The Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The country is home to a thriving pan-regional online gaming industry. Photo: IStockphoto

Over a dozen domestic workers from Cambodia, who have received basic training in Cantonese and other skills, arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

The 14 domestic workers arrived in Hong Kong with Ngoy Rith, deputy director of Cambodia’s Labour Department, Agence France-Presse reported.

This batch of workers will join an initial group of less than 10 Cambodians who arrived in Hong Kong in November as part of a pilot program agreed with the Cambodian government to send around 1,000 workers to work in Hong Kong in 2018, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

The domestic workers said they were attracted by the monthly salary of HK$4,410 (US$564) in Hong Kong, which is 5.6 times more than the average monthly salary of US$100 in Cambodia.

Each Cambodian maid would be allowed to use a smartphone to contact their relatives or government officials if they need help in Hong Kong.

The 30-year-old worker named Seik Malay said it was a difficult decision to leave her 9-year-old son, but with the salary she will be able to support her family. She said she was not worried about numerous high-profile cases of abuse of foreign domestic workers in recent years in Hong Kong.

Stop Trafficking of People (STOP), a Hong Kong-based anti-trafficking group said Cambodian domestic workers would be vulnerable to exploitation due to the language barrier and lack of connection. It said the group was still looking for a Khmer translator or interpreter.

There are about 352,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong but they are predominantly from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government predicted that 600,000 domestic workers would be needed over the next 30 years to take care of its ageing population. So, officials have been studying new source markets such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

In April, the government relaxed visa requirements to allow Cambodians to work, study and visit the city. Officials had expected that an initial group of 1,000 domestic workers could arrive in Hong Kong in September but delays in their homeland have meant they are arriving at a rate that was slower than first thought.

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