SINGAPORE - The pilot project to bring in maids from Cambodia has had a poor start and this could affect plans to designate the country as an approved source of maids.
Cambodian maids are allowed to work in Singapore for the first time, under a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) pilot scheme.
MOM has set a target of 400 Cambodian maids for the project but only about 100 of them have arrived since September.
Maid agencies had originally aimed to meet the target by this month.
Some Singapore agents who are recruiting Cambodian maids say they are frustrated by the slow flow in supply of the workers. They have had to turn away employers as they cannot commit to an arrival date for the maids.
The agents are therefore sceptical that Cambodia can be a reliable source of maids.
The objective of the pilot scheme, which ends in 2015, is for MOM to decide if Cambodia can be added to the list of approved source countries for foreign maids and whether Cambodian maids are suitable for Singapore households.
When contacted, a ministry spokesman said: "We will take into consideration feedback gathered from the stakeholders, in the assessment of the pilot scheme."
However, she added that "MOM will not interfere in the... (maid) supply processes in Cambodia as this will make for a more realistic assessment of the viability of Cambodia as a new source country."
The Cambodian Embassy in Singapore did not reply by press time to The Sunday Times on questions about the supply situation.
Inter-Mares Management Services owner Karl Tan, who managed to recruit five maids only after flying to Phnom Penh three times this year, said: "As a maid agency, we need to have a ready supply of workers for our employers. Employers cannot afford to wait."
The Singapore agents say Cambodian recruiters have told them that the country's general election and the possibility of post-election unrest, as well as floods earlier this year, have discouraged the potential maids from leaving their homes for training centres in Phnom Penh.