KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia and Malaysia are looking to integrate their online recruitment systems to streamline the hiring of foreign workers, including domestic helpers from the republic, under a single channel.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said yesterday that Indonesia has proposed its One Channel System (OCS) be used for the purpose, to enable both sides to have access to the data of workers employed here.

The matter, he said, was discussed at the joint committee meeting between the Home and Human Resources ministries on July 18. He said that both ministries have agreed in principle to combine the existing Maid Online system (SMO) of the Home Ministry with that of Indonesia.

“The meeting had also agreed for an immediate discussion to be held between the Human Resources Ministry, Home Ministry, and Immigration Department as well as the Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia to find an immediate resolution to this problem,” he said during the Minister Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday.

Saravanan also said that the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for hiring foreign workers from Indonesia, including domestic helpers, is “still relevant”.

He maintained that there was a “confusion on the hiring mechanism” and that Indonesia had said on July 12 that it was simply postponing the process of sending workers to Malaysia.

Saravanan said there were no terms in the MOU which stipulated that the SMO, which Malaysia has been using for the online recruitment of domestic helpers, had to be scrapped.

“There was no term that the existing system must be abolished. It was stated in the MOU that the existing system in Indonesia should be used, but there was no condition that we have to abolish our existing system,” he said during the Minister Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday.

He was responding to a supplementary question by Anthony Loke (PH-Seremban) on whether scrapping the SMO was part of the agreed terms in the MOU and whether the system being the bone of contention between the two countries was true.

Last week, Indonesia issued a temporary freeze on the sending of migrant workers into Malaysia.

It is understood that Indonesia was not satisfied with Malaysia’s continuous usage of the SMO recruitment method to hire maids, which it said was a breach of the MOU signed by both countries in April.

Meanwhile, M Kulasegaran (PH-Ipoh Barat) posed a question as to why the government has agreed to a single system.

The former Pakatan Harapan Human Resources minister went on to add that this means the SMO was ineffective, adding that the Pakatan Harapan government decided to abolish the system for the same reason.

“It is self-explanatory that the SMO is not working. Why is it still being used? This is the shortest-lived MOU in Malaysia. “It looks like there is no effort by both ministries (Home and Human Resources) to find a good direction (to resolve the problem),” he said.

To this, Saravanan briefly said that he would take note of the grouses of his predecessor.

On a separate note, Saravanan denied claims that his ministry had approved the recruitment of 200,000 Bangladeshi workers.

He added that the quota for foreign workers is based on the sectors and not on citizenship.

“After the employer obtains approval for the foreign worker quota from MOHR and has paid the foreign worker’s levy to the Immigration Department, they can then decide on which country they want to source their workers from,” he said during the Oral Question and Answer session.

Saravanan said there are 15 source countries approved for the recruitment of foreign workers.

He was responding to a question by Datuk Abdullah Sani (PH-Kapar) on why the ministry had approved 200,000 applications for Bangladeshi workers.