(File pix) The Immigration Department is using a shared national database to weed out foreign-maid applicants with a criminal record, those who are bankrupt, and are poor paymasters. Pix by Muhammad Sulaiman

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians red-flagged for having criminal records, being a bankrupt or failing to show proof that they are able to be good paymasters will not be allowed to take in foreign maids.

Kuala Lumpur has put in place a screening mechanism that would weed them out and reject them when they go on to the Immigration Department’s “Online Application for Foreign Domestic Maid (SMO)” system to secure foreign maids.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said the SMO system that had been put in place since Jan 1 had safeguards for maids employed in Malaysian households.

It is compulsory for Malaysians who want to recruit domestic help from the permitted nine source countries to register themselves via the system. The Immigration database is linked to those of other government agencies.

Mustafar said applicants who were red-flagged by the system stood zero chance of getting domestic help.

“Employers with record will be barred from hiring foreign workers,” he told the New Straits Times, adding that if potential employers were cleared at this stage, they would be assessed on their ability to hire and pay wages on time through bank accounts, as well as provide the maid a conducive living environment.

He said the safeguards outlined in the SMO system were also clearly spelt out in the standard agreement that both maids and applicants would sign prior to employment.

He added that the issue of insurance protection was addressed by the SMO system.

On the case of Adelina Lisao, 21, who died following alleged abuse and mistreatment by her employer, Mustafar said incidents of foreign workers being mistreated in the country were, in fact, isolated.

He said it did not reflect the reality of working in Malaysia as a foreigner.

“This is not Malaysia,” he said.

Adelina’s abuser has since been charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code with murder.

The employer’s daughter, was meanwhile, charged with hiring Adelina despite knowing that the latter had no valid work permit.

She died at Bukit Mertajam Hospital, where she was receiving treatment. A post-mortem revealed that she died from multiple organ failure related to anaemia.

The following are some of the many areas of duties and responsibilities that both the employer and maid have to agree to and sign on:

THE employer shall provide the domestic worker with reasonable accommodation, basic amenities, reasonable and sufficient daily meals;

THE employer shall not require the domestic worker to work or to be engaged in any activity other than that related to household duties;

THE employer shall insure the domestic worker with the Foreign Worker Compensation Scheme in respect to any medical expenses the domestic worker may incur in the event of any injury, where such injury arises out of and in the course of employment;

THE employer shall, at all times, respect and pay due regard to the sensitivity of religious beliefs of the domestic worker, including the right to perform prayers and to refuse to handle and consume non-halal food;

THE domestic worker shall work only with the employer and not seek employment or be employed elsewhere;

THE domestic worker shall comply with reasonable instructions of the employer in the performance of the assigned household duties;

THE domestic worker is expected at all times to observe proper attire and shall be courteous, polite and respectful to the employer and family members of the employer;

THE domestic worker shall abide by the laws, rules, regulations, national policies and directive of Malaysia and respect its customs and traditions.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali and Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim

Meanwhile, Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim said Kuala Lumpur would ask Jakarta to reconsider its plan to impose a moratorium on the employment of Indonesian maids in Malaysia.

He said the freeze on their recruitment would only cause their citizens to enter into the sector illegally.

Zahrain said Kuala Lumpur would, at a meeting to be led by the Human Resources Ministry scheduled for April, put on the table Malaysia’s proposal for a standard operating procedure (SOP), where Indonesian maids could come over legally and avoid from being exploited.

This, he said, was because there would be little protection for foreigners if their employment was illegal and this would only open them to abuse and exploitation.

Zahrain said Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta should instead put their heads together to draw up an SOP for the workers’ employment, to minimise the risk of their mistreatment and the chances of the women becoming human trafficking victims.

Zahrain pointed out to the New Straits Times that the existing memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the recruitment of maids had expired in 2016 and that a new one must be drawn up.

It was in this MoU that both countries agreed to, among others, make it compulsory for the workers to be given a day off a week, or compensated pro-rated if they chose to work on these rest days.

Zahrain said Malaysia wanted to prevent cases similar to Adelina Lisao’s, 21, who died following alleged abuse and mistreatment by her employer.

Her death prompted Jakarta to consider imposing the moratorium.

Her abuser had been charged with murder while the alleged abuser’s daughter had been charged with hiring a maid illegally.

“We are facing a huge problem because of the mix of legal and illegal workers.

“It is hard for us to know, or help, unless they are legally registered workers. Only then can the Labour Department take initiatives to safeguard them and help resolve their problems,” Zahrain said, adding that the proposed SOP would protect both employers and their maids.

He said it was important for Jakarta to facilitate the legal employment of its people rather than block all the legal avenues.

“You cannot deny the fact that as long as there is supply and demand... it will happen, and we do not want it (recruitment) to happen illegally... Human trafficking will then be a big problem for both countries.”

Since Jan 1, about half a million individuals have accessed the Immigration Department’s “Online Application for Foreign Domestic Maid” (SMO).

To date, 10,054 Malaysians sourcing for maids had signed up via the system.

There are 1,616 potential foreign maids who want to be employed through the SMO system and who have registered.

Some 440 of them are being considered for employment.

The department has approved the employment of 295 foreign maids in Malaysian households.

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