On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Raw deal in this new deal

My wife insists that she gets to return to Indonesia during her break on Malaysia Airlines and arrangements are made at the airport so she would not be hassled by Indonesian Immigration officers and hustlers.

Yuli gets a say in most decisions involving the household and I have my lucky stars to thank, considering that many Malaysians have a horror story to tell about their maids.

She has picked up the English language, learnt how to cook some of my favourite Penang nyonya food, and she can even laugh at the Hokkien sitcoms on Astro.

But my sister-in-law has not been lucky. She has had two maids and both were a disaster.

The first was an Indonesian from Flores who spent most of her time in the living room in front of the TV rather than in the kitchen. Her addiction to instant noodles would have made her worthy of an academic study.

The second, a Cambodian, was worse. She put on weight within weeks of her employment after she discovered the magic of the refrigerator and oven.

But that wasn’t enough. She stole food, secretly storing them in a bag in her room. Apparently, she’s never heard of expiry dates.

Still, that was tolerable until she decided to go on a mutiny, snubbing directives and snapping back at her boss. Then she walked off and refused to come back.

Here’s the best part: the agency had the audacity to ask for her salary to be paid despite her absence without leave and work not rendered.

I won’t be surprised if she has been “recycled” and is now with another desperate Malaysian couple who needs a maid.

There’s another story. Lady boss asked the Cambodian maid why she had not prepared the husband’s breakfast as she was told.

The maid’s reply: “Madam, Sir is already big. Sir knows how to make breakfast. I no need.”

I swear this is not made up, but I am not sure if the maid has gone for counselling or if she has been sent back to Cambodia.

And here’s another one. There is a friend who installed CCTV at his home so he could monitor what’s happening there from his office. Lucky for him – he found out he had a psychopath on his hands when he saw his Indonesian maid regularly talking to her image in the mirror and rolling on the floor laughing hysterically.

She would burn so-called blessed papers, presumably jampi, and insist that his children consume them before they went to school. The final straw came when she asked my friend to post her “love letters” – addressed to President Suharto!

Again, we are not sure if she’s safely back and undergoing mental treatment in her home country or if she’s with another new Malaysian tuan. Hope someone tells her there’s now a new Indonesian president.

There may be stories of maids being abused and certainly Malaysians in their right mind would not tolerate such incidents. It gives our country a bad name and also leads to pressure from their countries to slow down the numbers coming in to Malaysia.

But there are also stories of Malaysian employers who suffer emotional and financial abuse from maids. These are less reported but that does not mean they are isolated cases or it’s simply because non-governmental organisations are not taking up cases of abused employers.

So, Malaysians are not amused when Indonesia tells us that their maids headed here will only perform one task and must be paid RM700 for that.

I believe Malaysian employers would not mind paying more, but not for less work. Pressing frustrated employers with such unreasonable demands is certainly going overboard.

It has been reported that the fresh batch of 106 Indonesian maids headed here would only carry out one task for their bosses. They would be trained to do four household chores – cooking, babysitting, taking care of the elderly, and housekeeping – but will perform only one of these tasks for their employers.

The report stated that the workers were undergoing four skills training courses over 21 days and must be paid RM700 a month by their Malaysian employers.

The Malaysian Maid Employers’ Association and Malaysian National Association of Employ­ment Agencies have rightly questioned the announcement. Come on, this one is surely a bad deal.