PETALING JAYA: Employment agencies are demanding an explanation following the delay in the government’s pilot project to recruit 10,000 domestic workers from Indonesia.

Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia (Papa) president Datuk Foo Yong Hooi said the postponement had triggered much speculation and the Human Resources Ministry should clear the air.

“The postponement has resulted in great disappointment to the people, especially employers, as they expected their problems to be finally addressed,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Sunday Star reported that Malaysia’s pilot project to recruit 10,000 domestic helpers from Indonesia hit a snag with the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries – originally scheduled to take place at a meeting in Bali yesterday and today – having been postponed.

In revealing that, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said most of the pressing issues had been ironed out and he was confident that the MOU could be signed by month’s end.

Foo appealed to the ministry to immediately raise the issue with the Cabinet so that the ban on bringing domestic workers from other countries, including the Philippines, which were traditional source countries for Malaysia before the movement control order was imposed, could be lifted.

“Malaysia should add more source countries in order to resolve this long-standing issue which has had a detrimental effect on our economy.

“But we should not just rely upon these so-called traditional source countries. Instead, we should work proactively in finding an amicable solution to this issue.

“We should be gearing our country for full economic recovery instead of being hindered by these issues,” he added.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein echoed the view, saying an explanation should be given on the delay.

“The sudden postponement is baffling to employers. People are questioning the timing of the postponement and want to know the reason for it.

“We hope that the government will expedite the signing of the MOU with Indonesia and will iron out the problems,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bernama quoted Foo as saying that an estimated 30,000 local employers have been facing difficulty hiring foreign domestic workers since last year, following the closure of the country’s borders due to Covid-19.

“Around 600 maid agencies under category B and C licences want to hire domestic workers to work in Malaysia, where there are at least 50 requests on the waiting list for each agency.

“This is quite a high demand, because, at a time when the country is in the midst of the National Recovery Plan and with people having started to return to work, how do they take care of their elderly and children?” he said.