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Singapore looks to crackdown on maids with tourist visas

The Singapore government has said it will begin to crackdown on domestic workers coming into the country looking for work in the Southeast Asian country, a new memo from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said. It added that women suspected of applying for tourist visas will also be denied visas to the country as a precaution. Singapore TourismThe Straits Times reported that the MOM added that foreign maids already working here who are found to have entered Singapore as tourists will have their work permits revoked. “This is to get around Manila’s regulations stating that employers should bear domestic workers’ placement fees, which on average cost $2,000, or four months’ salary,” the report said. The MOM said it “would like to remind Singapore employment agencies and employers that a prospective foreign domestic worker should not be coming to Singapore as a tourist in the hopes of looking for employment”. The ministry said that an in-principle approval (IPA) letter must be issued and the security bond of $5,000 must be posted by the employer before a foreign domestic worker arrives here. It comes as countries have already started to blacklist agencies that deal in domestic work to Singapore, reporting that there is a rising amount of abuse that goes on in the island country. Indonesia’s Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said earlier this year that among the moves against agencies that would be taken “were tighter monitoring of all employment agencies to ensure the workers were managed in a proper and official manner.” He said the ministry would also “liaise with the foreign ministry of the countries involved to monitor and control the welfare situation of the Indonesian workers there.” He, however, did not highlight the abuses facing workers abroad, but said his ministry and other organizations would become instrumental in battling the problems facing workers, especially domestic workers. “This situation forced the ministry to take steps to tighten the guidelines on sending of workers from Indonesia,” Iskander said. The ministry’s moves come on the heels of tension between Jakarta and Malaysia over sending domestic workers to the country after repeated abuse has been cited. But Indonesia was to begin sending domestic workers to Malaysia earlier this summer. Indonesia’s labor attache in Malaysia had previously confirmed that some 11,600 Indonesian domestic workers are to arrive in Malaysia in the “near future” once they receive the green light from Jakarta. However, Agus Triyanto said they could only be brought into the country after completing 200 hours of training and certified by the Indonesian Professional Certification Authority. Malaysia has been singled out by Indonesia as a threatening country for domestic workers. This is part of the conditions set forward under an agreement between the two governments to return Indonesian maids to Malaysia after Jakarta barred women from working in Malaysia last December after reports of abuse and sexual violence had been made public. “Indonesia will not approve the deployment of its maid to any country, including Malaysia, if they don’t have the certificate of competency,” he said after receiving four Indonesian maids, whose entries were handled by the National Association of Employment Agencies of Malaysia (Pikap) at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal. With the certificate, the attache said maids would be required to do the work according to the training they received, including cleaning the house, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and washing clothes. “They are not allowed to do other tasks as they do not have the expertise,” he added. Triyanto said the four maids were the first batch of maids brought in by Pikap, while the second batch of eight others would be arriving soon. On May 30 last year, Malaysia and Indonesia had signed a protocol to amend an agreement on the recruitment and placement of Indonesian maids 2006 by streamlining the provisions, especially those concerning the protection and well-being of maids and their employers. Still, despite the lifting of the ban, Indonesian activists have continued to demand an increase in security guarantees for domestic workers in Malaysia. Last month, activists called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to stop all diplomatic relations with Kuala Lumpur in protest of how the country is dealing with immigrants. The activists called on the government to demand protection of migrant workers. Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah said last week that Yudhoyono did not have to consider the serumpun (brotherhood). Instead, he needed to be tough. “Among the destination countries for migrant workers, Malaysia is the most unsafe for Indonesian workers as between 600 and 700 Indonesians die of various causes, including torture, shooting and exploitative acts by their employers,” she said. Thaufiek Zulbahary of Solidaritas Perempuan, an NGO providing legal advocacy for female migrant workers, said the government should delay sending workers to Malaysia again until its government took steps, including establishing a legal framework, to protect them. Indonesia recently lifted the moratorium in labor supply, but Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar has repeatedly said the government would not send workers until the Malaysian government ensured their protection. Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Association (ATKI) chairwoman Retno Dewi also condemned the shooting deaths of three Indonesian migrant workers in Negeri Sembilan, saying it was a serious rights violation. The activists also accused the Malaysian government of intimidating Malaysian human rights defender Irene Fernandez, the executive director of Tenaganita, who has long stood up for migrant workers. Source: http://bikyanews.com/87689/singapore-looks-to-crackdown-on-maids-with-tourist-visas/

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