Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Arientha Primanita
An opposition legislator has urged the government to show greater commitment to protecting Indonesian migrant workers overseas, following the shooting death of at least three workers by police in Malaysia last week.
Tjahjo Kumolo, secretary general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said on Friday that there was an “increasing frequency” of Indonesians getting shot in Malaysia.
“No matter what the circumstances, the government has a duty to ensure the protection of all our citizens abroad,” he said.
Tjahjo said that with an estimated 6.5 million Indonesians working abroad legally or illegally, of whom 39,000 were mired in some kind of legal trouble, it was important for the government to push through efforts to guarantee their protection.
“We need to prioritize and fast-track all pending memorandums of understanding with host countries on protecting our citizens,” he said.
“The government also needs to make the most out of amnesty programs for illegal workers offered by some of the host governments [including Malaysia].”
The PDI-P official’s call came a day after the Foreign Ministry said it was closely following an investigation into the shooting of four suspected criminals by Malaysian police on Sept. 7.
As of Friday, three of them were positively identified as Indonesian nationals, said Herman Prayitno, the Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia.
He said the bodies were now in the process of being repatriated. He declined to give more details or identify the victims, saying that was all the information available for now.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Marty said that two of the four killed reportedly had criminal records.
“This includes alleged robberies committed in the past. This is according to data from the Malaysian report, which we’re still in the process of verifying,” the minister said on Thursday.
Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said they were killed in the early hours of Sept. 7 after residents of a housing estate in Ipoh reported suspicious activity.
“Malaysian police got a report from locals that there was a car going back and forth at the Taman Meru residence at 3 a.m. local time,” he said on Thursday.
“The local residents, who were on high alert because of a robbery there just a day before, decided to report the suspicious car to the police.”
When the police arrived, the suspects fled in the car and a chase ensued. Michael said that after the fleeing car was forced to stop, the four occupants got out and opened fire on the police. All four were killed in the exchange of gunfire.
Inside the car, police found two firearms, three machetes, three notebook computers, three digital cameras, five cellphones, two watches, a fake vehicle license plate and cash in ringgit, yen and rupiah.
The incident is the latest in a series of shootings of Indonesians by Malaysian police over suspected criminal conduct.
In March, three migrant workers from West Nusa Tenggara were shot dead in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan state. An inquiry will get underway there next week to determine whether police violated procedure in shooting the men.
In June, police gunned down another three other migrant workers, all of them from East Java.
In both of those cases, the victims were allegedly involved in attempted robberies at the time of their deaths, police said.