Cambodia Can’t Solve Malaysian Maid Shortage, Ambassador Says

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)

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