A memorandum of understanding meant to beef up protections for Cambodian maids in Malaysia is still on hold after Malaysia’s human resources minister said he was not aware of the agreement, according to Malaysian media.
The MoU was signed by Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies last week and includes promises to better safeguard Cambodian domestic workers by, among other things, providing them with smartphones and health insurance.
According to Malaysian newspaper the Sun Daily, the association is now putting the agreement on hold until it gets an official green light from the government after Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem said he was not aware of the agreement. Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies President Jeffrey Foo did not respond to multiple requests for comment yesterday.
Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour – who attended last week’s signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur along with Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng – declined to comment on what he called “other countries’ internal matter”. Malaysia’s Ministry of Human Resource could not be reached yesterday.
Adrian Pereira, executive director of Malaysian labour rights group North-South Initiative, said MoUs do little to protect workers because they are not legally binding. “What Malaysia should have is a comprehensive law for domestic workers that can protect all workers, and not just from particular countries,” he said.
The MoU still has not been made public.
On Bunhak, of recruiting firm Top Manpower Co Ltd, said he remains hopeful the Malaysian government will support the agreement. Bunhak, who also attended the signing ceremony, said his agency plans to start sending maids in March.