One marinates meat not issues. A week has passed us by but this writer did not see any posting on Indonesian maid issue. Did Sibu P212 by-election result eclipsed this small but important issue? Or has Malaysians become complacent and take it as a non-issue?
1MPM6 Najib, fresh from BN's defeat in P212 met with Indonesia's SBY on 18th May 2010 and later witnessed the signing of LOI on new terms of Indonesians maids. Amongst others, it is said that :-
- Indonesian maids will get a day off a week;
- If the maid decided to forgo her off days, she will be compensated in lieu of it;
- The maids will be allowed to keep their passports if the employers agree;
- There are suggestions that the maids salary be increased up to 80 % of the present value of between RM 450 ~ RM 550 monthly;
- There are currently 400,000 foreign maids in Malaysia, out of which 300,000 comes from Indonesia;
- There are an estimated 2.5 million Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia;
Let's not argue about the figures provided by the MSMs. Instead, let's look inward and capture the predicaments faced in our own backyard :-
- How many of us read about a plantation worker whose April's take home pay is RM 33?. His gross salary was approximately RM 364.96;
- What about Kampung Kandang Lembu, Hulu Selangor which received such prominence during Hulu Selangor by-election? One person interviewed there survived on RM 150 monthly income to feed her grandchildren. Where is Kamalanathan, now that he won the parliamentary seat? What is he going to do about it? Where is Rozali of Syabas who promised to provide piped water to the folks in Hulu Selangor? Has he decided to by-pass the village?
- Under current agreement, plantation labourers are ensured a minimum monthly wage of RM 350 which is 22 % lower than the Indonesian maids;
- Only 5 % of the plantation owners implement housing scheme for estate workers although it has been introduced since 1973 or 37 years ago under Tun Razak House ownership scheme. Now, his son (1MPM6 Najib) has taken over the reins and yet, the plantation workers are still a neglected lot;
- A restaurant worker in Sibu survived on RM 400 monthly wage which is 11 % lower than what the Indonesian maids are currently getting;
- The relevant ministries train our own domestic helpers and cater our own needs? This move will improve the livelihood of our own poor and at the same time increase their income;
- The move to train our own domestic helper will reduce currency outflow where the Indonesians maids transferred their income back to their country. This will reduce currency exchange and outflow;
- By introducing Malaysia's own domestic helpers, it may accelerate mutual understanding between our cross cultures and religions;
- 300,000 Indonesian maids means that we are paying RM 150M monthly wages to these maids which adds up to RM 1.8B annually. Malaysia can keep this money to circulate our own economy. Is there any need to "allow" RM 1.8B economy to be generated in other countries?;
- Having a day off weekly will also invite more social problems. What are the social problems? You and I are all adults and a simple 2 + 2 = 4. Do I need to say more? Is Malaysia ready to face these additional social problems created by foreign maids? As is, Malaysia has more than enough problems to cope, why do we need these additional problems?;
Just the other day,DPM Muhyiddin announced the third amnesty program involving illegal foreigners who work in Malaysia. The first two amnesty took place in 2002 and 2004. But that is not all. Muhyiddin mentioned :-
- The government will soon offer amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal foreign workers to return home without facing action;
- Levies will be increased from 2011 based on sectors and workers' skills;
- Integrated biometric identification system would have to be in place before the programme could be implemented;
- Introduction of new regulations to curb problem of illegal workers;
- Government will act against those who harbour illegal workers without permit;
- Foreign illegal workers work mainly in plantations, construction sites, factories, restaurants and domestic maid sector;
Talk about plantation workers, we have seen how our own domestic plantation workers receive measly take home pay, far lower than Indonesian maids. Talk about construction sites, we read about low cost flats going to the rich. Do Malaysia still needs massive construction works? Have we not reached the saturation state yet?
Talk about factories, how do we explain why Vietnam seems to offer better perks and incentives to investors? How do we compete with Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia when our labour and living cost is much higher than those countries?
Talk about restaurants and the first picture that flashes through are the mamaks in Kayu, Pelita restaurants taking orders. I am sure we have enough work force to do that but why do these restaurants offer the vacancies to their own kind? A monopoly of sorts?
Domestic maid? Would it not be better to train our own domestic maid?
Briefly on this amnesty programme conjured by Muhyiddin. Is it really necessary? Shouldn't it be time for Malaysians to take tougher stand on this issue? We have been softies in dealing with the issue. Is it because of the hidden hands behind the illegals? Twice in 2002 and 2004 and we are going for the third amnesty. Will it be fourth, fifth, sixth? Looks more like star wars installations than government policy....
Saudi Arabia tackle their illegals hard. Those caught harbouring, either knowingly or unknowingly illegals will have the said properties confiscated and fined heavily. Although it is seen to be harsh but that move works in Saudi Arabia. Why can't Malaysia follow the model?
The point is simple - there are Malaysians who are now getting less than what the foreign maids are getting. If this is allowed to continue, then the income disparity will widen more. It is time for a strong political will to resolve the issue and bring up the standards of our own Malaysian citizens. Give them training, provide assistance and chances. Nobody wants to remain poor... no one wants to bring home a take home pay of RM 33 per month, do you?
Oh...before this one slips my mind...all are invited to give their feedback on removing subsidies. There will be an open day to get feedbacks on removing subsidies (fuel, sugar, toll, medication, healthcare, food etc). Mark this :-
Date : 27th May 2010 (Thursday)
Venue : Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (Hall 4 & 5)
Time : 0900 - 1400 (That's 9 am to 2 pm)
Till then...G'nite M'sia...wherever u are... Read More