PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) - Malaysians must get ready for a possible move by Indonesia to cut off the supply of its domestic helpers, maid agency associations said.
Referring to Indonesian president Joko Widodo's announcement on Friday that he wants women in his country to stop working as overseas maids "immediately", the associations said they were confident that such a move, though likely, would be gradual.
The associations said Malaysians must be ready to pay higher wages for maids while the government must increase efforts to secure deals with new source countries for domestic helpers.
Malaysian National Association of Employment Agencies (Pikap) president Datuk Raja Zulkepley Dahalan said Indonesia had announced several years ago their intention to stop allowing their citizens to work abroad in "low-paying jobs".
"I believe what Indonesia will eventually do is draw up some new policy where its citizens will only be allowed to work in homes abroad if their jobs were 'upgraded'," he said.
The new jobs, said Raja Zulkepley, would likely be classified as "childcare" or "elderly care" helpers with minimum salaries of about RM1,200 (S$453.35), and employers would not be able to ask them to do any work like cooking or cleaning.
Raja Zulkepley said the government should redouble efforts to find potential source countries for domestic helpers such as Timor Leste or China.
Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Jeffrey Foo said any sudden maid supply cut from Indonesia would not make much of a difference as their arrival figures had dwindled since 2011 after the country lifted a two-year moratorium on sending maids to Malaysia.
Bernama quoted Malaysian Maid Employers Association president (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein as saying that the Indonesia's decision to stop sending maids overseas was not expected to severely burden Malaysian employers.
For the long term, he said the government and private sector could look at setting up nurseries at workplaces, operated by trained child-minders.