The saga of foreign maids (especially Indonesians) in Malaysia is maid (made) to last. The struggle between who is right and who is wrong will never be resolved as this is not a one-off problem but one which involves thousands of maids and thousands of employers, not to mention, hundreds of maid agencies. As usual, there will always be the finger pointing from each of the aggrieved parties.
The maid will claim abuse (physical or mental) at the hands of the employers whilst the latter will usually claim incompetence or unsuitability of the maids. The maid agencies will claim that it is either the maid's fault or the employer's fault. Would you blame them? As an employer previously, I have had to deal with my own maid. Sometimes, she performed well, sometimes she just drives you up the wall. What would you think when your maid slams the table in defiance? Or when she chooses to read the newspapers rather than monitoring a toddler who is happily walking all over the house oblivious to the dangers?
The government is not having an easy problem to resolve. I would support their efforts to clamp down hard on errant maid agencies which were suspected of questionable practices of "recycling maids". So, I was quite pleased to note that 19 maid agencies were suspended
for various allegations. The report states "Nineteen maid agencies risk having their licences revoked if they cannot disprove the allegations and complaints made against them. Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said their licences had since been suspended and they have until the end of the month to appeal." The names of the maid agencies were published as well.
A reading of the report suggests that the allegations and complaints must have been found to be true. However, what surprised me was the fact that these agencies were not informed of the allegations or complaints
lodged against them! No wonder The Malaysian Association of Foreign Housemaids (PAPA) has voiced out in immediate response to the news report. Now, wouldn't the government have deemed it necessary to issue show cause letters to the said maid agencies and giving them the right to be heard before any punitive action is taken? Or is this a case of a knee-jerk reaction in view of the adverse publicity that the country has been getting lately on treatment of migrant workers
? If this is indeed a knee-jerk reaction without establishing a proven case against any or all of the maid agencies, will the government compensate the maid agencies and their customers, not to mention the prospective maids, for the inconvenience, loss of income, damage to reputation and unnecessary expenditure incurred if
the allegations and complaints were proven to be unfounded later?
What is sure is that this saga will continue to last and it will never be resolved as we have to remember that we are dealing with humans, not products. Just like there will always be cases of employer-employee disputes in the corporate world, there will always be disputes on the maid-employer area.