Maids in Malaysia: MoU to be signed soon with Indonesia

Malaysia and Indonesia are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) before the end of May in Jakarta, which among others, will bring an end to the ban by the Indonesian government on sending domestic maids to Malaysia.

At a joint press conference with the republic’s Labour and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar on Monday, Human Resources Minister Dr S. Subramaniam said both sides had a fruitful discussion on the outstanding issues and had agreed on four main issues.

These are the one-day rest for maids, handling of the maid’s passport according to the immigration law, structure of the cost charged by the recruiting agents, and of maids who run away.

“We have found the solutions which are amicable to both countries…these will be finalised in the MoU which we hope to sign before the end of May,” he told reporters after the hour-long meeting at a hotel, here.

In June 2009, Jakarta imposed a freeze on the sending of maids from Indonesia to Malaysia, following reports of cases of abuse by employers and the lack of benefits, including a minimum monthly salary and a day off in a week.

Last year, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta signed a Letter of Intent to give a new dimension to the employment of domestic workers in Malaysia and the two countries agreed on revised terms.

However, Dr Subramaniam said the issue of minimum wage was not discussed and that was to be determined according to the market forces.

He said officials of the Joint Working Task force would meet as soon as possible (one to two weeks’ time) to scrutinise what had been agreed upon before the MoU could be drafted and approved.

“While the contentious issues were being addressed in the interest of both nations, we also gave (Indonesia) our assurance that the Malaysian government has always been responsible as far as the welfare of maids is concerned,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said the ministers concerned hope to sign the MoU before the annual consultation between the leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Muhaimin said both sides agreed to maximise the functions of the task force and to forge cooperation in providing adequate protection for Indonesian maids in Malaysia, besides solving the outstanding issues.

He said the salary for maids should be paid through the banking system so that disputes on the matter would not arise between the maids and employers.

“With regard to Malaysian employers’ fear of maids running away, we have agreed that it is the responsibility of the recruiting agencies from both countries. That is why the agencies in Indonesia have stopped sending unskilled maids.

“If they run away due to threats, abuse or force being used against them, the task force will look into this,” he said.

— Bernama