This cooperation facilitated distribution of food aid to over 140,000 Indonesian migrant workers during the ongoing Movement Control Order to check COVID-19, said Agung Cahaya Sumirat, counsellor for social and cultural affairs at the Indonesian Embassy here.
He said, Malaysia’s humanitarian spirit and brotherhood (serumpun) really came to the fore during this challenging time.
“Without good cooperation from the Malaysian government, I don’t think we could have done this. The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia have proven that even in these hard times we are still able to cooperate.
“With the cooperation from the Malaysian Foreign Ministry, Royal Malaysia Police and National Security Council as well as Indonesian non-governmental organisations, we have successfully distributed staple food packs to over 140,000 Indonesians here (in Malaysia),” he told Bernama today.
Each of the eight-kilogramme food packs contained, among others, rice, noodles and canned food.
Agung said, he hoped that the excellent collaboration between the two countries during these challenging times can serve as social and political capital for their bilateral relations going forward.
“We seek more cooperation from the Government of Malaysia to address issues faced by Indonesian migrant workers here,” he said, adding that from his observation, the main issue now is those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
“There are also those who want to go back to Indonesia. (They can do so) as long as they are fit to fly and can prove they are COVID-19-negative. The embassy, in cooperation with the Malaysian immigration, is trying to facilitate their return to Indonesia because of the humanitarian need this time,” he said.
He said, the embassy is doing its best to assist the Indonesian nationals who have been working tirelessly in this country.
“We also would like to appeal to the fortunate Indonesians here to lend a helping hand to those in need. Let’s make it a ‘jihad’ to help others in this situation,” he said.
On the deportation of undocumented migrants back to Indonesia, Agung said that about 2,000 of these people have been repatriated from the estimated 4,000 at the immigration depots and that the programme is ongoing with careful coordination between the two countries.
Quoting official data, he said, about 800,000 Indonesian migrant workers are in Malaysia.
A moderate estimate puts the number of Indonesian migrants here at triple that figure.
Commenting on the Al Jazeera documentary on Malaysia’s alleged mistreatment of migrant workers that has now become a controversy, the diplomat said, the COVID-19 pandemic is not an easy situation for any country to manage.
Agung said, he believed that emergency measures or policies implemented by the Malaysian government to combat COVID-19 are done with the aim to ensure that the health protocols are fulfilled.
“I try to understand that whatever the Malaysian government has done is within the parameters to safeguard the well-being of the people, including the migrants as they are also in Malaysia.
“We at the Indonesian Embassy know that the Government of Malaysia has been working really hard to cope with the situation. I’m sure that gradually this will also benefit the migrant workers when the economy is able to open up faster and they can get back to work,” he said. – BERNAMA