Thursday, July 31, 2008

Maid(s) In Terengganu...

Blogger Tehsin Mukhtar drew my attention to this report (in Star Online). I agree with Tehsin who is totally cheesed off with the Terengganu government's plan.

Terengganu government, is sorely missing the whole point of helping single mothers.

Perhaps, their intention is, er, ...noble, sincere. But surely this cannot be how you want to help single mothers.

Single mothers need to be self-reliant. Not to be servants.

So, what happens to their children when they're working as maids, obviously away from their own homes.

This is not a practical solution to an otherwise surmountable problem.

And, oh, I foresee problems.

Also read Tehsin's take on it HERE. She calls the idea "insanely stupid".

KUALA TERENGGANU: The Terengganu state government has come up with a programme to train single mothers to be turned into skilled domestic helpers.

The training, including childcare, to start next year will allow Malaysian families to source domestic help from their own backyard.

Terengganu is believed to be the state with most number of single mothers, at more than 20,000.

State Education, Higher Education, Human Resource, Science and Technology committee chairman Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman said the state government has asked the Terengganu Skill Development Centre (Tesdec) to prepare the training module.

“Suggestions would also be given to Tesdec to acquire and emulate the training system of Indonesia and other neighbouring countries,” he said after opening an employment carnival at Gong Badak here on Tuesday.

For a start, the trained domestic helpers would be placed at homes in his constituency of Seberang Takir, Ahmad Razif said.

“This placement of domestic helpers at homes in Seberang Takir will be the pilot project, and it would expanded to all homes once fine-tuned,” he said.

Ahmad Razif said employers would also feel more relaxed knowing that their maids were locals and lived close to their homes.

“This would also help single mothers to continue being self reliant and to reduce their financial burden,” he said.

Ahmad Razif said the Terengganu government could help other states train their single mothers if the scheme proves effective here.


Rockybru said...

How are we going to help these single mothers if they are going to earn as little as what the Indonesian and Filipino maids are getting? A salary of RM500 a month is awesome if you covert the amount to rupiah or pesos but not it's nothing much if you were to try and spend it in Terengganu. The idea is just not practical, Ahmad Razif. I touwl be better to form cooperative s or companies and get these single moms to run nurseries, day/night care centres, or home cleaning services throughout the country under these cos/coops. That way they become shareholders and/or entrepreneurs. Their effort would also help us reduce dependency on foreign maids.

If Ahmad Razif really think that it would be in the best interest of these single moms to be maids, export them to Middle East where the pay would be a lot more than what we pay our maids. This way these single moms will be able to afford to hire maids and take care of their own kids back in Terengganu. Brilliant kan?

Valisa said...

I think this is a step on the right direction. A maid is a REAL job. In fact, I totally hate the hypocrisy of some peopel who calls their maids Helpers as if a maid is such a bad job, it needs euphemism. It reveals how one look at their maids or *servants*.
When my parents were alive and emploed maids - they recived socso and epf contributions from my parents ebcause they were local. All fo them are very loyal to this day, even after my parents passed away. Here in the Netherlands where I now live, I employ part time cleaners - all paid according to the amount of *minimum wage* plus some extra for benefits since they ahve to contribute to their own pension plans and insurance. But if I do employ a nanny or fulltime maid, I woudl have to pay her a full wage plus insurance (for us as employer and for her) and pension plans etc.
I agree with the Terengganu government. It is about time someone in Malaysia to recognise maids as a proper job and employment and I hope they will get proper training, wage system and benefits. This is a way to be self reliant - single moms or not.

Anonymous said...

Single mothers to the very least can become baby sitters and food caterer.
Yayasan Tekun should come to their aid.
Being house helpers or maids are a little off the target. They also need to care their kids.
Let's help them to be small scale entrepreneur. home made cookies should be patented and be possible national export in the near future.

Idham Idris said...

Here's a program that seems to be doing the right things for single mothers and the housewives:

Mangkuk Tingkat

" adalah merupakan satu inisiatif dari sekumpulan suri rumah yang bernaung di bawah Yayasan Pembangunan Nur Hikmah.

Mereka secara usahasama menyediakan sajian hidangan tengahari dan makan malam untuk dinikmati oleh pelanggan yang sibuk serta tiada masa untuk memasak untuk keluarga.

Hidangan tersebut kemudiannya boleh ditempah untuk dihantar terus ketempat kerja atau ke rumah.

Diuruskan sepenuhnya oleh Yayasan Pembangunan Nur Hikmah di bawah Program Bertujuan menyediakan makanan yang berkualiti dengan harga yang sangat berpatutan untuk semua orang."

Anonymous said...

it might actually work ... for day helper kind of arrangement. but i am thinking more of ensuring the fathers pay up the nafkah, if they're splitted, so the mothers don't actually hv to work to fend the kids :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Nuraina,

I heard that in certain part of India, the bank gives out soft loan to womenfolk and the NGOs then teach them how to use the money to start their own small business. They are taught everything from operation to book keeping, financial management aspect of business and reinvesting their profits to grow their business. This business are usually operated in the womenfolks' home or backyard. Thus, they are still able to keep an eye on their children while running their business. Hence achieving financial independence without neglecting their family. On top of it, these womens are also able to pay taxes. Here this is an example of smart thing and win-win-win situation.

How on earth did the Terengganu government think that by turning single mothers into maids would help her gain financial independence and take care of her family welfare as well. Have they not thought about educating their menfolk as well about responsiblities towards their wife and children so that there will be less single mothers around and more children growing up in a balanced and harmonious family environment.

Anonymous said...

If I have a need for a maid, I would consider one from Terengganu. Less hassle with immigration, etc.

However, there should be some set selection criteria for these group of maids - e.g., single mothers with grown-up children, but could do with some extra $$. I agree that young children need their mothers so these mothers should tend to their own young ones first.

Tok Kemuning said...

If the state government really wanna help the single mothers in Trengganu what they should do is providing a child care center.

The main reason most of the single monther rather stay home because they have to take care of their children.

The state government should launch a pilot project for a Day Care Center. The center where the single mother or even low income family to drop their children whilst the are working to help the family income.

The Day Care Center should be located at the housing area to fully serving the single mother and other disadvantage woman.

By doing this most able body among single mother and disadvantage mother for sure would opt for employment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ena and Jl Sudin fellow visitors,

Perhaps we need to know more about the programme before we dismissed it totally as without merit.

I've just read Tehsin's take and I feel that if she looks at the Star report as just that, a news brief, too skimpy to form a basis for getting cheesed-off, her response would be less strident and colourful (and probably less entertaining). :D

But I'm with Valisa on this issue!

Being a maid is just a job. Whoever chooses to do it, be it a single mother, a wife wanting to help with a second paycheck, even a guy moonlighting to make ends meet, (siapa saja lah), should expect to manage their life around their choice of work. The same way everyone has to around any job that takes one out of the house. If one has kids, one will have to make arrangements about their care while one is away.

Valisa said the job needs a euphemism and she is right. Though in Malaysia it probably needs more than that. It needs a total change in mindset towards domestic help or being a maid. In many Malaysian households, it's probably safe to say that a maid by any name is still considered very much a servant. Let's face it, who has what sort of a job and who's where in the socio-economic pecking order is still very much a part of the asian attitude.

If domestic service is regarded as a job like any other, one that comes with compensations and benefits that are commensurate with the service given, one might see a change in this attitude. Giving some sort of "training" to those who may consider becoming domestic helps could start set the necessary standards for both employers and employees. It may then give this very real service its own place in the job market.

I think some of us may be in danger of pouncing too quickly on that emotional term "single mothers" until it retards our capacity to give the idea a more fair and rational appraisal. The scheme may start with single mothers, giving those among them who don't have much education (and for whom the waiting for errant ex-husbands to do the right thing or the courts to force them may be in vain) the kind of start they need towards earning an income. Let's not forget, with the changing time, we no longer have plants where such people could hope to be trained to man [or perhaps I should say "to woman"] assembly lines.

And for all we know, who is to say the idea of trained and qualified domestics may not appeal to others as well looking for "non-standard" ways of earning an income. Once trained, domestic helps surely could expect/ask for better pay than the pittance they are paid now.

Certainly the demand for domestic helps have always been there in Malaysia. So why is the idea of hiring closer to home such a bad one? We've heard of so many complaints about foreign domestic helps, with problems ranging from bureaucratic tangles to thefts to negligence to abuse. But I don't think I've ever heard any Malaysian with foreign maids having issues about the kids those indonesian and filipina moms leave behind in their home country. This is because, for all practical purposes, that is a non-issue.

So as I was saying, if the demand is there and there is actually a ready supply of local labour waiting to be utilized and the Terengganu State Government decides to address it in a structured approach, perhaps one should at least give the idea a chance to get off the ground. Or, at the very least, hold back the urge to sneer at them until we know exactly what they have in mind. Or until we have more information.

I know things are not too rosy in Malaysia at the present time and it has become almost second nature now for many Malaysians to criticise everything the government does. But we must be careful not to get too carried away with whinging and carping and complaining to the point that we forget that there is a lot to be said about those who ernestly try to do something, regardless of how lame it appears to us. As Ena said, "perhaps their intentions is... noble, sincere" – let's give them at least that.


hi mekyam,

i should be optimistic, i know.

i hope that the terengganu government's noble and sincere intention will be translated well so that everyone benefits from the plan.

it is terrible to refer to maids as "servants". so medieval. but for as long as there is no binding guidelines to protect maids or domestic helpers or whatever, then the job specs of these women are really to serve their employers like servants.

i have a maid. i have had maids since i was expecting (third trimester) my firstborn.

i am sure there are many women like me who regard their maids as working women who happen to be under their employment. all my maids were indonesians and so is my current one.

i tell them that they are with me to earn a living, and to help me go out and work and earn a living.

i give my maid a decent room, provide food and everything else. i give her RM20 (or more upon request/need) to keep every month, the rest is banked in her account. the reason is, i want her o leave malaysia with loads of money. but once in two months, i help send a certain amount to indonesia (for her family needs).

She is not allowed to do any back-breaking work. only the chores that i would usually do but am unable to do because i am at work. which means when i'm at home i wash the dishes too. and you know, she only works on the ground floor. i told her the upstairs would be my responsibility. also i clean all the bathrooms (therapy for me).

on her days off, i do the chores so that she does not come back to unwashed and un-ironed laundry, or dirty dishes, or un-mopped floors. etc etc...

mekyam, i don't think the malaysian mindset is ready for the kind of professionalism that you and i know of, or suppport. i am all for that! God knows how much easier applying for a maid would be.

in that kind of situation, both employer and employee will be protected.

still, i'd wait and see what terengganu's plan is. but i am not at all optimistic about it. and i know there'd be abuses. i hope i'm wrong.

thanks for sharing your views!

Saya... said...


I think that that report says it all.

Razif said..based on the Indonesian model.

We who have lived here all our lives, know what the Indonesian model is. Slaves for pittance.

I know what kind of training Razif is talking about because my husband's cousin runs a maid agency and she goes to Indonesia to those centres.

There is definitely none of the professionalism we also know exists in maid servcies in the US and Europe. The Asian maids here are a different breed...they are extremely poor, they have no choice and they bonded like slaves.

And why maids?

Why not empower women to be businesswomen,small or big time?

Why not let them own the cleaning services?

As a mother, I know how hard it is to leave my kids, even for a day. It looks like a non-issue for people who probably do not have that experience or are used to having maids take care of their kids. It is also a non-issue when the issue at stake is PURE SURVIVAL AND FEEDING THOSE KIDS LEFT BEHIND!

It is not like we do not have the funds or other choices! Why not give them a chance at doing something better, and more meaningful and satisfying!

And no regular Malaysian family is willing to pay higher that 500RM for a maid as we all know..except for those who can afford it..and in tough times like this..lagilah.

And we can always imagine what money-making opportunities there are for these training centres and agencies who will handle the maids. THE TRACK RECORD IS THERE. Can you blame me for being cynical??

Come on lah Mekyam...we have seen for YEARS how these BN and UMNO politicians/public servants operate. And the outcome is ALWAYS to the detriment of the people. We know...we experience it EVERYDAY.

And yes, my posts are colorful but definitely not an exaggeration or for pure entertainment. Sometimes I need to laugh off the anger and frustration at the route the nation is taking. And the unchanging mindset of the bureaucrats and the archaic policies and ideas they still adhere to.

They reflect the laughable form of governance Malaysia is under.

Try living here amidst the confusing maze of lies, corruption, disintegrating environment and declining quality of life, my dear...before practically accusing me of whining, carping, whinging for no good reason.

BaitiBadarudin said...

Me... Only Better,
I can't agree more.
"Kalau betul-betul nak tolong, biarlah ikhlas (dan cerdas)."
I hope they'll adopt recommendations put forth by rocky's bru, i.e. "to form cooperatives or companies and get these single moms to run nurseries, day/night care centres, or home cleaning services throughout the country under these cos/coops. That way they become shareholders and/or entrepreneurs. Their effort would also help us reduce dependency on foreign maids."
In other words, something along the Grameen Bank Model, as suggested by another commentor.
PLUS, are all these single mothers widowed? If they're not, what about greater enforcement in getting fathers to child support so that these single mothers have the money, time and energy to care and nurture their own children so that the stereotype about children from 'broken home' will be dispelled.

Anonymous said...

Why not train them in IT, to either work in the industry or start their own businesses at home? Or train them to work in the government? Or is it that the good politicians of Terengganu feel that women are only capable of domestic work?

Anonymous said... ! trengganu is getting 2 BILLIONS of royalty arreas since 2000 lah ! sioknya ! can by RRSS now , ok!

Anonymous said...

It was my understanding that the gov was going to subsidize the payment so people hiring the maid must pay $700/mo but the pay to the maid is $1000-1200 with time off and holiday benefits. This is a good salary for an unskilled worker or a girl that couldnt finish school.

Anonymous said...

The malay society should change its social stigma about single Moms. Girls get in trouble because they dont know much about sex then everyone ostracizes them so they have no support. Parents need to teach their children at age 12-13 to make good choices. But if a girl gets pregnant before 18, its the parents responsibility to help her get an education so she can support her child.