Monday, May 16, 2011

The Maids Are Coming..... Again

Soon we'll be seeing an influx of Indonesian maids all over again, now that the ban imposed two years ago by Indonesia in the wake of several high-profile maid abuse cases by a few irresponsible Malaysian employers has been lifted.

It was reported in the papers yesterday that up to 1,000 maids would be dispatched to Malaysia each month to fill the void, and that 35,000 Malaysian families were said to be waiting anxiously for their respective house help.

According to Yunus Yamani, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Labour Exporters, recruitment agencies had been training workers over the past two months in anticipation of the lifting of the ban.

Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta had recently signed a Letter of Intent to give a new dimension to the employment of domestic workers in Malaysia and had reportedly agreed on revised terms.

To quote The Star: "A joint task force was set up to scrutinise four main issues pertaining to the recruitment of maids; a day's rest every week, handling of the maid's passport according to Immigration laws, the structure of fees charged by recruiting agents and, on runaway maids."

All fine and dandy, until one despicable housewife among us good, kind-hearted people starts using her maid's back as an ironing board and her head as a punching bag (literally).

Or until someone's husband, or son, or father (or heaven forbids, all of them) start forcing themselves on a hapless maid somewhere, as though sex is part of the package.

Then, the equally sordid tableau of those BENDERA (Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat) morons 'sweeping' the streets of Jakarta with their sharpened bamboo poles, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting Malaysians (mostly tourists with $$$ in their pockets waiting to help prop their economy), will be replayed all over again.

Not a pretty picture and never will be but that's reality, believe me. For as long as we have a few evil-incarnates as employers, the Big Top will never fold and the carousel will not stop turning. The circus will go on.

And that's half the story told. How about conniving domestics, the ungratefuls whom you take into your home and hearth in kindness and then they piss in your rice pot before absconding with your valuables?

I have nothing against Indonesian domestic help (or imported labour force in general). Many are here seeking 'rezeki halal' and it is our duty as responsible Muslims to help our less fortunate brethren.

But truth be told, I am one weary woman insofar as this Indonesian domestic help issue is concerned. I have lived through the era of local maids and the chasm yawns wide between the two.

Those days, the acquisition of local maids was, almost always, through relatives back in the kampung. Someone would inform of a poor family willing to offer their daughter as house help or child minder.

The girl's background would not be a mystery to her potential employers. More often than not, the employers would take the trouble to 'jemput' (invite/collect) the girl themselves from her family, thus meeting her folks face to face and reassuring them that their girl would be cared for.

This is all history today. Kampung girls have been adequately educated, that washing someone else's dirty dishes and laundry cease to be an option. Their horizon has broaden beyond someone's kitchen. I applaud that, in the name of progress.

Frankly, you don't know where you are with foreign imports. There is nothing that you can verify about them. You have to accept your agent's word as the gospel truth; it's scary. It's like playing Russian roulette; one wrong move and you're done for.

I understand perfectly the need for foreign (read: Indonesian) maids, and I feel for families in desperate need of their services. Still, the answer I think lies not on the shores of Indonesia, but right here at home, in our government policies, sadly wanting as it were.

For years there were talks about setting up creches at the workplace. Till today it remains a pipe dream. Of course there are some in existence since, but not enough is being done.

We have the resources and the money but lack the willpower to push things through. Same old, same old. When will things ever change?

In the mean time, get prepared for more Ganyang Malaysia 'idiotcyncracies' from those gormless yokels and lunatics, with their misplaced sense of patriotism, in BENDERA...


Cat-from-Sydney said...

Adoi! Aunty Puteri, it's the same old story, eh? And what the ban for, again? purrr....meow!

ninotaziz said...

Seriously belated response I know. But I would just like to say a good word for my maid, Indonesian yes, marvelously kind and part of the family, yes.

As my Mum puts it - You are lucky Nina. You got a housekeeper in the guise of a maid.

She's in her late 40s, and after a hard life, is getting on. But she has been with us for five years and is super rich back home...I always remind our five kids!