Domestic workers protest in Hong Kong on International Migrants Day on December 18, 2015. Photo: Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions

Indonesia won’t follow through on a threat last year to bar its citizens from working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong and Singapore, but will seek ways to stop them from being exploited or abused, Reuters reported Monday, citing an official of the Southeast Asian country.

Jakarta has been in talks with the governments in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia to ensure Indonesian maids are not mistreated, Soes Hindharno, director for the protection and placement of Indonesian migrant workers abroad, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Hindharno said the Indonesian government wanted to prevent overseas maids from doing “multi-tasking works” or being exploited.

“If they are housekeepers, they are housekeepers – they clean, cook and iron. If they are babysitters, they are babysitters – you can’t ask a babysitter to bathe your dog,” he told the foundation. Domestic helpers make up more than a third of the six million Indonesian working abroad, the report said.

In February 2015, Hong Kong woman Law Wan-tung was sent to jail for six years for her brutal treatment of Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. That month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the country will no longer send women abroad to work as maids in a bid to preserve the country’s dignity.

In May 2016, Hindharno told Singapore’s Straits Times that Indonesia will stop sending new live-in maids abroad from as early as 2017. Indonesia wanted its overseas domestic workers to live separately from their employers in a bid to ensure standard working hours and prevent abuse, he added. Hong Kong rules governing domestic workers stipulates that they must reside in the employer’s home.