Thursday, March 17, 2011

SRP MP Son Chhay's letter to Malaysian ambassador regarding the abuses of workers by T&P company in Cambodia and in Malaysia

SRP MP Mu Sochua talking to Srun Channa who was detained by T&P company against her will at the company compound

H.E. Ambassador of Malaysia
No. 5, Street 242
Sangkat Chaktomouk
Phnom Penh.

March 16, 2011
Ref: SC4-006/11

Subject: Cambodian Employment Agencies Providing Maids to Countries in the region

Dear Excellency Ambassador,

This letter is to inform you and the donor community of the serious situation related to the practices of employment agencies that provide training to Cambodians, in particular to under-aged women for employment in neighboring countries.

The death of a 36 year-old trainee in February 2011 was followed by another alarming incident when another trainee jumped off the third floor of T&P employment agency, two weeks later. Both families were detained against their will and forced to pay debts to the agency if they were to return to their villages.

Alarmed by the situation, my colleagues and I visited T&P agency on 10 March, accompanied by NGOs and the media.

We entered the company's premises with permission after we explained to its representatives the reasons of our visit.

Living and Working Conditions and Debts

We were alarmed by the high tin-sheets and barbered wires that closed the building off, giving us the impression of imprisonment. We were granted permission to speak to the 100 or so trainees as we were informed that the military police had interviewed five trainees who had requested to leave the company.

MP, Mu Sochua was able to identify one- Srun Channa, 23 year-old, of the five trainees. I inspected the rooms were the trainees live. 30 trainees share a 4mx6m room, on 3 floors. I was told later by a trainee that the under-aged trainees were kept in a separate room on the 3 rd floor.

We negotiated successfully for the release of Srun Channa as the company and its lawyer insisted that her parents be present to sign guardianship papers. It is in fact, the debts of US$350 that the parents must pay back to the company for the cost of training, passport etc. to travel to Malaysia.

Srun Channa was not released till 11 March with intervention from the City prosecutor.

Company's Protection by Local Authorities

Local district councilors, criminal police and prosecutors intervened on behalf of the company, accusing us of illegal entry and demanding our leave. MP, Mu Sochua was pushed to the side by the deputy-district governor, while acknowledging that he knew who MP, Mu Sochua is.

Local authorities and police ignored the law that forbids detention against one's will. Furthermore, local authorities accepted the company's practice of debts and the charges for food, lodging and extra fees.

There was no sign that the local authorities even attempt to defend the rights of the trainees who are detained against their will. There are tremendous pressures on the young women to comply with the rules of the company.

Officials of the Ministry of Labour

No officials from the Labour Ministry were present during the two days of our visit, despite promises made.

We can conclude that the Labour Ministry leaves it up to the companies to draw guidelines and those inspections of the premises and the application of the laws are very weak and that negligence from the part of the government led to the deaths and injuries of the women.

Claiming that the company is under investigation by the Court, the Labor Ministry and local authorities are waiting for results of the investigation.

Under-aged Recruitment and Falsification of Documents

With the collaboration of the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), and our local networks, we investigated the cases of the four trainees who were supposed to have been released by the company. They were in fact detained inside the company when during our visit.

Two out of the trainees went home but the papers they are holding were actually falsified by the company and its recruiters. Both women are under 18 years of age. The requirement for Malaysia is 21 years old to be employed as maids.

Two other trainees returned to their villages as they are suspected to be detained by the company at its centre in Kompong Chnang.

Actions to be Taken

As Members of Parliament, we have requested to the Prime Minister to allow the Minister of Labor to answer to the following inquires, with the presence of the Minister in Parliament;

1/ The Families’ debts to Employment Companies

We propose that this practice be stopped immediately

And that clear guidelines be drawn up by the government according to the laws.

2/ Working and Living Conditions

We propose improvement for health and safety of the trainees. Company’s premises should not be locked and that trainees be free to leave at their own will.

3/ Under-aged Trainees

We propose a strict inspection of the recruitment of the trainees and for prosecution in case of violation.

4/ Suspension and/or Dissolution of T&P License to Operate

We propose that T& P license be suspended when under investigation and that all its three centers are closely monitored till the end of the investigation.

5/ Confiscation of trainees Documents

We propose that all confiscations of trainee’s family books, I.D cards and other vital documents be prohibited.

We hope that your Embassy will take part to help in preventing these violations of human rights by informing your government as well as to raise this situation with the Cambodian government so that a very close monitoring system can be set up in order to stop all forms of exploitation and abuses of the workers.

We are further concerned by the lack of protection of Cambodian workers in your country where there have been reporting that abuses of workers have occurred but workers cannot get help since their passports were confiscated by employers and no information provided to workers on how to get help and in a number of cases, workers were arrested when try to escape and were thrown in Malaysian’s jail.

We acknowledge the role of Malaysian government in playing its part to prevent such crimes from happening by closely monitoring the connection in which the company such as T&P has with Malaysian counterpart and set the regulations to protect foreign workers in Malaysia.

Please feel free to contact me for further information either on cell phone 012-858857 or email:

Yours sincerely,

Son Chhay
Member of Parliament


Anonymous said...

I think all companies are under the laws of Cambodia. Not a single company dare to confine people in the house equipped with barbed wires like that only if that company belongs to the relative of the Hun Sen government officials or else it would be afraid to do so. I think this company is allowed to do so by Sen Government!

Anonymous said...

What's the government position on this issue? Are they condoning this practice of this recruitment agency?
Too many questions need to be answered by the govt.

Anonymous said...

Incrdible. The abuse occurs in Cambodia, and Cambodian MP Son Chhay reports it to the foreign embassy.

Kuoy Pichet

Anonymous said...

Cambodian new married law banned men over 50 and young men who earn less than $2550 per month from marry khmer girl!

That is so discrimination against international human right law.

Cambodia goverment encourage khmer women for selling to the high income earner or simply higher bidder rather than geniun love between women and men.

Anonymous said...

It's the result of corrupted government. Citizens rights are not protected. It's so ashamed. So irresponsible. I wonder what those local authorities say if those trainees are their relatives? I am waiting to hear stupid explanation from the government spokeman.Maybe they explain like Mr Va Kim Hong re border issue with VN.

Anonymous said...

malaysian wanna fuck Khmer too

Anonymous said...

9:34PM! you fucking son of mony!

Anonymous said...

This is a sad reality of our Khmer people who are being oppressed by our own government to live a desperate life. It is without choice that people risk their freedom and dignity to find a means to feed themselves and the family. No job opportunities at home mean slavery abroad. This was what happened to African nations in the 16th century when Africans sold their own people to Europeans and Westerners to be enslaved. American government recognized inhumanity of the slavery. Hence, the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution was entered in to laws ordering the ending of slavery in 1865. America has since become the defender and the promoter of human rights and democracy. Its motto even echoes "LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS." Nearly, 240 years later, since its inception, America is proud to honor its first black President.

Your Excellency, the rulers of Cambodia, please do not allow Khmers to be treated like domesticated animals. We Khmers have had dignified history. Please do the honorable things to restore her glory.

Respectfully yours,
Damaged Soul.

Anonymous said...

Guys! Cambodian people have peace now after long civile war. Please let's khmer people live in peace and khmer people now can go anywhere in cambodia without the fear of Pol Pot now. Please let's us in peace we are sick of war and revolution as history teach very well about revolution at 1970 to now.

At 1970 all students and well educated people were support the revolution of Khmer rouge but after khmer rouge win they murdered all students and well educated people because khmer rouge scare of these people do revolution as they did to Non Nol regime. We learn from the history very well so we are cambodian people say no to any revolution.

Hun Sen may be not the best leader in the world but so far my families and majority of cambodian people live in peace and can walk or do whatever we want with no restriction as Khmer Rouge regime.

So we are happy that Hun Sen remain in power. So we still have peace in Cambodia. Plus Hun Sen already rich so he may not want more money as leader coming at all. At 1993, Cambodian people gave the opportunity to Doctor Prince to demonstrated democracy to develop Cambodia but Doctor Prince as well as his party members are so currupted and so cheap and hungry for money that is why as the result they have today. Nobody belive in them anymore.

In 1997 a lot khmer belive in Doctor Prince and his party have been murdered but Doctor Prince as well as his party member can't even dare to find justice for them till today. They are using innocent cambodian people to gain their power to currupt again that's all.

CPP look down on Doctor Prince and his party member because of that! Money hunger.

Hun Sen May not a perfect prime minister but so far Cambodian people live in peace now. We like Hun Sen remain in power so we can have peace.

Anonymous said...

When I was working in Cambodia, I once knew of a cambodian girl who decided to sign up as a maid. She was attracted to the fee that these maid agencies give to each person when they sign the agreement to be trained and sent overseas to work as maids. When she moved to the staff quarters for the training period, she too was not allowed to leave the premises. But this is because a lot of girls actually sign up, receive the money and later run away from the training centre. So as a precaution, the employment agencies have to resort to detaining the girls to prevent them from runnning away.

I'm not justifying the employment agencies but we also need to think from their side. They have already kept their word and gave the money to the girls but the girls are breaking the agreement instead. So the agencies have to take measures to protect themselves as well. Fact is many of the girls only see the money dangling in front of them when they sign the contract. They don't see the long term repercussions of them having to go to a faraway land to work and be away from home for a long time. When they finally realise, it is too late. The govt needs to do more to educate the people with regards to working overseas as maids. The people also need to think more...doesn't it sound too good to be true that an employment agency would offer to give money to you without you even doing anything except sign an agreement. The other thing that needs to be taught is to read the document before you sign anything. Once signed, it's legally binding whether or not you understand what you just signed.