Fri, 09 May 2003

Maid policy stays

Malaysians are generally tolerant when it comes to religion and so far foreign maids are free to work in any household, regardless of religious faiths.

When the idea was mooted that foreign maids be deployed in households based on their religious beliefs, employment agencies and employers reacted with concern over the difficulties they would face if such a policy was implemented. Many Muslim foreign maids are employed in non-Muslims households and there would have to be another costly recruitment and deployment exercise.

Thankfully, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has decided to retain the existing policy on recruiting foreign maids.

However, safeguards to ensure that families which hire foreign maids accommodate their religious sensitivities and obligations should be strictly enforced. Under the existing policy, there must be an agreement between the employer and foreign maid on matters like religious freedom.

Given the occasional abuse of maids by employers, there is an obvious need for an effective mechanism for foreign maids to air grievances and seek quick redress from employers. There should also be an equivalent avenue for employers unhappy with their maids.

Employers of foreign maids must realize that they have obligations and reponsibilities. They must care for them, just as they expect the foreign maids to take good care of their families.

-- New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur