Cambodia is preparing to resume sending maids to Malaysia, a practice banned in 2011 after a rash of abuses against workers, a Labour Ministry official said yesterday.
As officials from the two countries met in Malaysia yesterday, Hou Vudthy, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, told the Post his office was exploring what would be involved in sending maids to Malaysia once the two ASEAN nations have signed a memorandum of understanding.
“I cannot assure you of a clear date for sending them, but we are working on this,” he said. “I do not know when the MoU will be signed, but we are now reviewing [it] to see … how we can send them.”
Vudthy added that he did not know how many maids would be sent once the two countries signed the document.
But Malaysian news outlet Bernama quoted the country’s Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Monday saying that 1,000 maids would be recruited from the Kingdom each month.
“They will be sent here once the memorandum of understanding between the Malaysian government and Cambodia is finalised and signed in a few months’ time,” he said.
Staff at Ahmad’s office said yesterday that he was busy and not available for comment.
The Cambodian official reported to be negotiating with the Malaysian minister over the matter, Cambodian Ministry of Labour secretary of state Othsman Hassan, said yesterday that he was busy in meetings in Malaysia and could not comment on the matter.
“You can call me again on Thursday,” he said.
Cambodia placed a moratorium on sending domestic workers to Malaysia in October 2011 after a raft of rights abuses, ranging from sexual exploitation to forced labour, surfaced.
More stories of violence and mistreatment have been reported by women returning home at the end of their two-year contracts or by concerned families.
Huy Pichsovann, labour program officer at the Community Legal Education Centre, said it was dangerous for more maids to be sent to Malaysia before the government addressed problems faced by those Cambodians now working there.
“A lot of maids have been forced to extend contracts against their will – and the government has nothing to protect them,” he said. “I think it is too early. There’s no agreement on mechanisms to protect the rights of the maids.”
An Bun Hak, former director of the Association of Cambodia Recruitment Agency, said as far as he knew, the MoU was not ready to sign.
“So nothing is happening yet,” he said. “They would need to sign the MoU first.”