Change foreign worker laws, says Tenaganita
Friday, January 20th, 2012
The Malay Mail (Malaysia)
PETALING JAYA: Until proper laws on foreign workers are put in place, the Cambodian government should maintain its moratorium on sending their workers, including domestic maids, to Malaysia.
This was the opinion of Tenaganita director and co-founder Irene Fernandez (pic). She said the current master-servant relationship between Malaysian employers and foreign workers must be changed before the Cambodian government lifts the moratorium on its citizens working as maids here.
"I cannot understand why the government is so reluctant to acknowledge them as workers instead of servants," she told The Malay Mail.
She explained that the current terminology promotes exploitism as it reflects a master-servant relationship instead of an employer-employee relationship.
"Without a legal framework put in place by the government, employers will continue to abuse foreign workers," said Fernandez, adding that because of this, not only employers but also the government should be liable for such cases of abuse.
Fernandez said the case of Cambodian foreign worker Orn Eak who claimed to have been treated like a slave for two years while employed as a maid in Kuala Lumpur, was yet another story of the abuse that foreign workers face in the country.
Last Nov 10, The Malay Mail reported that Cambodian parliamentarian Mu Sochua, who is also a prominent member of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), had visited Malaysia, not to extract an apology but to request that laws be put in place to protect maids.
Until then, Fernandez said the Cambodian government should maintain its moratorium and Indonesian women would continue to be reluctant to come to Malaysia despite the lifting of the Indonesian moratorium.
"These countries should stand up and claim their rights with dignity," she said.
"We must change the guidelines," said Fernandez, who opined that current ones are akin to modern day slavery.
She said if such abuse continues, it would harm Malaysia's reputation further.
On Wednesday, Australian's The Age had reported that Orn Eak, a 28-year-old single mother of one, claimed slave-like treatment from her Malaysian employers with having no days off, working from dawn into the early hours of the next morning and caring for her employer's disabled mother.
Orn Eak had said she was often beaten and went hungry. She had said she came to Malaysia to work because her mother was struggling to survive in their village in Kompong Thom province.
Last October, Cambodia imposed a temporary ban on sending domestic workers to Malaysia following numerous complaints of abuse.
The order was signed by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen following "some negative information" about the working environment of Cambodian maids in Malaysia.