PETALING JAYA: There is a flurry of activity on social media involving the recruitment of Indonesian domestic workers but there is still no sign of movement on the ground.
Freelance recruitment agents are advertising Indonesian domestic workers and continuing to publicise the Immigration Department’s Sistem Maid Online (SMO) which enables the conversion of tourist visas of nationals from several countries into work permits as domestic workers.
However, under the MOU on the recruitment and protection of Indonesian domestic helpers, the republic requires its recruitment to be only done through what it calls a One Channel System (OCS).
Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Khairul Dzaimee Daud confirmed that the SMO was still available for those seeking to recruit Indonesian domestic help.
“We are in discussions (with the relevant agencies) to develop a new system based on the MOU,” he said when contacted, referring to the MOU with Indonesia.
Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Hermono said the SMO should have been disabled two months ago in accordance with the MOU.
Under the MOU, it was agreed that all recruitment processes should be via OCS and no other system should be used, he said when contacted.
Checks by The Star found that dozens of employment agencies advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook were still offering direct recruitment of Indonesian domestic helpers.
There are also Indonesians advertising themselves on Facebook as maids, saying they were looking for employment in Malaysia.
Such advertisements increased especially after Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Some of the agencies claimed that a number of them were already in Malaysia.
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Alternatively, the agencies stated they could bring in “fresh Indonesian maids” via tourist visas. Upon their arrival in Malaysia, the agencies said that employers could apply for work permits via the SMO within 30 days.
One agent here persuaded her clients to act fast, claiming that the SMO would be shut down by July or August.
Another agent said the maids would be arriving in Melaka and Negri Sembilan from Dumai on ferries. Their schedule of arrival was published as well.
The cost could go up to RM20,000 for a “fresh maid”. The fee covered the contract, guarantee, health check-up and basic training.
For Indonesians already in Malaysia but without a proper visa, the cost would be less than RM10,000.
Some of the advertisements by the agencies stated that the smartphones and passports of these maids would be withheld.
This goes against the MOU, which outlined, among others, that a domestic worker had a right to weekly and annual leave entitlement, right to communicate and to hold their own passport.
These advertisements, aimed at wooing Malaysian households, seems to be working with many locals indicating their interest to hire Indonesian maids in the comments section.
In fact, those who were slow to respond were told that the maid in question had already been “snapped up”.
A local employment agency, when contacted, said the agency provided two channels of recruitment via the SMO and Foreign Workers Central Management System (FWCMS).
While the fee for both were similar – RM18,500 – the turnaround time for each channel was different.
“If you want it urgently, we can process (the application) through the SMO and get it done within 30 days. The FWCMS channel would take longer, around 60 to 90 days,” he claimed.
Several other local agents, when contacted on Facebook, claimed that there were Indonesians here on tourist visas “who are readily available for hire”.
Besides Indonesia, the other countries on the SMO list are the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, Laos, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Human Resources Ministry has yet to respond to queries from The Star on the new OCS that should be put in place following the MOU.