Malaysians struggling without foreign help at home

  • Nation
  • Friday, 04 Sep 2020

PETALING JAYA: With the government now banning entry of citizens of countries with more than 150,000 Covid-19 cases, families needing to hire maids for help at home are being put in queue, with some resorting to hiring those without permits.

This is especially so as the government previously announced a freeze on foreign workers’ intake in all sectors – except for construction, agriculture and plantation – until the end of the year.

Senior business consultant Ezila Farhana Kamari admitted that she faced difficulties in the process of hiring a new maid to help assist her in caring for her children.

“There is a queue for the maids as there is no new intake.

“We had a maid who lasted for a month before wanting to leave due to some differences, ” said the 33-year-old.

A housewife who only wanted to be known as Latifah said it was difficult to find maids with permits now.

Latifah said her daughter had recently hired an Indonesian maid at a cost of over RM8,000, and even then, this was done without a permit.

“We also had to train her to do house work because she was inexperienced, ” she noted.

A woman, who only wanted to be known as Jean, said she was left in a quandary after her maid ran away recently.

“I can do the cooking and cleaning but my difficulty is that my mother is now in her 80s, her mobility is limited and she uses a walker.

“I cannot have peace of mind if I were to leave the house (with her alone).

“I have to make sure everything is settled within one hour for me to rush home, ” she said, adding that she may also enlist the help of her siblings to look after her mother when she is out.

For housewife Ainul Saerah Yahaya who had always needed that extra hand to help her care for her seven children, her experience of hiring maids had been a strenuous process.

“I always try to ensure that I get registered agents for the hiring process, but I find even the unregistered ones are expensive.

“I have a Filipino maid who has worked with me for seven years and it will be very difficult to find a replacement if she has to leave, ” said the 45-year-old.

Another housewife, who wished to be known as Kelly, said she had to employ part-time cleaners as she dedicated her time to care for her toddler.

“This is because I have no other help from my parents or parents-in-law as they are living far away.

“My current maid is from the Philippines but as her husband has severe liver problems, she needs to return home.

“I have asked my agency for a replacement but currently the agency does not have anyone new, since no one is able to enter the country, ” said the 37-year-old.

Association of Employment Agencies president Datuk Foo Yong Hooi is hoping that the government will resume the intake of foreign workers for domestic and the dirty, dangerous and demeaning (3D) occupations, especially for the Klang Valley and major cities.

Foo said there is a shortage of manpower and very limited local candidates who are up for the job.

“For families who need to return to work after the movement control order (MCO) was over, it was troublesome for them to have to take care of their children or the elderly without the help of maids.

“Although I encourage the employment of locals, there are limitations in terms of the willingness of locals to work in such jobs, ” he said.

“Most locals who are unemployed are graduates and are not very keen to be working in the 3D jobs or as maids, ” he said.

Foo emphasised that the government should immediately open up the intake of foreign workers but with stringent standard operating procedure imposed such as undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine and Covid-19 swab test.

“The Philippines are sending their domestic workers to some other countries so I think maybe we can start by bringing them in first, or those from green zones, ” he said.

Malaysian Maid Employers’ Association president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein said the demand for foreign maids is still strong, especially now with limitations of supply due to the intake freeze.

“However, with more people continuing to work from home, families are able to take care of their children on their own, ” he said.

Engku believes that the government should give serious attention to train the local workforce as “Certified Domestic Co-Ordinator” before bringing in foreign domestic workers.

“How long do we want to rely on foreign workers? Our workforce is available and the foreign exchange saving is huge if we focus on training locals for the jobs, ” he said.

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