Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Repatriations from Malaysia more than triple in 2016: government

Repatriations from Malaysia more than triple in 2016: government

Cambodian maids arrive in Phnom Penh in February 2012 after returning from alleged abusive workplaces in Malaysia.
Cambodian maids arrive in Phnom Penh in February 2012 after returning from alleged abusive workplaces in Malaysia. Heng Chivoan

Repatriations from Malaysia more than triple in 2016: government

The number of workers and maids rescued from Malaysia has more than tripled in the year since the government lifted a ban on the practice of sending Cambodian domestic workers there.

In a document obtained yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that the embassy in Malaysia had intervened to repatriate 198 Cambodian citizens in 2016, compared to just 55 last year, and 34 in 2014.

In December of last year, the government and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding lifting a ban on domestic workers migrating to Malaysia imposed in 2011 in the wake of reports of severe abuses, including deaths.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry said most of those repatriated this year were also domestic workers, who had sought out the embassy for help as they faced “difficulties in their work”.

“They said the work is very difficult for them because of the conditions,” he said.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour did not respond to requests for comment yesterday, but in June, he defended the MoU, saying it would make it easier to assist abused workers and provide them legal recourse.

Also in June, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to accept more workers from the Kingdom.

For Moeun Tola, head of labour rights NGO Central, the spike in rescues from Malaysia this year are a clear indication that the ban should never have been lifted.

“The fact that the number of rescued maids has increased is showing that the issue of . . . the abuse of the maids still exists,” he said, adding it could also signal that the Cambodian Embassy was swifter to act in those cases.

He urged the government to not only address the rescue of victims, but to work to prevent abuses in the first place.

Tola said that domestic workers he had spoken with reported an array of abuses – 20-hour working days, starvation, verbal assault and physical violence.

“Rape is still happening, torture is still happening, and they are not allowed to be connected with their families,” he said. “You can imagine the psychological effect. When you are being abused and cannot tell anyone about your condition, then you become more traumatised.”

He added that the MoU was weak and lacked transparency. The Labour Ministry has repeatedly refused to provide a copy of the agreement to the Post. A total of 524 people were repatriated from abroad this year, including 59 from China, the majority of whom were trafficked as brides.

One person was repatriated from Saudi Arabia, where a controversial pipeline for migrant domestic workers was opened in February this year.

MOST VIEWED

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Cotton club growing in Battambang

    The global market for “vegan leather” – materials that act as alternatives to traditional leather that can be synthesised from cork, apple peels, cactus, recycled plastic, grape pomace and pineapple leaves, among other things, and supposedly require no chemicals or water to produce – is expected to