Malaysia facing 'maidless' woes again as other markets entice
By Lester Kong, The Straits Times/Asia News NetworkBelinda Kuan gave up a promising career after a long and “frustrating” hunt for a maid ended in failure.
August 27, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
“We got an Indonesian maid in February after applying non-stop for nearly two years,” said the 29-year-old mother of two preschool children.
“Then she quit after two months for no reason.”
It is a dilemma facing more and more middle-income Malaysian families whose parents both work. They are finding it harder to hire foreign maids because fees are rising and Indonesian recruitment firms are shunning Malaysia to find jobs for their better trained workers in more lucrative markets like Singapore and Hong Kong.
Others like Joy Yap, the manager of an IT firm, is upset with having to pay “search” fees of up to 2,000 ringgit (US$608) to agencies to find a maid.
“In short, lots of Malaysians are being cheated due to desperation,” she said.
Facing increasingly expensive maids from Indonesia and the Philippines, a Cambodian ban on letting its maids work in Malaysia, and language barriers with Sri Lankan and Vietnamese maids, agencies said the industry has shrunk by nearly 50 percent since 2009.
So Malaysian maid recruitment agencies are reporting declining incomes, and turning to other sources or closing shop.
“My colleagues are opening spas and restaurants to stay in business,” said Fiona Low, a 20-year veteran at the Sri Nadin maid recruiting agency in Kuala Lumpur.
Starting salaries for maids in Malaysia are still driven by the market and can be as low as 650 ringgit despite a 900 ringgit minimum wage policy set by the Malaysian government.