Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day Off for Maids

While it is a laudable act for the government to make it compulsory for the employers to give their maid one day off in a week, I am more worried about the implementation and the impact of it.

There are a total of 300, 000 foreign maids in Malaysia. If all of them are given a day off on Sunday, imagine what will happen to popular places like tourist spots, shopping malls and parks. A good example will be the crowd in Puduraya. If you go to Puduraya on Sunday, you will think that you’re in Indonesia or in Bangladesh because all foreign construction workers are given the day off on that day and they crowded near Puduraya area, making the place not only very congested but also very unMalaysian in its crowd.

Apart from that, how is the government going to enforce this new ruling? Does the government have sufficient officers to carry out checks from door-to door on families who have maids at home? If only random checks are conducted, how would the government know whether the employers adhere to the ruling? Therefore, there must be a proper system and guideline given to both employers and maids in ensuring that they follow the rules, or else this will be another piece of legislation looking good on paper.

We recognize the importance of the role of maids in a family where without them, a lot of women are unable to work since they have to stay home to take care of the children and do house chores. The government also has to ensure that the maids will not abuse the day off given to them. There are many maids who have gone missing after their day off because they befriended other foreign men and ran away. Some even conspired with their boyfriends to steal valuable items from the employer’s home and causing possible endangerment to the employer's life. We have heard of this many times already, but do we have a system to monitor this issue?

With more than 300, 000 foreign maids in this country, the government should seriously consider and review the plan before implementing it. The Ministry of Human resource should follow the example of Tan Sri Muhyiddin and obtain feedback from the public before implementing the ruling.

As I will be travelling to Kelantan, Johor and Melaka from today onwards till next week, I will not have time to blog. Sorry, my dear readers.








Vince said...

Dr Chua,

To be frank..... That is the most stupid idea out GOV gives. What is the justification? If there is a few crazy employer which tortures their Maid and cause a ruckus, is the cause for this action? Than this is plain stupid. We have a maid to take care of our age old Granny. So far she is more closer as family in our heart than any of our GOV officials. She is family, not a 8~5 office worker.
If the GOV want to implement rules, go do something about the Mat Rempit and Daylight robbery issue......and go knock themselves out.
If it is the maid issue, then go punish the individual crazy employer and not everyone..... :(

Anonymous said...

Dr. Chua,

Reading this post, especially the earlier passages, I could not help but feel that you are being a bit xenophobic.

As for the issue of enforcement, this is something where self-policing will be practical. As you mentioned, maids run away all the time, but that tells me that only a foolish employer would deny their made their right to a day off. You don't want someone living under your roof to resent you. Therefore I believe most sensible people would not bar their maids from going out, although I suspect many would try to control it a bit. For example, if possible, they might strongly encourage their maids to go out with maids in neighboring houses - this is a practical approach with obvious benefits, and I think it will be common.

Malaysia needs a more intelligent approach to domestic helpers, and to recognise the aspirations of those who do decide to take up such work.

And by the way, the idea that maids are necessary to enable women to work is pretty ridiculous. I won't even bother listing the countries where live-in maids are not at all commonplace while women employment is very high - there are too many to count. There are alternatives. To be blunt, there's nothing quite like the luxury of having a live-in maid... let's be honest and admit that it is a luxury that many of us have gotten used to, and perhaps even dependent on.

Vince: I think you raised a very valid point. There should be different classes of maids, and their job function should be more specific. If a maid is hired to take care of a sickly/old person then a day off every week will be problematic, so maybe there should be exception for this case, with slightly higher salary to make it fair.

But if it's just to cook, do laundry, clean the house, walk the dog, then there's no reason not to give them a day off. At least one day a week I think we can wash our own plates.

nkp777 said...

Dr Chua,

They are not slaves, they are human beings too. Why cant you and many other Malaysians understand this?

malayamuda said...

will Datuk Subramaniam fill in for the maid for that one day ?

if the maid understands and agrees that she will be working everyday if she chooses to work in Malaysia what is Subramaniam or Najibs problem ?

Malaysian Government is becoming more and more pathetic !

Unknown said...

Maids are human beings first and foremost and obviously are entitled to a modicum of free time and privacy as their "employment" can never be akin to slavery!

There comes a point however when a big brother society impinges completely on humane and sensible family management. Many foreign maids are young, single and often very vulnerable temporary members of our communities. Basically having them turned out of what becomes also their temporary homes one day a week could be catastrophic for those girls who may be prey to certain elements who may thrive upon their innocence. How are the restrictions to be applied - do they have to leave for 24 hours, do they need outside accommodation for a day, do they have to provide for their own food and entertainment during their holiday? It is hastily drawn-up nonsense.

Our maid has been with us for nine years and is a trusted member of our family already. She participates on all our weekend activities, goes to cinema visits together, dines with us and so on. On the rare occasions she wants some free time to go shopping she is assisted to do so and has as much freedom as would be given to my daughters. She is under my care whilst she is staying with my family and I have a responsibility to her family and to the authorities to ensure she is safe and looked after. How would I explain to her family if she was raped during her holiday? Would the Government hold me liable if she committed any wrongdoing whilst in my employment but on holiday?
Please think again

Vince said...

Dr Chua,

We actually have our hands full with problem with Foreigners. Like it or not we have to admit that there are already illegal foreign gang syndicate in our country. They rob, rape, kill our locals regardless to race and religion. What the hell is our GOV doing to curb that. If the GOV can post a bunch of Police and FRU at the Perak state building during 7 May, why can they deploy those troops to go round Chow Kit and other illegal settlement. Giving day off to maid is like letting them go and join the ranks in this syndicate and may as well plan robbery or take part in it. It is not uncommon police case to find Maids open door to robbers, so why do they open the door.... It is because they have befriended the robbers when they have their so called OFFday given by some employer. Please think of this, our street is already flooded by illegal foreigners who is REALLY causing trouble, what the hell is the GOV doing?

Poo Ching Loong said...


Most of the maid at home is not working all the time, some of them have even time for lunch nap!

Do not because of fulfill certain people, then implement rules that will bring more issues to the people, and the country.

Chu Kong Ming (朱刚明) said...

To have 'live-in' maid is not a simple matter. It'll definitely affect the family living to some extent especially privacy.
The best way forward in the long term is to do the house cores by ourselves and on this context, government should formulate a policy to help the family overcomes all the problems relating to the house holds; perhaps a laundry pool and house public cleaning services that can relieve the burdens of working class. How about government subsidising some of these services or helping the set up of such services to save costs of each household?

Unknown said...

Hi! Dr CHua,

We agreed with Vince comment. It is time for BN federal govt to concentrate in improving the financial economy of the nation and also to get rid of the increasing crime rate instead of continue with their flip flop policies in handling foreign maids affair and plan to abolish the teaching of English in Science and Mathematics in schools.

The main issue with the foreign maids especially from Indonesia have caused severe domestic problems to many Malaysian families. Frankly speaking majority of Indonesian female workers acted as maids to find opportunities for better living here and also looking for future husbands from Malaysians or own Indonesians who secured PR or citizenship here.

Yes, it is humantarian ground to allow foreign maids for one day off in each week but it must be done on voluntary basis from her employer to arrange the time and day for her. It is very stupid for BN govt to enforce the law on this subject that can caused more social problem here. Malaysians have suffered enough with the increase domestic violence, daylight robberies, Mat rempit, high unemployment, etc.

Malaysia has been invaded with many foreign immigrants and illegal immigrants from many poor nations that caused increased social diseases,crime and unhealthy activities. To add salt to the wound, we understand many foreign maids are finding ways to earn extra income from their immoral activities like prostitutions, stealing, cheating and co-operating with illegal immigrants to commit crimes during their off-day.

In short, the main cause of the maid problem is because the lack of strict enforcement from the authorities and employment agencies to ensure the monitoring and control of the welfare of the maids brought into Malaysia. Similar, many local employers are also to blame for taking advantages on the cheap maids used as slaves in helping their domestic houseworks plus biz works too. It is pity for foreign maids to find a living here instead dreaming for a heaven that they find a HELL working here.

Malaysia BOLEH Land!

Malaysian Chinese said...

Those that taalking about human rights, freedom +++ are those that do not have maids. They do not understand the situation out there. Again, those people, understand before comment please

Pearls said...

It should not be made a law for maids to have a day off. It is true that a lot has been done for maids and not much for those who employ maids. It is an exhorbit amount to pay to get a maid and the government must also offer some form of protection to potential employers.

Maids are a headache bunch. Not everyone is lucky enough to get a reasonable good maid. Most of the time, the quality are substandard and when one compare with the fees used to get a maid, one will feel cheated! Does the law offer recourse for such scenario?

Some maids are very cunning. They know that if they fringe stupidity, they can escape from doing any real work. Of course, the reasonable action to take in such scenario is to send the maid back and get a new one. But one must not forget, to get a new maid even during the 1st 3 months, one has to pay penalty on top of having to pay an additional RM600 over in processing fee for a new maid. That is a lot of money to pay and does the government provide any recourse in such matter?

As said, there are too many horror stories about maid. It is rare to hear commentable stories about how good a maid is. These NGOs and those who advocate benefits for maids, I truly doubt these people have ever put their hands into their own pockets and fish out money to employ a maid.

Yes, maids are human and therefore they must be treated like human BUT my question is this, do they have the same human compassion towards their employer?

As for comment about a maid enables a woman to go out to work, it is most definitely not true. Women can and will go out to work even without a maid. From my experience, a good and caring babysitter/day care center is much better than a maid. As for housework, if each member of the family does their part, there is no need for a maid!

Vince said...

Dr Chua,

TheStar Online posted today that Indonesian GOV plan to block the maids to work in Malaysia, is this what our GOV fear and thus implement this nonsense rules? The Indonesian GOV is not stupid, they won't be bought by simply giving Day off for Maids rules. What they want is JUSTICE, we hope that the LAW and TRIAL on MAID ABUSE cases is handled fairly and the Indonesian Embassy is invited to attend the Court Case. We as Malaysian is also feel shameful if some of us take advantage and being inhumane with their maids. We want TRUE justice and law executed and I believe that is what all of us want. So show us all and show the world, who we are really.
We are not afraid if the Indonesian GOV plan to block the maids, we can still get maids from other countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh...... the list goes on and on. The only advantage given to Indonesian GOV is because we are Islamic country, but if they do not treasure such advantage it is ok for us to change maids.

Bottom Line: Please enforce Law and Justice Respectfully and with Integrity on all Person in Malaysia be it LOCAL or Foreign.

Unknown said...

Dear Dr Chua and Malaysian Chinese,

I sincerely agree with the comment voiced by the writer, Malaysian Chinese. Please comment if you have experience in employing or engaging maids in helping your domestic houseworks.
Otherwise, if not please comment wisely.

Yes, my wife and I have employed two maids for past 6 years to help taking care of our 3 children and our old parents including doing domestic houseworks. Frankly speaking, we considered the two maids as members of our family during their 6 years tenure here. We allowed them to go shopping, movies, holidays and eat together us. We also buy new clothes and assist them to remit monthly salaries back to their families in Indonesia. During Hari Raya and CNY festivals, they are allowed to celebrate with their Malay & Indon friends and chinese neighbors. We gave them ang pow money in this festivals, 1 month bonus and salary increment each year. Similar, we also taught them the methods of cooking chinese and western foods as well as use PC and internet services to communicate with their friends in Indonesia.

We taught them how to save their annual income in 6 years and invested in several cheap agri-land in their hometowns in Surabaya and Bandung, Indonesia. We told them that they cannot continue working with us for life here. They must reunite with their husbands and children to do own biz or cultivate their own land after six years working in Malaysia.

After the sixth year, we decided to terminate our 2 maids' contracts since our 3 children are grown up and studied at secondary school. We bought them many souveniors and rewarded them big ang pows, a fair well dinner, a trip to Langkawi & Phuket holidays with us and two MAS tickets for them to go home. The last day, they hugged us and our children with tears. We did missed them very much and they also missed us too. Finally, they posted their families' photos to us and showed they are proud owners of several agriculture land bought from their hard earned income for 6 years in Malaysia. Now our two maids are lady bosses doing agri biz in Surabaya and Bandung. They thanked us for our good financial planning lessons to them.

So, the moral of our experience of hiring maids is simple:



Kind regards,

Tuanku - Malaysia BOLEH Land

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Chua, International labour law online states " the minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per period of 24 hours and the minimum period of one rest day on average immediately following the daily rest period in every seven-day period ". Personal interpretation would mean the foreign worker deserves a one day rest in a week. There are too many stories about these foreign workers. Put it this way. If you are good to them, they will step all over you. If you are bad to them, you will be branded as an abuser. In many capitals of the world, there is such a big mix of different people that you do not feel like you are in that country. For a typical weekend in Singapore, their MRTs will be packed with Filipinos and Indonesians. They go to church on Sundays and after church, they have their little get-togethers in some parks or squares and they can be so well blended in that they might be mistaken for rich tourists. Not surprising. The Singaporean currency is bigger. Don't forget that many Filipinos have degree qualifications and so don't be surprised if they speak better English than you. Or are more intelligent. Just that there are no decent work in their own country. The problem in Malaysia is there are many cowboy agents around and there are many cowboy foreigners who just want to earn money here. Nobody cares if they are here today and gone tomorrow. Nobody cares if they are missing in action. Nobody cares if they are up to all sorts of hanky panky business. People would just stereotype them and say that this is usual for foreign workers. There are many good ideas, as usual. But these ideas remain on paper and are not being carried out. For example. Having an official and licensed agent. Having a training programme for the foreign workers. Making them understand the legality of their working here and their contract. The maximum number of years. Renewable contract. If they are good, the government can consider giving them a citizenship especially if they are from some god forsaken country like Burma. May be Malaysians should start asking themselves whether they really need foreign workers around. Like at home. If the kids can cook and take care of themselves and the house, do they need a maid around ? Do you need a maid to show off your social status ? Do your kids need to be served ?

Unknown said...

I agree with 朱刚明 comments.
Is time to look for / promoting the cleaing services, day care, and etc. So that the common house hold function can be handle profesionally with reasonable fees without the worry of permanent maid. I have seen how todat children being spoiled by exploiting the maid at home for the full time basis, they donot clean their schoool shoe, wash dishes, soem even have the breakfast serve at their bed....

吾说八道Rukun Lapan said...



問文 said...




bongkersz said...

Dr Chua,

I can't believe you wrote this.

"There are a total of 300, 000 foreign maids in Malaysia. If all of them are given a day off on Sunday, imagine what will happen to popular places like tourist spots, shopping malls and parks."

Damn! No wonder the shopping malls are full during the weekend! It is because most Malaysians work only 5 days a week and would be free during the weekend! Malaysia is so small, now with so many people not working during the weekend, especially when 300,000 foreign maids getting a day off, everywhere must be packed with people! How scary! Waaaaaaaaa!

My friend also have this to say...

Stupid or what these people? Of course all maids dont get the same off day and if they were in the malls on their own time not carrying squealing kids and 17 shopping bags, they may actually buy things, which by the way is good for our economy. No ah?

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