PETALING JAYA - Unscrupulous recruitment agencies out to make a quick profit are exploiting Malaysians desperate for domestic help by charging them fees as high as RM14,000 (S$5,400) for an Indonesian maid.
This is nearly twice the rate of RM7,800 agency fee fixed by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments.
Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein said those desperate for a maid were willing to pay the higher fee demanded by some agencies although it flouted the agreement between the governments.
"These agencies are pirates. I believe many of them are either unlicensed or not members of the country's two main recruitment agency associations.
"Agencies who are members of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) and the Malaysian National Association of Employment Agencies (Pikap) are monitored for compliance by the Human Resource Ministry and those who flout the ceiling rate are liable to be blacklisted by the ministry if found guilty," said Engku Ahmad.
In September, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to lower the fee for Indonesian maids from RM8,000 to RM7,800. Last Thursday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono agreed to allow Papa and its Indonesian counterpart, Asosiasi Perusahaan Jasa Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (Apjati), to work out a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the supply of Indonesian maids to Malaysia, which has dried up.
Indonesian maids are more in demand among Malaysians because the upfront fee for their employment is lower due to the government-to-government agreement to fix agency fees while Filipina maids cost much more to hire as their fees are governed purely by market forces.
Engku Ahmad said that some agencies were also getting away with charging excessive fees as some employers were unaware of the official rate of RM7,800.
"Many have no choice but to pay what the agencies ask for because the lack of a maid for dual income households can seriously affect their productivity at work and their lives in general," he said, adding that there were now 200,000 Malaysians on the waiting list for maids.