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theSun | TUESDAY JUNE 30 2009 3

news without borders

H1N1 statistics
Time to look
20 new cases make it
(as of 8am, June 29)

» New cases: 20
elsewhere for (Malaysians 13, Indonesia 2,
Vietnam 1, Germany 1, Australia 1,
Japan 1, US 1)

household maids » Imported cases: 16

by Maria J. Dass
biggest rise in a day A(H1N1)
» Local transmissions: 4
» Total no. of cases: 144
(102 discharged, 42 under

THE abuse of Indonesian maid Siti Hajar invoked strong public
by Karen Arukesamy ZA treatment)


reaction over the cruelty that one can inflict on a fellow human


being, and in keeping with the laws of the land, her employer PETALING JAYA:
was hauled to court. The adverse publicity has already brought Twenty new cases of
shame upon the employer and her family even before the trial influenza A (H1N1) were


can start. -8
As in the Nirmala Bonat case, it was the right thing to do
confirmed in the 24 hours 881 00/3
to 8am yesterday – the high- 02
– justice must be seen to be served every time such an inhu-
mane act takes place.
est in a single day – making it
In view of the fact that Malaysian police have acted speedily
a total of 144 cases to date.
on every case of abuse, the Indonesian government’s decision Among them are two stu-
to temporarily ban the supply of households maids to Malaysia dents, aged 15 and 16, and a
can only be described as disproportionate. The move has also 36-year-old woman teacher,
indirectly tarred every Malaysian employer of maids with the who were infected through
same broad stroke, something Indonesia seems to be insensi- local transmission.
tive to. The 15-year-old Form 3
The decision was taken together with a request to negotiate student from Sekolah Tinggi
with Malaysia the maids’ contract, that will include a scheduled Chung Hwa, Seremban, has
off-day a week and other conditions of service. been quarantined along with
Such negotiations are normal in any contract, and can be his 46 classmates and 12 teach-
done at any time. ers until Friday. He is a brother
Given the way Indonesia is handling this matter, it is high of an infected patient, who
time Malaysia looked seriously at sourcing household help returned from Melbourne. Not taking any chances ...
from other countries to reduce dependence on Indonesia’s The 16-year-old Form 4 pupils of SRK Assunta 2 don
women workforce. student, from Sekolah Tsun face masks on resumption
While it is true that Malaysia offers lower wages than that Jin Height on Jalan Loke Yew of classes yesterday.
paid in Middle Eastern countries and Hongkong, the Indonesian in Cheras here, was a contact
women still come here because of the multi-cultural make-up of an infected schoolmate. His Ministry has decided that all visitors from At the Parliament lobby yesterday,
and ample vacancies especially in jobs that are deemed dirty contacts are still being traced while his the two countries will go through health Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong
and dangerous. classmate has been ordered to undergo examination upon arrival in Malaysia Lai said the spread of the A(H1N1) is still
It was reported that 70% of Malaysians are only willing home quarantine. just like those from the Philippines, under control and ministerial contin-
to pay less than RM500 for domestic help. A meagre sum The contacts of the teacher, from SMK Australia, the United States and United gency plans in the event of an uncontrol-
compared to the demands of workers from other countries. Abdul Rahim 2 in Kudat, Sabah, are also Kingdom.” lable outbreak need not be implemented
Some countries like India impose strict regulations on maids being traced. He said 42 patients are undergoing as yet.
entering the country, including a US$2,500 (RM8,846) returnable In a statement, Health Director-Gen- treatment in designated hospitals and He said although the number of
bank guarantee, US$400 (RM1,415) minimum wage in addition eral Tan Sri Mohd Ismail Merican said: 102 have recovered and discharged. infected Malaysians had caused the min-
to requirements for employers to buy health and personal “Since the increase in import cases are A total of 618 people are under quar- istry some pressure, the situation is still
accident insurance for their employees – some of the reasons from Indonesia and Thailand, the Health antine. manageable, Bernama reported.
why many of its citizens enter Malaysia illegally or overstay
after entering on tourist visas.
Filipinos are on the other hand paid almost double that of
their Indonesian counterparts.
Wee welcomes initiative by school to close down
This explains why 90% of 300,000 maids in the country
by Giam Say Khoon Kudat, Sabah, also closed
come from Indonesia. It’s simple supply-and-demand theory down yesterday, a total of
– they are willing to work for the wages Malaysians can only
five schools had been closed
afford to pay.
The quality of workers entering the country commensurate KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy for quarantine since the first
with the amount paid as agencies have a tier system which Education Minister Datuk Dr local transmission case two
decide which countries the maids are assigned to. Wee Ka Siong yesterday wel- weeks ago.
The issue of maid abuse should be seen in perspective. comed the move by schools Wee said SRK Assunta 2
For every abused maid – and the number is far from alarming with confirmed A(H1N1) cases in Petaling Jaya had resumed
– there are numerous locals who treat their maid with dignity to close down. classes yesterday and re-
or even as a part of their family, taking them on holidays abroad. He told reporters at corded a high attendance of
Civil groups have stood up for the rights of many abused work- the Parliament lobby that 81.7% and he was confident
ers. Sekolah Tinggi Chung Hwa in the afternoon session of SRK
Just as there are black-sheep employers who beat up their Seremban, with a reported Assunta 1 would also record
maids, there are maids who have ill-treated or mishandled their confirmed locally-transmitted a higher attendance.
charges. These include abusing children, the bedridden and case, had decided to close for He said the two pupils
senior citizens. Some of these acts have been caught on tape. a week. of SRK Assunta 2 who con-
At the end of the day, it boils down to a few bad apples “The school is a private tracted the virus had also
A class being cleaned
amongst both employers and employees. But a ban, whether school and the closure was returned to school.
up during the week-long
it is temporary or otherwise, is taking things too far just to the school’s initiative,” he However, the schools will
closure at Sekolah Tinggi
succumb to mounting pressure from some quarters. said. continue to carry out health
Chung Hwa.
The search for new sources of household help should “I had discussed (the screening on their pupils.
include the opportunity to provide gainful employment for issue) with Health Minister He said SJK(C) Jalan Dav-
49,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with United Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. He rected that the student’s 46 classmates and 14 idson, the first school to close
Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia had also welcomed and encouraged such an teachers be quarantined at home for one week, down because of a local transmission case, had
(as at end of May this year). initiative. There is no problem if the school Sua said: “we discussed it with the department resumed classes on Saturday and also recorded
Of the 49,900, 43,500 are from Myanmar, comprising some wishes to close down.” and felt that the school’s closure will ensure the a high attendance of 97.79% yesterday.
15,500 Rohingyas from the Northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, According to the school’s principal, Sua Sin safety of students and staff”. Wee also said the National Sports Council
16,400 Chins, 4,000 Myanmar Muslims and the remaining are Zang, a student was believed to have been in- Wee also said a class with 45 students in will be enlisted into the ministry’s 3K (Keber-
other ethnic minorities from Myanmar. There are some 5,500 fected with the virus by her 22-year-old brother Tsun Jin High School, Kuala Lumpur, had been sihan, Keselamatan dan Kesihatan Sekolah)
refugees and asylum-seekers from other countries, includ- who had returned home for a semester break quarantined yesterday after a student con- committee so that its opinions can be taken
ing some 2,600 Sri Lankans, 760 Somalis, 560 Iraqis and 560 from Australia on June 22. tracted the disease locally. into account, especially on the participation of
Afghans. Although the Health Department had di- He said that with SMK Abdul Rahim 2 in students in sport events abroad.
Most are now working illegally at restaurants, construction
sites and in other jobs shunned by locals. Many are seeking
work permits but it is understood there are some legal issues
that need to be ironed out, plus concerns that this would Foreign workers owe govt RM3m in unpaid medical bills
encourage more refugees to come in.
The idea of a training institution mooted in 2007 to reduce by Eva Yeong some may be admitted while some only need “There’s a paper we’re preparing with the
dependency on foreign maids can be used as a platform to train outpatient treatment, she said after officiat- Ministry of Human Resources. We are still
these refugees in various fields that need manpower. ing at the Vendor Excellence Awards held by studying it,” she said.
If all else fails, Malaysia and Indonesia may very well have SUBANG JAYA: Foreign employees owe the Pharmaniaga here. “The papers will be presented to the
to deal with the issue of more illegal immigrants entering government more than RM3 million in unpaid Rosnah said the regulation for foreign em- cabinet soon. They (the employers) have to
Malaysia. medical bills between January and March. ployees to produce a letter from their employers take responsibility because they bring them
» The people may give their views with regard to housemaids Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah has been introduced but has not been strongly (the workers) in.”
at the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Rashid Shirlin said yesterday foreign employees enforced because of humane reasons. There are currently no laws to make it
today. seeking medical attention are required to pay “We cannot deny medical attention to compulsory for employers to pay the medical
A ministry statement said they could do so at the Dewan a sum in advance or to produce a letter from those who seek or need it,” she said. bills incurred by their foreign employees.
NUR, First Floor, Block E of the Government Offices Complex in their employers, who will stand as guarantor. She said the Health Ministry seeks to work Rosnah said there has been an increase in
Bukit Perdana, Jalan Dato Onn between 9am and 1pm. The sum varies from hospital to hospital with the Ministry of Human Resources to ad- unpaid bills from 2008 to early 2009 although
They could also send their views to and depends on different situations because dress the issue. there are no figures cited.