Cambodia’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Princess Norodom Arunrasmy, said Cambodian domestic workers could not be expected to fill the current shortage in Malaysia, local media reported yesterday.
Ms Arunrasmy said it was “too much” to expect Cambodians to fill the gap left after Indonesia froze recruitment of domestic workers to Malaysia, The Star reported. “I often speak to Cambodian maids on my flights back to Phnom Penh and am told they are not renewing their contracts due to various reasons. Some are even sent back by employers,” she said.
To protect maids from abuse, the embassy started to require employers to bring them along to renew passports, she was reported as saying.
Indonesia stopped sending workers to Malaysia in June 2009 after a series of high-profile abuse scandals.
An Bunhak, president of the Association of Cambodia Recruitment Agencies, asked Malaysia to lower the minimum age for domestic work from 21 to 18 years old two months ago, so more maids could be sent.
A delegation, including his association and government officials, will visit Malaysia between Feb 16 and 19 to assess domestic work there, Mr Bunhak said yesterday. “We are going to see what problems there are there,” he said.
Moeun Tola, head of the labor program for the Community Legal Education Center, said the number of Cambodian domestic workers sent to Malaysia was increasing despite a lack of protection by both governments and recruitment agencies.
“One mechanism to solve the issue of migrant workers is to make them visible, not invisible,” Mr Tola said, noting that companies should disclose women’s locations and the governments should regularly monitor them. Dangers include long working hours, inadequate food, physical violence and sexual harassment, he added.
Raja Saifful Ridzuwan, deputy chief of mission at the Malaysian Embassy, said he did not yet have enough information to comment on Ms Arunrasmy’s statements.
“The law in Malaysia protects foreign workers,” he said, noting that risks faced by foreign workers were not unique to the country. “If incidents are reported, then relevant authorities take action.”
(Additional reporting by Hul Reaksmey)