Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chambermaid vs foreign maid - got difference meh?

I was thinking aloud about what our Singapore leaders have said when it hit me. It's quite baffling actually.

Here I have SM Lee justifying the obsence salaries of ministers. To drive home the point, he said a very controversial statement (more like fear mongering):

"You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you'll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again... and your asset values will disappear, your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is, your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries, foreign workers." - (Straits Times, 5 April 2007

Then I have PM Lee saying this recently on 8 Jan 09 at the AARP-Council: Reinventing Retirement Asia. Quote here:

"Sometimes, it is family attitudes that need to change. Let me share an example: The hotel industry needs attendants to clean rooms and change the bed linen. Older women can do such work well, and hotels are also keen to hire them. However, hotels have told us that these women tend to drop out from the training programmes, often under pressure from their children who do not want their parents to work as room attendants. So, the hotels have to hire foreign workers to fill the vacancies.

This is a delicate matter of face and status. The job of hotel attendant may be a humble one, but it is honourable employment, and if one can do it conscientiously and competently, there is no reason for the family to feel ashamed, or for society to look down on attendants or their families. We should not discourage anyone from taking on such jobs. To do so would limit his options to be active, engaged and to earn an income."

Being a maid is a shameful thing. But working as a chambermaid is not. Huh?

To bring fear, you give me a glimpse of what happens if we have a bad government. Now with recession, you encourage my grandmas, aunties and perhaps even mother to work as chambermaids.

Maybe it's because the government can no longer feed them. Or perhaps the wonderful retirement plan (ie CPF) is a ticking bomb waiting to blow up in our faces.

So this scenario begs the questions:
Am I paying millions for a bad dose of government already? If yes, why am I still paying?

Aren't the women in Singapore working as chambermaids akin to being maids in foreign countries? Is there really a difference then?

Of course, a chambermaid does not look after your kids or stay with you. But both are earning an income decently. Both pack up after the occupants leave the place.

So there aren't many differences, don't you agree?

Let's move further on the 'maid in foreign country' topic to prove my point.

What happens if a foreign country is willing to pay you a higher salary to be a chambermaid for their hotel? Are you considered a talent, or just a maid working in a foreign country?

You see the line blurs significantly. But with these contradicting statements and controversial claims from my million-dollar ministers, it's just black and white to justify their policies. One day black, the next day white.

No wonder PM Lee had mentioned that not many could understand and grasp the policies. I reckon only those bordering on mental insanity might still have a faint hope.

Then what is so different between working as a chambermaid and a maid in a foreign country?

The answer is basically nothing. Wherever pays more.

My advice to these million-dollars minister confusing me is perhaps Singapore can no longer pay your salaries. Perhaps you should move to where you will be paid higher.

And be the first Singaporean minister working in a foreign country.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me only our PAP politicians are noble professions. Any other politician whether in Singapore or other countries would have been corrupt to the core. Especially some would stoop so low as steal a few postage stamps from our Govt.

And maybe some smartarse PAP Minister should explain the noble act of our Govt Ministers somehow like this :

"It has been very noble of we Ministers to have contributed so much of our time and energy towards building Singapore for what it is today ? The million dollar annual salaries that we are getting are really peanuts compared to what Marcos or Chen Shui Bian are able to get away with.

Mrs Goh was right to say it was peanuts afterall.

redbean said...

i think it is a good idea to recycle the oldies so that they can continue to work forever. i think they are not restricting only to chambermaids. all positions can continue to employ oldies for as long as they are breathing.

Anonymous said...

Got difference!

People will scold their maids.

But nobody dares to scold the toilet cleaner!

I think toilet cleaners get more respect. :P

Chee Wai Lee said...

Good article.

Our leaders often use scare-tactics without any sound basis. Unfortunately, it often works ... well ... because it is a scare-tactic. Not everyone will sit down, pore through what exactly the minister said and conclude that he/she is actually using a spurious example to scare us.

Having said that, LHL is half-right. I do not trust our current crop of opposition leaders to run the country (not entirely their fault though). They need to show:

i) governing intent - currently completely missing.

ii) some inkling of a plan for taking over governance - smooth handing over of the civil service, contingencies in the event of a lack of PAP cooperation etc ...

iii) some guiding plan for the nation - currently rather vague and "in the clouds" for most opposition parties imho.

iv) some idea over *who* would or can take (capable of taking) over various government portfolios, even offering some of these positions to capable PAP incumbents if necessary.

Without the above conditions satisfied, I cannot see how I can feel comfortable voting an opposition party into a position to govern the country (not that I, as an individual, can do this alone).

Anonymous said...

the difference is that LHL is referring to your mother, LKY was referring to your wife and children. if they both can have it their way, your mum, wife and children will all be working as maids.

pinto said...

@Chee Wai Lee: On point (iii), I recall WP's manifesto being quite detailed during the last election. It was PAP's manifesto that was vague and up in the clouds. That said, they have the advantage of having all the systems in place and in their control.

You're right about the other points though. I've always thought it would be beneficial for the opposition to have equivalent shadow government positions, even if they are not MPs, so that they can offer counter-solutions to what is offered by the prevailing government.

Anonymous said...

i propose that all our elderly be reprocessed into soylent green!!!
See... i can be a multi-millionaire minister too...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone here actually made a bed in the hotel before?

Next time, try one before u happily encourage your oldish wife or mother to take up the job.

Ask Mdm Kwa to set the example.

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