‘Time to look else­where for maid sup­ply’

Business Mirror - - ASEANMONDAY -

KUALA LUMPUR— Quit de­pend­ing on In­done­sia for maids, give se­ri­ous thought to sourc­ing them from Cam­bo­dia— this, in short, is Malaysian Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Em­ploy­ment Agen­cies’ ( Pikap) sug­ges­tion to the Malaysian gov­ern­ment.

With In­done­sia and even the Philip­pines hav­ing made it rather clear that they do not want their women to work as do­mes­tic helpers in other coun­tries from next year, it is time for Malaysia to look else­where for its maid sup­ply.

Pikap Pres­i­dent Datuk Raja Zulke­p­ley Da­ha­lan felt that Cam­bo­dia was the best choice for Malaysia, as its peo­ple were known to be dis­ci­plined, cour­te­ous and gen­tle, while their cul­ture and tra­di­tions were more or less sim­i­lar to Malaysia’s.

“Even our lan­guages share some sim­i­lar­i­ties,” he said, hop­ing that Malaysia and Cam­bo­dia could has­ten the fi­nal­iza­tion of a pi­lot scheme to bring in 500 Cam­bo­dian maids.

“It’s still at the ne­go­ti­a­tion stage... but I hope they can speed it up and im­ple­ment the pi­lot project in July.”

Malaysia used to source for maids from Cam­bo­dia un­til 2011, when Pres­i­dent Hun Sen put a stop to it, fol­low­ing re­ports of abuse by Malaysian em­ploy­ers and Cam­bo­dian re­cruit­ment agen­cies.

How­ever, last December the two coun­tries signed an­other me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on the re­cruit­ment of Cam­bo­dian work­ers and do­mes­tic helpers, which out­lined a more sys­tem­atic process for the re­cruit­ment, hir­ing and repa­tri­a­tion of work­ers, and the pro­tec­tion of their rights.

Maid short­age

RAJA ZULKE­P­LEY said due to Malaysia’s depen­dency on In­done­sia as its main source na­tion, it stood to face a se­vere short­age of maids should the repub­lic go ahead with its plan to dis­al­low its women from work­ing as live- in maids in other coun­tries from next year.

“If In­done­sia im­ple­ments this plan, it will have an im­pact world­wide, in­clud­ing Malaysia. It can af­fect our coun­try’s pro­duc­tiv­ity... as if this is not enough, other source na­tions, like the Philip­pines, are also im­pos­ing var­i­ous con­di­tions for the hir­ing of maids,” he told Ber­nama, re­cently.

The Philip­pine gov­ern­ment has also stated its in­ten­tion to stop send­ing do­mes­tic helpers over­seas in stages and it ex­pects the prac­tice to come to a full stop in 2017.

With the two main sup­pli­ers aim­ing to sever their pipe­lines, how will Malaysia cope with the en­su­ing short­age of maids?

The Malaysian gov­ern­ment is hop­ing that In­done­sia will re­con­sider its de­ci­sion on the maid is­sue. Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi has said In­done­sia and Malaysia should have more de­tailed dis­cus­sions on the mat­ter and added that he would in­vite In­done­sia’s Man­power Min­is­ter Hanif Dhakiri to Malaysia for talks.

Pro­vide train­ing for lo­cals

URG­ING Malaysia to be fully pre­pared for a con­tin­gency should there be a halt in the sup­ply of maids from the two main source coun­tries, Raja Zulke­p­ley said Pikap was plan­ning to in­tro­duce a “home man­ager” scheme, un­der which lo­cals would be trained to pro­vide daily or part-time maid ser­vice.

“Since we al­ways seem to be de­pen­dent [on other coun­tries], Pikap is sug­gest­ing that an in­sti­tute be set up for ex­pe­ri­enced in­struc­tors to train school-leavers, sin­gle moth­ers and others who are in­ter­ested in pro­vid­ing maid ser­vice, re­gard­less of their race. Although not many [Malaysians] are keen to do such work, we still plan to present our pro­posal for the es­tab­lish­ment of such a train­ing in­sti­tute to the gov­ern­ment, and we hope to set it up soon.

“There’s noth­ing new about our sug­ges­tion, as some state gov­ern­ments have done it, too, but they have not been all that ef­fec­tive. We want to use our ex­pe­ri­ence to train Malaysians so that they have an­other job op­tion, although be­ing a maid would most prob­a­bly be their last choice,” he said.

Work­place nurs­ery

MALAYSIAN Maid Em­ploy­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (MAMA) Pres­i­dent Engku Ah­mad Fauzi Engku Muh­sein, mean­while, said since Malaysians hire maids mainly to look af­ter their chil­dren when they go to work, the gov­ern­ment should en­cour­age em­ploy­ers to set up nurs­eries at the work­place.

“I be­lieve that, while chores, like clean­ing and cook­ing, can be done by the hus­band and wife, they rely largely on maids to take care of their chil­dren dur­ing of­fice hours.

“As such, pub­lic agen­cies and pri­vate com­pa­nies should be en­cour­aged to set up nurs­eries, which can be op­er­ated by trained lo­cal child- min­ders. This is a bet­ter op­tion [for the gov­ern­ment] than im­port­ing maids, who cre­ate an out­flow of funds when they re­mit money to their home na­tion,” he said.

Leav­ing their chil­dren at their of­fice nurs­ery would pro­vide peace of mind to par­ents and also lead to higher pro­duc­tiv­ity, he said, adding that the child­min­ders’ salaries could be borne by the com­pa­nies or by im­pos­ing a small fee on the em­ploy­ees con­cerned.

He also agreed with Raja Zulke­p­ley that Malaysia should look else­where for its maid sup­ply, adding that coun­tries, like Cam­bo­dia, Bangladesh and Nepal, did not mind send­ing their women to Malaysia to work as do­mes­tic helpers.

“At the same time, it’s im­por­tant that we seek more con­crete ways to over­come the maid is­sue, as we don’t want our na­tion to be par­a­lyzed due to its overde­pen­dence on maids. In fact, the is­sue must be re­solved way be­fore 2020 be­cause it can un­der­mine pro­duc­tiv­ity,” he said.

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