29 Jul 2015

Mental health of domestic maids (FDW)

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Maid jailed for scissors killing, Mypaper, 28 Jul
A 25 years old domestic maid from Myanmar got 13 years' jail yesterday for killing her employer's 87-year-old mother-in-law.  Than Than Win pleaded guilty in the High Court to a charge of culpable homicide for stabbing Yong Wan Lan with a pair of scissors at Springdale Condominium in Hindhede Walk, Bukit Timah, on March 4 last year.

Her charge was reduced from murder as she had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health to be suffering from severe depression with psychotic symptoms at the time.  The maid had been working for the family for more than a year, and was alone at home with the elderly woman when she became increasingly angry over a scolding she received from Madam Yong that morning.

The maid got the largest pair of scissors she could find from a kitchen drawer, then repeatedly stabbed the senior, who was too frail to retaliate.  After killing Madam Yong, the maid washed herself in the bathroom with her clothes on. She then left the apartment, drenched and barefoot, and wandered around the estate. She got a saw from a parked truck and tried to cut her neck, but was stopped by a worker.

During sentencing, Justice Chan Seng Onn noted that the maid had viciously attacked a very elderly grandmother she was supposed to help look after.  The judge noted that she inflicted at least 21 stab wounds on Madam Yong, two of which were fatal injuries to her heart and lungs.


Culpable homicide carries a sentence of up to 20 years' jail or life imprisonment.


========== Winter: According to activists, not allowing FDWs to have full access to their mobile phones is a major cause for FDW to develop mental issues 心理不健康.  Most modern maids have off days to unwind, plenty of chances to get connected face to face with others eg neigbours so why place them in limelight .... indicating employers didn't treat them well or are unreasonable bullies/tyrants??  

Just because of mobile phone, maid felt her life is meaningless without 24/7 access?  What's the point of recruiting FDW if her intention is to have fun at employer's expense, spend time doing her personal things more than completing her chores to employer's satisfaction, look after children, etc? 

Are FDWs, MOM and activists doing us a disservice?  Do we deserve to be treated like ATM machines?  Why FDWs cannot take work stress, why nobody says Sporeans are too stressed at work, too many restrictions/policies and then do something for us by eating into govt's budget as and when we need?  Why made us fleeced by FDWs, source countries and agencies?

FDWs can cause us financial losses and miseries, why they can do it to us without any penalty?  Whose job to ensure FDWs recruited are truly here to work and not to use stress or her mobile phone as excuses of underperform?  

Extracted from here:
"The growing presence of mental illness is a very real and worrying trend in Singapore and the world in general today.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 350 million individuals in the world suffer from depression, with one million cases resulting in suicide every year.

Individuals who suffer from mental illness such as depression do not experience it by choice. It is not bound by religion, race or gender. It can happen to anyone at any stage of life."  

Why maids facing mental health received better care and attention in Spore, at the expense of FDW employer cum full-time employee of a company??  Why maids can be excusable/unable to cope with work stress? Aren't FDWs too pampered by MOM and activists?  

Foreign domestic workers more likely to develop mental health problems, 8 Mar 2015, TODAY
A new study has found that foreign domestic workers (FDW) have double the risk to develop mental health problems as compared to the general Singapore population.

The study, conducted by Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) and revealed today (March 8) showed that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the 670 FDWs surveyed, are facing poor mental health.

This means that more than two in 10 FDW have poor mental health as compared to a study conducted by the Institute of Mental Health in 2010 which showed that at least one in 10 people in Singapore which will be stricken by mental illness in their lifetime.

Several factors such as working and living conditions proved to be significantly related to impact a FWD’s mental health, said the study.  “Having sufficient rest, one’s own room to sleep in, a stable social network and adequate nutritional and medical attention are crucial for good mental health in FDWs,” it added.

The study showed that the most severe symptoms amongst those surveyed were psychoticism – a mental state of “losing contact with reality” which includes symptoms such as hallucinations – depression and interpersonal sensitivity – which means they feel inferior or inadequate as compared to others.

“There are clear correlations between FDWs’ mental health issues and exploitative, restrictive and/or abusive working and living conditions,” said the study.  The survey also revealed that more than half (51 per cent) of the participants experienced some form of abusive behaviour such as yelling or screaming and even name-calling.


The survey was conducted between Nov 2013 and May last year. Almost half (48.1 per cent) of the FDWs surveyed – with an average age of 33 – were from Indonesia and more than a third (34.7 per cent) were from the Philippines. The other nationalities surveyed also include those from Myanmar.


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A survey of nearly 700 foreign domestic workers here has found that more than two in 10 respondents are suffering from poor mental health.

Releasing the findings of the survey yesterday, the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) said such a prevalence rate indicates that maids working here are doubly at risk of developing mental health problems compared with Singapore’s general population.  The survey was conducted between November 2013 and May last year. The respondents came from Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar, among other countries, and their average age was 33.  

Based on answers to questions on well-being — such as whether they had thoughts of ending their life, whether they feel “nervousness or shakiness inside” and whether they felt afraid — HOME concluded that about 24 per cent of the 670 maids surveyed have poor mental health.

The most severe symptoms were for depression and psychoticism, which is a mental state of losing contact with reality. The symptoms for depression include persistent “low” moods and self-esteem as well as loss of interest, pleasure and hope, while those for psychoticism include hallucinations.

The survey also looked at the working conditions of maids here. It found that about half the respondents had experienced some form of abusive behaviour, such as being yelled or screamed at, or being subject to name-calling. Forty per cent did not have a weekly day off and 67 per cent had their passport held by their employers. About a third (32 per cent) experienced difficulties due to language barriers when communicating with their employers.

HOME said there were correlations between the workers’ mental health issues and exploitative, restrictive and abusive working and living conditions. Noting this, it said in the survey report that workers should have sufficient rest, adequate attention from employers on their nutritional and medical needs, their own room to sleep in and a stable social network.

Signs of mental health problems employers can look out for include emotional outbursts, feelings of depression or unhappiness, quietness or withdrawal.

HOME also said workers should be encouraged to be proactive and to approach friends, family and organisations such as HOME for help when they experience distress, have family concerns or a mental health problem.

They should also learn the language of the employer, which is typically English or Mandarin. Employers should learn some useful phrases of their domestic workers’ native language, maintain open channels of communication and treat them professionally and with respect.

Meanwhile, HOME said the Government should make verbal abuse a reportable offence and communicate a zero-tolerance stance towards the abuse of domestic workers in any form.

HOME executive director Jolovan Wham said the organisation has seen cases of domestic workers seeking help for mental-health related issues.

In such instances, the organisation would send them to Silver Ribbon, a non-profit organisation which advocates against the stigma of mental illness and encourages early treatment. In more severe cases, they would be referred to the Institute of Mental Health.


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'Possessed' maid eats employer's pet kitten, The Star/Asia News Network Malaysia, 8 Jun 2014
A maid in Sibu, Malaysia has given new meaning to the term "crazy cat lady".  The allegedly "possessed" maid ate her employer's pet kitten alive on Thursday, leaving the remains strewn in front of the house.

Upon the gruesome discovery, the house owner confronted the maid, who had apparently been acting weirdly for the past two weeks.  "When I queried her, she told me she had eaten the kitten," she said.  Later, she went berserk, compelling us to tie her up," said the female employer, as reported in a local daily.


The employer promised the maid, who is from a neighbouring country, that she would be allowed to return home the next day.  That night, the maid spent the night tied up in the family car, outside the house compound.


Her employer was quoted as saying that the maid appeared normal the next day and was then untied.  "I took her to buy chicken rice at Ramin Way around 10.30am," she said.  "After I got the food, she refused to get into the car and created a scene.  "She ran amok. She then got into the car and threw things out. She also bit an ornamental tree," she said.


When a policeman tried to handcuff the maid, she bit his arm.  The maid was eventually sent to Sibu Hospital in a straight-jacket and with her face covered to prevent her from spitting at people.  The employer said the episode had traumatised the family, and added that she had vivid flashbacks of the torn skin of the kitten in front of her house.



Facebook comments:
Mahdiyyah Mahomed - Some people treat maids very bad and don't give them enough to eat, before you judge the maid please get both sides of the story.


Elinor Reboso Arintoc - some employers just took for granted d fact that without their househelp, their house is a total mess. try treating them as a family member and surely, evrything will be in harmony and peace... that maid might have been hungered and it affected her behavior.


Milanie Masangya Delarosa - Some employer treat maids very bad and don't give them enough food they never treat them as like there own family if u are good to ur maid ur maid will treat u good also. Like my madam she always treat me like her own family we eat together and she always as me if im feeling okie thats why God well always bless them hope all the employer is the same with my employers God bless u all.


May Lam - What an absolute tragedy...clearly this domestic worker needed psychiatric help. But why on earth would you tie her up in a car - surely they should have called the police as she should be committed into a safer environment such as a hospital.


Alison Natalya - Whenever a maid commit a crime like this scenarios suddenly alot of "maids" experts come up excuses for them. But when a maid ill-treat a child n was caught on CCTV all these so called "experts" also suddenly disappear.


Qubeley Tan - Precisely, somehow they know she was somehow abused and ill-treated and it always justifies such behaviour. No prizes for guessing the occupation of such "experts'


LeeHana Sweetie - Unless the owner didnt give her much food to eat. Its also can be the fault of the owner. For not taking good care of their maids.


Eugene Wong - Before you engage a maid...I strongly suggest you put the maid through a psychometric or personality test...even before they come to the country...this is to access if they are sound or unsound and please dont ask the recruitment agency to do it cause most of them work with illegal human trafficking syndicates to get your maids...they can even fake passports...fake credentials...even lie to immigration and embassy to bring them in. The indonesian maid we hired who comes from surabaya from a katong shopping centre maid agency...lied about her passport...fake her age...fake her past enployment and even help lie to immigration and the embassy. I suggest all be careful..


Jaybie Bautista - She got crazy maybe due to not good treatment from the employer, no food to eat and maybe treat inhuman, poor thing, good bless u


Natalie Tan Li Min - I don't believe that the maid is possessed! She has mental illness and need medical treatment


Ronald Ko - If your employer not provide enough food for you, will you eat a kitten alive?


Vasantha Shan - Yah, maid not given enough food. Very good reason for eating a life kitten. Pls lah, how can you ppl accept such excuses. She is not in a jungle or anything like tat. She is a maid in somebody's house. Nobody needs to tell her where to find food in a place she is working.


Maria Sina - on Eating a live cat? That is called "SURVIVOR"


Camille Frances Boudville -It breaks my heart to read articles like these. Animal cruelty has become a common crime that is no worse than murder of a human. Rest in peace sweet kitten 



Uma Shawn - Oh my nowadays even when a maid eats a live cat the blame falls on the employer.In what ways does it justify that she eats a cat for her hunger?Poor kitty:(



When a maid is mentally unsound, employer faces the losses and inconveniences.  If your loved ones is hurt or killed by FDW, how many people/strangers/activists will shred tears or feel sad?  How many will say you're not at fault, it is MOM and agency who are at fault for not doing proper screening and imposing stricter recruitment guidelines/exercise due diligence?

Activists tend to claim maids became mentally unsound due to bad employers, abused, not enough rest & friends, too young (underaged), employers are not understanding & kind, Spore has too high living standards & expectations from the poor girls and/or we didn't give maids enough time to settle down & learn/pick up slowly (months and year).  Do we, middle income earner-employers have the grounds or luxury to spoon feed those not cheap live-in maids?  Which company can spare you time or give lots of leave so that you can be away and train FDW leisurely?



This MOM spokeman Hawazi is not keen to think about us, our dilemma and difficulties.  If one fine day MOM decides that maids should be scrutinised, the costs will be high on employers.  Nobody will be keen to know that employers are already paying agency a lot of money.  Maid paid agency to get a juicy job in Spore.  I paid a FDW to be my good helper, a kind caregiver to my child and don't give me headaches.  As the middleman, shouldn't maid agencies do something to avoid unhappiness, playgirls or mentally unstable applicants?  Agencies are the main point of contact for both FDW and Employer so how can they walk away and just take in easy profits?



Winter: These FDWs seemed like having mental issues.  But employers are not spared, they get the miseries and financial losses due to such maids.  Agencies need to face any losses or inconvenience too!  Employers who are trying to be nice or had been nice but were bitten by maids are the ones who are crying!

Want to hire a maid, face the music!  This is the punishment MOM is giving employers.  Those who are bad employers won't feel these unfairness.  

What about those maids who 'committed suicide' ie attempt to run away to fall to her death, eg above?  All I can say, the law is not on employers' side, extremely unfair.  All mentally unsound or bad maids need not face any consequences or equal financial losses.  You cannot take work stress, do you tell your company/bosses or try commit suicide?  You don't but maid as an employee is 'entitled' to such hooligan tactic and HOME/activists are backing them for using excuses such as missing family, can't take work stress, not given enough rest, not mentally prepared to fully deliver the jobscope as FDW, etc.

Other countries will try to protect their citizens' interest but in Spore, the policies showed foreigners are more important! 
How can I not be anti-PAP?
What and How did PAP (govt) try to help a person who is a special needs parent cum FDW's employer, trying hard to hold a full-time job in order to cope with Spore high living standards?


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Health screenings for maids, 10 Mar 2014, The New Paper
Citing recent murders allegedly involving foreign domestic workers (FDWs) with psychological problems, Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam on Friday asked for mandatory psychological health tests for new FDWs.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Hawazi Daipi referred to the existing mandatory six-monthly health screenings and said it was "impractical to mandate a wide-ranging set of medical tests for all employers".  He said: "Individual employers with specific concerns should send their FDW for other suitable medical tests."

"Please think of the employers for a change," she said.  Mr Hawazi replied: "Mrs Chiam said that we have been giving her the same answer. I remember her asking the same question.  "The issue remains the same, that it is not very easy to detect a potential foreign domestic worker with psychological problems. We may be able to detect the worst cases."  He again referred to the compulsory health screening for FDWs, through which the doctor may be able to detect any psychological problem.

"On the cases that Mrs Chiam has referred to, especially the two recent cases, they are still under investigation by the police. I don't think we should comment on that," he said.


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Mental health test for maids, The Straits Times, 14 Jan 2014
The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore is calling for psychological testing of maids before they arrive here, in a bid to raise the quality of workers.  Embassy counsellor Sukmo Yuwono told The Sunday Times that discussions on this issue with Indonesia's government body overseeing the deployment of foreign workers began late last year and are ongoing.

The push for such testing comes after recent high-profile murder cases involving maids in Singapore and elsewhere, he added.  Indonesian maids Nurhayati and Tuti Aeliyah were charged with the homicides of their employers' daughters in 2010 and late last year respectively.

"We learnt from some of the maids' murder cases especially, not just here but also in the Middle East and Malaysia, and we think that implementing psychological tests could go towards preventing such acts," said Mr Sukmo.  Indonesians make up about half of Singapore's foreign domestic worker (FDW) population, which numbers more than 211,000. There have been at least 16 reported homicide cases involving maids since 2002, and 12 of them are Indonesian.

Mr Sukmo, a lawyer by training, believes "the primary reason for these acts is mental, mostly depression", followed by underage issues and problems with employers. But weeding out potential criminals would only be a by-product of psychological testing.  Mr Sukmo said such testing would also help Indonesian agencies determine whether candidates are suited for the demanding nature of maids' work, carried out in foreign lands and strangers' homes, and often comprising caregiving for children or the elderly.

Improved selection procedures would, in turn, raise the quality of Indonesian maids coming here, and put the embassy in a better position to seek an increase in maids' minimum wage later this year, he said.  Indonesia made rule changes in 2012 to ensure its maids are paid at least $450 a month.  The plan is to begin psychological testing first for maids coming to Singapore, then extend it to those heading to other places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) requires maids to pass a medical examination before issuing them with work permits, but the exam mainly screens for infectious diseases. Psychological testing is not a key component.  "Given the different reasons employers have for engaging an FDW, it is impractical to prescribe a comprehensive standard for medical fitness," an MOM spokesman told The Sunday Times.

"Employers are also free to send the FDW for any other suitable tests before commencing with employment of the FDW." Mr William Chew, executive director of the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training, supports having one more layer of screening.  "Everybody benefits," he said. "You want to make sure the FDW coming here has the right mindset and mental health to do a job like this."

Mr Edmund Pooh, managing director of maid agency Universal Employment Agency, favours such testing but is concerned about how the additional costs would be distributed. He suggested keeping the cost low to encourage the practice of testing. He also urged the MOM "to implement regular feedback sessions" with maids after arrival as their mental health could change under the stresses of the job.

Psychologist Anja Wessels, lead investigator for an FDW mental health survey here, cautioned that testing would not be a foolproof measure to prevent criminal acts but was "a step in the right direction".  "When looking at mental health, there are several adverse factors. Beyond genetics, there are also poverty and low education levels," she said.

"Compared with FDWs of other nationalities, those from Indonesia tend to be less educated and of poorer backgrounds, hence more pre-disposed to these risk factors."  In addition, a significant number of Indonesian maids come here without being vetted, said Mr Sukmo. The Indonesian Labour Ministry records showed last year that about 30 per cent or 36,000 of the 120,000 Indonesian maids in Singapore were directly hired by employers who did not engage agents.

MP Zaqy Mohamad, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, said psychological testing is "definitely worth considering, especially as it would give employers peace of mind".


Read:
New maid killed employer
Indonesian maid charged with murder of 16 year old girl

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Maids turn suicidal, 17 Jan 2014, MyPaper
At least three maids who have attempted suicide - two by cutting their wrists and the third by swallowing a bottle of diabetes medication which caused her to go into a coma - have knocked on the door of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) for help.

To gain a better understanding of the mental health of domestic workers here, the civil-society group is studying the mental stresses faced by 400 maids here.  Home's chief, Ms Bridget Tan, said that the group hopes to use the findings to recommend changes in government policies, laws and regulations to better protect the mental well-being of such workers.

The study began in November and was prompted by growing concern over the current situation.
While such extreme cases of attempted suicide are fortunately few and far between, Ms Tan said that complaints of homesickness and verbal abuses from employers have remained common over the years. "(These) cause the women to become dispirited and unable to cope with daily chores," she said.

Eight out of 10 maids who approach Home for help come with stress-related problems
The study, which consists of 104 survey questions, is being conducted by volunteers.
It touches on topics such as working conditions and employer and family relationships. The study also attempts to discern whether one might be displaying symptoms associated with poor mental health.  The organisation has been reaching out to domestic workers by distributing fliers at popular congregation points, as well as at its events and its school.

Maids with mental-health issues have made the headlines in the past.
In 2005, a Filipino maid killed a fellow maid who owed her $2,000, later dumping her body parts at Orchard MRT station and MacRitchie Reservoir. She was later found to be mentally unsound at the time of the killing.  In that same year, an Indonesian maid - later diagnosed as moderately depressed - shoved her employer out of a window after she was chided, killing the woman.

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Send maids for psychiatric evaluation, 2 Mar 2014, New Straits Times Malaysia
Families should send maids for psychiatric evaluation if they suspect something is amiss.  This better safe than sorry approach could prevent unwanted occurrences, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.

Referring to the tragedy in Taman Sri Putra, Sungai Buloh, earlier this week, when an Indonesian maid slit the throats of two children under her care before killing herself, Rohani said apart from the maid's physical health, employers should also be mindful of the mental well-being of the hired help.

In that incident, the victims' family had claimed that the maid, identified only as Agnes, was affectionate with the children and had displayed no signs of psychological.  Rohani said the maid could have shown signs of psychological problems, but it could have gone undetected.

"The parents are understandably traumatised. We have done what we can to ensure that they are in stable condition to help them come to terms with their loss," she said.  Rohani said hiring a maid was a huge task as it involved caring for a family, especially children.  "In most companies, prospective employees get a three-month period before they are confirmed. But the same isn't practised when it comes to maids.

"Maid agencies also play a pivotal role.

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Screen maids and bosses for mental health: maid association, The Star/Asia News Network Malaysia, 27 Feb 2014

This comes in light of the gruesome case involving an Indonesian maid who allegedly slit the throats of two stepbrothers, aged one and five, before killing herself in Sungai Buloh on Tuesday.

"Currently, maids from Indonesia undergo general medical check-ups by the Indonesian authorities before being sent to Malaysia.  "However, this does not include mental health screening. It should be mandatory for both parties - the maid and employer," he said yesterday.  Engku Ahmad advised employers to go through the proper channels to employ maids and avoid resorting to illegal means, which may lead them to hire untrained and unsuitable maids.

He said Mama planned to start a one-day orientation course for maids and their employers this year to prevent misunderstandings between both parties.  "Most employers do not know how to manage their maids and give proper orders to them. The course will help foster a better work relationship between them," he said.

Malaysian Asso­ciation of Foreign Maid Agencies president Jeffrey Foo said about 100,000 maids were brought into the country via the Journey Perform (JP) Visa, which was no longer allowed in Malaysia.  "These women have not gone through proper training and thus are not suitable to work as maids. They are like 100,000 time bombs waiting to explode in similar ways," he said.

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Currently, a first-time maid must go for a health screening for tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis and malaria within 14 days of arrival here, to ensure that she does not have these infectious diseases and is generally fit to work.

She must then go for a six-monthly health screening for these diseases and to check that she is not pregnant.  However, as some maids may come from complicated backgrounds, such as broken or abusive families, or have been abused by previous employers, they may not be in the right frame of mind to work for certain groups of people.


For example, to protect employers, all first-time maids should go for a mental health check before being employed. If a maid is found to have mental health issues, she should go for three- or six-monthly checks.  If her situation does not improve even after treatment, then the maid agency should warn the employer or, better still, repatriate the maid and find a new one for the employer at no extra cost.

Such checks would be especially important for maids who have to care for the elderly, the mentally infirm, people with disabilities or those with low IQ.  If the maid passes her mental health check, she would not need to go for the periodic checks, unless the employer finds that her psychological health has changed significantly, for example, from being a bubbly person to a hot-tempered one.

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Maid agencies must ensure maids are fit to work here, TODAY, 15 Apr 2014
I read with disappointment and sadness that a foreign domestic worker has been charged with the murder of her employer. (“Parents of maid charged with murder to travel to S’pore to assist in probe”; April 11)

Maid agencies in Singapore have a duty to ensure that all maids are physically and mentally fit, as well as trained, before they work here. Their ages should also be verified as there have been reports of maids who are younger than the age stated in their passport.  If not, more of such crimes would surely recur.

What maids did? Part 5


Maid jailed for scissors killing, Mypaper, 28 Jul
A 25 years old domestic maid from Myanmar got 13 years' jail yesterday for killing her employer's 87-year-old mother-in-law.  Than Than Win pleaded guilty in the High Court to a charge of culpable homicide for stabbing Yong Wan Lan with a pair of scissors at Springdale Condominium in Hindhede Walk, Bukit Timah, on March 4 last year.

Her charge was reduced from murder as she had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health to be suffering from severe depression with psychotic symptoms at the time.  The maid had been working for the family for more than a year, and was alone at home with the elderly woman when she became increasingly angry over a scolding she received from Madam Yong that morning.

The maid got the largest pair of scissors she could find from a kitchen drawer, then repeatedly stabbed the senior, who was too frail to retaliate.  After killing Madam Yong, the maid washed herself in the bathroom with her clothes on. She then left the apartment, drenched and barefoot, and wandered around the estate. She got a saw from a parked truck and tried to cut her neck, but was stopped by a worker.

During sentencing, Justice Chan Seng Onn noted that the maid had viciously attacked a very elderly grandmother she was supposed to help look after.  The judge noted that she inflicted at least 21 stab wounds on Madam Yong, two of which were fatal injuries to her heart and lungs.


Culpable homicide carries a sentence of up to 20 years' jail or life imprisonment.


Maid jailed for theft, tainting water, Straits Times, 16 Jul 2015
About two weeks after stealing money from her employer, a Myanmar domestic worker added a corrosive substance into an electric kettle used to store drinking water.  For the two offences in February this year, to which she pleaded guilty, Khin Aye Sein, 24, was yesterday sentenced to a total of 30 months and two weeks in jail.

A district court heard that Aye Sein stole $90 from her employer, Madam Lim Khee Koon, 59, at her Holland Grove View house on Feb 4. She hid the money in the sole of her slipper.

On Feb 17, Madam Lim went to the market after making soup for her two-year-old grandson. When she returned about an hour later, she made some tea but it turned black and had an unusual smell.

She then poured water from the electric kettle and noted that there were a lot of bubbles. Worried, she checked on the soup and found that it smelled bad and was black as well. There were also white crystals on the inner surface of the pot.

She told her son later that day and called the police. Investigations showed that Aye Sein had earlier added a pinch of drainpipe cleaner to the electric kettle, knowing that it would cause harm.

Aye Sein told police that she did it "to make the victim angry", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Wuan. Asked by the court why, she said her employer nagged at her.

A Health Sciences Authority report said the corrosive chemicals in the cleaner could damage skin and mucous membranes.


Aye Sein could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for theft; and jailed for up to five years and fined for the other offence.

Facebook comments:
Chris Marie Macol - I never did this to my boss, no matter how fierce she is when she gets angry and nagged at me, but I pray instead...I ask the Lord to calm her down...

Patrick S J Ho Shirley - My maid stole USD 250 from me. I confronted her and she admitted. I recorded it on my mobile video. I gave her a chance..she has 2 school going kids. I would hv sent her to jail.. but I believe in compassion. Warned her about the consequences if she did it again.

Shirley Seah - Really there is no such person called maid.. "Maid" is just a job description. It is the person U bring home to work with U tat matters n it is U who willing accepted the offer. It benefit each other if the relationship goes well. Forgiveness works better than punishment. For the worst case, let go is more wise than taking revenge ..

Yilan Nelson - Stealing is different from poisoning...especially when vulnerable old people and young children are involved.

Shirley Seah - Can forgive.. if she did it out of ignorant n immaturity. "Reform" let her do it herself. U noticed our govt has a light hand on maid cases ... ...

Patrick S J Ho - Ah..to be honest and fair.. the helper in this case KNEW what she was doing.. this is vengeful. Cannot forgive. I have come across my clients maid accidentally putting soap Epsom salt in food thinking it's was salt, employers putting washing liquids in food labeled containers.. these are ignorance through no fault of helpers.

Anne M M Seow - I guess if the wrongdoings committed have no malice intended, then yes, i do agree with you about the 2nd chances.

Lynn Flint-Sung - There are always good and bad in every trades and nationalities. Once a pinoy domestic helper took all my loose change which I believed amounted to several hundreds. My mom was the one who kept them in a big jug with S$1 coins and etcs. 

Dadear Momo - My maid stole from me many times, caught her stealing and lying but gave her more than one chance..... Continue to try other means to steal from me to give to her gambling boyfriend .... Had enough and send her back to Myanmar. Seriously, I have a very bad experience with Myanmar maid. Now whenever I see a Burmese, I can't help but think negatively of him or her. I think it is a culture kind of thing. Their sense of right and wrong seem to be missing. I think they lack the moral compass to do the right thing. Money seem to be more impt to them than anything else.


Serene Tan - I employed a Myanmar's maid last year for about 6 mths and noted that a lot of households items started to go missing. Tea cups without saucer, towels and clothings went missing after washing...
Slept at 8 pm and wake up at 7am. When questioned her she argued back even at the agent's office when I return her to the agent. The staff said they never seen a maid so fierce and rude.

Melody Song - the employer must treat the domestic worker as part of the family! they're new to this country n away from her family so the employer n his family have to be patient n show caring for the maid!

Syazana Subahan - Sometimes we treat them like our own family n trust them also, they start telling alot of lies...

Apryle Convocar Lozano Grey - It's a matter of knowing your limits and knowing where you stand as a helper....I've been here for 9 years the same employer since I came,I'm Incharge of our household budget as well children's school allowances not to mention the extra money for our medical expenses if needed and another amount of money for emergency to be transferred to children's ATM if they don't have money for school needs.I don't have a day off but my weekends was spend at home using Internet,and I'm happy and contented with that. But my employer never restrict me if I asked them that I need to meet or visit my relatives here. "In every mistakes there is a consequences"

Nafeesa Docura - It's a job. Like any other job. Employees can't expect employers to be kind and hold their hands and be understanding forever. If you're not prepared to work, why apply for such a job?

Susan Chan - Nowadays we employ a "Maid" like a "Bomb" anytime they will explosion. So scary! Is better to ask inlaws/own parents take care our kids ... be careful of them ..no matter Mayanmar/Indonesia/Philippine/Thailand maids all the same.

Mellyani Kembang Muteran - Every body is defferent madam don't treat all maid same the race n country doesn't matter that depend for the person character,thanks .luckyly i have good employer stay Singapore in 10yrs .

Cathjane Alcones - Do not point your fingers to all the "helpers"madame coz there's a lot of employer's also that not following the laws of MOM...a lot of helper are not giving enough food,enough rest and even day off of their respective employer's...physically and verbally abused.

Lalyn Labis Albacite - Carefull with your words, not at all are the same, some employers also are not good some are bad and some are very good. Its all depends on how you treat human beings.

Maki Pulido - Who are you to say those words excuse me the way you talk I think your the one who is always explode even in a small things,and can u please don't point your fingers to all or else I will cut it !!

David Tian - Try to be a maid just for one month. Otherwise stick your toe in your mouth.

Susan Chan - Majority maids are like that ... not like last time so simple minded. Nowadays maids more smarter than employers. I am telling the facts! Please don't deny ..

Charita Coloma - hw about singaorean beating their helper and did not even follow to the rules. do u follow to all the rules like stated in every domestic HELPER contract . there is rule there saying helper must have home leave , every year, dID U PAY UR HELPER EVRY YEARA IF SHE DID NOT WANTTO TAKE HER VACATION DO U PAY HER2 WY TICKET AD HALF OF HER SALLARY.......DO U DO THAT?

Jenny Lim SL - Many years ago, we caught our maid red handed for abusing my baby as we had noticed bruising marks on her body earlier, but instead of reporting her to police, we sent her back to her country instead. However, some days I would wonder if I had done the right thing since she would be able to continue working as a maid and perhaps caused hurt to other babies too. Now even with a maid, I prefer to take care of my children myself and not leave my kids with them unless absolutely no choice, once bitten twice shy.

Lok Poh Yoke - Careful with the maid if scolded,she scoop the water from the toilet bowl ,make milk for the baby. CCTV is a must!

Christina Christina - Im sure she knows wat she is doin when she added the cleaner to the water supply...we can close an eye to small amt stealing but no to causing harm...these days helper unlike b4...

Margaret Chan - The maid should be jail for doing wrong to the family..for stealing & putting poison in the water..

Shirley Seah - U can complain abt how others were unkind to U .... but what U did, show what U r as a person . Such action U hv will bring more unpleasantness to yr life because U sow those seeds .. u r looking for those ugly growths ... so how cld U appreciate a fine field for good planting wen it appear to U.

Han Zhi Hao - This is a lesson to parents: Do not nag at your children. It makes you a great nuisance-you see, even a maid see their employer as killable object.

June Tan - She is really lucky not to be charged with attempted murder.
Imagine if the child was fed with the water or soup without looking. Evil hearted!

Vanessa Oh - Stealing can be forgive, but poisoning with intentions is definitely not acceptable! I just cant understand those minority helpers who do such things to employers. Can you imagine,if your parents or children being feed poisons back in your hometown?

Li Fen Low - Myanmar maids need to get used to city life and drop all evilness b4 coming here. This is Singapore where law rules. Perhaps this is how u solve a problem in Myanmar but not in Singapore. Calm down, it's just a nagging.

Chai Kath - You need serious teaching! Give bad name to your parents, your country n other hardworking myanmese maids in spore!

Loh Wai Poon - Stealing n putting poison in water is too pervert a revenge against nagging by employer. This is not the general reflection of Myanmar maids. However we must have zero tolerance of such crimes at homes. Home is a castle to us. We don't expect anyone harming us at home. Let work out our differences in other peaceful ways. No harm to maids, no harm to their employers.

Mark Cheng - Bro, I think your wrong. It is exactly how they were bought up in their own country that they behave that way. They still very much practice an eye for an eye.

Loh Wai Poon - An individual action cannot be taken as representative of her race or nation. We have many Myanmar maids here, if they have this trait of being vindictive towards their employers, then we will much more cases! Fact is we have very few cases that we are shocked by this case. They are here to work, not to take revenge.


Ady Goh B S - pinoy maids I had were liars! no matter how well u treat them they dont appreciate. what type of mentality??!

Cathjane Alcones - Opps...there's a saying " what goes around,comes around"!...please try to check yourself first sir...coz if you are a good employer,God will bless you a good helper...and do not generalize that maid are liar.

Jenifer M. Almås - If your 1st helper & 2nd helper didn't work out for you, maybe something wrong with them.. But hiring a 3rd, 4th & so forth?? I suggest that you should start checking yourself specially your attitude towards them.. Question yourself why those maids (as you call them) are treating you the way you described....

Maki Pulido - Excuse me Mr.not all Filipino helper is like what you said,
I believe Filipino workers are more trustees but if you do wrong of course they will show their attitude like you did

Cleo Francisco - When one helper do something.wrong they generalize the whole helper in Singapore and take note saying all the harsh things with all the pinays .pathetic right

Maki Pulido - I know why most employer taking Myanmar helper,because low salary than others, so far we know most of them ( Myanmar ) did not go studying so we know that they are less knowledge so why you take them I think employer getting stingy lol!!!

Christine Tiyu - This domestic helper must be punished accordingly for her action - for wanting to cause serious harm to her employer and family.

Jasmine Calinawan - Respect begets respect. Treat helpers as a human being. We are being paid for our services not our dignity. It's a case basis. I'm working in a Singaporean family of almost 2 decade. Loyalty is there. Give and take relation. We cannot judge a person mistake for general.

Kim Eng - Which maid agency is she from? Maid agencies are also responsible for bringing in maids with bad attitudes and not prepared to work here. Furthermore let me stress this is not part of your holiday. Work is work and cut all the craps !

Cindy Neo - U came here to work not to enjoy life.. U count Urself lucky not being ill treated.. How could u even do such a thing??

Francis Albert Pineda - if only MOM will conduct a regular psychological test and emotional check to our domestic helpers to avoid such things like this or even worst they can kill their bosses


Maid fractured baby's elbow, Straits Times, 1 Jul 2015
A maid was sentenced to two weeks' jail after she caused a fracture on the right elbow of her employer's seven-month-old daughter in February by yanking on the baby's arm.

Valencia Gemalyn Garma, 24, a Filipina, had been employed to do general house cleaning and look after her employer's two children.  The court heard that on Feb 21, at about 1.30am, Garma, who had been working for the family for seven months, had settled down to sleep with the baby when the child began crying.

She said she had not managed to fall asleep and was agitated and tired after having had to care for her employer's older child, who is two years old. She picked up the baby in an attempt to pacify her, carrying her on her right arm.  Deputy Public Prosecutor Fong Jin Heng submitted that Garma's failure to inform her employer of the possible injury significantly delayed the baby's mother from seeking necessary medical attention.

Later, she transferred the baby to her chest by forcefully pulling at the baby's right arm. When the baby continued crying for 10 minutes, Garma suspected that she had hurt the baby, but she did not inform her employer out of fear.  The employer was awakened by the baby's cries and took over, telling Garma to go to sleep.

But when her daughter continued to cry for half an hour before falling asleep, and woke up crying again at 3am, she became concerned that the baby might be in pain. Examinations by doctors at Thomson Medical Centre and KK Women's and Children's Hospital revealed that the child had suffered a fracture to her right elbow.

When questioned by her employer, Garma initially denied any involvement but later admitted to hurting the child.  Deputy Public Prosecutor Fong Jin Heng submitted that Garma's failure to inform her employer of the possible injury significantly delayed the baby's mother from seeking necessary medical attention.

District Judge Toh Yung Cheong took into account the fact that Garma had not had prior experience in caring for children and her tired state at the time of the negligent act, and ordered a sentence of two weeks' jail.

For causing grievous hurt by a negligent act, Garma could have been jailed up to six months and fined up to $2,500.


Maid jailed six weeks for causing hurt to employer's nine-month-old baby, Straits Times, 3 Jun 2015
A foreign domestic worker who vented her frustration at her employer's baby girl was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Tuesday (June 2) for causing hurt to the child.

Lalkhawngaihi, a 24-year-old Indian national, admitted to dropping the nine-month-old baby from a height of 15cm into her baby cot and then forcefully pulling her hand to drag her out of the cot which resulted in the baby suffering a 1.5cm irregular red patch around her armpit.

The offence happened at a flat in Choa Chu Kang on April 10 this year.  As Lalkhawngaihi's sentence was backdated to April 13, she is deemed to have completed her jail term.  The court heard that Lalkhawngaihi was hired in August last year to take care of the infant.  Some time in April this year, she was instructed to feed the baby whenever she woke up between 3am and 5am.

At about 4.30am that day, the baby woke up and began crying.  Lalkhawngaihi woke up and carried the child for a while before she dropped the baby into the cot from a height of about 15cm.  She did this as she was angry and frustrated at the victim for crying and disturbing her sleep, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man.

The victim became quiet for a while but started crying again shortly after. This time, Lalkhawngaihi pulled the baby's right hand to drag her out before leaving the room together with the victim to get some milk.  By then, the victim's parents had been awakened by the child's cries. They went through the CCTV footage and discovered what the accused had done.  Her female employer reported the incident to the police the next day.

Lalkhawngaihi said she was sorry and asked the court for one more chance. She also said she wanted to return home to look after her mother.  She could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.


Winter:  Don't think Spore is lenient or fair to Sg employers.  If no CCTV was shown, such case wouldn't be known or published.  No proof, the maid can be spared and be recycled to another unfortunate employer.  The agony and the process to find the truth is taxing.  

Being able to find a good, caring and responsible helper is hard, regardless how much you paid the agency and your FDW.  Luck and the existing MOM regulations ... gave leeways to FDWs, source countries and agencies, thus, resulted in tough lives for full-time working parents like us. 



Serangoon flat fire: Maid arrested for mischief by fire, The New Paper, 1 Feb 2015
Worried that her maid would have no clothes to wear after she was discharged, Mrs Gina Ong said she bought new clothes for her.
"But police told me not to see her," the 32-year-old interior designer added.

She soon found out why. At about 3.30pm yesterday, several police officers went to her flat on the 10th storey of Block 506, Serangoon North Avenue 4, with the 28-year-old woman from Myanmar in tow.
They took the maid around the gutted unit and emerged after about 1½ hours. To Mrs Ong's shock, the police had put handcuffs on her maid.
"I can't believe it," said Ms Ong in tears as the maid was led away.

They hired her for 11 days, but she will end up costing them more than 100k to fix their house. Maid admitted to the police that she started the fire in the living room, then went to the room of the employer's young daughter where she burned the mattress. She also allegedly told the doctors at the hospital where she was treated for smoke inhalation that she was very happy. Employers are distraught, and say they have been nothing but nice to the maid. They bought her clothes, a new bed, new pillows and a blanket. But she burned down their house. 

Read more here.


Couple suspected maid from India mistreated their 3 years old boy.  Based on CCTV, they found that their newly hired maid has added chilli powder and salt into their son's food which resulted in a bloated tummy.

30.12.2014《新明日报》
Since most of the time, son will be alone with FDW so to play safe, the couple has CCTV installed.


3岁儿子肚子肿胀,工程师夫妇怀疑女佣动手脚,查看电眼时,骇然发现她在儿子的食物里加辣椒粉和盐,震惊不已。

这起事件,约两个多星期前,发生在榜鹅域第196C座组屋的一间单位。

据了解,这名35岁印度籍女佣上个月刚到新加坡,女雇主经仲介的介绍,聘请这名女佣到家里帮忙。

女雇主(31岁,工程师)受访时告诉记者,这是她第一次聘请女佣,因不放心,在家里安装电眼监视。

“因儿子长时间都必须和女佣独处,为了安全起见,我在屋内安装电眼监视。”


她说,不久前,发现3岁儿子肚子肿胀,就带他去看医生检查。


An Indonesian domestic worker was jailed for three months on Monday for ill-treating her employer's 16-month-old daughter.  Supriyani, 24, pleaded guilty to slapping the child three times and lifting her up by grabbing her head at a flat in the western part of Singapore on Oct 8 this year.

A district court heard that Supriyani had been working for the employer since May. This was her first job.  That afternoon, the victim's mother left the unit to buy some groceries, leaving maid and child alone.  When the employer returned, Supriyani, who was carrying the child, told her that the victim had bruises under her left eye due to constant rubbing.

She became suspicious when she noticed marks on the victim's left cheek that looked like a handprint.  On viewing CCTV footage, she saw Supriyani slapping the child on the right cheek while feeding the girl, who was strapped in a high chair.

About two minutes later, the maid gave a hard slap on the victim's left cheek and lifted her up from the chair by grabbing her head. She also shook the victim, who began crying but eventually calmed down.  Four minutes later, she again slapped the girl on the right cheek. The child cried so much she vomited.

When this happened, the maid became angry and grabbed the toddler by the head and shook her vigorously.  The mother called her sister who told her to call the police.

District Judge Low Wee Ping, who backdated Supriyani's sentence to Oct 10, told the maid that shaking a child vigorously could result in serious and permanent damage, especially to the brain.  He said it was fortunate that the baby did not suffer any other injuries other than the small red mark under her left lower eyelid.  Supriyani could have been fined up to $4,000 and/or jailed for up four years for ill-treating a child.

Straits Times Facebook Comments:
Deah Borhan - Waaahhhh everybody can just comment.  Do u know the new generation maid? They not happy they abuse so when they do get caught.Just change employer...Why mothers cannot raise their own child? Get govt to implement all companies to have childcare attach to office. We dun mind bringing kids to work. Childcare free for all...I dun mind.Having a maid never solve problem.They add to our problem.


Neela Vengadasalam - The maid deserved to be punished. If she can't handle ask for transfer. What right has she got to inflict pain to that little helpless child. Really annoying.


Cheoh Boo - Says the person who has never given birth before or having to juggle the role of a full time mother, wife, daughter and employee all in one.


李姎芳 - Dun understand why some ppl will make statement like 'why give birth and yet don't want to stay home take care, why still go out to work, etc'...

In the perfect world, money drop from the sky... But too bad, we're living in a far from perfect world...


Peter Weed - Cause these fools doesnt know we locals need to work a lot harder to earn as equal as those expat.


Stephanie Luo - WTF?! Lifting by the head?! I hate it when they tell you the max sentence to such cases but end up the maid only gets a mere 3 months. So the court is waiting for the child to suffer dearly before a more severe punishment is given.


Serene Laow - Just simply don't understand how can some ignorant guy putting the blame on the mom. Obviously is the stupid maid fault. Cannot take it then resign or run away, why take it on the child? I wish to blame on the father too, but I don't want to make a fool of myself.


Raymond - Gist The maid did wrong and should be punished, however the big picture here is that so many are letting someone else act as parent for their children. Children need their parents, so many maids are filling that role instead .I dont agree with it


Alfy Yant - My cousin maid was sentence 2 weeks ago to 1 week in jail only for feeding a celebral palsy child with hot boiling water. Certified by d doctors at NUH was a 1st deg burn he suffer mouth n throat. D child was warded longer then d maid sentence. Their(maid n lawyers) story was d maid stress. Have to look after 3 children. Which 1 of them is in childcare. N d d grandma is always at home helping in everyway. Where is justice??? No where to be seen or near?? Wat is happening to Singapore??


Bommayi Bomma Standard statement will be.
Maid under stress so vent the anger on d kid.
Some will say why blame d maid?
But d devil did not think abt d child before doing tis.
Wat kind of punishment is tis 3mnths or else fine.
Shld leave a permanent scar on her so tat she will remember for life.
Well our govt gives so much of freedom n support them.


Walter Gan - Maid could be too pressurized and probably employer is too demanding that spark the maids to revenge using the child as a tradeoff.


Deah Borhan - I agree with some not all but some. Do you know the new generation maid mainly indonesian do not sent money to their home but to their account instead. They spend sgd dollars to doll themselves up cos of sunday off...They spent money on smartphone to talk to their bf on their next meeting. Or rendevous.So when they tell their sob story ask them how much do they sent back home to indon. The old gen maid they are the genuine one who work for the sake of building a nest for their future.How many of them.really save n think about their future? We sg rean have to abide by the rule.Give them shelter.Own bed Aircon room n food accessible to them 24/7.i have my ex maid complain she getting fat cos we eat chicken meat fish everyday.What they do?Become lazy.Housework only do basic.Let our children watch n glued to tv all day n she chit chat for 3-4 hours on the phone.We mothers have to work 8 hours in an office.Do paperwork from 8 am -6pm every single day with 45 mins lunch n 30 mins teabreak.So who is freaking the lady of the house here.We sgrean work from mon-fri.alt sat off.the only off day is sunday..So what freaking stress are you freaking talking about.That we oso lee way give them off day on sunday.They go holidays with us.Really bro,they are bunch of ingrate when back in indo.They could not even get a proper meal.Think every story have 2 sides.Listen to both side n make judgement.


Yoanna Kim Annisa - Very simple..if cannot take the presure & stress dont work as a maid...no matter what the maid basic thing is to respect their employer & family...the baby is innocent...


Marrisha Mary From my view, im a maid too, I've stay in training center fr 3 x., mostly employer prefer to young n nice looking maid to tc their young children, they dont care whether she has experience or not, young n nice looking maid not guarantee tt she will do her job better


Danielle Noriega Lee - What the maid had done is wrong but what triggered it would be the employers verbal and physical abuses. Employers should be kinder to their maids and talk to them about work. But some maids are incorrigible. Many but not all are lazy and would take things for granted.


Hong Lin - Just be discerning when employing maids especially for very young children n the elderlies. Know the statistics of the various maids that committed unkind acts n which countries they come from would help provide a reason to choose a particular maid. Good luck!


Dani'El Herwie  - This debate of who should be blame will never end. Reality is, it works both ways. Respect must be mutually given and receive by both employers and helpers. If employers want to entrust their babies to strangers, at least make the stranger/helper be part of the family first. Once that emotional barrier is down, helpers will work better and efficiently for their employers.

I have seen employers acting high-handedly towards their helpers. At the same time, I have seen employers treating their helpers with so much respect. Nobody is born wanting to hurt babies. But people want to hurt those who are helpless because they themselves are hurt.


Shanti Vellu - Sad it's only 3 months. If the situation was the other way round?



Norkhatilah Maricar - Maid from hell! I would have slapped the maid a few times before reporting. How dare she did what she did. No empathy for an innocent child.


Maid allegedly forces two-year-old boy to eat his faeces in toilet, The New Paper/Star, 16 Dec 2014

A grandmother was horrified when she found faeces stuck on her 2-year-old grandson's teeth at a house in Subang Jaya, Selangor, last Thursday (Dec 11), reported China Press.  

Upon questioning, the boy told her that their maid had allegedly forced him to eat his faeces in the toilet.  The Indonesian maid, who started work three months ago, was sent back to a maid agency.

A police report has been filed.

21 Jul 2015

Maid with personal mobile phone


Employers, let's try to help one another because MOM has no intention to be fair to us.

FDWs who are poisoned by activists/trouble-makers, played us out or act stubborn and untrainable should not be given any chance to work in Spore.
'Rotten apples' who are not keen to help us as FDW should be discarded. Let's share, feedback to MOM that we are unfairly treated and forced to be FDWs' nanny.

Click: Content page - All topics


Maids' phone use at work a safety risk, ST forum, 19 Jul 2015
As my family sympathises with maids having to work so far away from their families, we have given them the privilege of using their mobile phones to call home whenever they wished ("More employers unhappy over maids' mobile phone usage"; last Sunday).

However, one maid was on her phone, uploading photos of herself, late into the night, compromising on the eight hours of sleep we insisted she have.  Another had her wireless earpiece in her ear all day, chatting as she did the household chores, including cooking. Worried that she might scald herself, we told her to stop talking while she was cooking, but she insisted that her phone was not a hindrance.

I have seen maids allowing their young charges to run across the road as they continued chatting on the phone.  Who should bear responsibility if mishaps occur because of maids' use of the mobile phone?

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics executive director Jolovan Wham said it is highly disrespectful and inappropriate for employers to keep maids' mobile phones. But is it respectful and appropriate for maids to be spending their working hours on phone calls and Facebook, and increase electricity usage by charging the phones often?

If a maid feels that she has to use her mobile phone often, then it is only fair for her to inform her prospective employer about this. The maid can reject any employment that forbids her to use her phone frequently. Similarly, a prospective employer can decide if a maid who needs to use her phone frequently would be suitable.


Elizabeth Ng Boon Kwan (Mrs)


Don't deprive maids of mobile phones, ST Forum, 19 Jul 
As much as I understand maid employers' concern over the issue of mobile phone use, I would like to highlight the plight of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) if they are not allowed access to their mobile phones ("More employers unhappy over maids' mobile phone usage"; last Sunday).

Mobile phones are primarily used by many FDWs to keep in touch with their loved ones at home. This channel of communication is crucial to the mental and emotional well-being of the FDWs, as this will give them the peace of mind to focus on their job, which actually benefits their employers.

Working and living in a foreign country can be very lonely. Distressed FDWs know they can receive the much-needed emotional support by just calling our hotline or their fellow FDWs. In fact, our hotline is filled with calls from them, citing loneliness and the fear of being left alone as their major concern.

The issue at hand is really not about depriving them of their mobile phones but more about managing expectations, and education. As in any other work setting, there are fair practices related to Internet access and telephone use.

Therefore, a similar set of fair practices can be appropriated by the employers.  By so doing, it brings about a better understanding and the safeguarding of each other's interests, resulting in a win-win situation for both sides.

Employment agencies can also play an influential role in educating the FDWs, especially the new ones, on the appropriate use of mobile phones.  FDWs can be educated on the cost of usage, the dangers of engaging strangers on social media and the need to keep within their employer's expectations. If necessary, this can be included in the terms of employment. In fact, I understand some employment agencies have already done so.

I look forward to seeing fair engagement from employers in setting proper and reasonable expectations, fair practices, coupled with education on the use of mobile phones by their FDWs instead of prohibiting them from using it.

Seah Seng Choon
President, Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training


More employers unhappy over maids' mobile phone usage, Straits Times, 12 Jul 2015
 Mobile phones are increasingly causing rifts between domestic helpers and employers here.  Bosses say phones are distraction but maids say they need to keep in touch with family

The number of complaints about maids using phones has doubled in the past two years, say maid agents.  Such complaints used to make up 20 per cent of all grouses. At the Orange Employment Agency, they now make up seven in 10, said owner Shirley Ng. "It's the top peeve employers have," she said. "Some will ask for maids who do not want mobile phones."

Many employers claim their maids spend too much time on their phones organising their social lives instead of doing their job.  Ms Ng said some employers are also concerned maids might become addicted to using their phones and end up stealing to fund the habit.

A poll of 670 maids in Singapore by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) showed that at least 70 per cent of them experienced communication restrictions, with more than 100 saying they have had their phones taken away.

LOSING FOCUS ON THE JOB
I'm scared that if she takes her eye off my kid or my mother (who uses a wheelchair), they may fall or cut themselves.  MADAM SIM C. K., who allows her maid to use her phone only after 8pm

USING PHONE IN SECRET
I needed to keep in touch with my husband, sick mother and three children.  After I got my phone, I felt guilty.  MS GIRLIE RENCODO GULAY, a domestic worker from the Philippines
The phone is a constant distraction, said Madam Sim C. K., who allows her maid to use it only after 8pm. "I'm scared that if she takes her eye off my kid or my mother (who uses a wheelchair), they may fall or cut themselves," she said.  Once, her mother almost slipped and fell in the toilet while the maid was using her phone, she said.  Agents said some maids have two phones - one to surrender to employers, the other to use in secret.

Ms Girlie Rencodo Gulay, a domestic worker from the Philippines, said she has no choice but to hide her mobile phone.  "I asked my employer if I could have a phone and he said no," she said. "I needed to keep in touch with my husband, sick mother and three children. After I got my phone, I felt guilty. I know my obligations as a maid, but I didn't know what else to do."

Agents urged employers to set up ground rules early.  "But the rules need to be fair," said Ms Ng. For example, she advised employers to let their maids use phones earlier in the evening because their family members do not stay up late in the villages.

Ms Ng said: "It's not practical to expect maids not to have mobile phones these days. It's a way for them to talk to their family."  In fact, employment agency Best Home started giving free prepaid SIM cards to helpers last year after an increasing number of employers complained that their maids racked up bills on their home phones of up to $1,000.

Best Home owner Tay Khoon Beng said: "The employers know that I've given the (maids) the SIM cards, so it encourages them to talk about mobile phone usage.  "The cards also teach maids personal responsibility. They need to be careful not to overspend on phone calls and data."

Not every employer disapproves. Mrs Yang M. S. likes her maid from Myanmar to have a phone - not least because it helps her look up recipes online.  "It's very convenient for us to communicate through WhatsApp if I need her help in running errands," she added.

A Manpower Ministry spokesman said it had received some 200 complaints from employers each month for the past three years on "a wide range of issues, from bad work attitude to theft".

The number represents less than 0.1 per cent of the 222,500 foreign domestic workers here, he added. 

Denying a maid a phone is another way of isolating her, said advocacy groups.  Mr Jolovan Wham, executive director of Home, said: "We have had many complaints from domestic workers that their employers keep their phones or allow them to use them only at night or on their days off on Sundays only."  Mr Wham said it was important to allow maids their mobile phones because of the live-in nature of their work.


"Employers should not even be keeping the worker's personal property in the first place. It is highly disrespectful and inappropriate. If we don't expect our employers to keep our mobile phones, we should not be doing the same to domestic workers."


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Posted in my blog under "Why set up a blog", 23 March, 2015
I am preparing myself with a back up plan since my maid of 2 years has become big headed when ask if she wants to renew her contract. I have been very good employer and treat her like a family to only take care of my only son who is in the kindergarten. After a year with us, i ask if she wants an off day and she refuse. Because going out with me is luxury to her as she gets to eat what we eat and she gets to go to places (even paid) which we paid for her. She has her own room and privacy. The only thing she does not have is a handphone which i am against. Reason i have witness a maid busy talking on the phone that she lost sight of an active toddler crossing the road. Until one passersby act quickly to save the boy. I've also seen maids hanging around at the playground talking to each other and let another toddler of below 5yrs old to hurt herself because she was busy chit chatting. I am not against them socialising, but in their own country they are less traffic, less playgrounds and they kids play at their own backyard. Most maids love to chit chat and forgot who they are. I have all this experience for more than a decade. Now that the indonesian president has proposed to stop all his indonesian women to work as maids and to be educated with skills such as nurses and etc. I mentioned this to my maid, that it is a good move so less troubles make. And let the troubles goes to back in their country. These maids have an enjoyable time as 90% of Singaporeans who has maid because both parents are working. We buy a house that is beautiful but for the maid to enjoy these luxury while we slog ourselves everyday at work to make ends meet. Is this the life we want in Singapore.? Especially, no bodies are on our side.

Posted in my blog under "House Rules" on 22 March, 2015

As an expat who enjoys much about Singapore I can say the helper/maid situation is most frustrating. I feel deeply for local families who must depend on these ladies and I worry about the safety of Singapores children. Even as an expat employer who provides a generous salary, very good working conditions (same food as us plus plenty of rest time) I have had one 1 in 3 ladies that was worth her salary. Why do I have a helper in my home? Because I have a husband that does serious amounts of long distance travel and no family to rely on in Singapore and small children and the purpose is to cover for the few times I have been sick. I managed just fine working full time using childcare with some support from my mom and mil previously. My first lady was great and I couldn't really at that stage understand a lot of the frustration about helpers.. My second helper I fired on day 18 due to serious safety issues (lost my 3 year old - lucky he wasn't injured). And the current helper is so lazy (I believe an addiction to facebook is the real issue) that we will be terminating her contract early and simply having a cleaning lady to help once a week. I think maybe Singapore needs to consider long day childcare as a real option going forwards and then you will have workers who genuinely want to work with small children and workers who are passionate about child safety and child welfare. I have lost track of the number of times I have had to rescue children because their care giver was talking on her phone(oh and that's never been a mum!). After 5 years in Singapore I can understand why some employers would remove their helpers phone because they want a situation where they can know their helper isn't distracted by their phone, sadly they aren't trying to mean or nasty they just want safety to come first. I look forward to not having an employee and the frustrations of someone who ignores a reasonable job scope (previous helper had no issues finishing it nor did my cleaning lady in 4 hours!) but current one cant seem to manage it (again its the constant need to be surfing on her phone that stops her completing her work). After so many years watching as a guest some of the things I have seen should have made my hair curl.


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Sep 2013
Life is meaningless without 24/7 mobile phone access?  Read
Activists point fingers at employers for not letting their FDWs be freely connected.  Read

Maids like to compare (so do I but I know my limits and my actual value) and refused to be at losing end. What her friends or other FDWs have, she felt it is part of a FDW's entitlement in Spore... a norm. She felt those are necessary, a must and should be across the island .... employer must give these 'basics'. Otherwise, she will boycott, give bad attitude and/or give employer a tough life. Maids chose to ignore the terms of their contracts and MOM's law. 

Take for example, when I interviewed my current maid JA, I stressed my conditions to employ her was that she cannot use her mobile phone 24/7. She agreed with her agency acting as witness. There's no such thing as being forced to agree. Obviously, I've respected her as human being, didn't cheat her so expected her to behave like a working adult and honour her words ... be fair to both and truly accepted my conditions for 2 years. If she felt uneasy, don't come to my house. My house is not a testing ground. I cannot afford the time to train and money spent to recruit her... a liar. 

I was very clear and quite reluctant to have JA when she accepted my conditions. After conversation with agent to remind and explain to JA my conditions, also the needs of my girl so JA must think carefully before making a final decision. But Day one, the day JA officially started work, she requested full access to her phone. Few months later, she saw my sister-in-law's new maid (Filipino with no off days) toying her mobile phone in the day, she said new maid can have, why not her?

All I wanted is a helper, somebody who knew my terms and conditions, agreed and will deliver them without so much resistance or problems after onboarding. There are so many employers in Spore, if you're good and your demands are reasonable, I don't see a reason why you'll be left on the shelf.... landing in my house, a place of no choice.... unbelievable!




There are more than 40 mobile phone shops in Lucky Plaza, waiting to make money from the domestic maids (FDW).  Mobile phones are no longer considered a luxury item (even if it cost S$200 to $800).  FDWs and activists felt mobile phones are basic necessities.  FDWs felt having one or two mobile phones is part of being treated like a human being.  You, as an employer can't interfere or stop them from owning expensive gadgets (FDWs can claim no money when she breaks/spolits employer's things but buying mobile, they don't mind, cash rich, becomes 有钱挥霍) ... in the name of staying connected with friends and families far far away. 

If you deny your maid from happily using her phone, she felt she's a slave working under harsh conditions ... you are a tyrant!  If you tell her nicely that mobile phones can only be used 'after work', which often is in the nights, not 24/7, some demanding and bad working attitude maid will fire you or bad mouth you, claiming she has the rights to use her phone.... part of human rights!  You'll know how bad she can make you feel when you hired such a FDW.

What I want to say is, if the employment term - using the mobile phone has been stated before you were employed, you should abide.  There's no such thing as telling white lies and expecting people to give in to your bad working ethics.  You can reject a job that you don't feel happy with ... don't lie!  You have been protected by the activists to lie and get a job in Spore.  If you continue to have such bad conduct or excuses 人在做 天在看 迟早会有报应 降临你身 或身边所爱。


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4 Sep - Extracted some posts related to FDWs using mobile phone during working hours. To these maids, mostly Filipinos, they defined using mobile phones as and when they want is part of human rights. Sounds like Filipino FDWs find it hard to survive without their phones 24/7. How and when the maid suppose to use the phone is determined by their needs.

Employers prefer maids to use personal phones in the night but to demanding and insensible maids, it is a form of restriction, an inhuman way to control them. This ex-Sin maid who manages a page in Facebook commented these:


"But most maid hide the phone, because they understand that Singaporean employer hate to see their maid talk on the phone. If you find your maid talking, we hope you just turn blind eye and don't add their stress of having to hide the phone."
"You don't own others' life. Maid is not so much brain work, talking on the job make the work easier and faster and fills the heart with connection to our friends."
"DON'T MAKE YOUR MAID FEEL BAD ABOUT USING THE PHONE. It is really a human right to use the phone to be connected with the rest of the world. If you make your maid feel like a criminal when she uses the phone, she will ACT like a criminal by using the phone when you're not looking, like when walking the dog which really requires the exercise."



Most maids cannot multi-tasks. If you make them do multi-tasking, something bad might happen. If your maid's phone suddenly rings, she holds the phone and chit-chat while crossing the road AND FORGOT ABOUT SAFETY, that could mean putting your child and her life at risk, can employer afford to cry over spilled milk?

If your maid is frying half way (using gas) and her phone rings, she rushes to answer and forgot what she's cooking, you don't mind? This is the reason why some employers who entrusted some 'high-risks' tasks such as above, cannot have a maid holding her personal phone 24/7. We know the working habits of maids so we do not want to take risks. I must admit, I cannot and also don't want to be distracted when carrying out the said 'high-risk' work. I don't use phone or ear piece and cause my attention diverted. Employer cannot afford to bear the consequences of a forgetful or irresponsible FDW. Certain maids are hired to do solely housework. Such maids, I doubt the tasks involves life and death or dreadful consequences.... at most, like what you saw last year, on the news, Indonesians fall from windows while doing cleaning.

Maids who are using human rights as an excuse often lose their main focus in their day job or the children they are suppose to attend to. They are too engrossed in fighting for all sorts of nonsense. When I use the word "insensible" and "selfish", this is the kind of maid I am referring to:


Jena Pascua - Talking on the phone is human right and unless we use our own money to pay for our top up!!!

Bubetha Bonita - As long as she did her work well, she knows her responsibility. The more u restrict and control her the more she will be rebellious. This is personal thing and i personally believe that employer should not supposed to intervene. Being someone working with u is supposed to be employer-employee relationship, Not that if who is in control!

Lorelee Jardeleza - oh what a shame u just let ur maid use only on weekend try not to be boastfull by saying u treat her good coz its goddamn bullshit what if u dont communicate with ur family for one whole day what do u feel ? It seems that ur not human madam ! and ur contract is a very big shit if i may add so where in a year that is not a stoneage so better wake up or ur helper will say bye bye to u and its ur job to provide her food and basic need and to treat her as a human too its a common knowledge and it is written in the contract too."
"think what u own her life without ur helper to clean ur shit u can survive? She is a human too and by taking away her personnal things and her only ways of communicating with her loveones is good ?thats stealing one half of her happiness no wonder she hide it from u and pls lor dont consider urself as a very good employer coz by doing this to her ur labeled as a stupid and bullshit one try to think before u hit the button!"
"want their maid to be a slave to clean and act like a criminal coz employer like her is a thief of happiness next day if the maid cant take it anymore she will runaway"


This is the kind of maid, we define as preferred helpers. They are accommodating and fully understand why some employers imposed restriction. Reasons are not because employers are cruel, inhuman or like to control a 'slave' (OMG!). These maids didn't find excuses such as human rights. This is what they posted:

Calusa Narcisa - I know my duty n responsibility as they know also I am not crazy on talking nonsense n don't waste my money to buy top up as I know to save money n they told me I am old enough.

Angel Lucero Navarro - Been working as a domestic helper here in Singapore for almost 10yrs..my own policy is that no phone during working hrs..we came here to work,earn money,save our earnings and not to waste for buying phone cards.there's always time for us to communicate with our love ones back home, not working hours.


Above maids such as Calusa Narcisa and Angel Lucero Navarro, I hope you remain happy here and have a plesant relationship with all your employers. I hope more FDWs like your goodself come to Spore and if possible, I could get such an understanding helper like you to join my household.






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2 Jun - Handphone and internet communication
According to the owner of a maid's Facebook "no human being should stop another human from using it."

A reader wrote this to her: I am a Singaporean employer. My dear I believe in human rights and have been following your page faithfully to know how maids think.
I am not blowing my own trumpet but can say that I am a good employer. I let my maid eat what we eat generously. I don stinge on food. I have told her to hel...
p herself to the biscuits, snacks, etc when hungry. I provide for her everything including mop and gloves. She uses the washing machine. She's been with us for 4 months now. A Filipino. I was glad i found her! My kids love her to bits. I believed I was the lucky one to get a good helper. But today my trust was broken.
You see in the contract it says she can only use her handphone on weekends. Mon to fri no hp. Fri night to Sunday night she can have her Hp. This is only for 6 months. After 6 months she will keep her phone with her. I was so good to her and even bought her a singtel SIM card to use. But today I caught her using another phone with starhub SIM card. She was messaging secretly. Then she hid the phone in her pants. To be more accurate at her groin area. She didn't know I was looking. She thought I am sleeping.

I am so disappointed my dear. She is taking care of my infant baby who is only 4 mths old. Won't the Hp messaging distract her? Other than this I don have any other issues with her. I am happy with her performance. I am happy with the way she handles my kids and house. She cooks very well. And at times she shares with me so many things. When we go out we don look like employer and maid. We look like friends! I will chat with her just like my friend. Then why this secrecy in phone usage? I don't understand. I have even told her she can tell me if she needs her phone urgently. I can pass it to her. I am not so strict you know. In fact today I bought for her slippers to wear at home as old ones were so worn out. I take care of her so well and didn't expect this from her. I am so sad. Can you pls explain to me from a maid's point of view? I will feel much better.

FB Maid's view:
handphone is so important, it has become human right. sometimes contract is unfair, it encourage or force people to break the contract. Instead of contract you should view things from reasonable, human point of view.

Without handphone we maids are disconnected from the world, and become depressed and destroyed.

Don't take things from just the written word. The most important thing in the world is how the heart should view things. Revisit your heart again, feel the power of the heart, and rethink. The secrecy is because of the stupid contract which say `only use phone during weekends'. Most of the time using the phone is not urgent, it is a social need, the need to be connected.

Please understand, sometimes, when the agreement is unfair or stupid or misinformed or wrong, the contract must be changed, or both parties will suffer as you are suffering now. Actually you will stop suffering once you accept that some change must be done to a contract which is not realistic, not fair.

This is now a connected world, everybody is connected. You should also think of giving wifi to your maid. Even without wifi they will use data card or steal wifi from neighbour. giving wifi to your maid is a sensible thing if she request it, and it will only result in better trust, and an easier relationship without lies and hiding.

Finally I want to say again - internet, phone communication today, is a human need, it should be a human right - meaning, if they can afford, they should be allow to use - no human should prevent another from handphone or internet communication.

 

Winter:  Nobody keen to know Employers have lost all human rights.  To them, we are not human beings who deserve similiar respect or get a trustworthy person who should carry out her job as per contract/interview.  The way MOM/activists have shown us is that liars are welcomed in Spore to give employers headaches.  Nobody should blame maids for telling white lies (cheat) in order to get a juicy job.  A standard employment contract is used by Spore maid agencies, recommended by AEAS and CASE.  If maid wants to work in Spore, she is suppose to honour it.  If FDWs knew what are the terms yet chose to fly over and cheat us, they are in the wrong but nobody taking action on them.

We are not made of flesh and blood, will be hurt because MOM/activists/FDWs viewed Employers (won't feel pain) as conveniently located ATM machines to pay for all the damages/problems FDWs purposely created.  Maids looked very lowly paid, cannot make them pay for their problems, people felt cruelty can be channelled to employers because we earn more than FDWs but maybe just earning only 20-40% compared to a highly paid PAP minister's salary (Eg MP draws $10,000/month, the low to middle income salaried employee only earns about $2000/month).  Whatever lies she told or problems maids gave, we caused them to turn bad, eg above.  We failed to give FDWs plenty of chances to learn to be an appreciative person, at our expense.  Pathetic employers! 


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24 Mar - JA, my current and final filipino FDW has been pestering me to let her use her mobile during the day.  I decided I can't be too soft so reminded her during interviews, I have indicated very clearly, my initial requirement was for my FDW to use her mobile during weekly off days but I gave in to her, that is allowing her to use in the night, after finishing her chores.  I have stressed that she has to consider my employment and whether she can fully accept personal mobile is not a 24/7 benefit in my house.  I have made a strong stand to both the agent at Far East Plaza and JA that I am unwilling to take risk by allowing FDW to use mobile during the day.  There's no excuse to say being forced to work in my house or didn't hear properly!  Transfer maids have a choice! Shouldn't act pitiful and lie to others she wasn't informed of any harsh rules before employment or forced to accept a job. 

To avoid frickle minded or dishonest FDW (avoid landing in the same plight as me), I suggest FDW's employer to get FDW write in the contract and ask her sign before you make full payment to the agency .... if 24/7 mobile or off day may be a future problem 导火线.  Make the agent be eye witness.  It is better to be 先小人后君子, 防患於未然,省麻烦!FDWs nowadays tend to be not trustworthy or honest, don't understand why they prefer to be a person with no dignity 毫无人格,不觉得羞耻.  They learn tactics to manage employers instead of standing firm from bad influence and deliver what they promised you before employment.  耳跟软,轻易被人唆使 / 影响或本性就是坏. 

Employers can choose to play angels,  believe FDWs, trust they know how to control their mobile phone usage, I didn't say you cannot give FDW the benefit of doubt or leeway, she's your FDW, not mine!  My experience with my current filipino transfer maid proved that giving in to her request is opening my gate to problems.  She doesn't appreciate I am trying to be an accommodating and understanding boss.

JA said she promised she will not use her mobile unless emergency.  If she didn't turn on mobile ring or touch her phone all the time, how would she know when is urgent?  JA can use her mobile every evening so what kind of life and death situation could there be?   Her 'friend' met with an accident so she need to dash over to help?  Her family in Philippines need her advice so she must call them instantly?   Example, her 17 years old son got drunk again so she must give him a motherly concern or lecture?

According to agency, JA could only start taking weekly off day after finishing one week with me so her first no-off Sunday, I purposely left her mobile on the desk and I could see her smsing and making calls.  Confirm, she can't keep her hands off her mobile.  Trust is by seeing with your own eyes!

JA promised she will not be a heavy phone user if I allow her to use her mobile during the day... first few days with me proved that I can't give her the benefit of doubt.  My wake up call to her was I said, by pestering me to use mobile during the day instead of every evening after finishing her chores, she has already broken her promise and that was only Day 1 of the employment!

Full trust is not to be given blindly, it must be earned through months of observation.  By trusting somebody too freely, especially FDW, a person who has access to your personal life, handling your precious ones, living under the same roof .... you really need to open your eyes big enough to see and ears open wide to hear.  Don't be naive to believe 人性本善.  You may need to pay a high price to learn a painful lesson.  Play safe than be sorry. We are the ones paying, not FDWs, they won't feel the pinch!

Nowadays, it is not easy to get a FDW who will agree to no mobile phone unless you are hiring a fresh maid who is compensated with no off days, totally in your sight, no chance to interact with others ie 95% won't turn bad then I agree there are FDWs who can live in Spore without a mobile phone and won't turn bad or affect her job performance.  All my FDWs are outdoor persons, have to take my girl to school via mrt so there's no way I can keep any FDW employed in my name to be unpolluted.   To be good or bad FDW, she decides, not me.  I can advise JA but she choose whether those are nags and not benefiting her.

I wish I can clone another of me so I need not hire FDWs.  Still a mother to my girl and giving her unconditioned love and care.  One to stay home and another 'me' to work.


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27 Feb - today is my bad day.  I was shot by an experienced FDW and an activist.
This FDW put up an ad so I thought of sounding her whether she's keen to help me look after my girl.  She sms me "no thanks but Im not interested to work with a person like you.. we r FDW, we r human being too same as you, we know our rights and responsibilities as Fdw."

The activist who saw my ad email me this:
FDW can use personal cellphone on weekly off days IF THERE IS NO LOAN. (quote from Winter's ad)

Restricting access to communications to an adult is a breach of the Deceleration of Human Rights. I appreciate that during working hours handphone use can be restricted but after or before work in their own personal time restricting access to communications for a DW runs contrary to their rights."

My reply:
"There are Spore companies that restrict the use of mobile phones.  This is part of the company's code of conduct.  If any employee who disagrees, he or she should not join that company and then start screaming about human rights. 

I was clear right from the start about my Code of Conduct/house rules (that is company's policies) so choice is FDW's, am I right?  No FDW was forced to join my house nor told about such Code of Conduct after joining.

BTW, MOM did not issue any guidelines about FDW's scope of work nor human rights issues.  All employment terms are supposed to be discussed, agreed and arranged between agency/FDW and employer.  If I missed out any update from MOM, maybe you can provide links.
All my FDWs are not restricted to communicate with friends, no phone but still able to meet/chat with many other human beings - FDWs, men, on a DAILY basis due to her job scope."


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Nov 2012 - My colleague asked me how was I, I told her I just changed a FDW and now training my new FDW who is trying to drive my blood pressure up. 

She was kind of shocked when I said one of my requirements is that my FDW must not use her personal mobile on working days.  She can only use personal mobile phone on off days or when there's a need, with prior permission.

Colleague: you shouldn't stop your maid from using her mobile phone.  She should have a phone to talk to her friends and family.  She would prefer to keep in close contact with them.
Me:            I have to stick to this requirement to ensure my helper focuses on my girl.  By having a mobile phone, she'll be distracted.  This is my requirement, I don't want to put my girl at risk, thus, not many transfer maids want to be interviewed by me when I did a walk-in to the maid hubs.
Colleague: You can let her use the phone in the night, after working hours.
Me:            My previous helper  could rest around 9 pm but she is a slow worker.  At 10 pm which is already very late, current helper is still dilly-dally, don't know why she need so much time to do certain tasks. If she spend time on her phone, eg Facebook or overseas call, she won't have enough rest if she gets hooked or chats too long.
Colleague: Not having enough rest is her problem, she should be old enough to know.  This is not a good reason to stop maid from having her phone.  This is about human rights.
Me:           Ya, I know so I made it very clear to the agency.  Don't force anybody to work in my house, the ideal helper must be willing to accept my terms.  Anyway, when my helper goes to special school with my girl, she'll have plenty of friends.  Also, there are many other maids in my neighbourhood waiting to befriend her.    
Colleague: she would prefer her own circle of friends
In my mind, M is a transfer maid, hasn't purchased a mobile phone.  Her condo ex-employer didn't give her off days.  Since she's considered fresh, her family and usual circle of friends are in Indonesia.  Is she going to spend lots of money making IDD calls or hook on Facebook via mobile plan?
Me:            ........

Another lunch colleague heard our conversation.
Colleague B:  I thought your maid is confined at home.  If she can mix with other people, then no mobile phone should be ok.
Me:                my helper takes mrt to special school on weekdays.  There's no lack of friends or companionship.
Colleague B:  Is your maid required to stay in class?
Me:                told her to stay in class to learn when school reopens but if she wants to walk out to chit-chat, I can't control because I'm not there to supervise.  I gave instruction to my helper to watch my girl, ensure she's safe and not alone, especially when outside.
Colleague:     Do you call your family when at work?
I hardly ring my husband, home or friends when I'm working.  I don't want my colleagues or bosses to hear and see me having personal calls.  I'll sms when necessary.  That's why my basic mobile phone plan is often under-untilised. 
Me:               I don't have the habit of making personal calls.
Suddenly realised maybe I should do more phone calling.  Sounds weird that I don't make frequent phone calls.


Comparing my friends and siblings, I'm the only person who is afraid and can't afford to take risks.  Their children can complain but mine can't.

They are stay-home mums or have in laws to supervise FDWs.  I don't.  My FDW is all alone with my girl.  Having a mobile phone 24/7 would mean my girl will not be her main attention.

Their FDWs have no off day but I allowed mine to have after completion of maid loan.  She's welcome to stay out of my sight during off days.  Take off day means she'll have lesser salary.

Their FDWs have no chance to go out everyday but mine can.  My FDW has to take my girl to school on weekdays independantly.

One of my friend's Indonesian FDW, worked about one year plus, spent almost S$1500 on her mobile phone on one particular month.  She was transferred out.  As an employer, she's worried about her real intention to work.  How is she going to pay her bills with a miserable salary of only S$400 per month?  Will she borrow from loanshark-FDW?  Will she steal to pay her bills or loans?  Will she sleep with men to earn when employers are not at home?  Why she need to spend so much time on her mobile, is it she's too free or too rich?  No point asking because FDW will not tell the truth.

Another friend who had a Myanmar FDW, just renewed her contract, has a mobile 24/7 and no off day.  Every weekend, that FDW has official errand to run for her employer.  While running errand, she could squeeze time to meet her boyfriend and ended up pregnant.  Her employer doesn't monitor the time she took to run errand.  This FDW is well liked, trusted by her employer and family.

My stubborn ex-maid V found time to meet boyfriends while bringing my girl to playground, school or visit market alone.   V can request to use her mobile on weekends, for around 30mins. I knew she used public pay phone to call while taking my girl out or borrowed other FDWs phone when in school.  I knew but kept quiet.

V was a married woman with one child.  Other neighbourhood FDWs and neighbours saw her hanging with men together with my girl!!  I knew all these after V left.  That was my first FDW, no off day.  Imagine with mandatory off days in 2013, what kind of open activities will FDWs be engaged in?  Singapore is a tempting place, many fascinating things and MOM treats the FDWs much better then their employers.  FDWs will not be held responsible for any irresponsible or non-life threatening actions.  Singapore is really a safe haven for errant maids.  There's no policy to protect employers' money and interest when a bad maid is hired.

Something should be done to make FDWs be responsible for their own actions so that employers are more willing to give off days, 24/7 mobile usage, high salary .....