‘More Needs To Be Done Before Lifting Cambodian Maids Freeze’

Last Updated on May 22, 2017, 10:03 a.m.

Migrant workers’ rights group Tenaganita said the freeze on Cambodian maids coming into Malaysia should not be lifted until an institutional framework to protect them is in place.

“A joint committee to finalise an agreement on recruitment, training and employment conditions by both governments is not sufficient to protect the domestic workers in Malaysia.

“Both the Malaysian and Cambodian governments have not made any fundamental changes in ensuring that a proper legal framework for the protection of domestic workers is put in place in Malaysia.

“Therefore, we urge the Cambodian government to continue to freeze the recruitment of domestic workers to Malaysia until the institutional framework has changed to ensure the recognition of domestic workers as workers,” said Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das in a statement yesterday.

She was responding to Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem who on Monday hinted that maids from Cambodia would be returning to Malaysia soon.

Cambodia imposed a freeze on sending domestic workers to Malaysia in October 2011 following several reported cases of abuse.

Glorene said government minister giving political assurances do not convert to a rights protection framework and is only aimed at pacifying critics.

She added that the current Employment Act 1955 has failed to protect the rights of domestic workers who are only recognised as “servants”.

"This definition will continue to lead to a relationship of master-servant where the master believes he/she has total control over the worker and thus can exploit her.

“The Malaysian government’s unwillingness to effectively address the human rights and gendered violations of one of the most vulnerable, and invisible, workers in our households has not only increased the threats to the safety and security of domestic workers, but has effectively rendered them into ‘slaves’,” she said.

Glorene stressed that the rights of all domestic workers, as defined by the International Labour Organisation's Convention of Domestic Workers, are upheld in Malaysian policies and clear and effective regulatory measures and mechanism are in place to prevent forced labour.


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