Malaysian maid agencies are set to suffer huge losses due to Indonesia’s indefinite ban on sending maids, following a recent outcry over several alleged abuse cases, officials said Friday. On Thursday, Jakarta announced it would temporarily stop sending domestic workers to Malaysia beginning Friday until both countries can agree on ways to protect the maids.
The move follows a rise in the number of abuse cases highlighted in local media, with the most recent being a 33-year-old Indonesian maid being beaten, scalded and starved by her employer in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
The labour ban, which will be in place until officials from both countries meet early next month, will likely cost Malaysian maid agencies millions of ringgit in losses, said a top official.
“Based on immigration statistics, about six to seven maids are brought in by an agency every month,” said Raja Zulkeply Dahalan, president of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies.
Because each maid requires a deposit of roughly 2,500 ringgit (676 dollars) by the Malaysian agency, the total amount of deposits currently being held back would add up to at least 3.5 million ringgit (945,959 dollars), he said.
“There is no way we can be sure we can get back that money, and of course if this ban continues, there are the losses incurred by the shortage of workers for interested employers,” said Raja Zulkeply.
He said tens of thousands of households would face problems due to the delay in the arrival of their maids, adding that this would lead to bigger problems in the long run as families struggle to cope with work and family without helpers.
He urged officials from both countries to hasten efforts in working out a solution.
Malaysia is home to some 320,000 maids, out of which some 85 percent are from Indonesia.
Rights and labour groups have been calling for a revamp of local labour laws which currently do not accord foreign maids basic worker rights. Foreign maids are not allowed to keep their passports.
“There are special cases of abuse which we must address, but both sides must see the bigger picture, and that both countries stand to lose when there is a ban,” Raja Zulkeply told the German Press Agency dpa.
Malaysia announced earlier this month that it would soon make it compulsory for employers to give their maids one day off per a week, or face a fine of up to 10,000 ringgit (2,700 dollars).