The days of slavery may be over but the racism over drawing lines between who’s more supreme and who’s not still continues to today. In a recent forum written in by an individual on the Straits Times (read here), the writer, Thng Tien Guan, requests that Singapore Government and eventually, the Singapore Parliament does not approve of the bill (when it is being drafted) which will allow maids in Singapore to be given a day off.
The writer justifies it by highlighting a few points:
- Government’s Responsibility
- Irresponsible Maids
In the first point, the writer states that whilst it is the Singapore Government’s wish for families to have more babies and elderly to be taken care of at home, rather than at a nursing home, The Maid is an essential assistance at home to help look after the baby and the elderly.
Whilst I agree that having a Maid would greatly assist a family in the above, the writer has distinctively made it clear that in taking care of children and the elderly, the Maid shouldn’t be given a day off. I find that absolutely ridiculous because the Maid was hired to assist, not to replace the role of the writer as the sole caretaker and guardian of the baby and the elderly in the writers’ family.
In the second point, the writer highlights that maids would only be working throughout the week because they want to pay off their debts/loan and would susceptible to immoral activities such as having affairs/relationships or even spending their hard-earned money unnecessarily.
If we have debts/loans, wouldn’t we all want to clear the debts/loans as fast as we can? I believe the same applies here. No one would want to remain in debt/loan for as long as they can. It’s outright ridiculous. And what about this immoral activity with affairs/relationships? People have a need to meet and connect with others and when they meet someone who’s able to provide them with their emotional needs, they tend to forge a relationship and this relationship could or might not turn out to be into an affair. What is more important is for the writer, as an employer to advise and provide this emotional support for the Maid who is far from the familiarity of family and friends. Taking away the day off won’t solve this issue, the Maid can still meet people when they go to the market to shop for groceries.
Finally, the final point made by the writer. That the Maids congregate at popular shopping district, Orchard Road would have a negative impact on Tourism because they are rowdy and hence, they shouldn’t be given a day off.
I think we need to reflect on how countries and societies and communities are formed. When individuals of a certain race/nationality/similarity first come to a new place, they’d seek for a community that they can form to have a sense of familiarity. Enclaves in Singapore were formed like that in the past and it will continue to. We had Chinatown for the Chinese, Little India for the Indians and Geylang for the Malays. And in this day and age, Lucky Plaza is an enclave for Filipinos whilst the Thais have their own at Golden Mile Complex.
Are we now a society that has grown so accustomed to Maids whom we call “Helpers”, that we aren’t able to look after our own children and parents? As much as the writer is incapable of managing his/her own household affairs, I believe that we need to give the Maid/Helper at least a day off from work for all the assistance that they have accorded to the family. They help to raise our children and care for our elderly with love and affection that we should be giving.
If the writer needs to be enlightened, I hope he/she will spare some time to watch the Oscar nominated movie, ‘The Help’, to have some sense of understanding about what your helper does. The movie is about maids who are entrenched in modern slavery, I fear for the maid working under the writer because the maid is probably enslaved.
Maybe if all maids dressed up like this, the writer will have a different concern.