Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Maids in Malaysia remain missing

Maids in Malaysia remain missing

Maids in Malaysia remain missing


At least four maids sent to Malaysia by a recruitment company shuttered by the Ministry of Labour last year are still missing, while a former recruit had suffered a mental breakdown since returning, family members and advocates said yesterday.


The parents of Sat Srey Neoun, 21, who belongs to the Kreung ethnic minority, filed a complaint with Adhoc’s Ratanakkiri office yesterday, saying the T&P Co Ltd recruit had not returned despite her contract ending earlier this month.

"Now she sits differently and stands laughing and replies only with one word"

Her father, Pok Sat, 44, said his daughter had called home a few months ago pleading for help.

“She needed help immediately because she was beaten by her employer. Now it’s time for her to return, but we don’t see her. We are so worried,” he said.  

'No news'

T&P Co Ltd’s licence was suspended last year and an arrest warrant issued for its company director when it was revealed that it was recruiting under-aged girls.  

Pen Bunna, provincial Adhoc coordinator, said the appeal had been sent to the NGO’s Phnom Penh headquarters and the Ministry of Interior.

The families of three maids sent to Malaysia by T&P filed complaints in Preah Vihear province when they failed to hear from the women for more than two years, the Post reported last month.

Provincial coordinator Lor Chann said yesterday that there had been no news on them.

Torture and trauma

Meanwhile, the mother of Poung Savong, 30, whom the Post reported last week as having returned in an unstable mental state, prepared yesterday to seek assistance from authorities.  

Chhay Saroeun, 58, said her daughter was unable to focus, spoke rarely and kept to herself after returning two months short of her contract with T&P.

“She [Poung Savong] said that her boss physically abused her by allowing her to eat rice only once a day, and now she sits differently and stands laughing and replies only with one word,” she said.

Her daughter’s employer also forced her to work long hours and take medication to boost her energy, she said, adding that she was desperate for help to treat her daughter, who has a 10-year-old child.

Seeking intervention

Prime Minister Hun Sen imposed a ban in October on the sending of Cambodian maids to Malaysia after a rash of abuses surfaced, but rights groups have criticised the move as leaving maids already working there in the cold.  

An Bunhak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said the association and the labour ministry had been tasked to monitor maids whose agencies had closed.

ACRA will seek any unpaid salary from the maid’s employers and seek intervention from the Malaysian Embassy or related agencies to take legal action against employers in the event of abuse, he added.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre, meanwhile, said the ban was “ineffective”, as maids working in Malaysia at the time could be forced to extend their contracts by their employers or agencies in Malaysia.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]
Sen David at [email protected]


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