Govt to review RM7,000 term to hire Indonesian domestic helper

The high cost may encourage the worker to enter the country via illegal routes

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by TMR FILE

THE government will look into the issue of having RM7,000 as the minimum income household to employ a domestic helper, as the high cost may encourage the worker to enter the country via illegal routes.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan (picture) said he would look into the implementation closely to determine whether RM7,000 is too high and perhaps negotiate with the Indonesian counterpart to lower the amount.

Read more: PDI MoU implementation needs continuous Malaysia-Indonesia commitment

“We will look at the implementation closely to see if RM7,000 is too high.

“Maybe we will ask for it to be lowered. Otherwise, the issue of forced labour will continue in our country,” Saravanan said during a press conference at the Human Resource Development Corp’s office yesterday.

It was reported that Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to several measures to protect workers and employers including stringent processes, a minimum household income qualification of RM7,000, weekly rest day, an e-complaint application for workers and welfare benefits for domestic helpers.

On April 1, Malaysia and Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the recruitment and protection of Indonesian domestic helpers (PDIs) in Malaysia.

The signing of the MoU was witnessed by the Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at Istana Merdeka in Jakarta.

Saravanan signed on behalf of Malaysia while Indonesia was represented by its Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah.

Read more: Saravanan: PDI recruitment includes 15 cost components

According to Ismail Sabri, the MoU would ensure that all recruitment processes and protection mechanisms on PDI are comprehensively implemented by the relevant parties, in accordance with the policies and laws of both countries.

He noted that the single-entry channel for PDIs into Malaysia was agreed upon by using only the single channel system as outlined in the MoU to screen recruiters to ensure that only qualified candidates can hire PDIs.

Meanwhile, Saravanan also denied claims that it costs RM15,000 to hire a domestic helper.

He explained that when discussions were made with Indonesia on domestic workers previously, they were dealing with issues of a 14-day Covid-19 quarantine period and the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction testing.

Read more: Over 24,000 foreign workers to return by April, says Saravanan

The minister said the cost back then in Malaysia was around RM9,000 while the cost in Indonesia was about RM4,000 to RM5,000

“But, right now there is no more quarantine. So, our charges would be about RM6,000 because the previous cost of RM9,000 is inclusive of the cost of the hotel stay during the quarantine period and other additional costs.

“Since there is no more quarantine, it will reduce from RM9,000 to RM6,000 on our side and the same applies to the other side, (the cost) will drop,” he explained.

A total of 10,000 PDIs are expected to arrive in the country after the Hari Raya celebration.

The minister added that this will be the first batch from Indonesia to enter the country since the pandemic started two years ago.

“At the same time, I am talking to other countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh to bring in maids.

“I would be visiting Cambodia and Vietnam in the near future to discuss bringing in foreign workers, especially for the domestic helpers’ sector,” he said

He also noted that the application process for maids in countries apart from Indonesia will be dependent on the source country.