Govt to resume sending maids to Singapore, three other areas

The Labour Ministry has lifted the ban on domestic help travelling to work in Singapore and three other places, an employment agency association said on Thursday.

U Peter Nyunt Maung, president of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation, said the employment of Myanmar maids in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau would be strictly regulated.

“During the ban (imposed by the government), domestic workers went abroad illegally. Making it legal will make it easier to control,” he said.

The ministry and the federation will meet to sign a contract with labour placement agencies in Singapore to protect Myanmar domestic workers in the island-state.

Myanmar will first send its domestic workers to Singapore in a pilot project and will then send them to the three other places, the federation said.

The ministry has asked the federation to submit a detailed plan for employment agencies in Myanmar and Singapore on the procedures for hiring housemaids abroad, especially related to contracts and rules.

“We won’t let the bad experiences suffered by our maids in the past happen again,” U Peter Nyunt Maung said.

Ma Kitty Aye Mar Mar, a Singapore-based migrant activist, welcomed the lifting of the ban.

“It is good that at least we will have a contract for sending domestic workers,” she said.

A volunteer with Singapore-based Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, Ma Kitty Aye Mar Mar said she hoped that cases of mistreatment of Myanmar maids in Singapore will decrease with the lifting of the ban.

The maids would no longer be charged excessive service fees by dishonest employment agencies and would enjoy full protection of their rights, she said.

However, she added, it would be better if the governments of Singapore and Myanmar signed an agreement on the hiring of domestic help.

The Myanmar government banned the sending of domestic workers abroad in 2014 because of rampant human rights violations and abuse of Myanmar maids in foreign countries.

Despite the ban, an estimated 50,000 of Myanmar women went to work as maids in Singapore through placement agencies in both countries.

Dishonest agencies charge each maid a broker’s fee of as much as eight months’ salary.


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