Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

The Swiss ambassador in Kuala Lumpur has hit out at Malaysians and one of the world’s leading non-government groups, saying they were silent and negligent in regard to the plight of foreign maids abused in the country.

Michael Winzap said domestic workers were treated as slaves in the country and expressed shock over Malaysians’ alleged lack of empathy toward foreign maids, Malay Mail Online reported.

Winzap criticised Amnesty International for not including the number of cases concerning domestic workers who are abused in Malaysia in their State of Human Rights 2017/18 report, Asian Correspondent reported.

He cited the case of an Indonesian maid who allegedly suffered such gross abuse by her employer it eventually led to her death. Winzap said there was little outcry about the case by the public or politicians.

Earlier this month, an Indonesian domestic worker named Adelina Lisao was reportedly tortured by her employers and forced to sleep outdoors with the family’s dog – a Rottweiler – for more than a month. Lisao died due to organ failure allegedly caused by the abuse.

“That is not how a human being should be treated. It’s modern-day slavery,” Winzap said.

Gwen Lee, Amnesty International’s interim executive director for Malaysia, said the organization was not able to cover all human rights abuses in the country. However, she said they were working with other NGOs to track down cases of abuse of domestic workers.

Malaysia’s Home Minister and Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi has described the incident as isolated. But the Indonesian government said after that 62 migrant workers from just one province – East Nusa Tenggara –reportedly died in Malaysia last year.

In recent years, there have been notorious cases involving mistreatment of Indonesian maids being abused, which led to regulations being introduced to protect domestic workers. However, rights groups have said that enforcement is poor.

Indonesia’s ambassador to Malaysia and the country’s Labor Minister have allegedly discussed whether Jakarta should introduce a ban on its citizens working in Malaysia until it improves its legal system.

Read: Murder charge laid in Penang maid-abuse case