The Ministry of Manpower is launching a pilot scheme to allow four hundred Cambodian domestic workers in. It has invited employment agents to apply to join the scheme. The Straits Times reported that six agencies will be selected. (See Straits Times, 2 Feb 2013, Your next maid could be from… Cambodia)

The 400 will arrive from the middle to the end of the year, with the authorities keeping a close eye on their progress. If all goes well, Cambodia will be added to the list of approved source countries.

Singapore is currently facing a shortfall of Indonesian maids after agents in the country stopped recruiting in protest at a policy change by the Indonesian government that reduced their profits, the report said.

The pilot scheme follows eight years of talks between the Singapore and Cambodian governments, the newspaper reported. Among the stumbling blocks were concerns that many Cambodians speak no English and lack the eight years or more of education that maids need in order to work here. However, an estimated 15,000 Cambodian domestic workers have returned home after working in Malaysia, and they may have a smattering of English or Malay.

Agents expect Cambodian domestic workers to be paid the market rate of between $400 and $450 a month.

Here’s a photo from the Straits Times: