Does Your Indonesian Maid Deserve A Pay Raise?

These Indonesian maids are mostly in their late teens and are most often expected to cook, clean, and care for their employer's children with working hours that would shock most of us.

While the immigrant workers in Malaysia come from various parts of Asia, mostly Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Philippines, India and Thailand, when it comes to domestic work, Malaysian employers have a penchant for hiring young Indonesian women to do the job

Indonesian maids are a common presence in most Malaysian households

Image via SBS

These women, some barely out of their teen years, are mostly hired through various maid agencies in the country that serve as a middle party between the immigration department and the employers themselves.

Over the years, the process of "shopping" for maids have been made easier by all these agencies. All a potential employer needs to do is to inform the agencies the specifics of an ideal maid (age, nationality, experience, etc.) and pay the designated amount to the agency and sort out the legal documents with the immigration department.

The abuse:

However, for the past few decades, Malaysia has been making headlines globally, becoming infamous for horror stories of local employers abusing their maids

Nirmala's injuries caused by her former employer left her unable to nurse her babies

Image via Asia One

In 2004, a horrifying case surfaced in Malaysia about an Indonesian maid who was abused in the cruelest way, repeatedly for five, long months.

Nirmala Bonat, 30, who was just a 19-year-old teenager when she was employed by a wealthy, Malaysian couple, came to Malaysia in the hopes of earning to ease the burden of her poverty-stricken family back in Indonesia.

According to a report by BBC, the young girl's torture started when she accidentally broke a mug which drove the employer's wife to throw a pot of boiling water on Nirmala.

The nightmare continued with unimaginable acts such as pressing hot iron on Nirmala's breasts, pouring more boiling water all over Nirmala and then beating her up and this continued months until a guard found out about the abuse and lodged a police report.

The court sentenced the employer's wife a 12 year jail term in 2012 and the arduous case came to an end in 2014, when the Malaysian High Court ordered Nirmala's former employers to pay RM129,147.20 in damages for the abuses.

Unfortunately, Nirmala's disturbing and heart-breaking ordeal wasn't the only documented case of maid abuse in Malaysia.

In late 2014, the world received another shocking news, when an Indonesian maid was held in a 'torture chamber' for 8 months by her Malaysian employers.

Meriance's former employers, a lesbian couple was reported to have kept Meriance locked with their dog the in an aparment in Pandan Jaya.

Image via Malay Mail Online

Meriance Kabu, 23, was held captive by a Malaysian couple, aged 47 and 39, in a low-cost apartment in Ampang, according to a report by Malay Mail Online.

The duo committed heinous crimes that included pulling out Meriance's teeth with sharp objects and leaving her bleeding profusely for days, inserting large objects into her private parts, starving her and beating her up whenever as they pleased.

After enduring 8 months of torture by her employers, Meriance finally found the courage asking for help by writing a note that read, "Setiap hari saya mandi darah (I bathe in blood everyday)", as reported by Malay Mail Online. A neighbour found the note and made police reports and the authorities rescued Meriance and eventually arrested her employers.

One of the employer, Ong Su Ping Serene, 47 was charged under under Section 326 of the Penal Code, which carries an imprisonment for up to 20 years and fine or whipping, if found guilty.

Abuse of kids:

While these young Indonesian girls have gone through inhuman acts of violence, some of the other Indonesian maids have instead caused grief for their employers with many reported cases of maids kidnapping and abusing the children placed under their care

Indonesian maid, 50-year-old Tini Martini

Image via WN

One such maid, 50-year-old Tini Martini, abused a 10-year-old disabled child that she was supposed to care for.

Tini was reported to have beaten, stepped on and kicked the child for four months, as reported The Star on 14 November, 2014.

Tini was slapped with a 5 year jail sentence for her offence.

In 2013, a 23-year-old maid was sentenced to 20 years of jail after she was caught hurling her employer's four-month-old baby on the floor

Yuliana is a mother of children from Sukarame in Acheh, Indonesia

Image via The Star

According to a report in The Star, a closed circuit television recording showed her throwing down the baby nine times. Yuliana, 23, pleaded guilty to attempting to murder and abusing the four-month-old baby boy.

Yuliana, who has two children, was charged with throwing and hurling the baby, Mohamed Hareez Mohamed Zamri, nine times, an act which could cause death, at 7.45am on 15 February at 7 Lorong Bukit Setongkol 38, Jalan Bukit Setongkol here.

Earlier, when a recording of her action was shown in the court, Yuliana, clad in an orange lock-up uniform, did not show any reaction or facial expression.

However, based on media archives, it is noted that recorded cases of employers abusing their Indonesian maids are more compared to cases of maids causing harm to their employers

While some employers are known to treat their maids well, plenty are known to either physically or verbally abuse their young maids, based on cases brought up to the media's attention over the years

Image via

Following these unfortunate incidents, Indonesian president Joko Widodo informed that the Indonesian government wants to stop their nationals from going abroad to work as domestic maids

Indonesian president Joko Widodo

Image via

Indonesia wants to stop women going abroad as domestic workers to preserve the country’s “dignity” after the high-profile case of an Indonesian maid abused and treated like a slave in Hong Kong, local media reported on Monday.

President Joko Widodo told the Hanura Party national congress that he had ordered the manpower ministry to come up with a “clear roadmap” on when Indonesia could stop providing domestic helpers to other countries. No time frame was given.

“The practice of Indonesian women going overseas to work as housemaids must stop immediately,” Widodo was quoted in the Straits Times newspaper as telling the congress at the weekend. “We should have pride and dignity.”

Should there be a minimum wage?

Another ongoing problem with Indonesian maids in Malaysia is the constant debate between the countries over the minimum wage set by Malaysia for their maids

Indonesian workers mostly fill up the blue-collar jobs in Malaysia

Image via

Earlier this year, the Indonesian government, in their efforts to improve the working and living conditions of their domestic workers in Malaysia, sent a proposal to the Human Resource Ministry requesting an increase in the minimum wage to RM1,200 from the RM700 set now.

“We propose that the wage be raised to RM1,200 per month. The wages in other countries are so much higher than those offered in Malaysia,” he told Bernama at the Indonesian Embassy here today.

According to him, Indonesia also suggested that Malaysia implement easier processing of documents and abolish charges imposed on maids estimated at RM1,800 per person.
“At the moment, we are waiting for feedback from Malaysia,” he said.

Early this month (May 2015), the republic decided not to send its citizens to Middle Eastern countries as maids following several cases of abuse and murder.

The suggestion to increase the minimum wage of maids to RM1,200 was poorly received by Malaysians, as most were comparing it to the local workers who were only entitled to a minimum wage of RM900

Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali

Image via Malay Mail Online

Raise the minimum wage to RM1,200 to help the people face the rising cost of living first before considering raising the salary of Indonesian maids, said Pertubuhan Pri­­bumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) president Datuk Ibrahim Ali.

"If the government wants to consider the needs of foreign housemaids by raising their minimum salary to RM1,200, the minimum pay of Malaysians must also start with RM1,200.

"It does not necessarily mean that we must accept, when Indonesia suggested that the salary of their maids be raised to RM1,200 from RM800. What we can give them at the highest, is RM1,000. Make Malaysians happy first before we make foreigners happy," he told reporters after delivering a speech at a Perkasa function in Chendering near here Saturday.

According to Ibrahim, the call was in line with the Malay right-wing movement's suggestion previously to the government that the minimum wage be raised to RM1,200 from RM900.

Agreeing with Perkasa, maid employers and agencies are completely against raising the minimum wage too, while hoping that Malaysia will still be able to reach an unanimous agreement with Indonesia on the matter

MAMA's president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein

Image via Asia One

Maid employers and agencies are adamant with their stand that the RM1,200 salary demanded by Indonesia was not relevant and hoped the government will not back down in the meeting in Jarkarta this week.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein said there would be disputes on the minimum salary between local workers and Indonesian maids if the demand was met.
“Our minimum salary is RM900, outsiders get RM1,200. It is as if we are only depending on the service of maids from Indonesia,” he said.

“Is the salary demanded on par with quality? Surely, not because RM1,200 involves merely cleaning and tidying up,” he said.

In addition, he said Indonesia must give its assurance that there would no longer be cases of maids from Indonesia running away from their employers if the salary demand was accepted.

Take our poll to let us know your views on the topic:

Indonesian maid horror stories seem like a never ending thread. Last year, an Indonesian maid slit the throats of a toddler and his five-year-old brother and then ended up stabbing herself to death:

An advertisement by RoboVac automatic vacuum cleaners got into hot soup earlier this year, after it came up with an advertisement promoting their vacuum cleaner with the phrase, "Fire your Indonesian maid now!":

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