PETALING JAYA: With all the controversies surrounding the cost structure for hiring Indonesian domestic workers continuing unabated, it is best left to the government to make the final decision.
Papa (Malaysian Agencies of Foreign Maid Agencies), Mama (The Malaysian Maid Employers Association) and Pikap (The Malaysia National Association of Employment Agencies) are all at loggerheads with each other on the cost structure and no matter how they look at it, the new agency fee of RM8,500 for an Indonesian maid is ridiculously high.
Recently Papa announced the new rate of RM6,700 for an Indonesian maid but this did not include the additional RM1,800 as loan to the domestic worker for her share of foreign placement fee in Indonesia.
This riled Pikap which then held a press conference to denounce the cost rate suggested by Papa, with Mama describing the figure as both unreasonable and burdensome for employers.
The new rate is 90% higher than the rate proposed earlier through a signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Malaysian and Indonesian governments in May last year.
Pikap suggested a bigger cost structure but fell short of announcing its proposal with its president Raja Zulkepley Dahalan saying that it was too early to reveal it to the press but contended that its proposal was with the government and would wait for the outcome.
The current agency fees are a steep increase from the RM4,511 agreed between both the countries with the maids still having to pay RM1,800 and the remaining RM2,711 to be borne by the employer.
Although this price may sound reasonable, maids were not willing to come to Malaysia to work for such a small salary and also at the same time, employers are not willing to pay such high salaries with the current agency fees at an all-time high.
So here we have three agencies voicing their own suggestions and proposals on the cost structure, some say to satisfy their own ends without considering the financial constraints it may cause to prospective employers to hire the Indonesian maids, unless of course they can afford them.
Others believe that the agencies, both in Malaysia and Indonesia are deliberately creating an artificial shortage of Indonesia maids to provide them an excuse to increase the fees.
Pikap felt the the cost structure proposed by Papa without the inclusion of the loan is not workable and took them to task for deciding on behalf of other maid agencies when the government has yet to decide on the ceiling rate.
The amount that employers had to pay as announced by Papa is RM6,700, which is more than the RM2,711 without taking into account the RM1,800 the maids have to pay proposed under the bilateral agreements.
Pikap also questioned why Papa is the only setup that had a say in the maid recruitment process between both the countries and asked the government that other agencies also be given a chance as well in determining the cost structure and allow the free market to determine the price based on peak and nonpeak periods.
There are news reports about the Human Resources Ministry awaiting for the new fee structure fixed by Papa based on market forces and Mama is not too pleased with the announcement by the ministry’s secretary-general Zainal Rahim Seman.