Six years after the government banned sending maids to work in Malaysia, both countries have agreed to resume the practice, with 300 workers expected to migrate in March.
According to a Malaymail Online report yesterday, about 300 domestic workers will arrive in Malaysia in March after the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (PAPA) on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur.
Seng Sakda, director-general of the Ministry of Labour, guaranteed that prospective Muslim employers would not have a problem with helpers from Cambodia.
“In Cambodia, we have Buddhists and Muslims too. We will supply them according to demand,” he was quoted as saying in the Malaymail Online report.
In October 2011, the Cambodian government imposed a moratorium on its citizens working as domestic helpers in Malaysia due to reports of abuse by employers.
PAPA president Jeffrey Food said the MoA seeks to ensure protection and security of Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia.
“What we signed today enables PAPA to manage the well-being of Cambodian workers and oversee the entire process — from the time they are selected, trained and offered jobs in Malaysian homes,” Mr Food said.
Mr Food said the MoA demands employers sign a pre-hiring agreement which specifies the size of household and the types of chores the prospective maids would have to do.
“We want to be strict this time. When we do this, the maids will know beforehand what kind of tasks await them and they are not exploited to work in other sectors.
“The employers will then be liable and can be brought to book should the Cambodian worker be exploited or abused,” he said.
The MoA also dictates that a Cambodian maid be protected with insurance, given a mobile phone and have a bank account opened in her name.
Mr Foo envisions 50,000 Cambodian domestic helpers coming to Malaysia annually should everything go according to plan.
Moeun Tola, executive director of labour NGO Central, said yesterday that he remains worried about sending maids to work in Malaysia because systems to protect them are lacking.
“If we keep sending them, the problems may continue to happen or be even worse than before,” he said. “There must be a law in Malaysia to recognise domestic workers as having the same rights as all workers.”
Labour Minister Ith Samheng said in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday that he hopes Cambodians will be working as domestic helpers in Malaysia again “as soon as possible”, according to Channel News Asia.
“Today’s event reflects our strong commitment for extending welfare and protection mechanisms for Cambodian workers in Malaysia. We wish to provide them better protection and support,” he said.
In the first six months of the year, Cambodian embassies repatriated thousands of Cambodian workers from 10 countries after their work and living situations deteriorated, including 134 from Malaysia.