Cambodian Maids to Return to Malaysia Despite Warnings

FILE PHOTO - In this photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, Cambodian maid Hok Pov, 31, cries as she speaks during an interview in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hok Pov may be poor but she had never been beaten or gone hungry until she came to work in Malaysia in April. She is among 41 Cambodian maids rescued this year by Malaysian rights activists, who warn of rising abuse and exploitation due to inadequate law to protect them. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Officials said Malaysia expects to receive 50,000 maids from Cambodia annually, according to Malaysia Mail Online.

Cambodia will resume sending domestic workers to Malaysia in June, ending a six-year ban imposed after a series of high-profile abuse allegations.

Labor rights campaigners, however, said they were concerned for the safety of Cambodian maids in Malaysia and warned that the proper protections were not in place.

"We are still worried because we see that the measures, procedures, and actions of the Ministry of Labor are not reliable,” said Mu Sochua, a former lawmaker, and campaigner on migrant worker issues, on the Hello VOA program on Thursday.

The Ministry of Labor announced in January that the first batch of housemaids would leave for Malaysia on June 1.

“Looking at the protection mechanism, we find that it’s still so weak,” said Dy Thehoya, program officer of the labor rights group Central. “What is going to happen is still worrisome. There is no mechanism to ensure their safety.”

Activists suggested that there should be a committee to monitor the implementation of the agreement between Cambodia and Malaysia, a list of housemaids and their workplaces, and an alarm system that the women can use in case of abuse.

“When the maids are in trouble, they don’t know who to turn to,” said Thehoya.

The new agreement, signed in 2015, requires maids to have insurance, personal mobile phones, and a bank account, according to reports.

Officials said Malaysia expects to receive 50,000 maids from Cambodia annually, according to Malaysia Mail Online.

Currently, there are about 8,000 Cambodian women working in Malaysia.

"We send uneducated people overseas so they work in unskilled jobs,” said Sochua. “It’s like selling them cheaply.”

Cambodia banned sending housemaids to Malaysia in October 2011 after reports of physical abuses and other violations by Malaysian employers.