‘Time to look elsewhere for maid supply’
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.
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.
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.