PETALING JAYA: Muslim families in Malaysia will find it more difficult to get maids with a “new” rule that only Muslim maids can work for them, The Star reported.
The organisation representing employers of maids, Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama), criticised the move saying it would limit the supply of maids for Muslims.
“Religion should not be an obstacle. When you work in an office, you don’t base it on religion and likewise, this should not be the case for the maid in the home,” Mama President Engku Ahmad Fauzi was quoted as saying by the local daily.
He also questioned the Immigration Department over its rationale for imposing such a rule, adding that it could lead to some families not getting any maid at all.
The move to impose the condition has also taken maid agencies in the country by surprise.
One agency owner in Selangor reportedly told The Star that her application for non-Muslim maids for Muslim families, had been rejected via the online process available under the Immigration Department.
“When I called, I was told to go to the counter to submit the application. But at the counter, the officers said that the policy was a directive from the director-general,” she was quoted as saying.
According to the agency owner who declined to be named, the Immigration officers informed her the rule was always in place.
“If they did not allow Muslims to hire non-Muslims from the beginning, why did they allow it earlier?
“There was no circular to inform us about this,” she said, according to The Star.
She also questioned how countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar could allow for non-Muslim maids from Sri Lanka and the Philippines to be hired, yet Malaysia does not let local Muslims the opportunity to do the same.
The owner of another agency based in Kuala Lumpur explained that the rule by the Immigration Department had been in place always, but previous director-generals had not enforced it strictly.
Former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy commissioner Mustafar Ali was transferred to the Immigration Department as director-general from the beginning of the month.
Meanwhile, some Muslim families are concerned if the new rule would apply for renewals as well.
“He said it was not easy to get a good and reliable maid these days and asked why it should be based on religion and race,” Faiz Abdullah, 42, told The Star, adding he feared his application for renewal would be rejected.
Another Muslim employer addressed the issue of reliability among maids, saying that it was the reason why he preferred Filipinos to those from Indonesia.