I am saddened by the news that Cambodian maids have become subjects of abuse and torture by their employers; a number have since met their demise. The Cambodian Ambassador Princess Norodom Arunasmy has cited three cases of abuse on maids that resulted in death, but the police denied this number. This must have resulted in a recent ruling by the Cambodian government that maids are no longer for hire to Malaysia. Isn’t this a damning insult to the country and Malaysians ought to be ashamed by this.
Earlier, it was the Indonesian government that had stopped Indonesian maids from working in Malaysia and incidents of abuse and torture of Indonesian maids by employers has repeatedly appeared in the news. But what disgusts me most is the manner in which cases are referred to the courts that usually takes several years to conclude. Isn’t there a much speedier way of handling such cases that will give confidence to the aggrieved maids and their families that our system of justice takes a serious view over cases of abuse and torture of foreign maids?
Malaysians claims to be civilized, but such brutality meted upon a fellow human being; more so upon an innocent foreign maid makes us more of a savage of the prehistoric era. To own a maid, the employer must be someone of a sound social, economic and educational standing. But how come they are so brutal, sadistic and abusive, where a normal person with enough senses would not even harm a cat or a dog. This makes me to believe that any employer that had ill treated their maid must be an insane person with animalistic instinct and does not deserve to be called a human being.
An speaking about Cambodian maids, let me say my piece about hiring a maid to upkeep my Headquarters when I was serving the UN in Cambodia during the tumultuous period of the Cambodian civil war back in 1992 which I chronicled in my book titled “United Nations Peacekeeping Operations - The Malaysian Experience in Cambodia”
The maid that we hired was a married woman in her early forties who was responsible, caring and was never late for work. The moment she arrives at the Headquarters, she would greet us with folded palms brought close to her body and with her head bowed. This is the usual Cambodian way of greeting people, and we all would reciprocate with a similar greeting. This first morning greeting is enough to make us feel honored and respected. There is so much of kindness in her and she went about her daily chores without uttering a word; let alone to complaint about anything. She would not budge into anyone’s office without a greeting, and I believe such personal character of Cambodian women prevails in most other Cambodian women, especially those from the rural areas.
Cambodian women are naturally shy and because of this they tend to fear at doing something that they are not too familiar with. However, being employed as maids, the onus is upon the employer to teach and show what and how the house work needs to be done. I suppose these maids must have gone through some basic lessons in housekeeping by their agents in Cambodia, but there are still many things that they do not know, and this must be taught and shown to them by their employer.
The experience I had in hiring maid in Cambodia, I cannot understand what drove the Malaysian employers to abuse and torture their maid. Even if the maid had faulted, abuse and torture is not the answer to discipline and teach the maid. Even animals too will not do this to their kind, so what are we then? – an animal or a human being.
I would like to see that both Cambodia and Indonesia stops sending maids to Malaysia, unless and until the two countries are fully satisfied that a thorough investigation of such abuses and torture are carried out by the Malaysian authorities and a formal finding presented to both the foreign governments. When the Somali government can conduct an investigation on the death of the Bernama photographer and a report submitted to the Malaysian government, why can’t we do the same for the abused Cambodian and Indonesian maids? Are we too proud to do that, or are we just too ignorant?
My only hope is for the authorities to act swiftly in cases of abuse of maids, and not to go around denying upon being told. Denying is not the answer, but swift and speedy action is.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION