March 2012 Commentaries (latest at the bottom)

“Maid supply to dry up by 2017” – NST, 6th March 2012

ROAD MAP: Indonesia acts to address mistreatment of its workers abroad

Finally, Indonesia attempting to get its act together!

And what will Malaysians do without the steady supply of maids from Indonesia, 300,000 at the last count, the largest number of immigrant maids employed by any country!

More than 15% of foreign workers in Malaysia are employed as maids, the lowest rung of the employment ladder for foreign workers.

It is not surprising that Indonesia has finally decided to come up with a plan to improve the skill level of the population, who currently not only lack the necessary skills to be employed in higher skill jobs but also lack the employment opportunities.

As the economy of Indonesia improves, the plan to provide better employment opportunities and thus the need to improve the skill levels would be the next step in the economic evolution of the country.

Indonesia is far behind Malaysia when it comes to industrialization, and cannot continue being merely a supplier of cheap labour to other countries if it is to become a developed nation.

Malaysia’s industrialization was helped by the higher skill level of the population. And if Indonesia wishes to move towards the same direction, it must have a better plan in educating its population, instead of just letting the large uneducated population to go overseas searching for low level employment.

No doubt Malaysians are worried if the plan by Indonesia starts bearing fruit. But instead of lamenting the possibility of one day not getting any more cheap maids from Indonesia and start looking for similar cheap labour from other countries, it is time for Malaysians to change the way households are managed.

Some years ago, the government had allowed for double-deduction on expenses by companies for building child care facilities. Despite the fairly generous allowance, very few companies decided to take advantage of the tax allowance. The reason was simple, not enough demands from the employees as most employees prefer to get cheap maids instead.

This reliance on cheap labour has to stop, and it can only stop not only by the government providing more incentives for child care facilities but the population must also change their ways of managing their households.

         

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