Subject: NST: Call To Hire Maids From Papua, Timor Leste

via Joyo News

The New Straits Times [Malaysia]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Call to hire maids from Papua, Timor Leste

KUALA LUMPUR: Maid agencies want the government to consider hiring maids from Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Timor Leste.

They believe this will reduce the country's dependence on maids from Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia.

"We are submitting the proposal to the Human Resources Ministry due to the high demand for maids," Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Alwi Bavutty told Bernama yesterday.

He said although local maid agencies had been allowed to recruit maids from Cambodia and the Philippines following the freeze on maid intake by the Indonesian government since the middle of last year, Muslims were barred from employing non-Muslim maids from the two countries.

There are 216,000 foreign maids working in Malaysia, with 90 per cent of them from Indonesia and eight per cent from the Philippines.

Malaysia and Indonesia have been involved in talks to find a "middle path" in resolving the outstanding Indonesian maids' salary issue after the previous discussions ended in a deadlock.

The Malaysian government had rejected a demand from Indonesia that its maids be paid a minimum monthly salary of RM800.

"We will allow the market to decide the salary. If we allow one country to set terms, we will have to entertain others," Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said on Sunday.

On Papa's suggestion that maids be brought in from Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Timor Leste, the minister said any move to bring in maids from new foreign countries would require a policy decision at the cabinet level.

"Such a move must be discussed at the policy level by the cabinet," he told the New Straits Times.

He said such a policy decision would need to look into a variety of issues involved in the hiring of domestic maids.

Dr Subramaniam added that any policy decision on the matter for the time being was unlikely as the cabinet committee on foreign workers, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, had decided on a thorough look at the existing practice of employing foreign labour.

"We will review and take a re-look at the existing system and rectify the shortcomings."

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress said yesterday it was disappointed with the guidelines on new foreign maids revealed by the ministry on Sunday.

MTUC secretary-general G. Rajasekaran said they should instead be turned into rules or regulations, which could then be enforced by the authorities.

The guidelines, among others, set out the do's and don'ts for employers, maid agencies, the Immigration Department, the Labour Department and the police when it comes to the hiring and handling of domestic workers.

Rajasekaran also hoped the half-day course for both maids and employers would not be outsourced to the private sector. He said it should be handled by the Labour Department as its officers were well- versed with labour issues and laws.

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