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A mission to save Indonesian in Malaysia
Publication Date : 30-09-2013
The government and NGOs have stepped up efforts to persuade the Malaysian authorities to spare the life of 20-year-old Indonesian migrant worker Wilfrida Soik as a Malaysian court is due to announce its verdict on her on Monday.
Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhamimin Iskandar flew to Malaysia on Friday on a mission to save Wilfrida, who has been charged with killing her Malaysian employer, Yeap Seok Pen, 60, who had Parkinson’s disease, in 2010.
Kota Baru High Court in Johor is expected to hand down its verdict on Wilfrida in a hearing on Monday. She is accused of murdering Yeap, in what activists and rights campaigners say was an act of self defense after being tortured by her employer.
Muhaimin said that the government would take any means necessary to persuade the Kota Baru High Court to grant leniency to Wilfrida.
“We asked Malaysia to pay attention to Indonesian migrant workers who are facing the death penalty, including Wilfrida, in a meeting last Friday. But, we must understand that the Malaysian government can’t directly intervene in any ongoing trial process,” he said in a statement.
On Saturday, Wilfrida’s parents, Rikhardus Mau and Mario Kolo, also departed for Malaysia to attend the verdict hearing, in the company of Belu Legislative Council deputy speaker Magdalena Tiwu and Rev. Goris from the Atambua Diocese.
“It really hurts me. The only thing I knew was she was staying with her uncle. I only learned that she was in Malaysia after it was reported that she might face a death sentence. I hope she will be released and returned to her family,” said Rikhardus.
The case has taken on a political aspect as chief patron of the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) Party, Prabowo Subianto, is expected to attend the hearing, after earlier announcing that he had hired prominent Malaysian lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, to defend Wilfrida.
“Wilfrida’s case is fixed for hearing at the Kota Baru High Court tomorrow. I will be taking over the case at the submissions stage of the prosecution’s case,” Shafee said as quoted by The Malaysian Insider on Sunday.
Executive director of Migrant Care, an NGO focusing on workers’ rights, Anis Hidayah, said the organization had uncovered more evidence in Wilfrida’s defense.
She said that Wilfrida was a victim of human trafficking. An investigation by Migrant Care earlier revealed that Wilfrida’s credentials had been falsified by a scalper her birth year was changed from 1993 to 1989 in order for her to work.
Anis said that Wilfrida was only 17-years-old when she entered Malaysia on falsified documents, a condition that would make her eligible for protection under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbids capital punishment for minors.
“Both Indonesia and Malaysia have ratified the convention. The convention is applicable in Wilfrida’s case. I will also bring up the issue during the ongoing UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development,” she said from New York, where she was scheduled to speak at the UN headquarters.
Anis said that there was a precedent in which an Indonesian migrant worker in Singapore, Siti Aminah, was spared the death penalty using the convention.
“So, there is hope for Wilfrida. I believe that the Malaysian authorities will spare her from the death penalty if they really consider these facts,” Anis said.
Tragic fate of Indonesian workers in Malaysia
Nirmala Bonat (2004)
Nirmala has been scorched with a hot iron, scalded and beaten with a metal cup and a plastic coat hanger. On Oct. 1 2012, Nirmala’s former employer, 44-year-old housewife Yim Pek Ha, is sentenced to 12 years in prison after a prolonged trial.
Ceriyati binti Dapin (2007)
Ceriyati attempts to escape from her employer’s 15th floor apartment in 2007 by tying together sheets to make a rope after she is physically abused for three-and-a-half months by her male employer. She is rescued by the fire department after reaching the eighth floor.
Siti Fathonah (2008)
Fathonah, from Cilacap, Central Java is murdered by her employer in Puchong, Selangor.
Sumasri is admitted to the hospital upon her arrival home, with severe burns to her body, on May 14, 2009. Migrant Care say Sumasri suffers from extensive scarring on her back, shoulders, hands and thighs, as a result of her employer allegedly pouring boiling water over her.
Modesta Rengga Kaka (2009)
Modesta suffers severe injuries and hearing loss after being physically abused by her employer
Siti Hajar (2009)
Siti flees her employer’s home in June 2009. She had worked for Hau Yuan Tyng, a single mother of two, for three years in a luxury condominium. In May 2010, a Malaysian court sentences her employer to eight years in prison.