PETALING JAYA: Unscrupulous recruitment agencies out to make a quick profit are exploiting Malaysians desperate for domestic help by charging them fees as high as RM14,000 for an Indonesian maid.
This is nearly twice the rate of RM7,800 agency fee fixed by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments.
Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein said those desperate for a maid were willing to pay the higher fee demanded by some agencies although it flouted the agreement between the governments.
“These agencies are pirates. I believe many of them are either unlicensed or not members of the country’s two main recruitment agency associations.
“Agencies who are members of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) and the Malaysian National Association of Employment Agencies (Pikap) are monitored for compliance by the Human Resource Ministry and those who flout the ceiling rate are liable to be blacklisted by the ministry if found guilty,” said Engku Ahmad.
In September, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to lower the fee for Indonesian maids from RM8,000 to RM7,800. Last Thursday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono agreed to allow Papa and its Indonesian counterpart, Asosiasi Perusahaan Jasa Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (Apjati), to work out a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the supply of Indonesian maids to Malaysia, which has dried up.
Indonesian maids are more in demand among Malaysians because the upfront fee for their employment is lower due to the government-to-government agreement to fix agency fees while Filipina maids cost much more to hire as their fees are governed purely by market forces.
Engku Ahmad said that some agencies were also getting away with charging excessive fees as some employers were unaware of the official rate of RM7,800.
“Many have no choice but to pay what the agencies ask for because the lack of a maid for dual income households can seriously affect their productivity at work and their lives in general,” he said, adding that there were now 200,000 Malaysians on the waiting list for maids.
In Ipoh, a maid recruitment agent said that a MoU signed on a business-to-business basis would give agencies a free hand in setting the fees.
“If we can make adjustments to the sum, surely we will do so. Perhaps up to RM10,000 to match the sum we are charging clients to hire a Filipina maid,” she said.
Another agent said, the RM7,800 fee imposed on clients to hire an Indonesian maid was inclusive of three months’ salary.
“It is barely enough to cover our costs and payment to our counterparts in Indonesia,” he added.
In Kuala Lumpur, an employer said he paid RM14,900 to employ an Indonesian maid. This included an agency fee of RM11,000 after a discount of RM300, and RM4,200 in advance salary.
“I had no choice but to pay the amount as I needed a maid urgently,” he said.
In Penang, working mother-of-three Choi Ji Nee, 40, said she forked out RM12,000 recently to hire an Indonesian maid.
“The amount included agency fees of RM7,800 and payments for flight ticket and passport.
“After all this, I am concerned about how well she can do housework. Worse still, if she runs away, we will not be able to claim anything from the agency,” said Choi.
In Johor Baru, an agent with an office in Taman Pelangi said that most Malaysians were willing to pay more than RM8,000 to hire Indonesian maids as they were in dire need of domestic help.
“However, there are no Indonesian maids available for hire – at least for now.
“We are actually waiting for our Indonesian counterparts to supply maids .
“We can’t do much now except to wait for news from our agents there (in Indonesia) to send maids to us,’’ the agent said.