There were suggestions for Malaysia to pull out of the Sea Games in Jakarta next month. Some even urged Malaysians to stop going to the Republic for the time being. The worst idea is to hold a demo in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Jalan Tun Razak as a tit-for-tat over the 'attacks' on our mission in the Indonesian capital yesterday.
Nope! I am against any of the provocative idea. Indonesia is our neighbor, one of our best. The Sea Games has been bridging us well, and all Asean members are looking forward to the meet.
It is also not wise and proper to stop Malaysians from visiting Indonesia - and vice versa - as the people-to-people bond is too strong and unbreakable. A demo at the Indonesian Embassy will only complicate matters as both governments are committed to finding a diplomatic solution to whatever disputes between us.
DPM Muhyiddin Yassin has also advised our students and Malaysians in Indonesia not to react to the incident as the 700 hardliners who stormed our embassy were actually trying to draw attention to local problems. I believe those who took part in the demonstration do realise that our border disputes are not a burden to our bilateral relations.
However, we can't rely too much on the Indonesians. We cannot depend heavily on their workers to help develop our projects. Most of all, we cannot be seen as being so hard up for their maids.
The Indonesian authority has yet to lift the moratorium on their maids imposed in October 2009. This left many Malaysians - especially those in the urban - in a difficult situation. While Indonesia is our major source, we are trying to reduce intakes from the Philippines. You know why!
Okay. To Human Resource Minister Subramaniam, please consider this.
What is the actual number of Indonesian maids working in the country. I believe they totaled to about 800,000, both legals and illegals. The 6P program has yet to show encouraging results and it looks like more problems would surface.
These maids remitted about RM1.2 billion to their country every year. Plus the rest of the 3 million Indonesians in Malaysia, the outflow of our ringgit is estimated at RM5 billion per annum. What a margin!
Are we being too dependent on the Indonesian maids? Why? Is there an alternative to the problem besides turning to other countries like Cambodia, Sri Lanka or the Philippines?
Why can't we train our local maids? Set up a special institute for them and make the profession as a semi-professional job. Instead of paying foreign maids between RM800-RM1,000 per month, may as well we give it to our own people.
We can always redefine and 're-design' the profession. I guess the hospitality courses offered by some learning centers can always include this aspect of services to those interested. The government can regulate it. Nurses and housekeeping are two professions 'at par' with maids, provided that we don't use the term' amah' or 'pembantu rumah' anymore. Think of a better designation.
Sounds impossible? If a local maid is paid about RM800-RM1,000 monthly - and fully-covered by EPF, Socso and other benefits - I think the profession will be attractive enough.
Think about it, sir!