Cambodia could start sending domestic workers to Malaysia again as soon as next year, the Ministry of Labor said yesterday, a widely anticipated move that would end a moratorium enacted more than two years ago amid widespread reports of abuse and even torture of the workers.
Ministry of Labor secretary of state Othsman Hassan – speaking at a meeting designed to gain the approval of civil society and other government bodies on a draft Memorandum of Understanding – said this would be the last stage in the process before ministers from each country officially sign the MoU.
“It will maybe be next year when we sign it officially to restart sending our workers to Malaysia, because Malaysia needs workers to work and Cambodians need jobs in Malaysia in order to be competitive with other countries when we join the ASEAN community in 2015,” Hassan said.
Hassan said that yesterday’s meeting was strictly to determine whether the government should accept the current wording of the MoU, not to suggest changes, which he maintained had already been done.
“We have many points to defend our workers, such as wages, bank accounts for the workers, better safety, but the one thing that is a good point is that we need the agencies to be responsible for the workers from the day they leave to go abroad to when they arrive back in their homeland safely,” he said.
A slideshow by the international women’s rights body UN Women noted both negative and positive amendments that had been made to the current draft, and representative Jenna Holiday called on both countries to ensure that workers were adequately protected.
“Both countries have to ensure workers’ safety in Malaysia before the Cambodian government begins sending workers to Malaysia again after having banned it when Cambodian workers were met with exploitation and mistreatment,” she said.