Opaque manner of handling performance bond issue troubling

It is one thing to see a growth in the number of cases of abuse against Indonesian foreign domestic workers, but quite another to ascertain if these cases are legitimate to begin with (Forfeiture of bond will be last resort; May 15).

Unfortunately, it appears that the Indonesian Embassy is quick to accept the complainants' version of the story.

In the light of this and based on how the terms and conditions of its performance bond contract are less than clearly defined, how can local employers of Indonesian maids be reassured that the embassy's interpretation of a breach would not be skewed in favour of its fellow nationals?

Just as local employers are free to reject the performance bond contract and hire a maid from another country, Indonesian maids are also free to decide whether they want to work here according to the terms and conditions of employment laid out by the Ministry of Manpower.

I hope the Indonesian Embassy understands that the costs of insurance for the bond is beside the point.

Rather, the general public here is flabbergasted by the discretionary and opaque manner in which the matter is being handled.

To put things in perspective, these foreign domestic workers are employees here in Singapore, not in Indonesia, and any contract that the embassy chooses to impose on their prospective employers must adhere to Singaporean laws without exception.

If embassy officials find these laws to be currently inadequate in protecting Indonesian workers, then they ought to further consult with the Singaporean authorities according to diplomatic form and protocol, instead of acting in disrespect to the laws and sovereignty of their host country.

The embassy's only responsibility is to refer cases of abuse to the relevant authorities for adjudication while providing consular assistance to their fellow nationals, if need be.

Toh Cheng Seong

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