Malaysiakini Letter

Stop hiring migrant workers until we can guarantee their safety

Civil Society Organisations  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | We, the undersigned civil society organisations, would like to express our condolences to the family and friends of Adelina Lisao, and call for the Malaysian government to immediately implement the recommendations by the Migrant Workers Right to Redress Coalition on the protection of migrant workers.

The issue of domestic workers subjected to abuse by unconscionable and despicable employers has plagued Malaysia for the longest time. Prior to Adelina’s untimely demise, Malaysia has witnessed and heard incidences of severe abuse of domestic helpers from Indonesia and other neighbouring countries.

Beyond the plight suffered by domestic workers in Malaysia, migrant workers in other fields of work, such as the construction sector, have consistently suffered from disregard for occupational safety and health by their employers, which has led to tragedies such as the KL Eco City bridge, the landslide at Tanjung Bungah and hundreds other unreported incidents around the country.

The unconscionable act by a select group of Malaysians, enabled by various government institutions and agencies, not only jeopardises the safety and lives of innocent migrant workers, but contributes to the continued decline in respect for human dignity and human rights across the board.

When can we learn to respect these migrant workers, who have come from far away and leaving their loved ones, to fulfil our country’s labour needs?

It is well past the time for all of us – citizens and the government – to acknowledge some basic truths:

  • We have no right to enslave anyone;
  • We have no right to exploit the desperation brought on by poverty;
  • We do not own the labour of another person;
  • The Malaysian government is duty-bound to ensure no person, regardless of immigration status, nationality, socioeconomic status and gender, is in any form of slavery in this country;
  • The work done by domestic workers is not a favour to us, but it is work, and they must be respected and accorded all rights as with any other worker.

Therefore, we reiterate the calls that we have made numerous times that the rights of domestic workers must be brought through a legal framework, and that government agencies involved in the discourse of migrant rights must cease with its delay in implementing recommendations to better protect migrant workers in Malaysia, and ensure that the tragedy of Adelina Lisao be the last of its kind in Malaysia.

To this end, we the undersigned civil society call for:

  • A moratorium on the hiring of migrant worker in critical areas, such as those in domestic roles, until protection mechanism for migrant workers is implemented;
  • Adoption of the recommendations by the Migrant Workers Right to Redress Coalition;
  • Development of a timeline for implementation of above mentioned recommendations; and
  • Stern criminal action to be taken against employers and those who abuse their workers or neglect to account for their occupational safety and health and the dignity of migrant workers.

Endorsed by:

  • Ammpo -Sentro
  • Atrahdom Guatemala
  • Building and Wood Workers' International
  • Centre for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (Central) - Cambodia
  • Christian Development Alternative (CDA), Bangladesh
  • Electronics Industry Employees Union Southern Region (EIEUSR)
  • Hoa Nguyen (Individual)
  • International Domestic Workers Federation
  • Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
  • Malaysian Election Observers Network
  • Malaysian Trades Union Congress
  • National Union of Bank Employees
  • North South Initiative
  • Parti Soisalis Malaysia
  • Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
  • Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor, KL & Perak endorse
  • Pusat Komas
  • Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  • Tenaganita
  • Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
  • Yayasan Lintas Nusa Batam - Indonesia

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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