Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Maids redux: This breaks my heart knowing we have policies and a social culture that support or ignore such issues.

The Maid Trade - Singapore

Some of the more (imho) horrendous "rules" (assuming it varies from agency to another):

1) No relationships. "Practical", but would any civilized person tolerate controlling another's personal life? Do you think I would go to the US if I was told I was forbidden to have relationships with people there? The ugliest part of the video was the agency trainer publicly disparaging an Indian construction worker as ugly and not worthy to be a boyfriend.

2) Inequality. $200 for Indian maids, $300 for Thai maids? Discrimination by nationality?

3) No freedom to practice one's religion (even mainstream ones!!!)??? Will probably have to verify this ... seems like a "WTF moment" here considering how sensitive an issue religion is in Singapore.

4) Maids paying for their travel to Singapore.

5) Off-days discrimination for different races! Then again, off-days are treated as a privilege, not a right. It's like labor laws are totally not respected.


Temp said...

For more detailed discussions on these important topics, see:
Singapore Kopitiam

Twentyfour_sucks said...

Yes, it's modern slavery.
Americans might not work as hard as some S'poreans, so theoretically they have more time to do housework. But I think some S'poreans are just damn lazy and don't want to do their own housework, especially when it's so cheap to hire a maid (slave). If the maid's salary is raised to S$1000, guess how many S'porean families will have maids?

Chee Wai Lee said...

Hi and thanks for your comments.

Temp - I'll definitely go visit the forum.

And yes, I agree. It's modern slavery and I think the person in the video has a point ... I think one of the reasons the same has not happened to the Mexican servants here in the US (domestic help tends to be far more common in the South and California but not in the Midwest) is because they could unionize. Am not seeing that happening for Domestic help in Singapore ...

A short digression: America is no ideal society, but they have do some general traits we could emulate. For example, the government keep harping on how great our family values are and how individualistic Americans are. That's actually not true. One of the things that have impressed me a lot about Americans is how they value their own individual freedoms and yet would keep in touch or travel hundreds of miles to be with family for important occasions.