Malaysia calls for housemaids

KATHMANDU: Malaysia has shown interest in hiring Nepali housemaids to fulfill its growing need of domestic helpers. The Malaysian government has written a letter seeking Nepali housemaids, said Sthaneshwor Devekota, executive director of Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB).

The destination has been facing an acute shortage of housemaids since 2008 when Indonesia stopped sending women workers. Indonesia, a major source country for housemaids, had blacklisted Malaysia after several cases of abuse.

Over 300,000 housemaids from Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and India are working in Malaysia which employs 1.8 million

foreign workers. Neighbouring Indonesia had the largest share of 40 per cent till 2008.

The Ministry of Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) is scanning the

destination with great interest. “We are examining the legal and safety situation of domestic helpers,” he said adding Nepal will send women migrant workers if the Malaysian government assures of their safety. “Safety is our first priority.” he stressed.

MoLTM has organized a meeting on Thursday to discuss the demand. The stakeholders — MoLTM, FEPB, Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) — have decided to explore salary, safety and migrant rights situation issues before responding to Malaysia. “We will write a letter to the Kuala Lumpur-based Nepali diplomatic mission to examine housemaids’ related issues,” he said. Malaysia is a preferred destination of Nepali migrant workers. Around 400,000 Nepalis are believed to be working there. Other popular destinations are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The minimum salary in Gulf countries is above $150.

MoLTM is planning to get more benefits when sending housemaids to Malaysia. “We are looking for a minimum monthly salary equal to that of Filipino workers,” he said, “We will bargain for better salary if the destination seems feasible for sending housemaids.” Filipino workers earn $400 per month which is three-fold the current income of Nepali migrant workers there.

Israel is the most lucrative destination for Nepali women but it closed since April 24, 2009. Around 12,000 Nepalis are working there and of them 10,000 are women working in the care-giving sector.

MoLTM is exploring whether Malaysia can be an alternative or not. “If the destination seems safe we are ready to open it,” he said. He added that no compromise will be made on the safety issue.