The Human Resource Ministry has been urged to be transparent about the detailed cost breakdown for hiring a domestic helper under the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indonesia that will be signed on April 1.
DAP’s Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto said it is widely believed that hiring a domestic helper from Indonesia will cost upwards of RM15,000, despite the government’s earlier statement that the cost would be capped at RM7,800.
“Word on the streets is that the cost of hiring a domestic helper from Indonesia will now cost RM15,000 according to the Association of Employment Agencies president Foo Yong Hooi, citing that there was no way RM7,800 was an amount they can work with.
“If indeed RM15,000 is inked as the amount to be paid, in lump sum, as the cost to hire a domestic helper from Indonesia, then what is the breakdown of the amount?” Kasthuri said in a statement today.
These employment agencies have appeared to set the market rate to hire a domestic helper at tens of thousands of ringgit over the years, despite the RM7,800 cap, she said.
As such, she questioned what assurance do Malaysians have that the cost of getting a domestic helper will not balloon into an even more exorbitant amount higher than RM15,000 after the MoU is signed.
Previously, on March 23, Human Resources Deputy Minister Awang Hashim had said in a parliamentary reply to Kasthuri that the cost for hiring domestic helpers from Indonesia was capped at RM7,800, with RM6,000 of it on the Malaysian part and RM1,800 on the Indonesian part.
He had said this was the “standard” amount paid by employers based on the Ninth Joint Working Group in September 2016.
However, Kasthuri noted he did not mention the current cost of hiring domestic helpers from Indonesia and asked about the cost breakdown pre-pandemic and post-pandemic.
She said the pandemic with its “endless lockdowns” has severely impacted families and businesses financially.
This will make it very difficult for families that rely heavily on the help of domestic helpers to be able to afford them, she said.
“How will single mothers and single fathers pay this amount for them to juggle their time and energy between work and home without this precious help?
“How will families with both husbands and wives who are breadwinners for their families, families with ageing relatives or a special family member afford a domestic helper if it is capped at RM15,000 by the government but mushroom into something bigger later on?” she asked.
She stressed that her questioning the hiring costs does not mean she intends to undermine the work and dedication of domestic helpers.
Her concern, she said, is how much is being paid to the Malaysian and Indonesian government agencies and how much to the hiring agencies and intermediaries, if there are any, as well as how much ends up being given to the domestic helper themselves.
“I believe this is the crux of the issue here. The transparency of the amount set as the cost of hiring a domestic helper and who gets a slice of the pie and who goes home with crumbs,” she said.
The long-awaited signing of the MoU between Malaysia and Indonesia on the employment and protection of domestic workers has been postponed twice since the start of this year.
The countries are now looking to fix a new date to sign the MoU in early April. – Malaysiakini