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HAH?! No more Indo maids staying in Malaysian houses? But Why?

After ding-donging back and forth on the domestic worker issue, the Indonesian government has made a NEW rule!!!

Let’s recap the whole saga – Remember when they banned sending maids to Malaysia in 2009 after many incidents of abuse? They lifted the ban two years later after signing an agreement with our country to protect maids. Then, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that they’ll stop sending maids overseas again by 2017, not just to Malaysia, but to the whole world.

“The practice of Indonesian women going overseas to work as housemaids must stop immediately. We should have pride and dignity.” – President Jokowi, quoted from CNN

So now what’s their latest ruling? Here’s a clue, they’re not banning maids from coming to Malaysia. again.


But maids will not be staying in the houses of their employers any more

Indonesia live out maids Image from South China Morning Post

Image from South China Morning Post

From next year, Indonesia will not allow women to work as live-in maids in ANY foreign countries. They want maids to be employed as formal workers instead. Here are their terms:

  • No more living in employer’s house
  • Stipulated working hours
  • Weekly off-day

“We want a formal contract between the domestic helper and the employer. Just like the contracts drawn up for employment in companies.” – Indonesian Ambassador Herman Prayitno, The Star

To be fair, their terms of stipulated working hours and off days are long overdue already. In fact, the International Labour Organization states that it’s every employee’s right. And with this proposed formal contract, maids wages would have to be protected, which means they will be earning the Malaysian minimum wage of RM900 in the Peninsula and RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak.

CHUP, what about the 2017 ban? Actually they’re not banning workers from going abroad la… What they’re aiming to do is upgrade their workforce. They want Indonesian workers to be hired as skilled workers – employed for one specific task. Which means employers must SEPARATELY hire a certified cook, caregiver, babysitter, or housekeeper. OMGWTAUGEH?!? Hire a different worker for each specific function?

“I am a working parent, and I need a maid to care for my elderly mother as well as do a bit of housework. I cannot afford to hire two maids for these two chores.” – Lydia Lee, 42, teacher,


So what does this mean for Malaysian employers?

panadol headache woman Image from Panadol Malaysia YouTube

THIS IS NOT AN AD. Original screenshot from Panadol Malaysia YouTube

This isn’t a sponsored article for Panadol, but if the Indonesian government implements this rule, a lot of Malaysian employers are probably gonna need Panadol!! 🙁

For employers who have maids already working here, they can stay on if their contracts are extended. However for new workers, it’s still early to tell what the new formal contract will entail, so don’t know what kind of arrangement employers will be looking at. (Not to mention whether the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities can even agree on the terms.)

Next, WHERE are the maids going to stay?

“Once they leave the employers’ premises, the employer would no longer be liable for them. And finding and paying for housing and board would then be their own responsibility.” – Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein, President of the Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama), The Star

But the Network for Indonesian Migrant Workers Coordinator, Eni Lestari answered that recruitment agencies will put them up in boarding houses to work as cleaners in hotels and homes. So recruitment agencies are the maids’ employers now.

indonesian maid boarding house dorm Image from

Not sure if life for maids will be more comfortable living out of the employer’s house and in a dorm. Image from

This will also definitely affect many higher and middle income families, according to Malaysian Associations for Foreign Maid Agencies (PAPA) Vice President, Look Ah Lek, Malaysians have become so dependent on maids.

But based on Indonesia’s one-worker-one-task rule, how will employers coordinate when each maid can come to their house? What if the one washing dishes can only make it on Monday, while the one ironing clothes can only do Tuesday? Takkan the employer has to take leave on two separate days. Besides, who decides how much the maids should be paid for a particular task?

On the bright side, there is a lower chance of bosses getting robbed by their maids (eh, it’s a real concern ok, there’s possibly even a syndicate training maids to rob the wealthy). No more weird Romeos coming to see the maid at night. No more having to deal with runaway cases, etc. More importantly, it could decrease abuse cases of maids coz once the maid steps out of the house, she can get help, as opposed to staying under the same roof as the employer!


Indonesia’s just doing what every country wants to do. UPGRADE.

Indonesian student SMKN 2 Depok vocational school Image from

Vocational school in Indonesia. Image from

The whole reason for all this – aside from protecting their citizens – is because they want to upgrade.

“There are only three countries in the world supplying domestic workers, two are in Asia and one in Africa. One of those in Asia is Indonesia. This is a matter of dignity. It was really shameful (speaking about this) during our bilateral with Malaysia.” – Jokowi, The Straits Times

Indonesia’s Ministry of Manpower has been pushing to improve education and provide skills training for its female citizens wanting to go abroad. The Embassy in KL is even providing courses on English, accounting, tailoring and culinary skills to all Indonesians working in Malaysia! They’re targeting for all Indonesian workers abroad to be “true professionals” who work in companies by 2018.

Indonesian vocational school with automotive workshop. Image from

Hey waitaminit, isn’t that what Malaysia’s doing too? We are aiming to become a high income economy and bridge the skills gap by 2020. Okla Malaysia and Indonesia are not on the same par and Malaysia is trying to stop our brains from going abroad. So far in Southeast Asia, it looks like Singapore’s the only one quite up there.

Seems only fair that every country wants to upgrade and have a highly skilled workforce. Even if Indonesia doesn’t become an exporter of rocket scientists overnight, they would have moved one step forward by protecting the rights of domestic helpers and construction workers better! Slowly, one step at a time, they’ll get there.

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