Swiss envoy speaks out against maid abuse in Malaysia

Indonesian domestic worker Adelina was allegedly abused and forced to sleep at her employer's car porch with a dog for a month. — Picture courtesy of Steven Sim's officeIndonesian domestic worker Adelina was allegedly abused and forced to sleep at her employer's car porch with a dog for a month. — Picture courtesy of Steven Sim's office

PETALING JAYA, Feb 22 — The Swiss Ambassador to Malaysia Michael Winzap today expressed outrage over maid abuse cases in the country, calling it modern day slavery and a gross violation of human rights.

Winzap also suggested that Malaysia halt all imports of foreign maids until it can guarantee their safety.

Winzap is likely the first European envoy to have openly criticise the Malaysian government’s manner in handling the issue, which he said has become a worrying trend.

He expressed shock with the lack of empathy shown by Malaysian public and politicians towards the death of Indonesian maid — Adelina Lisao, 26, who was allegedly abused by her employer that led to her death.

The media earlier reported that Adelina, who had sustained serious injuries including cuts and bruises on her body, died while undergoing treatment at the Bukit Mertajam Hospital at 4.45pm, on February 11.

She was rescued from her employer’s home a day earlier, after it was reported she was physically abused and forced to sleep in the porch with the family pet Rottweiler.

“This shouldn’t have happened at all, especially in this modern day,” he said during the question and answer session where he was a member of the audience at the Amnesty International Malaysia’s event.

He also criticised the local human rights group for not paying sufficient attention to the issue of maid abuse.

“There was little outcry about the woman…by the public or by politicians. That is not how a human being should be treated. It’s modern day slavery,” he said.

Yesterday, MA Ambika, 60, was charged at the Bukit Mertajam Magistrate’s Court with the murder of Adeline at her home in Medan Kota Permai 2, Taman Kota Permai 2  at 4pm on Feb 10.

No plea was recorded from Ambika, who merely nodded after the charge was read out.

She faces the mandatory death sentence if convicted. 

In the same court, Ambika’s daughter, R. Jayavartiny, 32, was charged with employing an illegal immigrant (Adelina).

The saleswoman pleaded not guilty to employing Adelina at their home in the said address here between March last year and Feb 10 this year.

She was charged under Section 55 (B) (1) of the Immigration Act which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 months or both.

Amnesty International Malaysia interim executive director Gwen Lee responding to Winzap's criticism, saying the NGO is not mandated to "adopt" the issue of maid abuse, but is working closely with other civil societies that do.

"We are monitoring the issue," Lee told reporters after her presentation of the group's 2017 human rights report.

Winzap declined requests for comments.