The Women’s Affairs Ministry wants Malaysia’s Home Ministry to speed up the signing of an MoU on anti-human trafficking to protect Cambodian workers, especially maids, in that country.
Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi on Thursday requested Malaysian Ambassador Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim during a meeting at the ministry.
A ministry statement said both sides had agreed on the MoU but its signing stalled in 2012.
“The MoU process has been delayed since 2012 due to some political problems in Malaysia,” the ministry said.
It added that Ms Kantha Phavi is hesitant to send any more maids to Malaysia until the agreement is signed.
“The MoU is very important for both countries and it will protect Cambodian maids from human and labour trafficking if it is signed,” the statement said.
It said that in response, Mr Eldeen Husaini said he will convey the request to Malaysia’s Home Ministry.
On January 22, 2018, Labour Minister Ith Samheng said that the Kingdom was lifting a moratorium on sending maids to Malaysia following talks with his counterpart Dato’ Sri Richard Riot Anak Jaem.
In October 2011, the government imposed a moratorium on its citizens working as domestic helpers in Malaysia due to reports of abuse by employers.
Mr Samheng said he had met with the Malaysian minister three times to discuss the process of recruiting, training and sending the maids to safely work.
“Today we talked about the procedure of selecting, training and sending our workers and maids to work in Malaysia, and we agreed by setting the date for sending the first group to work in Malaysia on June 1 this year through the new system,” he noted.
He added that according to official figures from Malaysia, more than 8,000 Cambodians were working legally there as maids among others. This number dropped after Cambodia banned sending workers to Malaysia in 2011.
Khun Tharo, a programme coordinator for the Center for Alliance of Labor, said on Thursday, Cambodian workers work in Malaysia in the agriculture and sectors as well as maids.
He said that he encourages the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Malaysian government to finish the process of signing the MoU on anti-human trafficking to the workers, especially maids.
“Recently we noticed there are no serious cases of Cambodian human trafficking victims in Malaysia but Cambodia needs the MoU and other agreements to protect workers there,” Mr Traro said.
He said the situation has improved since the Ministry of Labour’s agreement to send workers again to Malaysia via recruitment agencies which promised to monitor their well-being.
In 2017, the Ministry of Labour and Malaysia Association of Foreign Maid Agencies signed an agreement on the protection and welfare of migrant domestic workers.
A mechanism was set up to visit workplaces every quarter of the year by both countries’ agencies to assure that workers enjoy good welfare and legal protection.
A statement then said the agreement included training and provision of a phone for maids to communicate with their families and Cambodian authorities.
It also covered insurance for work accidents, with health insurance for workers before they start their jobs.
The Labour Ministry announced the names of 77 private recruitment agencies approved to select, train and send Cambodian workers to Thailand, Malaysia and Japan.
The agencies include Top Manpower, Ung Rithy Group, Philimore Cambodia, Sok Leap Metrey and Phnom Penh Labour Supply, among others.