KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Indonesian ambassador Hermono today accused Malaysia of reneging on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was aimed to streamline the hiring of Indonesian maids signed just three months ago, describing it as a “disgrace”.

Hermono claimed the Malaysian immigration department was disregarding the agreement to stop using the Maid Online System (MOS) for such recruitments, which he said was a “total breach” of the MoU.

Jakarta imposed a temporary freeze on Indonesian workers departing for Malaysia since yesterday, Hermono was quoted by Free Malaysia Today as saying.

“What’s the point of signing this MoU in front of my president if it is not honoured?” Hermono was quoted as saying.

“Ismail is the one who wanted our president to witness the signing, and he agreed. You would think that with the presence of the (Malaysian) prime minister and the (Indonesian) president, all parties would honour the MoU – but the reality is far from it. Our president witnessed the MoU ... But now ... What’s the point? This is a disgrace to our president.”

In March, President Joko Widodo, known popularly as Jokowi, and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob witnessed the signing of the MoU in Jakarta.

Both countries had agreed to replace the MOS with the One Channel System as part of the MoU but Hermono claimed it is being bypassed by the old system, which allowed Indonesian workers to enter the country with tourist visas before applying for a work permit.

Jakarta said the shift to the new system was meant to reduce the risk of forced labour.

The freeze order was issued after Indonesia’s foreign ministry and manpower ministry officials met yesterday. Hermono told the news portal the freeze could become a flashpoint for bilateral ties.

“We need assurances from the Malaysian government that they are going to stop using the MOS. If Malaysia gives such an assurance, we will lift the ban,” he said.

“I’m not happy with this, but we have to do this. If not, we will never solve this problem.”

FMT reported that some 15,000 to 20,000 applications for helpers have been received – with around 10,000 applications from the plantation and manufacturing sectors.

Hermono added that while his country has stopped processing new requests from Indonesians looking to work in Malaysia, those already in the pipeline would go through.