The ruling for Muslim families to hire only Muslim maids, which has drawn brickbats from many, is merely a general guideline, newly-minted Immigration Department director-general Mustafar Ali said.
"This is just a general guideline with many exceptions and considerations," Mustafar said in a statement yesterday.
"The said circular is not a strict rule. I want to further assure all Muslim employers that their request, application or appeal will be given due consideration.
"Requests from all parties will be fairly attended to, accordingly," Mustafar is quoted as saying by news portal Free Malaysia Today.
He gave his assurance to all Muslim employers that their request, application or appeal would be given due consideration.
Mustafar, the former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission deputy commissioner (prevention), denied issuing the guideline, saying the general circular on the matter existed before he took office on Aug 1.
It was reported yesterday that an unnamed local maid agency was surprised by the Immigration Department's new instruction that Muslim families should not hire non-Muslim maids.
The department will continue to assist both employers and employees as before, Mustafar said.
MCA Religious Harmony Bureau chairperson Ti Lian Ker warned that this new guideline could cause additional cost, hardship and inconvenience to the people and should be avoided.