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Your next maid could be from... Cambodia

MOM invites agents to apply for pilot scheme to bring in 400 helpers
The Straits Times - February 2, 2013
By: Amelia Tan
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Your next maid could be from... Cambodia A 2010 photo of Cambodian maids heading for Malaysia at a training centre in Phnom Penh. Those who have worked in Malaysia are likely to speak some English and Malay.

CAMBODIAN maids will be brought to Singapore for the first time under a pilot scheme designed to test how well they adapt to life here.

Four hundred will arrive from the middle of the year, with the authorities keeping a close eye on their progress.

If all goes well, Cambodia will be added to the list of approved source countries.

This could help Singapore to cope with a burgeoning demand for maids as the population ages and make sure it is not overly reliant on a few nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) e-mailed agents yesterday saying that up to six of them will be selected to bring in the maids over a six-month period.

Candidates have until Feb 18 to submit an application form with information such as the number of domestic workers they have brought to Singapore in the past three years.

They also have to say why they should be chosen for the pilot scheme and how many Cambodian maids they can match with employers within three months.

Singapore has 208,400 domestic workers, most of whom hail from Indonesia and the Philippines. The Republic is grappling with a shortfall of Indonesian maids after agents in the country stopped recruiting in protest at a policy change by Jakarta that reduced their profits.

At the moment, the approved source countries and territories are Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.

The pilot scheme follows eight years of talks with the Cambodian labour ministry.

The Straits Times understands that the plans took a long time to come to fruition because of concerns that many Cambodians speak no English and lack the eight years or more of education that maids need in order to work here.

However, the country's government has said it will work closely with the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) to train domestic helpers and ensure they are ready for life in the Republic.

Association president K. Jayaprema said: "We are committed to make sure the workers are trained well and will not be charged excessive fees to find work here."

Singaporean company Grace Management and Consultancy Services will also set up a centre in Phnom Penh to train maids for the pilot scheme.

Agents expect Cambodian domestic workers to be paid the market rate of between $400 and $450 a month.

Nation Employment managing director Gary Chin, who is interested in taking part in the pilot scheme, said that one way to make sure the women adapt well to life in Singapore is to recruit those who have worked in Malaysia.

These maids are likely to speak some English and Malay, and have experience of living in a city.

An estimated 15,000 Cambodian domestic workers have returned home after working in Malaysia.

ameltan@sph.com.sg

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