The Cambodian and Malaysian governments will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) within three months that will restart the business of sending Cambodian domestic workers to the country after a two-year moratorium, a Labor Ministry official said Friday.
After meeting with representatives from the Malaysian Home Ministry earlier this week, Othsman Hassan, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labor, said there will be no limit on the number of maids sent to Malaysia once the agreement is signed.
“Within three months, both governments will sign the MoU,” Mr. Hassan said Friday. “If there is no problems with the maids, we estimate that about 1,000 women per month will be sent to Malaysia.”
In October 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen banned the sending of maids to Malaysia after recurring reports of serious abuse and exploitation of Cambodian workers at the hands of their employers and recruitment agencies that sent them.
Mr. Hassan said that when signed, the agreement would be in the best interests of Cambodian domestic workers.
“We received the draft agreement at the end of October and we will meet to discuss the draft agreement to decide which points we do and don’t agree with,” he said. “There are many points of the draft agreement that we have agreed on so far.”
Fadzlette Othman Merican, the press secretary for Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said that the Malaysian government was waiting for Cambodia to submit the memorandum.
“We are just waiting for the Cambodian government to have the proposal ready in three months time, then we will sit down and some kind of MoU will be agreed upon,” she said.
Ny Chakrya, head of monitoring for human rights at local NGO Adhoc, said that the Cambodian government must be sure that maids will be safe in Malaysia before it rescinds the moratorium.
“The government should put deep consideration into the issue before Cambodia signs the MoU because there have been a lot of issues with Cambodian maids in Malaysia,” more than for migrant workers in other countries, he said. “The government has the duty to negotiate to make it safe for workers to go to other countries.”
(Additional reporting by Janelle Kohnert)