Myanmar women will soon be able to work abroad legally. Photo: iStock

The Myanmar government has lifted a ban on sending women overseas to work in Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand after a restriction was imposed in 2014 due to concerns about abuse.

U Peter Nyunt Maung, president of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation, said the government will first send domestic workers to Singapore in a pilot project, and would then allow them to work in three other places – Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand, the Myanmar Times reported.

He said the move would help the government to better oversee the sector as domestic workers had continued to work abroad illegally despite the ban being in place.

“During the ban [imposed by the government], domestic workers went abroad illegally. Making it legal will make it easier to control,” U Peter Nyunt Maung said.

Myanmar barred its citizens from working abroad in 2014 because of concerns that domestic workers were being abused and stuck in slave-like circumstances in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and elsewhere.

The ministry and the federation will meet to sign a contract with labor placement agencies in Singapore to try to protect Myanmar citizens who go there to do domestic work.

The Hong Kong government has been studying arrangements to recruit domestic workers from Myanmar and Cambodia since 2017 to meet growing demand for domestic workers to take care of its ageing population.

Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, the managing director of Technic Employment Service Centre Ltd, said details about the employment of Myanmar workers would be announced in May, news website reported.

Liu believed local employers would welcome the new source of workers as the availability of domestic workers in Hong Kong was been inadequate. She said employment agencies could provide training, including teaching Cantonese to workers from Myanmar.

But Betty Yung Ma Shan-yee, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers’ Association, voiced concern about language barriers.

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