PETALING JAYA, 25 June 2009: MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has described the government’s decision to give domestic workers a mandatory weekly off-day as a “knee-jerk reaction”.
He said Malaysians should not “overreact” to cases of abused domestic workers, claiming that there were only around 50 reported cases of abused domestic workers last year compared to more than 10,000 who ran away from their employers.
Chua “While we have to safeguard the interest of the employees, we should not forget that the interest of the employers should also be protected…Employers will have horror stories to tell you about their domestic maid,” said Chua in his blog yesterday.
Chua said he was himself a victim when his maid’s boyfriend, having gained access to his house, robbed him and his family while they were away.
On 18 June 2009, Chua had also opposed the Human Resource Ministry’s move on his blog, saying public places would be inundated with foreign workers if they were given a mandatory day off.
Chua said in his latest posting yesterday that adverse publicity generated from the small number of abused domestic workers gave the impression that Malaysian employers were inhumane.
“The press doesn’t highlight the 10,000 domestic helpers who just disappeared into thin air,” said Chua.
He also claimed that “the risk of maids absconding will definitely go up” if the domestic workers were given a mandatory day off every week.
Additionally, Chua said domestic workers would make “outside friends” during their day off and these friends would become “a cause of worry” to the employers.
He added that any legislation should look into the question of enforcement. Otherwise, it would only look good on paper.
The former Health Minister also dismissed the Indonesian government’s threat to stop sending domestic workers to Malaysia temporarily as “political posturing”.
Chua said Indonesia needed the foreign remittance by its citizens as this made up a substantial portion of the country’s revenue.
On 19 June 2009, it was reported that Indonesia may stop dispatching domestic helpers to Malaysia after an Indonesian maid was reported to have been tortured.
Subsequently, on 23 June 2009, the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) urged the government to consider employing domestic workers from China.
On the same day, Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S Subramaniam said the government would look into employers’ concerns, but is unlikely to reverse its decision to give the domestic workers a day off per week.