Press release


posted 20 May 2012 17:12 by Jump Penang   [ updated 25 May 2012 02:29 ]


A  24 year old Cambodian woman has died after coming to Malaysia to work as a maid.  Mey Sichan died from ‘prolonged’ starvation according to the police reports.  She not only had bruising to her body when she was found on the 31st March but her weight had plummeted to just 26 Kg. Mey’s death is the second death of a Cambodian domestic worker in Penang in less than a year.  In July 2011, Choy Pich was also found dead outside the home where she worked in Penang.  Sources have reported that at least 9 domestic workers from Cambodia died while in Malaysia in 2011.  

JUMP (Jaringan Utara Migrasi dan Pelarian) the Northern network of migrants and refugees in Malaysia condemns the murder of Mey, as well as the climate of abuse that allows domestic workers to be treated as slaves without adhering to many basic standards of human rights.  Whilst we welcome the actions of the police in arresting the couple that employed Mey and charging them with murder as steps in the right direction, there is still a long way to go.

JUMP would like to pass our condolences to the family and friends of Mey Sichan.  Mey’s death cannot be in vain, and her voice cannot be forgotten.   We say ‘enough is enough’ no more abuse and deaths of migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia.  

Malaysia has about a quarter of a million domestic workers.  The abuse of domestic workers in Malaysia has led to sending countries such as Indonesia in June 2009 and more recently Camdodia in October 2011 suspending domestic workers coming to Malaysia despite valuable remittances to their home countries. Ironically, the suspension of Indonesian maids coming to Malaysia led to more Cambodians being brought to the country.  Mey Sichan’s death has to be viewed within this context.

 JUMP believes that the climate that allows abuse has to change or deaths such as Mey Sichan will continue to happen.    Her death has to be the impetus to question if Malaysia’s progressing economy has to be on the backs of migrant work and domestic labour; work done that Malaysians do not want to do yet is fundamental to the countries economic success. We question why progress comes without basic human rights for so many.  We demand:

•    A full independent inquiry into Mey Sichan’s death and other known deaths of domestic workers in Penang (What happened to the government investigations into the death of Choy Pich?)
•    Domestic workers have to be recognised as ‘workers’ under the Employment Act 1955
•    Domestic workers should have an unassailable right to keep their passports and legal documents
•    There should be a limits put to hours that domestic workers have to work in keeping with international norms
•    ‘A day off’ for domestic workers should be the minimum acceptable practice
•    A minimum wage for domestic workers consistent with workers in other parts of the economy
•    Domestic workers should have the ‘rights of redress’ – the right to remain in Malaysia whilst disputes with employers are addressed – for unpaid wages, physical and psychological abuse, over work conditions, lack of medical care and the lack of decent shelter and food and so on (this needs changes to the Immigration Act of 1959)
•    Domestic workers should have fair access to medical care and decent shelter
•    Domestic workers should have independent legal status from their employers

JUMP asks the Malaysian police to be vigilant and to work sympathetically with organisations working to improve the lives of domestic workers in Malaysia.  We ask the Malaysian Government to adhere to International standards in giving domestic workers their rights.  This is only fitting as Malaysia seeks to take a more progressive place in the International community.  

Mey Sichan came to Malaysia to work as a maid and it cost her life.  She was starved to death under unspeakable conditions of abuse.  JUMP honours her life and will hold a vigil for her as her persecutors are brought to trial.  

We honour and remember Mey Sichan as we demand justice for domestic workers.

We say never again!

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