KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — The Human Resources Ministry has countered Indonesia’s request for domestic helpers from the country to be employed under a “one maid, one task” system.
A report by MalaysiaKini said that Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan instead proposed during an online meeting with Indonesia’s Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah to retain the existing system of one domestic helper to be employed by one household for all required tasks.
“An initial online meeting between the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia was held online on Friday, July 23, to finalise a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on recruitment and protection of Indonesian domestic helpers here,” it said in a statement yesterday.
The Human Resources Ministry said that other matters were raised during the meeting — which involved representatives from Wisma Putra, as well as Indonesia’s Manpower Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and its Migrant Workers Protection Body — included establishing a “one-channel system” for recruitment and placement, salary for Indonesian domestic helpers, and protection for them here.
“Emphasis was given on setting up the one-channel system to ensure placement of Indonesian domestic helpers here are in order and more transparent, particularly on the issue of salary payment and health screenings. Malaysia and Indonesia in principle agreed to integrate existing systems in both countries to create the one-channel system.
“At the end of the discussion, both countries agreed to hold an officer-level technical meeting to reach further agreements towards finalising terms of the MoU. This shows the government’s commitment through the ministry that is aware of the people’s urgent need for a swift resolution to the issues surrounding domestic helpers,” said the ministry.
Migrant rights group Tenaganita Executive Director Glorene Dass told Malaysiakini that non-legally binding MoUs have proven ineffective to protect the rights of domestic helpers.
“While we lean towards bilateral and multilateral agreements, we must have a separate legislation for domestic workers,” she said, reiterating Tenaganita’s long-standing campaign for a Domestic Workers Act and formal recognition of domestic helpers under Malaysian labour laws.
Migrant activist Nasrikah Sarah also told Malaysiakini the new agreement should protect an Indonesian domestic helper’s rights to decent pay, decent working hours, decent living conditions, access to their travel documents, and access to communication.
Under Malaysia’s legislation, domestic workers are exempted from a list of workers who are granted rights such as basic labour rights including working hours, rest days, conditions of service, and even maternity benefits.