Cambodia, Malaysia to Form Domestic Worker Pact

One thousand Cambodian women will be sent each month to work as domestic workers in Malaysia after a long-awaited agreement between the two countries is inked, thus ending Cambodia’s two-year moratorium on the trade, Malaysian state media reported Monday.

According to Malaysian news agency Bernama, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he received a telephone call Monday from Othsman Hassan, secretary of state at Cambodia’s Ministry of Labor, about lifting the moratorium to fill Malaysia’s need for domestic workers.

“They will be sent here once the memorandum of understanding between the Malaysian government and Cambodia is finalized and signed in a few months’ time,” Mr. Ahmad said according to Bernama, adding that there are currently about 30,000 Cambodians working in Malaysia as domestic workers.

The state-news report also said that the Cambodian government has agreed to set up a training center where the women could learn Malaysia’s language, culture and work ethics prior to beginning their work.

In October 2011, the Cambodian government imposed a ban on sending women to work as housemaids in Malaysia following reports of serious abuse and exploitation of Cambodian female workers by their Malaysian employers and Cambodian recruitment agencies.

Since then, the two governments have attempted to ad­dress these issues by drafting a memorandum of understanding, which rights groups have repeatedly said does not sufficiently protect Cambodian women working in Malaysia from human rights abuse.

Oum Mean, another secretary of state at the Ministry of Labor alongside Mr. Hassan, said Monday that he had not heard anything about the moratorium being lifted.

“There has been nothing new since 2011. We’ve stopped sending women to work as housemaids, but in general, there are workers still being sent out, like for factories or to work as carpenters,” Mr. Mean said.

“I have no information on this.”

Contacted by telephone, Secretary of State Mr. Hassan declined to comment on the Bernama report.

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