IT IS commendable that the Ministry of Manpower standardised maids' biodata for the agents ("Govt right in standardising maids' biodata" by Mrs Julianna Guizard; last Thursday). However, it is not pragmatic to have it included as one of the maid agent's licensing conditions.
Take the incident of her previous maid committing theft, as cited by Mrs Guizard. To deter the rogue agent from deceiving other unsuspecting potential employers, she should have filed a police report so that appropriate action would be taken against her former maid, which would lead to her eventual repatriation and blacklisting by the ministry.
Every industry will have unscrupulous practitioners. But does the Government insist that employment agencies guarantee the worth of the applicants?
While due diligence is expected to be exercised by the agencies on the accuracy of biodata, they cannot be held liable for inaccuracies in the maids' personal information or the assessments done by overseas recruitment agents and even testimonials. Even the Singapore immigration authorities are unable to check personal particulars such as age and marital status.
Harsher fines and stricter controls are already in place to deter errant agents. Imposing an unrealistic rule would only lead to the end of the industry, as there is no way to verify the accuracy of biodata even if employers pay agencies higher processing fees.
Similarly, the ministry's mandatory ruling requiring that employers be made liable for the maids' repatriation expenses, even if the latter have committed serious offences such as abusing young children or misconduct, discourages people from hiring maids.
Maid policies should not be of the one-size-fits-all variety. Due consideration must be given to special and exceptional cases, especially when the maids are deemed to be at fault and go missing; it is only fair that the employers' security bonds should not be forfeited.
Alice Cheah (Ms)