Malaysia

Indonesian legislators urge compassion for 17-year-old maid facing murder charge

Indonesian lawmakers are appealing to Putrajaya to show leniency to Wilfrida Soik, an Indonesian migrant worker who is facing a murder charge, and the death sentence if found guilty, for killing her Malaysian employer.

Poempida Hidayatulloh, a member of the committee which oversees manpower affairs and a Golkar party legislator, said that 17-year-old Wifrida Soik had been working since she was 12 and is a victim of human trafficking.

As such, he urged the Malaysian government to consider humanitarian factors given its commitment to stemming human trafficking.

It was reported that some time in 2010 Wilfrida was approached by some men who managed to get her a job in Malaysia through the Indonesian Ministry of Labour’s agency in Belu.

To help her enter Malaysia, they falsified her papers, passing her off as an adult.

Once she arrived in Malaysia, Wilfrida was employed as a maid in the house of an elderly lady in Johor.

The old lady suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was found dead on December 7, 2010.

Wilfrida  was arrested for her murder less that two weeks later.

Poempida also said that not showing leniency to Wilfrida would go against the government’s efforts to deport illegal workers and would bring the Malaysian government’s commitment to fight human trafficking into question.

“If Wilfrida’s case continues, then her employer and the agent who had recruited Wilfrida should also be held accountable for human trafficking,” the Jakarta Globe reported him as saying.

Poempida also said the Indonesian government would have to take diplomatic action should Malaysia ignore the circumstances of the case. But he did not specify the type of action.

Indonesian presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto, from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), also wants to help Wilfrida, with an official from the party confirming that they would be assisting the maid in her upcoming hearing.

"Aside from providing a good lawyer, Prabowo will also assist her at the trial on September 30,” Gerindra deputy secretary-general Sudaryono said on Monday.

Sudaryono added that the Malaysian government had been cooperative in efforts to save Wilfrida, allowing Prabowo to meet her on Saturday with the assistance of Malaysian lawyer Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Malaysia employs some 220,000 housemaids from Indonesia, followed by Hong Kong (152,000) and Singapore (90,000) but a number of high-profile abuse cases has led to Indonesia reviewing the supply to Malaysia and these countries.

Jakarta has also tightened the rules for its nationals working as maids in Malaysia and the Indonesian Embassy labour attache in Kuala Lumpur, Agus Triyanto, told The Malaysian Insider last month that from 2017, Indonesian maids working in Malaysia must live outside the homes of their employers.

“This means the maids will only do housework and nothing else,” he said. - September 20, 2013.

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