Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) refers to Home Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Aseh Che Mat’s statement on the Immigration Department’s intention to consider waiving the RM100 Special Pass fee for abused foreign domestic workers currently seeking shelter at WAO (The Sun, NST, The Star, 30 August 2001).
WAO applauds the precedent that the government has made by its initiative in waiving the fees based on humanitarian grounds. At present, whilst awaiting for the resolution of the abused foreign domestic workers’ cases against the perpetrators, they will have to apply for a Special Pass. This pass costs RM100, and has to be renewed each month. In addition, the Employment (Restriction) (Exemption) Order, 1972, prohibits foreign domestic workers who are holding Special Passes while seeking redress from being employed. The impact of these two regulations discourages foreign domestic workers from bringing legal action against the perpetrators, thus not attaining redress for the abuse they have suffered.
It is therefore a very positive response by the government to the predicament that these women encounter in this situation. This move acknowledges that the Malaysian government has to take some responsibility in helping to alleviate the burden that the abused foreign domestic workers are facing. In addition, it also assists non-profit organisations such as WAO, who have limited resources, in their work with women in crisis. We hope that the Immigration Department will consider extending this priviledge to other abused Migrant Workers.