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Migrant workers hide their faces at Phnom Penh International Airport in 2012 after they were repatriated from Malaysia
Migrant workers hide their faces at Phnom Penh International Airport in 2012 after they were repatriated from Malaysia. Pha Lina

Missing maids sought

Pressure is mounting on the Ministry of Labour to ensure that Cambodian maids trapped in Malaysia are repatriated, as the president of the National Assembly lodged a second complaint yesterday urging the return of four workers.

A letter sent to Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng, signed by National Assembly President Heng Samrin and opposition lawmaker Ky Vandara, calls for the ministry to ensure that the recruitment agencies that sent the four workers to Malaysia find them and secure their return.

Vandara said the letter followed complaints from the workers’ families, who claim their loved ones are forced to work as much as 19 hours a day without pay.

“Their employer will not allow them to come back,” Vandara said.

The four maids – Yem Sroy, Soy Sokha, Sok Sarn and Pok Sonat – have been in Malaysia for between one and five years and were sent there by three separate agencies.

A moratorium was introduced on sending maids to Malaysia in October 2011 amid mounting concerns over abuses.

Speaking yesterday, Sokha’s husband, Om Sopheak, said he was unaware of the ban when his wife told him last year that she was being sent to Malaysia with recruitment firm MLC.

According to Sopheak, his wife traveled to Malaysia in a company car. The last time he spoke to her, Sopheak said his wife did not know “which city or province she was in.”

“She told me she cannot endure working there and she wanted to come back, but her employer would not allow it,” he said.

Representatives of MLC could not be reached.

Yesterday’s complaint came a day after Samrin and CNRP lawmaker Men Sotharin wrote a letter to Samheng calling for the return of another maid, Kem Chanthy, who was sent there in 2010 by VC Manpower.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment.

In August, he said that an agreement to reopen a pipeline of maids to Malaysia would be delayed until a deal is reached on a second agreement regarding other migrant workers.

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