‘Handle domestic helpers issue with care’

PETALING JAYA: The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on recruitment and placement of domestic helpers between Malaysia and Indonesia must be handled delicately as it could affect other sectors, said major industry players.

Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said that many sectors are still in need of foreign workers.

“If the MOU with Indonesia is not handled properly, it might affect other sectors as well,” he said, when contacted, yesterday.

He was asked to comment on the remarks made by the Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia that Indonesia would stop sending its workers in other key sectors if its demands on maids were not met by Malaysia.

Association of Employment Agencies president Datuk Foo Yong Hooi said that it supported the proposal to scrap direct hiring as it has negatively impacted the normal recruitment process of hiring domestic workers from Indonesia.

Foo explained that domestic workers from Indonesia had previously been duped by illegal agents who claimed that it would be much faster if they went through the direct hiring process.

“It will also encourage illegal agents to actively be involved in such activities which may be deemed by certain parties as human trafficking,” he said.

Agensi Pekerjaan Associates HR (KL) Sdn Bhd managing director Kelvin Cheong also concurred, saying that the Online Maid System (SMO) was open to abuse by illegal agents and agencies.

He said the current system indirectly promotes the influx of illegal immigrants into the country via illegal means, including rat lanes (jalan tikus) from Batam into Pasir Gudang in Johor.

Cheong added that the SMO was unfair to agencies as some have paid bonds to the government amounting to RM250,000. However, Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein said they do not see any problem with direct hiring as such a system had been implemented previously.

“We will support the Malaysian government’s decision to find an amicable solution to this.

“We believe that employers can save a lot of money if they can hire directly instead of going through employment agencies. There will be a lot of savings,” he said.

He added that the Indonesian government should not constrain Malaysia in such a way if their demands are not fulfilled.

Industries Unite a group of 52 trade associations representing about one million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – group coordinator Datuk Irwin SW Cheong said he understood the need for businesses to have a direct hiring process as the country was recovering post-movement control order.

“We believe that having a central control between countries is essential to ensure the standardisation and quality of each appointment. This is to ensure that credible agencies are bringing in domestic workers to the right jobs,” he said.

National Association of Human Resources Malaysia (Pusma) president Zarina Ismail Malaysia said the SMO should be abolished because domestic workers and employers suffered from its lack of an oversight mechanism.

“APS (Agensi Pekerjaan Swasta) is accountable to the stringent Human Resources Ministry reporting mechanisms and we have paid RM250,000 in bank draft for a licence.

“So, we take our role in ensuring the welfare of workers and accountability to employers seriously. For as long as the borders have been closed, we have had zero business.

“But right now it is hard to comment on this as their negotiations are still ongoing and I am confident they will come to a mutual understanding eventually,” she said.

However, Zarina pointed out that even if the direct hiring process via SMO was exempted for Indonesia, the web portal (under the Immigration Department) may still apply to seven other countries who have not objected to this system.

She added that even though the Philippines had also objected to the SMO, the other countries were still options for people.

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