A woman who was taking part in a pilot scheme to place Cambodian maids in Singapore is waiting to be repatriated after being molested at her employer’s home and allegedly mistreated by a recruitment firm, she said yesterday.
Lok Samean, 34, was initially made to sleep in the same room as an elderly man who molested her twice, she said, before she asked the agency for a transfer.
Samean said that after her new employer did not let her use a phone she returned to live and work at recruiter Nation Employment, where she alleges she was treated badly for months.
“It was a very difficult time, because I did not have enough food. Every day, I just had a little bit of rice and cabbage with water and salt. The food looked like pigs’ food,” she said.
Nation’s managing director, Gary Chin, rejected those claims yesterday, inviting a Post reporter to visit its boarding house in Singapore and interview workers there.
“By then, the truth will speak by itself,” he said, going on to say that Samean had lived at Nation for only a month before fleeing to an NGO-run shelter and forgoing a transfer.
Samean recently decided to withdraw a police complaint she filed against the man who molested her, she said, because she just wants to return home.
“If I file a complaint, I must stay here for six months without any work.”
Last week, two other Cambodian maids were repatriated from Singapore citing overly strenuous working conditions.
But Lao Ly Hock, general manager at Philimore Cambodia, which sent both Samean and these maids to Singapore, said that only a small percentage of about 250 Cambodian maids had encountered these problems.
“We cannot do it 100 per cent perfect.… I am now waiting for a letter from Nation and the employers to explain what happened to the maids. I am also wondering why the maids had to work 16-hour days without any rest days,” he said.
Ly Hock also accused rights groups like Licadho of not allowing returning maids to speak to agents before going to the press.
Licadho investigator Am Sam Ath said yesterday that NGOs step in because agents are not doing enough.
The Cambodian Embassy in Singapore said in an email on Friday that it was providing consular assistance to all Cambodian maids, including Samean.
It said that in general maids were “well treated and received” but admitted that some Singaporean employers could be demanding and that “quite a few” maids had complained of overwork and inadequate rest.