Malaysia said Monday it is confident neighbouring Indonesia will lift a ban on sending women to work as maids which was imposed after several highly publicised abuse cases.
More than 300,000 Indonesian women work as maids in more-prosperous Malaysia. Hundreds of maids file complaints every year alleging ill treatment, overwork and unpaid salaries.
“I think we can resolve this,” Malaysian Human Resource minister S. Subramaniam said after bilateral talks on the issue at the weekend. “I think both parties will know that in both of our interests we should resolve this.”
The talks failed to resolve all issues over the ban, which began in June.
The maid shortage may be felt in a month or two, Subramaniam said, as Indonesia has allowed maids recruited before the ban to come to Malaysia. The country recruited about 4,000 Indonesian maids each month before the ban.
He said the countries would meet again in October or November to discuss appropriate maid agency fees, but other issues, such as welfare, salary and leave, had been resolved.
He dismissed media reports that Indonesia had asked for a minimum salary of 800 ringgit ($230) and said market forces would continue to determine salaries.
An Indonesian embassy official could not immediately comment.
In July, a Malaysian woman was charged with beating her Indonesian maid with a cane. In June, another Malaysian woman was charged with scalding her Indonesian maid with hot water and injuring her with scissors and a hammer.
Malaysia has said it plans to change its labour laws to give maids a weekly rest day and other benefits such as compensation for accidents at work. They will also get a list of telephone contacts for embassy, police and welfare officials to report abuse.