“Delay means more abuses”

Indonesian migrants hit consulate for slow actions on demands

“Every minute of every day that the Indonesian Consulate delays on its promises, more and more Indonesian migrants become vulnerable to abuses and exploitation.”

This was declared by Eni Lestari, spokesperson of the United Indonesians Against Overcharging (PILAR) during their protest rally today in front of Indonesian Consulate to demand the Consulate to improve its services for Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong and Macau .

Among the issues the protesters raised were the confiscation of passports by recruitment agencies, the insufficient services for Indonesian migrants in Macau , the refusal to renew passports within one day and the fact that the Consulate lacks major services on Sundays when most migrant workers have their day off.

“Since the end of last year, the Consulate has promised to act on these matters. But until now, their promises have been empty ones,” Lestari said.

According to Lestari, their recent survey revealed that 40% of Indonesian migrants in Hong Kong, especially the newcomers, are confiscated of their passports by Hong Kong agencies. This is done, she said, to hostage Indonesians so they will pay the high placement fee of HK$21,000, not run away from their employer even if they are abused and obey the agency’s instructions.

“Although the Consulate has issued a Letter of Order addressed to the association of Hong Kong agencies that ordered them to release the passports that they have confiscated and punish them if they don’t, it has not yet been fully enforced and still many Indonesians do not have their own passports until now,” Eni reported.

Lestari said that PILAR has been actively gathering complaints among Indonesians for a month and more than 100 complaints have been collected. The complaints were supposed to be submitted during the protest rally but the Indonesian Consulate refused to receive the petition.

“Meanwhile, the Consulate has also not yet implemented the one-day renewal of passport as well as processing of renewal of passports on Sundays even if they have promised to do so in January this year. Although they opened their office on Sundays starting April 6, they only provide services for three hours services and is limited to collection of passports only,” Eni remarked.

According to Lestari since Indonesian migrants are live-in domestic workers, they have to bargain with their employers to allow them to leave the house on weekday mornings. Some, she said, even risk their employment just to attend to their business in the Consulate. This, she reported, is worse for those who work in remote places such as in New Territory and Macau . The Consulate recently admitted that around 150 Indonesians renew their passport everyday but the application time is only in the morning and takes at least two weeks before it can be collected.

“Even the Indonesian migrants in Macau have complained of the insufficent services of the Indonesian Consulate in there. They open only on Sundays for three hours,” she declared

Lestari said that there are around 6,000 Indonesian migrants working in Macau and their number has been increasing recently. The central government in Jakarta has appointed the Indonesian Consulate in Hong Kong to attend to the needs of Indonesians in Macau but it is very inadequate.

“When it comes to implementing policies detrimental to us, the Consulate is very quick. But when it is a matter of services to us, they drag their feet,” Lestari remarked.

Lestari said that they will continue to mount actions to pressure the Consulate to adhere to their commitments.

“The longer the delay, the more abuses we suffer. The Consulate should immediately put their acts together,” she concluded.

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