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A story to share

Case Study: VC Man Power Co., Ltd.
Case 1: Miss Lim Heang, Working as House Maid in Malaysia for Eight Months

Lim Heang is 31 years old Cambodian. She lives in Domnak Chrey village, Peam Chi Korng commune of Kampong Cham’s Korgn Meas district, Cambodia. She signed a two-year contract to work as a housemaid in Malaysia. However, after working there for eight months, she was send back to Cambodia. She wants to share her life working as housemaid in Malaysia. Here is her story:

Before I got a job a housemaid to work in Malaysia, I had a job working as a worker in a factory named PPCS. Here I was paid USD60.00 per month. If I worked overtime I received only about USD80.00 to USD90.00. It was difficult for me when I worked in Phnom Penh, because I had to spend the salary for utilities, house rent, and for basic food. I was only able to save very little money which is sent to my aged mother who lives in the country.

One day, a girl who is a villager in my village told me that [we would be] paid about USD150.00 to USD180.00 for working in Malaysia. Then I decided I would go to work in Malaysia. I was able to get a job in Malaysia with the assistance from the girl’s mother who is a recruit agent in the village and also an agent for VC Manpower Co., Ltd.
Here is the procedure.

First, I had to apply for the job. Then I was sent to the Company’s Training Center for two months. The center had a two floor flats that could accommodate about 100 workers, approximately 50 workers stayed on the first floor, and other 50 workers stayed on the second floor. Three to four people had one mosquito net in which we had to sleep side by side in a row. Four electric fans were given to the people (the trainees) on the first floor and three fans were given to the people on the second floor. It was quite hot in the dry season, but it was OK in the rainy season. Food was the same as mine at home. One dish was given and was changed every day. It was enough. Dessert was given on Sunday.

Though it was OK regarding food, I had no right to go outside the center. A relative who wanted to visit me had to ask permission from the Company’s security guard before we were allowed to meet. If I wanted to have some something to eat, like a snack, I had to get it through the hole of the gate which was locked. On top of the fence, pieces of broken glasses were installed. At the center, there was a trainer who told us that we were here to make money. Therefore we had to be endured.

I felt bored, because I was locked in the center. I could not go anywhere. I could neither go outside the center to buy things nor visit my relative in Toek Thla. Unless I had USD300.00 as deposit to the Company, I could not go out of the center, because they were afraid that I might escape from the center.

On the first week, when I was at the Company’s Center, I tried to ask the Company that I would go back home. I was then told that unless I had USD50.00 for blood test, I was not allowed to do so. I tried to call my mother for the USD50.00, but she said she could not afford it. So, I was determined strongly that I had to go and work in Malaysia.
Also while I was at the Center, I did notice that three trainee workers from an unknown village of Tboung Khmom district, tried to escape from the Center at night while they were sick. They tried to jump over the fence with pieces of small broken glasses.

At the Center, only English lessons were given to us. I spent eight hours a day, four in the morning and four in the afternoon to learn English. When the visa was granted, and just 25 days before leaving for Malaysia, I was trained how to iron, brush and clean house, wash dishes, and cook food. Vocabularies in term of spices such as onion, monosodium glutamate, oyster sauce etc. were also taught.

When I arrived in Malaysia, I stayed three days in a Malaysian Company (Agency). After that, I was brought to a house where I worked as a housemaid. My visa and other documents were taken from by the house owner after I arrived there. I felt somewhat scared when I arrived there on the first day, because in the house there were three people, the couple and a child. The husband is a goldsmith and the wife works at night time.

For the first two months when I worked there, they paid close attention to me. They are Chinese-Malaysians. They speak Chinese. It was very difficult for me to understand them, because I only learned some English, but Chinese. When they told me to fetch a thing and I could not understand, they tortured me right away. Totally, I worked there for eight months, commencing from 11 September, 2009.

I was tortured for six months. I was not suffered any torture only for the first two months. The first torture occurred when they told me to fetch a thing and I took the wrong one. They slapped me on my face sides. I could do nothing, but cried. My ears were swirled and they were swollen with pus. I was then brought to a hospital. When I was there, I told the doctor that my ears were swirled by the house owners, but the doctor said it was not; this means the doctor did not believe what I told him. Then, I told the doctor that my ears were good when I was in Cambodia. They doctor then said nothing and walked outside. One of my ears was damaged since then.

Also, I was pushed and rolled down from upstairs to downstairs. This happened when I was told get a rubbish bin. They told me in Chinese to which I did not understand. Sometimes, I was badly tortured. They ordered me to carry two containers of water with both hands up and down the stairs and ordered me to kneel supporting a long bench from at least half an hour to one hour. Some other times, he used electric wire which is used for melting the gold, as he is a goldsmith, to beat me.

I used to ask the house owner to quit the job and come back home. They told me that unless I had USD500.00 I could not go home. I had a key for the house, but could do nothing with it, because I did not know where to go. I used to phone home after I arrived there. I was told by the house owner that I could not use the phone for over three minutes or my payment would be deducted. I felt scared every time I saw the house owners came home from work. I wished that if I was allowed to go home I would save my hair.

One day, the house owner beaten my knee with bamboo stick and it was dislocated. As you see, now I cannot walk far and cannot ride a bike as well. My leg still hurt. Sometimes, it hurts me very much that I had to ask a doctor for a paint killer. The house owner did not understand my feeling. I was very fed up and wished I would be able to come home as soon as possible.

One day, when they came back from a walk, they told me that I had to complete all jobs that I had to do in the house. So, I had to work all the night. In the next morning, when I completed the jobs, they told me to pack my stuffs and then they took me to the airport, bought me an air ticket and returned me the passport.

On my way back home, I had no money, even a cent, to buy thing to eat on the airplane. The Company told me I would be paid between USD150.00 and USD180.00 a month for working as a housemaid in Malaysia. However, I worked as a housemaid there for eight months and received only USD200.00 from the Company in Phnom Penh. The Company did not return my identity card. I told my story to my neighbors, but none of them believe me.
Now, I am working as a cleaner for a textile factory in my hometown. I am paid USD50.00 per month for the job. I work here without any set time and schedule.

I want to share the following experience.

1. One should be careful in getting a job in Malaysia. You might suffer violence like me. However, I wish you be safe and happiness, if you are hired to work there.
2. The Company that sends workers to work in Malaysia shall have their agent who shall visit workers once a week to make sure no worker is tortured by the house owner. No one from the Company visited me for the eight months I worked there.
3. I feel I will never go to work as a housemaid in Malaysia again, even though I am told I will have high payment for working there. I swear I will not go and work there. You know when I arrived home from Malaysia I saved my hair swearing I would not go to work there again. It is better to work here in Cambodia. Now I have a job as a cleaner at a textile factory and I am paid US$50.00 a month. I am working here without any set time and schedule. Though, there is only one cleaner, and it is very hard for me, I have to endure it.


Sarvina's picture

Nice article...

Hi Sokha,

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article to us! I feel so pity to our Khmer people who go to work as housemates at other countries. I have heard many Khmers who flied to work for Malaysia or Thailand that they had no right to go anywhere by the house owner and had to work many hours a day. Like Miss Lim Heang, she decide to work as a housemaid in Malaysia because she hoped that she could earn much money to support her family but she finally got only painful nor no right from the house owner even she wanna call home, she had to be deducted from her salary. NONE wanna fly away from our own country and if we go to other countries, mean we go there for our purposes such as: 1. We go there cos we hope we can gain more knowledge to develop our own country. 2. We go there cos we hope we can use our knowledge and experience to develop those countries. 3. We go there cos we hope we can earn much more money to support our family. So all these points are what i'm thinking only.

Thanks again that you still come up with the PulseWire! We are thrilled to have you and continue to give your voice here...! Looking to see your articles more........

Warm Regards,


Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

Sokha's picture

Thanks for your comment

Hi Sarvina,

Thanks for your good comment on the story. I also feel pity for her when I read the story. There are many stories which are similar to Miss Lim Heang. I will read through them to see if there are stories that should be shared.

All the best,

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