Malaysian plans to screen maid employers

ONLY "good Malaysian employers" will get to hire maids from agencies under the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) soon.

Papa will be introducing a system, an initiative by the association itself, to check the background of employers.

Those who have been penalised before for not paying the salaries of their maids or for abusing them will be weeded out and barred from hiring them.

The association intends to work with the Labour Department to implement this background-check system.

"Our members will send in the names of potential employers who want to hire maids, then the Labour Department will check whether they are eligible," the association's acting president, Jeffrey Foo, told the New Sunday Times.

Those found ineligible because of a bad previous record will not be allowed to hire maids through Papa member maid agencies.

Foo said member agencies were bound by rules set by Papa, so it would not be prudent, under this system, for any one of them to think of accepting higher fees to recruit maids for unscrupulous employers.

"If they decide to provide a housemaid to an employer who has been found ineligible, they will be held liable if things go wrong. Their names will be blacklisted."

Foo believes this method would go a long way towards preventing "bad employers from further tarnishing Malaysia's good reputation".

The ban on the employment of Indonesian maids came about originally because of numerous cases of maid abuse that was highlighted in the media in the past few years.

Housewife Yim Pek Ha was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years' jail by the Sessions Court - which was later reduced to 12 years on appeal to the High Court - on three counts of causing grievous hurt to her maid Nirmala Bonat with a hot iron and hot water.

More recently, there was the high profile murder of 26-year-old Indonesian maid Isti Komariah in June, whose death was feared would jeopardise the new Memorandum of Understanding that was sealed between Indonesia and

Malaysia on May 30 to end the moratorium on the arrival of Indonesian maids here.

Isti, who was malnourished and hadn't been paid since working for her employer from Dec 2008, was brought to the University Malaya Medical Centre by one of her employers, where she was declared dead on arrival.

The couple she had worked for for over two years, former technician Fong Kong Meng, 55, and his wife, Teoh Ching Yen, 53, had been charged in court with murder.

Foo said this system would not only be vetting employers who were keen to take on Indonesian maids.

"Any employer who wants to take on maids from any country will be put through this system."

Foo said his members were "fed up with adhoc solutions" to problems in the industry.

He said punitive laws were very well and good but those would only come in when crimes had been perpetrated.

"We believe the best way to resolve things would be to put in place preventive measures right from the beginning.

"We will regulate our own members because not only do we care about the image of the country, but as businessmen, we want to make this industry healthier."