PETALING JAYA - A solution may finally be in sight for the two-year impasse on Indonesian maids coming to Malaysia.
Asosiasi Perusahaan Jasa Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (Apjati), whose members supply maids to Malaysian recruitment agencies, has given its undertaking to not only provide a steady supply of Indonesian maids to Malaysia but also at the 7,800 ringgit (S$3,000) agency fee agreed upon by the governments of both countries in September this year.
Ayub Basalamah, the president of Apjati told The Star they would abide by the conditions in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) agreed by the governments of both countries in 2011 and the 7,800 ringgit fee.
Apjati is currently negotiating with the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) to resolve the supply of Indonesian maids to Malaysia.
Among the stipulations in the MoU on the recruitment of maids include 200 hours of training and one off day every week for domestic helpers.
In September this year, both governments also agreed to set the agency fee at 7,800 ringgit, of which 6,000 ringgit is to be borne by the employer while the balance of 1,800 ringgit is to be deducted from a maid's salary over six months.
Ayub said the main difficulty in attracting Indonesian maids to work in Malaysia was the higher salaries offered by countries in the Middle East, Singapore and Taiwan.
"Errant agencies also charge excessive fees, spoiling the market. They deal directly with their counterparts in Malaysia without going through the authorised associations," he said, adding that maids from these agencies did not meet the standards set by Apjati.
Ayub called on Malaysian enforcement authorities not to approve maid visa applications from agencies that were not members of Apjati.
"Unscrupulous recruitment agencies out to make a quick profit exploit Malaysians by charging as high as 14,000 ringgit for an Indonesian maid," he said.
Papa could not be contacted, but a human resources ministry source said that both the association and Apjati had been informed that their upcoming MoU must stick to the existing terms that both countries have agreed on.
"Both Papa and Apjati have informed the ministry that they were willing to comply with the conditions," the source said.
Papa president Jeffrey Foo was quoted recently as saying he expected the new MoU to be inked before Chinese New Year next month and that the maids would start coming here two months after the signing.
The source said the Malaysian National Association of Employment Agencies (Pikap) could also be included in the upcoming MoU.
Pikap president Raja Zulkepley Dahalan said agency fees should be raised because the current cost structure was too low to attract Indonesian maids to Malaysia.
He said that of the 7,800 ringgit agency fee, 3,000 ringgit went to the Malaysian agency while the remaining 4,800 ringgit was used to identify available maids by "buying" the biodata of job applicants from Indonesian maid agencies.
"The reason why the maids are not coming is because the Indonesian agencies are only willing to supply the maids at 6,500 ringgit, which is what agencies from other countries are paying," he added.
He denied that Malaysian agencies made hefty profits.
"The gross profit for each maid is only 635 ringgit. In many cases, it is even lower because agencies must spend more in travelling and other costs to resolve problems faced by the maids once they are employed here."
"If Apjati can convince us and guarantee that its members will sell us the maids' biodata at the set price of 4,800 ringgit, then we will agree to the current fee of 7,800 ringgit," he said.