JAKARTA - Indonesian domestic maids may return in big numbers to Malaysia under a proposed deal announced by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments yesterday.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said, after wide-ranging bilateral talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta, key private sector groups in both countries might be roped in again to handle the recruitment of maids.
Arrivals of Indonesian maids in Malaysia have dwindled after the government capped the cost structure of hiring the maids at RM4,511 (S$1,746), well below the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies' (Papa) proposed rate of RM7,500.
"I have agreed that the MoU (signed in Nov 2011 in Bali, Indonesia) on the cooperation in labour, especially with regard to domestic maids, be expanded to include the private sectors that represent both nations," he told a news conference at the presidential palace.
"An MoU should be signed between Papa and Apjati (its Indonesian counterpart -- Association of Indonesian Manpower Services).
"If both sides sign the MoU, I am confident that the number of Indonesian domestic maids in Malaysia can reach our desired levels.
"So far, only 513 maids have arrived in Malaysia under the current (government-to-government) mechanism."
Indonesia imposed a temporary freeze on the supply of maids to Malaysia on June 26, 2009, following reports of abuse by employers. The freeze was lifted following an agreement between Najib and Susilo in December 2011.
Meanwhile, Apjati was optimistic that the latest arrangement agreed by the two leaders would help resolve the impasse on the arrival of foreign maids to Malaysia.
Najib and Susilo, who had an hour-long meeting, followed by their delegation meeting at their annual consultation, also discussed a host of other issues, including haze, transnational crime, student visas, trade and the marketing of palm oil.