KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has faced the shortage of foreign maids when the Indonesian government froze the outgoing of maids in June 2009 and the situation was worsened by the fact that the state could only employ maids from the Philippines.
According to Joseph Lee, the managing director of Agensi Pekerjaan Raswell Resources, Sabah could only import foreign maids from two countries – the Philippines and Indonesia while Peninsular Malaysia could import foreign maids from eight countries, including India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia.
Lee who established Raswell Resources in 1997 explained that this difference was due to the provisions of the Labour law and the Immigration law enforced in Sabah.
“Employers who intend to hire foreign maids are put into the waiting list,” Lee said.
“We asked for 10 persons as maids from the Philippines but the authorities only gave us two or three.
Employers have to queue up if they want to hire foreign maids,” he said when giving a picture of the present scenario governing foreign maids.
“I get two or three phone calls everyday asking for maids, but employers have to wait up to two months before the maids arrive owing to the complexity of procedures,” Lee said.
In addition, before bringing in a foreign maid, an employer would be required to pay RM 7,000 for the whole package.
“Since Dec 15, the Director of Immigration had required all landing approvals before any foreign maid could enter Sabah,” Lee added.
Upon deciding on hiring the services of a maid, the necessary documents needed to be submitted to the Immigration Department, which would be subsequently directed to the Phillippines Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and transmitted to Manila for approval.
The whole process could take up to two months.
In terms of wages, Lee said the Philippines government had set a standard salary of US$400 per month or the equivalent of RM 1,200 per maid, while the wages for an Indonesian maid was around RM800.
Lee confessed that employers had complained that the wages were too high but stressed that the amount had been set by the Philippine government.
Some employers, according to Lee, had sought out foreign maids on their own and pay between RM500 and RM600.
“However, the act is illegal and not recognised by the Philippines government,” he said, adding that there was no guarantee as to the quality of maids.
“It depends entirely on luck, we cannot guarantee that (the quality of maids) because different people have different attitudes,” he said, but assured that the agency tried to work out the problems between maids and employers.
Lee advised employers to raise this issue to the government to open up the market to other countries as his hands are tied.
The Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) recently reported that the waiting list for maids is getting longer by the day as only about 200 foreign maids arrived monthly compared to more than 1,000 several months ago.
About 35,000 families are in deperate need of maids with the average waiting time now stretching to over seven months.
Papa currently has 36 members in Sabah.