Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Maid - Those Who Refuse To Go Home And The Losing Employer

The idea of having someone to be with My Mother had been forwarded to Her many years ago.
But it was only around a month ago that She agreed.

Once My Mother agreed, Suri* and I, as I had blogged here, immediately searched one for her.
We could not afford to delay further, as generally it will take two weeks to familiarise new maids with their duties.
Possibly My Mother's minder is already around two weeks before the March school holiday, as Suri is to follow My Youngest Sister to China.


Last Saturday, at My Elder Sister's place, She holding a 'kenduri' and feast, was the first time that I saw My Mother's maid.
She is from Surabaya, but not the one Suri and I had previously chosen.

My Brother (the employer) was tied up with His schedule those few days, although things can be done online these days.
When things was finalised, the maid that had been chosen, was taken by an employer who lives opposite the maid agency shop-house.
For the past weeks, I had been commuting between Kelana Jaya in Selangor and JB.
So Suri did the choosing with My Elder Sister.
The maid, Nora*, looked confused and sad, the first time My Elder Sister and Suri saw her.

Suri was concerned with Nora's facial expression.

Suri, before she attends her business study class in the morning and higher secondary school class in the afternoon every Sunday, she had been an active volunteer at Indonesia School in Siglap for problem maids.

As she related to me on few occasions, maids who travel abroad to work, bringing along their unsettled problems back home, are likely to be problematic while at work.
It surprised me, as she sometimes was asked to give a talk, to give advice to these problematic maids.

I quote her familiar statement here,
"Not only we housemaids who have problems. 
Even governors, our employers and students too, have their fair share of problems..."

"Luahkan," she told Nora, as was told to Me by My Elder Sister.
Suri wanted Nora to free her problem.

Nora was four-months into her job, working for her employer in Jurong, when the employer's ex-maid decided to return to Singapore to continue working.
Nora was then returned to the agency, and had been without an employer for two days

A divorced mother in her early 30s, with three school going children in Indonesia, Nora is the sole breadwinner of her family.
Her father is bedridden, suffering from stroke.
She feels terribly sad and loss, with no employer in sight...


Why some maids prefer to return to their ex-employers after retuning home?
A lady I know in Singapore had said, she no longer need a maid when the maid's term expired, as her children are all grown up.

But barely few weeks after she was maidless, she (the maid) called the ex-employer.
She badly wanted to return to her old job.
The money she remitted home, for rebuilding the house in Wonosobo, Central Java, was used by the husband to marry a new wife.

The employer lady had advised her maid to delay the sending of money upon her return.
But the maid had not the slightest idea of her husband's infidelity.

The lady did contribute some money too, for the maid's dilapidated house.
She had been there, bringing along her children to see first hand, their minder's living condition.
The maid pleaded the lady to accept her again, and she relented.
The maid needed a roof above her head.
Since she has one in Singapore, she said, she has not the slightest idea to return home.

******      ******      ******

I was invited to a lunch by a good friend, at her mother's house in Woodlands.
The elderly lady's maid had been with her for ages, as I remember.
The maid's service is actually not needed.

The elderly lady stays with her flight attendant son.
My friend, with an only son in the army, had moved a floor above her mother, just a flight of staircase away.
But the maid gave 1001 excuses of not wanting to go home.
She even forgo her flight ticket, insisting to stay with the peaceful family, getting paid in a work-free environment.


Some maids I know, can go down on their knees, to beg to be allowed in Singapore.
Once they stepped into households that meet their needs, topped with compassionate employers, they hold tight to the God sent gift.   

Many maids are only too happy to leave their own family behind, choosing to live in a comfortable, cleaner and safe environment abroad, all expenses paid.  

Many domestic workers choose to work here for a free and easy, all paid for holiday, and with salary too!  
If they stay home, they choose to live a life of poverty and misery, not able to see a doctor during their sick days. 
By being a maid, a checkup for every six month is needed.  

Working in a factory back home, and staying in hostel, not much is left, after deducting food and lodging.  Thus many females aimed to work as maids overseas. 
With medical fees, food and lodging paid for by employers, loads off the shoulders for these domestic workers

University degree holders, do not mind to lower themselves, to earn a living.
Jobs are scarce back home, with even very much lower pay. 
Being a maid here, they have the freedom to choose their employer.
The focus of some of these women, their ultimate goal, is financial gain, and not on what is right.
Even if she becomes the victim of severe abuse, their financial gain goal is not risked, but likely to multiply. 


Laws in Singapore, despite all the brouhaha, surprisingly, are pro-maids. 
Read here:  

Maid Admits To Pinching Mentally-Disabled Girl  
By Gan Ling Kai 

SHE is a working mum who is away 10 hours a day.
So her three children, including her 17-year-old intellectually-disabled daughter, were left in the care of her Indonesian maid.
On Sept 25, the 52-year-old finance executive, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Ng, was about to take her daughter to the dentist when she noticed bruises on the girl's cheeks and the left side of her chest.
Her daughter, who has an IQ of 65, attends Minds Towner Gardens School, a special school.
Suspecting her maid was responsible for the injuries, Mrs Ng immediately called the police to her home and later took her daughter to Changi General Hospital.
The maid, Miss Fitriyani, 23, is now under investigation for the non-seizable offence of voluntarily causing hurt.
The maid was taken to the police station on Sept 25 for questioning.
She has since been released and is now under the supervision of the maid agency.
When The New Paper met Miss Fitriyani, 23, on Monday, she admitted she had hurt the girl.
Touching her own cheeks, she said in English: "Yes, I pinched both sides."
Miss Fitriyani also apologised to Mrs Ng and explained that she was frustrated because the girl refused to go home after alighting from the school bus.
She said the girl had also soiled herself.
As for the bruise on the girl's chest, Miss Fitriyani claimed she had wanted to help her bathe, but the girl refused to take off her clothes.
"I only tried to move her arms away so that I can (remove her clothes)," gestured Miss Fitriyani.
She claimed she had only brushed her hand lightly against the girl's body.
Mrs Ng said the doctor gave her daughter painkillers and the swelling and bruises diminished a few days later.
She said: "I know it may be a little challenging to take care of my daughter, but how could the maid vent her frustration on (the girl)?
"Right from the beginning, I had indicated to the maid agency and the maid that my daughter is a special child. But instead of getting extra care, she was abused."
Miss Fitriyani had been working with the Ngs since August.
The Ngs have employed more than 10 maids over the past 11 years. Mrs Ng claimed her previous maids had no major problems caring for her daughter.Her other two children are aged 11 and 21.
When asked whether the bruises hurt, Mrs Ng's daughter only smiled sheepishly.
Mrs Ng said she cried in frustration when she first noticed the injuries.
She added: "The worst part is that she is defenceless. She couldn't even communicate properly to me that she was hurt."
She Still Has To Pay The Maid's Upkeep
SO WHO is responsible for the maid in a situation such as Mrs Ng's?
Since Sept 26, Miss Fitriyani has been under the supervision of the maid agency.
Yet, Mrs Ng is still paying for her daily expenses - $10 a day.
As of Oct 11, she paid the agency $160 for the 16 days that the maid was there. And Mrs Ng faces maintenance bills because Miss Fitriyani is still in Singapore.
In addition, if the maid runs away, the employer may forfeit the $5,000 security bond, depending on how much effort has been put in to locate the maid.
If the employer has an insurance policy to cover the bond, which Mrs Ng does, the amount the employer forfeits would be less. In Mrs Ng's case, she will lose only $250 if Miss Fitriyani runs away.
Mrs Ng said she is frustrated that the maid is still her responsibility even though she does not work for her any more.
Technically, the maid remains under Mrs Ng's employment during her stay here, said the maid's agent, Mr Ricki Kang Kok Hwa.
Mr Kang, 49, who runs Amorie Employment Services, is arranging for a maid to replace Miss Fitriyani.
Mrs Ng doesn't want to send Miss Fitriyani back to Indonesia.
She said on Monday: "Police investigations are ongoing, and I want to see justice done."
Responding to queries from The New Paper, the police would only confirm that a report had been lodged against Miss Fitriyani and investigations are ongoing.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said Miss Fitriyani's work permit was cancelled and a Special Pass was issued on Wednesday.
The MOM spokesman added that in general, foreign workers who are required to assist with investigations into offences are issued with a Special Pass for as long as their presence is required.
But even after cancellation of the work permit, an employer is still responsible for and has to bear the cost of the worker's upkeep and maintenance until she is repatriated.
For cases such as Mrs Ng's, if the worker goes missing during investigation, MOM will decide, on a case-by-case basis, the appropriate amount of security bond to be forfeited.
Such an arrangement doesn't pacify Mrs Ng, who feels that it does not protect the employer's welfare.
"My family and I are the victims. Why do I need to pay for the food of the (alleged) offender?" said Mrs Ng.
Is there a better way to manage cases like this?
Unfortunately, no, said Mr Edmund Pooh, in his 20s, the manager of Universal Employment Agency.
He said he understood Mrs Ng's rationale for keeping the maid here. But she will have to continue supporting
the maid because she is still the employer's responsibility.
After all, he added, "the maid is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law". 

This article was first published in The New Paper - Monday, October 18, 2010.

******      ******      ******

Maids can come and go as they please.
Employers are required by Ministry Of Manpower to pay for the air ticket, even if the maid has only worked for only one day, if they choose not to work in Singapore any more.
Maids do not have to pay anything.

To the employers' eyes, these maids, even with bad attitudes, they have nothing to lose.
Hence, they are not motivated to be sincere, fully committed to their job.
If employers are unlucky, engage domestic helpers with poor performance, they suffer not only in term of monetary loss, but mentally stress, too.
Maids are capable of making their employers' lives miserable. 
There are already many faulty maids, that squeeze dry their employers' finance and de-stabilise the family institution, even when employers are not at fault. 

If the maid run away, worst suffering looms around.
At stake are the non refundable high premium insurance (around S$250), the S$5000 bond and the maid's upfront loan, paid for, by the employer.

Despite some domestic helpers mess up many families with their irresponsible behavior, MOM protects them.

MOM sees the locals as criminals based on some traitors and false allegations of foreign maids.


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Ummie, very interesting post.
Good to read your mom will be cared for....
There are good maids as well the not so good ones.
But yes, they leave family behind to seek a living abroad.
And quite often are bullied or abused.
We have had our fair share of reading in the papers of maids being bullied.

Fortunately there is a law that protects them.
And today a lot try to get into Canada, work 3 years, get an education, get a PR, bring their family over.
One reason there's a big population of Philippines maids, Indons too here.

Sometimes I cannot imagine the stress these maids from other countries endure leaving young families back home.

I had one maid, very good, hardly any work as I was hardly home.
One day saw her feeling down and moist eyes. Her youngest was down with a bad fever and crying for her.
I rushed her to the airport, paid for her flight, told her to only come back when her baby okay.
Yes, I do feel it about people trying to earn a living this way.
Best regards, Lee.

Ummie said...

You are a very good employer, Mr Lee.
Your maids must be those fortunate ones.
But some of them thought, receiving good deeds & treatment are their rights, part of the norm.
I've seen many 'return honey with vinegar', hard to swallow facts.

I was talking with Suri* couple of weeks ago about her future.
She said, if she is to become a maid all over again, she will work in Canada.

Why so far?
I asked her knowing her circle of relatives & friends are working in region around here, Hong Kong & Taiwan.
She claimed, maids in Canada are degree(?) holders.
That paper-chase girl...

Yes, Canada's magnetic force is great to these people.

Keep well, Mr Lee.