Monday, September 22, 2008

Super Maids?

I have written about the quality of university degrees these days. A fair number of local university graduates have been seeking employment in our firm. Some of them made it to the interview stage where I found out that they could hardly handle English. The medium of instruction in our local universities is Malay. Yes, I am aware that in some cases these students are also given the option to attempt exam questions in English. But they are not compelled to answer in English. Unfortunately, in the private sector, we are still overwhelmingly English. The letters we write, the reports we produce, and almost every other documents are all in English.

Apart from the language problem, many of these graduates are essentially well-tuned photocopy machines. The education system have trained them very well to be able to reproduce whatever they read from the text books—they are extremely good with the cut-and-paste through the computers. But when you instruct them to write a report from scratch on their own, they are paralysed.

I am not very well-versed with the situation in West Malaysia, but here in KK, we employ a fresh Valuation Graduate at RM1,200 per month. After 3 months, if we find that he can justify the worth of his degree, that salary would normally be revised to RM1,500 per month. That is usually followed by a small annual increment. After a few years, he would typically earn RM2,000 - RM2,500 per month. I am aware that other firms are paying even less.

In the event that he pursues his registration with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents, Malaysia, his salary would be revised substantially upon registration. However, usually most of them will never ever get that far. They end up earning their fixed salaries month after month; year after year. A typical excuse is that they don't have the time to pursue the professional qualification.

Now compare that with paying a maid RM1,372 per month. How ridiculous can it get? I don't know about other Sabahans, but I would rather not have a maid than employing a Filipino maid at whatever price. Perhaps one of these days I will become so desperate for a domestic helper that I have no choice but to employ a Filipino maid. But I doubt that that will come anytime soon. Of course I have my reasons why I view Filipino maids so negatively, but perhaps it's not such a good idea to discuss that here.

Apart from that RM1,372, employers are also required to provide a decent room plus 3 square meals per day, not to mention the cost of work pass etc. And when I say meals, I don't mean only RM5.80 per day. So in fact the cost would be much higher than RM1,372.

In Sabah we have many Bumis earning a lot less than RM1,372 per month. And I am convinced that the situation is also similar in the West. If that is the price of a maid, then it means that only the rich can afford maids.

Incidentally, my maid has gone back to her village in Indonesia a little over 2 months ago. She said she'd like to come back to continue working for me. But I have a feeling she's stuck in Nunukan and probably finds it hard to enter Sabah, now that the Government is all out to show the people that they're doing something about all these illegal foreigners.

It is very difficult to cope without a maid, but it will take much more than what we're going through now before we even consider employing a Filipino maid. Who knows, maybe in a week or two, Fin will arrive from Indonesia. Keeping my fingers crossed.


CK said...

pray hard corny.

from my experience in nunukan, it'll be easier if u have money. and tat certainly helps too in tawau side.

well, at least ur uni-grad staff can do photocopy; ur Fin can't do tat. tat should justify the 1500-1372 i think :)

Anonymous said...

I think the the Filipino maids are asking too much. They essentially get to save all the money earned since the employer bears all other cost. How many Malaysians (graduates or otherwise) even get to save USD400 a month? Since they are asking so mch, ask them to go back to Manila and get that salary. Malaysia does not need them.

Cornelius said...


According to reliable sources, RM1,500 should be able to get the job done. A new passport and possibly even a new identity altogether.

My point about the RM1,372 is that by the time we take into account the other costs, e.g. food and lodging and workpass/permit, that RM1,372 will certainly surpass the RM1,500 mark. Meaning, we would be paying more for the maids.

Cornelius said...

I don't know about West Malaysia, but in Sabah, it is still possible to get 3 Indonesian maids for RM1,372 as opposed to just ONE Filipino maid.

I'm sure quite a number of my staff long for a RM1,372 salary. Don't even mention about saving that amount; it's just too far-fetched.