The long-awaited online recruitment system for direct hiring of foreign domestic helpers was officially launched in Malaysia on January 1. However, top officials in the Immigration Department have avoided questions on potential conflicts with Indonesian and Philippine regulations.

The new recruitment system primarily aims to cut the costs associated with the use of employment agencies, while the application process would be as quick as eight days, Sin Chew Daily (Malaysia) reported.

At present, Indonesia and the Philippines do not allow the direct hiring of their nationals, and consider recruitment via agencies mandatory.

Malaysian Immigration Director General Mustafar Ali was asked at a press conference whether there had been objections by the governments of the Philippines and Indonesia. Ali simply stressed that the system’s prime feature was to allow employers to hire prospective maids who are already in Malaysia.

Maids who have already acquired a valid social-visit pass, or even if their social-visit passes have expired, were permissible participants in the system.

According to the Malaysian Immigration Department’s website, the nine approved source countries for domestic helpers are Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.