By Ainur Rohmah
TUBAN, Indonesia (AA) - Indonesia has asked Malaysian authorities to stop raids detaining its citizens who work illegally in the country, a top official said on Friday.
Labor Minister Hanif Dhakiri said dozens of Indonesian illegal migrants have been arrested for failing to follow the rehiring program, which is Malaysia's policy to address the problem of illegal workers.
The four-and-a-half-month-old program, which ended on June 30, helped illegal workers get a card so they could be legally employed in Malaysia.
But Dzakiri said the program offered too little time when there are millions of migrant workers from 15 countries working in Malaysia.
"We will ask Malaysia to extend the program, and raids should be stopped due to the large number of illegal migrant workers in Malaysia, including Indonesians," Dzakiri said as quoted by the Metro TV news website.
Indonesia's Foreign Ministry counted arrests of at least 2,600 illegal migrants from various countries -- 350 of them Indonesians -- by Malaysian authorities in recent weeks after the program ended.
Dzakiri said it would soon send a team to Kuala Lumpur to discuss informally the request, including a possible new memorandum of understanding on cooperating on the placement and protection of Indonesia migrant workers in Malaysia.
Jakarta also asked Malaysia to give consular access to give arrested migrants legal rights and fair treatment.
Malaysia is a popular destination for Indonesians to work, but relations between the two countries have been strained by horrific reports of abused Indonesian maids in Malaysia.