th of May 2012. It has shone a lot of light on the issues of migrant workers in Malaysia, and has been carried widely in the Malaysian press. There are, however, a few errors in your reporting which I would like to rectify.

The report of the interview went beyond the actual interview done at my office on the 4th of May 2012. It may have also included statements I made at the press conference on 4th May 2012 (at Tenaganita’s office) related to the 6P program and my presentations at the CARAM regional conference on 3rd of May 2012 and 5th of May 2012.

There are statements made in your press report “Malaysia not safe for Indonesian migrant workers” that I did not actually make.

The first one is as follows: “Malaysian employers who withhold their maids’ passports feel free to do what they want to their workers because they have bought them [maids] and they have their impunity because they have paid the police and bought court verdicts when workers sued against them”. I did not make any statements about employers ‘paying the police’ or ‘buying court verdicts’. My statement said that employers tend to act with impunity.

The second statement: “Many employers have breached the harsh immigration law in employing undocumented workers, but they were not punished because they paid the police and immigration officers in a collusion to lay charges on worker”. I did not make that statement. My statement was that the undocumented workers are the ones punished (not employers), the workers rights are not recognized, and the employer gets away with exploiting their rights. Additionally, the undocumented migrants are the ones who are arrested and deported.

The third statement: “In 2011, we recorded more than 1,500 cases befalling undocumented workers and 500 cases on employers’ violations of the immigration law”. The 2009-2011 statistics that I presented at the CARAM conference on the 3rd of May 2012 were as follows: 2009 – 41 cases of domestic workers handled involving 108 violations; 2010 – 37 cases of domestic workers handled involving 82 violations; 2011 – 91 cases of domestic workers handled involving 133 violations.

The fourth statement: “..because 1,000 of 1,300 workers arrested in the January-April 2012 crackdown have remained undocumented although they have paid between 2,000 and 4,000 Malaysian ringgits. Of the 1,000 workers who remained undocumented and victimized in the 6P program, 400 are Indonesians”. I did not make that statement.

The fifth statement: “…government has upheld discrimination against housemaids and plantation workers, both of whom are excluded from the newly-issued regulation on minimum wages”. My statement said the discrimination was against domestic workers and gardeners, not ‘plantation workers’, as they are not included in the minimum wage regulation

We hope therefore that The Jakarta Post can publish these notes of correction. Thanks again, and please do keep us updated on the developments in Jakarta.




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