BACKGROUND OF MAMA

The Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Persatuan Majikan Amah Malaysia - MAMA) was established and registered in June 2011 by concerned Employers, following negative reports of ill-treatments of Maids by Employers and conversely, of Employers by Maids in this country. This has from time to time negatively affected the good relationship between the two ASEAN neighbours of very similar cultures.

While MAMA’s principle objective is to look after the interest and rights of the Employers, it is also concerned with the welfare of the Maids. In so doing, MAMA hopes to be of assistance to the government of both countries in their quest for an amicable solution to the many issues of Maids in this country.

MAMA is of the opinion that in order to effectively contribute towards a wholesome solution, it needs to be intimately (though not necessarily directly) involved in all phases of the process – Recruitment, Training, Deployment and Sustenance. The first two consist of activities in Indonesia while the third and fourth represent the Malaysian side activities. It should cover the entire range of classification of activities: Administration, Supervision and Monitoring of activities including logistics, medical check-up, training and certification of Maids.

 

objektif

1) Untuk memelihara hak-hak dan kepentingan majikan amah di Malaysia.

2) Berperanan sebagai wakil hubungan dengan pihak kerajaan bagi hal ehwal majikan amah.

3) Menyediakan program untuk majikan amah seperti kursus, aktiviti-aktiviti pengumpulan dana dan sebagainya.

4) Membantu pihak kerajaan menjalin hubungan harmoni di antara negara-negara yang membekalkan perkhidmatan amah.

 

organizational chart

INDONESIAN MAIDS IN MALAYSIA

One of ASEAN’s most affluent and developed countries, Malaysia has long attracted women from its neighbour - namely Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, seeking job as Maids. To date Malaysians have hired well over 300,000 foreign women as live-in domestic helpers – the largest by far contributor being Indonesia, with over 230,00 Maids.

Many Indonesian Maids currently enter Malaysia on a Social Visit Pass of 30 days and later have it converted to Maid Work Permit for a period of two (2) years. Needless to say this practice is against the spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding between Malaysia and Indonesia, and leaving the Maid and the Employer potentially open to exploitation. Furthermore, it provides a channel by-passing the requirement for a formal training, social/ culture familiarization and medical examination. Malaysia on the other hand, is put at risk with regard to unskilled workers, cultural misinterpretations/misunderstanding and even possible cases of contagious diseases. This, from time to time in the past, might have given rise to incidents with unintended repercussions on the bilateral relations between the two neighbouring countries.

Recurring reports of abuse of Maids by irresponsible Employers, and indeed of Employers by errant Maids had in the past soured relations between the two countries. Contrary to what the public in both countries may have been led to believe (mainly by the media), the Malaysian authorities have time and again warned Employers of the stiff punishment that awaits those guilty of mistreating their Maids, and do punish them appropriately. The same can be said about good efforts made by Indonesian authorities to ensure Indonesian Maids are well trained and disciplined.

Granted, all abuse cases are to be taken seriously – there is no doubt about that. To be fair to Malaysian Maid Employers in general however, these unfortunate cases are small in number. It is generally acknowledged by both Employers and Maids alike that Indonesian Maids working in Malaysian homes in general are enjoying a very worthwhile occupation and even enjoyable stay – especially those Muslim Maids working in Muslim homes with familiar religious practices, culture and language. This is rather unique to Malaysia, and apparently is a strong ‘pull factor’ for Indonesian Maids to Malaysia. Yes, many are attracted to higher salaries offered by some other countries, but fact-on-the-ground is that Indonesian Maids do seek employment in Malaysia and Malaysian Employers do need their service. 

The above said, there should be no room for complacence. It is important that Employers go through the proper channel to find a helper who has passed all the relevant health tests and most importantly, are here legally. Beyond what can reasonably be expected of authorities on both sides of the Straits of Melaka, the fate of the Maids very much lies in the hands of the agencies recruiting them and, later, their Employers. There should be a systematic coordination of the Recruitment, Training, Deployment & Sustenance of Maids.

The last piece (Sustenance) of the jigsaw puzzle points to a dire need to put in place a program that would cater for the wellbeing of the Maids which is both professional and humane. It’s time to acknowledge we are dealing with human beings, and furthermore women. The majority of these women are Muslims with specific religious and cultural needs. No amount of ‘caring’ can replace these basic needs.

CURRENT STATUS

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in Bandung in May 2011 between Indonesia and Malaysia, stipulates a total fee of RM 4,511 for the procurement of an Indonesian Maid. Post-MOU, the current situation is:-

  1. Recent cases indicate that many Indonesian Maids came to Malaysia on a Social Visit Pass which is later converted to Maid Work Permit at the Malaysian Immigration office, for a small fee of less than RM1,500. It is without proper screening, medical check-up in country of origin, training and social-cultural familiarization program.
  2. The entry of Maids from Indonesia through the proper channel as intended by the MOU at a total all-inclusive fee of RM4,511, had been insignificant (reportedly only 108 Maids since MOU signing) and short-lived. Upon enquiry, the main reason appears to be lack of incentives on the recruitment side. This was confirmed by one of the Indonesian Maids agencies associations, HIMSATAKI; the other reason mentioned being the ‘illegal’ channels where agents and non-agents have been bringing in Maids through the JP route (Social Visit Pass).
  3. PAPA - one of the Malaysian Maid agencies associations, has recently announcement an all-inclusive total fee of  RM8,500.00, exceeding the official MOU fee by almost 90%. PIKAP – the other Malaysian Maid agencies association, is reportedly considering a higher figure.
  4. The tedious documentation procedure is not user friendly and time consuming for both the Employers and the Maids. These are translated into possible disappearance of potential Maids from their recruitment centres in Indonesia, and higher time costs.
  5. As it has always been, the Employer is without much protection against high charges on one hand and non-performing and run-away Maids on the other; while the Maid is without any kind of protection against possible abuse.

Some of the problems presently faced by Employers are:-

  1. Supply shortage - supply of Maids not meeting demand, leaving many without a Maid which in turn causes stress both at homes and at work places.
  2. High cost of procurement of Maids.
  3. Quality – Inadequately trained Maids.
  4. Social – lack of cultural sensitivity and discipline of Maids.
  5. Health – medically unfit Maids.
  6. Run-away Maids

The problems faced by the Maids include:-

  1. Abuse by irresponsible Employers: these include long hours of work, inappropriate jobs, verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse.
  2. Salaries not paid on regular basis or not paid on-time.
  3. Undefined/ill-defined Job scope & hours of work.
  4. Maid’s rights to basic religious needs & practices not respected.
  5. Inadequate insurance coverage
  6. IIrregular/unsafe funds remittance back home.
  7. Lack of sense of belonging/security and a place of reference in case of need for advice/counseling, and in case of emergency.

MAMA believes it can contribute greatly in solving or minimizing all of the above problems, through cooperative efforts among stakeholders consisting of government departments, companies/groups long in the field of Maids supply/deployment and institutions dedicated to human rights & social justice.

 

MAMA’S PROPOSAL

Maids obviously play no small role in helping Malaysian families improve their quality of life. MAMA therefore wants to ensure Malaysian Employers and their families are supplied with quality Maids. But unhappy Maids cannot possibly give good service in the long run. MAMA therefore also wants to ensure the wellbeing of Maids are taken care of – something MAMA would like to see happen through the H.E.L.P.E.R. program as conceived and proposed by SAIDHA and mentioned under item 4e of the Surat Edaran No. 1105/AS/SBK/1211 (see attached) of KBRI dated 14 Nov 2011.

A) RECRUITMENT

Under this topic of “Recruitment”, first and foremost, MAMA would like to propose a degree of deregulation with regard to procurement of Maids. Instead of making it mandatory for potential Employers to procure Maids through a Malaysian Maids Agency, the Government should also allow procurement of Maids through personal contacts or other alternative means. This would open the market and allow ‘market forces’ to play a role in determining the fair price.   

However, in order to avoid unfit/untrained/unskilled Maids situation, the Maids Agency on the supply side (Indonesia) must be made mandatory. MAMA is currently negotiating with HIMSATAKI to arrive at the lowest feasible fee.

One of the most talked about and much publicised issues is the Cost Structure. MAMA feels what is most needed is a practical and workable reference (or benchmark) cost structure that Employers can refer to in deciding whether to procure a Maid via a Malaysian Maids agency or otherwise. This would have to be one where the supply side would have adequate incentives to recruit Maids and yet the overall cost to Employers is maintained at around the popular MOU figure. After a careful and detailed study of all cost elements from various sources including the MOU and MAMA’s own earlier estimates, MAMA has come up with cost structure based mainly on the MOU figures, as per table below :-  

  Click to view

As can be seen from above table, the Indonesian Agency Fee (table item A12) has been revised upward. This solves the major issue of lack of incentives to recruit Maids for Malaysia due to certain real but undeclared direct costs of recruitment. While working toward low cost we need to take stock of the fact that our country is facing stiff competition for Indonesian Maids from other countries that offer better salaries and benefits  - Middle East, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Brunei.

The Employer makes his/her own arrangement for the collection of the Maid at the Malaysian entry point, and is responsible for settling all the Malaysian side cost elements (only Annual Levy and FOMEMA cost elements in the case of those Employers who choose to utilize MAMA’s services).

As earlier indicated, this cost structure and total cost to Employer does NOT include the fee of a Malaysian Agency, since it is on the basis of not utilizing their services. It is expected that each Agency would add their own fee based on their value added propositions such as arranging for the Malaysian side cost elements, home delivery of Maid and providing guarantees of Maid’s special skills or academic qualifications. This way, the Malaysian Agency is free to package their offers to suit various markets, while potential Employers would have options.

B) TRAINING

MAMA would be willing and able to administer, supervise and closely monitor the training, medical check-up and certification of Maid in Indonesia through suitable Malaysian based Indonesian training set-ups familiar with Indonesian workforce and manpower rules and regulations.

C) DEPLOYMENT

Maids deployment in Malaysia is currently a simple matter of collecting the Maid at the Malaysian entry point, settling the Annual Levy, and performing medical check-up with FOMEMA. This proposal of MAMA would add registration for the H.E.L.P.E.R. program and membership of MAMA.

In the case of potential Employer procuring Maid through MAMA, all matters are handled by MAMA except for the physical collection of Maid at the relevant Malaysian entry point, settlement of the Annual Levy and medical check-up with FOMEMA. In the case of those procuring Maid through a Malaysian Maids Agent, all matters are handled by the Agent.

D) SUSTENANCE

The best recruitment, training and deployment program in the world would amount to nothing if a proper and systematic maintenance or “sustenance” program is not put in place, to enhance sustainability.  Past experience with Maids in Malaysia showed that it takes just one badly handled case of Maid abuse to send the public rowdy and everyone back to the drawing board.

MAMA is determined to help build harmonious working relationship between Maids and their Malaysian Employers.  This, MAMA hope to achieve through the H.E.L.P.E.R. program as conceived and proposed by SAIDHA since two years ago. MAMA believes it is a comprehensive program that embraces all relevant aspects of a Maid’s wellbeing, and involves numerous parties and stakeholders  - the only one of its kind around. It has made its ‘round-trip’ through KSM, KDN, JAKIM, ACCIN, PPIM and the Indonesian Embassy, with a good reception and acceptability overall. We feel it is time to put it into practice      

Objectives of H.E.L.P.E.R. program :-

  • To help lift the ban on Indonesian Maids recruitment for Malaysia  - we believe the very introduction of H.E.L.P.E.R. in early 2011 to relevant parties of both countries did help speed up the ban lift which came in May 2011.
  • To improve the overall quality of work and level of services for Maids through orientation and practical training.
  • To provide and administer a comprehensive group insurance coverage.
  • To provide banking facilities for regular payment of salaries, introduce the convenient and much safer and more secure monetary transfer to Indonesia.
  • To monitor the safety of Maids through “Violence Watch” and take immediate actions to assist Maids in distress.
  • To advise and assist in the protection of Maids.
  • To advise and assist in legal matters for Maids.

E) THE PROCESS

See attached diagram for the proposed process of procuring a Maid.

The process starts with the potential Employer’s enquiry and submission of application for Maid with payment, either to MAMA or a Malaysian Maid Agency.

In the case of Maid application through MAMA, registration for MAMA membership and the H.E.L.P.E.R. program are essential pre-conditions. This is because MAMA’s Maid procurement policy is only for its members. Benefits offered by MAMA include: close monitoring of maids training, medical screening and the general progress of the Maid procurement process in Indonesia.

For application through a Malaysian Maid Agency, MAMA membership is optional but registration for the H.E.L.P.E.R. program is still required. However if preferred, both of these registrations can be done upon arrival of Maid in Malaysia (see diagram).

Though not recommended, a potential Employer also has the option of making his/her own arrangement with an Indonesian Maids Agency. He or she however will have to ensure all legalities and procedures are adhered to. The position with regard to MAMA membership and H.E.L.P.E.R. program is as per the Malaysian Maid Agency route described above.

F) OTHER MATTERS

  • As discussed under the topic of “Recruitment”, MAMA is proposing to both Governments to also allow (in addition to via Malaysian Maids Agency) procurement of Maids through personal contacts or other alternative means. This is to allow ‘market forces’ to play a role in determining the fair price. Indeed, this is the mechanism by which the MAMA and the “own arrangement” (through Indonesian Maids Agency) channels can be possible and legal. The alternative would be for MAMA to be given special permission to procure Maids for its members.
  • A Maid does not clock-in and clock-out as others in normal employment. She is always at her work place!  A Maid is almost always a woman and subject only to homely issues. Her need for food and accommodation is taken care of by her Employer. Compared to construction laborers for example, she generally does not have to worry about fending for herself and is not subject to harsh living conditions and dangers out there in the open world. Not surprisingly, many of the employment related issues and concerns are not totally applicable to household Maids. Long term therefore, MAMA would like to propose that Maids be ungrouped from the Ministry of Human Resource, where Maids are classified under foreign labour workers category. A good alternative is to put it under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community, Malaysia.
  • Lastly, MAMA would also propose enforcement of long existing guidelines that non-Muslims intending to employ a Muslim Maid must sign a letter-of-undertaking that the Maid would be given needed breaks to perform her daily duty (daily prayers, fasting in Ramadhan) as a Muslim, and would not be required to perform jobs forbidden in Islam.  Similarly, a non-Muslim Maid must be accorded the same rights of religious practice and observance.

 

CONCLUDING REMARKS

In preparing this Proposal, MAMA has given due considerations and serious thoughts on all aspects of the “Issue of foreign Maids in Malaysia” as perceived by both supply and demand sides, while not forgetting the welfare of the one most affected – the Maid.

The Employer’s interests are well taken care of with the clear cost breakdown, and the procurement/cost options open to him/her. MAMA of course will always be there to look after the interests of the Employer against non-performing Maids and Maid Agencies.  The Maid is well insured and better protected with the H.E.L.P.E.R program.

The role of competent and responsible Maid Agencies – both in Indonesia and Malaysia, are well acknowledged and respected. MAMA believes with this Proposal, there will be better transparency and much less misunderstanding with regard to costs charged by an Agency. This surely is good for everyone, which in turn is good for business.

MAMA hopes the good spirit of the recent meeting at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta among the Embassy, HIMSATAKI and MAMA representatives, has been adequately embodied in this Proposal. Most of all, the good efforts by the Malaysian Embassy in looking for a solution to the many issues of Indonesian Maids in Malaysia, will hopefully soon bear good fruits.  

Of course, no human thing is perfect. MAMA would appreciate constructive comments from everyone, especially those long in the field.  As important as the knowledge-skill-experience factor, is the sincerity in solving the larger problem. Perhaps, lack of awareness of this fact has precisely been our point of failure all these years.