Tuesday, April 30, 2013

If government wants to impose on maid (domestic helper) industry...

Just consider overtaking (or get involved) in the industry. Don't just throw policies at it and sit back waiting for another opportunity to introduce additional policies (only when something goes awry).

In my opinion, most of the policies in place protects helpers rather than both parties. This could have been a direct consequence of few cases of mistreatment (if not abuse) of helpers by irresponsible employers; but the blanket policies affects all employers (to the extent of being seen as skewed towards more protection to helpers than employers).

Not all households with maids are rich. Most of them have both working parents (with kids). It is a need, rather than want. So please don't assume households with maids are spoilt (and hence a tendency by government to wean this habit).

Cost of living in Singapore is high. It needs both parents working to lead a comparable comfortable lives as Singapore's neighbours. To own a home of two bedrooms (2+1) is not an easy task. To care for a kid is not an easy task. To care for elders are not easy task (considering the ripple effect of previous single child policy leaving most older generations with just a kid or two).

Is it possible for a household earning sgd 3k or less to break away from being at the lower rung of society? There is no saving (how can this household invest other than via cpf?), no free medical care etc... if even a single member of this household is afflicted by cancer or accident (needing surgery), the whole of the family's bank savings would be exhausted (hence there is mentality that if you are sick here, it's better to just die fast). Talk about insurance, the premium for whole household cost how much? How encompassing is the coverage (or how efficient is the buffer to prevent depleting a household's saving comes disaster)? How many households with sgd 3k or less have all their family members covered? Can a single medisave (from a single parent working) covers four or more family members (being considered here are older gen, spouse, and next gen)?

If there is kiasu mentality in Singapore, it is due to environmental factor triggering to the innate mechanism for survival and hence a behavioural changes catered for "fighting for survival". To propel next gen to leave the lower rung of society, both parents need to work in order to achieve this. That is a sacrifice from a family unit who planned for having kids and who planned ahead for their children's education. We are this type of family unit (although I realise there are other types who are more laid back).

Now, when we lament that less families nowadays are having kids, what are the problems or circumstances leading to this? Are they spoilt because these households only want handouts from national coffer? Could dangling more carrots help?

In my perspective, if you subject family units to a less conducive environment to have kids - you get just that... less kids. No matter how much extrinsic factors (e.g. viagra, good mood music, delicious food, or carrots etc.), you just get a short-term placebo effect. Once these subjects realise it's not working, they revert (or remit) to original state.

It's just too darn stressful to have kids. Who in their right mind would want to subject innocent children to stressful environment?

More returning to maid (aka domestic helper). Governments of countries catering domestic helpers are doing the right thing to protect their maids from being taken advantage by middlemen (aka agency). Not all agencies are bad, but some are and measures are taken to help prevent helpers from exploitation. Good for them.

In comparison, Singapore is not helping protect employers (aka households) from being victimized. To as salt to injury, why are we being imposed levy when the cost of having maid is getting higher and higher due to measures taken to protect helpers. Shouldn't Singapore be protecting needy households as well? Don't be misled by sensational news about the NS brat being pampered to the extent that his NS bag was carried by his maid. Instead, act on information based on statistics. I dare you to disprove that majority of households took maid for wants rather than needs.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Changi airport, beware... no printer

Don't go to the airport leaving behind (or missing) printouts important for departure or else you will be stuck.
My maid had a printout for ICA clearance for her flight home. She handed the document along with her e-ticket. After check in, the document was no where to be found. Asked the staff at the desk for help as we had the pdf copy in our email. The only suggestion was go to service counter on the lower floor for printing because there is no service at Silk Air counters.
At the customer service centre, the staff needed the pdf on a thumbdrive for printing. We told her it's accessible in our email account and asked if there is any computer terminal with printer. There is none.
Asked for alternative; the staff suggested business centre at Crowne Plaza. Went for it and that didn't work.
We ended up missing the flight and had to pay penalty for no-show at ~SGD150. The next available flight is next day at 7.50am. Good, that mean we'll have to travel from far west to far east early in the morning with a year old baby just to send of our maid....
It's our mistake to have lost the printed document, but what irks me about the whole thing afterwards were the following:
  1. Can't the customer service help us with this simple request as to print a document? We are more than happy to pay nominal fee for the service...
  2. I can't believe that the whole of Changi airport is lacking a simple computer terminal with printer. Are you kidding us? At least provide a service counter with such access! What a disappointment.

Monday, April 22, 2013

BO (aka body odour) forgivable but cigarette smoke not

Having a BO is not really a choice (although maintaining hygiene and utility of deodorant alleviates the problem), because genetic (pmid 20081888) , occupation and environment (e.g. high humidity) plays a role.
However, smoking is not! Smoking in public is an act of apathy and selfish self-indulgence. I can forgive people with body odour, but I tend to hate senseless smokers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Childish misuse of "Excuse me" ...

Kids, what can I say. They are adorable, but a pain too at times because they can be rude. As a parent, teacher or adult, it is challenging to show them proper conduct when in public. 

One example is the proper usage of "excuse me". To them, the term can be properly used, or misused. Some used it as a tool to "drive off" people, e.g. when there are a lot of people in a place and the kid wants quick and easy access, he just has to say "excuse me" repeatedly like a machine gun and sieve out from the crowd.
Other occasion for misusing "excuse me":

  1. In an exhibition, if a kid wants quick access to one of the exhibits/displays, but impatient to wait for the people in front to finish first, he just say "excuse me" and wedge to the front.
  2. In MRT platform, while people are queuing to board, a kid just has to say "excuse me" and sieve into the crowd to position himself at the front line.

I wonder if the above kids know that such behaviour is rude. If they are my kids, I would explain to them why it is improper... Same goes for being a tutor, teacher etc.

However, as an adult and stranger, it is difficult to "lecture" especially when the kid's parent(s) is around.
So, to these kids, let us just reply to them.... "You are excused (forgiven). Now go back to the line." if they misuse "Excuse me".