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January 26, 2003

Pardon? She’s a maid

From: e-Media, Malaysia - 26 Jan 2003

Michelle Quah

FOR almost three months, a computer technician in Penang thought his new Indonesian maid merely had trouble understanding instructions in Bahasa Malaysia because she never got them right.

It never occurred to him that his new maid, Edah, was in fact, deaf, until his four-year-old daughter, who was in a chair, had toppled over, and was pinned under it recently.

“My daughter screamed her lungs out, but the maid was oblivious to her cries and continued ironing in the next room,” said M. Manimaran, 32.

“When asked why she had not gone to help my daughter, Edah said she had not even heard my daughter crying,” said Manimaran.

“Thankfully, my daughter was not seriously injured, but my wife went ballistic when she heard the maid’s excuse, because she had clearly heard my daughter’s cries, although she was having her shower,” he added.

Recalling the number of times the maid had failed at carrying out even the simplest of instructions, Manimaran said he then suspected that Edah had a serious hearing defect.

“It struck me as the most logical explanation. When I asked for a pinggan (plate), she brought me a mangkuk (bowl),” he said, adding that a trip to a doctor confirmed his suspicions.

“According to the doctor, where her ear-drums should have been, there were only two big holes,” said Manimaran, who expressed shock that a woman with such a serious physical defect, could have been allowed into the country to work as a maid.

“Edah later confessed that even when she went for her medical examination in Indonesia, the doctor had detected that she was deaf, but she was still sent over here to work,” he said.

When Manimaran contacted the maid agency to which he had paid RM4,000 to engage Edah, the agency claimed not to know about her condition.

“I then asked to see her medical report as I had paid the agency an additional RM190 to have her undergo a full medical check-up on her arrival in Malaysia.”

“Until now, all they have shown me is a laboratory report showing the results of her blood and urine tests,” said Manimaran, who believes the agency was trying to hide its duplicity by not giving him the medical report which might have indicated Edah’s problem.

“To add insult to injury, the agency even had the gall to ask me to pay an additional RM1,800 to get a replacement maid,” he said, adding that he refused, since the contract stipulates that unsatisfactory maids would be replaced at no further cost.

Manimaran, who will reporting the matter to immigration and health authorities, said aside from his dispute with the agency, the bigger issue was how maids with physical defects could have slipped through the health screening process.

©New Straits Times (M) Berhad