‘Black market’ for maids emerges

PETALING JAYA: Fed up of waiting for their Indonesian maids, three months after Malaysia and Indonesia signed a deal over Indonesian domestic workers (PDI), desperate Malaysians have resorted to “unofficial channels”.

Some employers said they were desperate and have resorted to getting their maids via social media and freelance agents as they could not wait any longer.

A civil servant, who wished to be known only as Zara, said she had had her hands full looking after her four children, including two toddlers, after her maid ran away on June 4.

After looking through her options, Zara said she chose to hire a maid through a freelance agency that advertised on Facebook, promising a waiting period of just a month.

“The price is also relatively lower at RM8,000 complete with a working permit, compared with registered agencies that charge RM15,000,” said the 35-year-old.

She said her maid would come in with a tourist visa and would be registered with the Sistem Maid Online (SMO) system within 30 days of her arrival.

As a working mother, she said Facebook was her last-ditch effort to secure a maid.

Aulia, 28, said she desperately needed a maid and had been searching for the last three months.

The entrepreneur resorted to employing a maid via Facebook directly as she was afraid of being scammed by freelance agencies.

“I am unwell so I need someone to look after my two children. If the maid is hardworking and stays put for some time, then I will consider applying a work permit for her,” she added.

A 56-year-old worker in the development sector, who declined to be named, said he needed a maid to take care of his elderly mother and succeeded in hiring one through a local agency.

“It’s by chance. I was desperate and the agency happened to have one maid who had just arrived, so they sent her over and she started working for me,” he said.

On May 31, it was announced that the placement of the first batch of PDI expected to arrive in Malaysia had been postponed.

Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Hermono said the pilot batch of PDI following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between both countries will only arrive in mid-July.

Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia vice-president Suresh Tan said the long wait for PDI would result in employers using “shortcuts” to hire maids, including through the SMO system.

“Since the MOU (was signed), it is prohibited for registered agencies to use this system, but for employers, they think it’s not illegal because they can still register their maids.”

Tan added that Malaysians should focus on employing maids from other source countries such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka, applications for which could be processed in two months.

“They have started coming in since early June and the process is very smooth. Since we are restarting following the Covid-19 transition, it would take some time to get the momentum going,” he said.

National Association of Human Resources Malaysia president Zarina Ismail said employers had resorted to direct hiring due to the long wait.

“A client has been waiting for a PDI since 2020 but has yet to receive any news until now,” she said.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein said the delay in processing PDI applications would lead to employers engaging the services of undocumented foreign domestic workers.

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