Kuala Lumpur: Agencies that supply foreign maids in Malaysia on Wednesday welcomed a government plan to allow recruitment from India, Nepal, Laos and Vietnam to fill a shortage caused by low wages and reports of abuse. “We were waiting” for this decision, said Raja Zulkepley Dahalan, president of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Housemaids Agencies. “Of course we support this.”
He said Malaysia would need to hire at least 1,000 maids every month to alleviate the shortage. “We have a problem now—94.8% of the maids are from Indonesia. We cannot depend so much on one source,” he said.
Fewer Indonesian maids are applying to work in Malaysia because salaries here are lower than in other countries, and also because many are scared away by media reports of maids being physically abused by Malaysian employers, he added.
Reports have highlighted several cases of abuse in the past months. In the most publicized case, a maid escaped her allegedly abusive employer’s 15th floor apartment with a rope made of towels, sheets and clothes. In August, another maid was found murdered in her employer’s home. The employer has been charged with murder. But Raja Zulkepley said some of the other reports of abuse were exaggerated by the regional media.
Malaysian officials have insisted such cases are rare among the country’s almost 320,000 foreign maids. Besides Indonesia, about 5% of maids come from the Philippines, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Indonesian maids typically earn 500 ringgit (Rs5,811) per month while the Filipino ones earn about 1,300 ringgit per month.
Malaysian deputy prime minister Najib Razak said as of 30 September, there were more than two million foreigners working in the country. More than half of them come from Indonesia.