Kuala Lumpur. An Indonesian migrant worker from East Nusa Tenggara was shot dead by an employer who mistook the man for a pig-tailed macaque stealing fruit from his mango tree.
According to Antara news agency, 39-year-old Kaniseus Leu from Lembata island died after his 71-year-old employer shot him in his head and shoulder while he was climbing a mango tree to reap the fruit after returning from work at a palm oil plantation on Monday.
“The employer, 71, who was at his house located about 20 meters away, saw the tree shaking and thought a monkey was trying to steal the fruits,” Pahang state police deputy chief of detective Mohd. Haris Daud said, according to Malaysian daily New Straits Times, which quoted from state news agency Bernama. “He took his son’s gun and shot at the target from the kitchen window.”
Michael Tene, a spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, confirmed the incident.
“It is being handled by the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur,” Michael told the Jakarta Globe. “The Indonesian Embassy has communicated with the family of the victim related to what’s next. At the moment they want the remains to be buried in Malaysia. But we’ll monitor developments.”
Michael said the Indonesian government will follow the progress of any legal proceedings taken by Malaysian authorities, and ensure that the employer of Kaniseus is punished according to the law.
“I have been informed that the perpetrator has been detained,” Michael said. “A case when someone dies is not a light case.”
The head of the Indonesian Workers Association (ATKI), Retno Dewi, expressed anger upon hearing of the news out of Malaysia.
“Is he blind or what?” she said. “It is an irony that a human being was considered as low as a monkey. Even if it was a monkey, it is not necessary for [the employer] to shoot it. Monkeys should also be protected.”
Retno called on the government to take its duty to protect Indonesian workers abroad more seriously.
“This is not funny at all, not a joke. This is about life,” Retno said. “The Indonesian government should be more strict and have better bargaining power for the welfare of migrant workers.”
The body of Kaniseus was taken to Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital for an autopsy.
[Updated at 7:11 p.m.]