Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Delay on maid deal: ministry

Delay on maid deal: ministry

A young woman reads advertisements for wanted maids outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur
A young woman reads advertisements for wanted maids outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour says a deal to resume sending Cambodians to Malaysia is a ways off. AFP

Delay on maid deal: ministry

The Ministry of Labour plans to delay signing off on a controversial agreement to reopen a pipeline of Cambodian maids to Malaysia until a deal is reached on a second agreement regarding other migrant workers, a ministry official said yesterday.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour told the Post that no date has been set for the final discussions over the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding domestic workers, but Cambodia is “proposing [that the] Malaysian side … also draft [a second] MoU” concerning workers including those in manufacture and agriculture industries.

“We want to conclude the two MoU[s] at the same time,” Sour said by text message yesterday.

A moratorium was introduced on sending maids to Malaysia in October 2011 amid mounting concerns over abuses, including rape and starvation, which led to several deaths.

Earlier this month, a Malaysian employers association, which has observed the drafting of the new agreement, revealed to the Post alleged details of the drafted MoU.

Datuk Raja Zulkepley Dahalan, president of the Malaysian Association of Employment Agencies (PIKAP), said that in addition to safeguards such as the drafting of legally binding contracts that included the maid’s salary, the “responsibilities and rights” of both parties and a day’s leave per week, the drafted agreement allows for employers to hold the passports of maids in their employ.

Glorene Das, program director at Malaysia-based NGO Tenaganita – which has not been consulted about the MoU in recent months – said she feared that Cambodian workers could end up trapped in abusive homes and left to “suffer in silence”.

“For us, employers should not be keeping passports of workers … [as this would mean] they hold the life of the worker because that is the only form of identity that belongs to them.”

Das said withholding passports would leave maids unable “to seek help [or] maintain contact with the embassy”.

“It allows employers to control the freedom of movement [so] they can’t leave the employment” even if it is abusive, she said.

In a report released last week, the Community Legal Education Center said that in 2013 alone it received 35 new complaints of domestic worker abuse in Malaysia.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said