19 Dec 2016

Who earns lesser than FDWs?

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Maid/FDW's dental and medical
Maid with personal mobile phone
so many Bruises on my girl
Domestic maid's Off day

S$1500 for a maid VS 
$1100 - 1300 for a Sporean low income family (±4 pax in a family)
Are FDWs (maids) underpaid?

Guaranteed pay rises will bring relief, say cleaners, Straits Times, 13 Dec 2016
For eight years, assistant cleaning supervisor Leow Chin Kia's monthly pay has been stuck at $1,300.  The 73-year-old was resigned to it.

"I'm old already. Where else can I go? It's not enough, but I have to accept it," he said.

But like other cleaners struggling to rise above their flatline salaries, Mr Leow will be assured of a pay rise in future, thanks to a raft of recommendations by the Tripartite Cluster of Cleaners (TCC) to uplift workers in the cleaning industry.

It has recommended a $200 boost in basic wage levels set out in the Progressive Wage Model in the next three years. These will be raised by $60 annually in the next two years, and $80 in 2019.

And from 2020 to 2022, cleaners can expect an annual increase of 3 per cent to these wage levels.  The extra income will go into his meagre savings, said Mr Leow, who has been working in the cleaning industry for more than 20 years. He cleans indoor and outdoor areas in downtown Singapore.

He will get $20 more a month from July 2018, when the minimum wage level for an outdoor cleaner like him hits $1,320. The year after, his monthly salary will be $1,400.  "I'm still healthy now. I still can work. But I have new problems with my body, so I need to save enough for medicine, for doctors," he said, adding that he wants to support himself in his old age so he will not be a "burden" to his family.

Meanwhile, Madam Junaina Ismail - a cleaner for the past 15 years at mostly government buildings - is a victim of the wage "reset" that plagues the cleaning industry.  Some cleaners find their pay and benefits, like paid leave, falling back to the minimum level when there is a change in service providers or when contracts with service buyers, like building owners, are renewed.

At her previous workplace, Madam Junaina had $1,400 in monthly pay. But when she was sent to a new workplace last year, it fell to $1,000 - the minimum under the Progressive Wage Model for cleaners.  The 59-year-old, who takes medicine for high blood pressure, said the new pay levels will help ease her concerns in the coming years.  (Winter:  FDWs salary and living conditions climbed upwards but their performance deteriorated.  As per agency contract, 10% pay rise is stated as 2-year contract renewal.  FDW get paid home leave upon contract renewal.  Their salary will go up but not down, regardless of performance and job hopped how many times.  Sporean activists fighting hard for FDWs, aren't you ashamed that you did a perfect job for foreigners but didn't spare equal concerns to the plight of low income earners?  Your actions to help FDWs implied they worked harder than the cleaners and deserve much more in Spore, at our expense?  Or is it a disgrace to let people know there are low income cleaners in Spore... they can't make you look good and shine outside the little red dot?)

The annual bonus from 2020 - her first in almost a decade - is the icing on the cake. "I was worried because everyone kept telling me the economy was bad. But now, every year, there's something to look forward to: Even $60 is enough, for groceries, for little things," she said.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari, who chairs TCC, hopes the pay rises will help improve the image of cleaning, a job shunned by many in an industry staffed mostly by elderly workers.

"If you want to make cleaning a viable industry to attract people, you have to improve the employment terms and conditions. If the job doesn't give annual increases, doesn't give bonuses, it will not be attractive," he said. "We hope it will attract even younger workers to become cleaners."   

TCC and NTUC said in a joint statement that the new pay levels will benefit all: Cleaners will get sustained wage growth and progress in their careers, businesses can better attract and retain quality workers and be more motivated to invest in their training, and service buyers will benefit from more reliable and better-quality cleaning services.

If we breakdown the 407,400 earning less than $1,500 into 47,000 earning less than $500, 125,900 earning less than $1,000 and 234,500 earning less than $1,500.   

Low-wage workers may get pay rise this year, Straits Times, 26 May 2016
Low-wage workers could be set for another round of pay hikes this year.  The National Wages Council (NWC) is expected to announce next week a recommendation to give low-wage workers a minimum pay rise. Its recommendation is currently being considered by the Government and, if accepted, will kick in on July 1.

This continues a push started by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) in 2012 to lift the salaries of low-wage workers.  That year, the NTUC lobbied for a $50 pay hike for workers earning a basic monthly salary of up to $1,000. The NWC backed the move, which the Government subsequently accepted. It was the first time in nearly 30 years that the council specified a minimum dollar amount to increase workers' salaries.

The council continued in the same vein for three more years, raising the minimum built-in pay increase to $60 in 2013. It proposed $60 increases for low-wage workers in 2014 and last year as well. Last year, it also raised the salary bar to $1,100.

When the latest round of wage talks started in March this year, unionists continued to push for a minimum "quantitative" pay hike for low-wage workers similar to the levels in previous years, a source said.  Labour chief Chan Chun Sing yesterday declined to comment on NTUC's position in the wage talks.  "I will give my comment when the recommendations are announced," said the NTUC secretary-general. "The NWC (announcement) is coming out next week."

It has not been revealed how big the latest hike might be. But even if the Government accepts its recommendation, it is not binding.  Only about six in 10 private-sector employers gave low-wage workers earning up to $1,000 the minimum pay hike of $60 in 2014, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say told Parliament in January.  He added that the proportion of Singaporeans and permanent residents earning a basic monthly salary of up to $1,000 from full-time work shrunk from 9.8 per cent in 2012 to 6.8 per cent in 2014.

A source said there is concern whether the council will back a fifth round of pay hikes for low-wage workers this year because employers are worried about wage costs at a time when the economic outlook is bleak.  Council chairman Peter Seah hinted last year that the annual wage hikes could end, saying the NWC will carry out annual reviews on whether to continue recommending a fixed quantum.

Mr David Leong, managing director of human resource firm People Worldwide Consulting, said the four rounds of minimum wage hikes recommended by the council have improved the lives of low-wage workers. "It was through the sheer force of the NTUC that it happened," he said.  But he warned that the hikes cannot become "an annual routine".  "It will be harder to get employers' buy-in when the economy is down and workers are being retrenched," he said.

Read: Switzerland voters are being asked whether they want all Swiss citizens, along with foreigners who have been legal residents in Switzerland for at least five years, to receive an unconditional basic income or UBI.  The amount to be paid has yet to be determined, but the non-political group behind the initiative has suggested paying 2,500 Swiss francs (S$3,480) a month to each adult, and 625 francs for each child.

Mar 2016
A live-in FDW cost about S$1500 per month.  This amount is more than a low income earner's salary.  S$1500 can feed a low income family of ±four vs one maid.  To employ a maid, living costs should be factored in, salary is obvious but taken for granted costs such as agency fee, medical, insurance, food, accommodation, our time to source & train, etc aren't calculated in activists' eyes.  Most activists are much more highly educated than me yet so poor in Mathematics and minds so rigid?  Activists are not careless/overlook, just trying to deceive gullible people who haven't employed or encountered bad/princess maids.

Ask yourself, maids can live with just air?  If no, why living costs aren't factored in?  Why make a FDW's salary appeared so low and undervalued the employer?  Why every employee has to minus living costs from his/her her salary, except FDWs?  Why give people the false illustration?  披羊皮的恶狼 假仁假义 存心欺骗大众  ... 这种人应该千刀万剐!

You felt spending $1500 on a maid should be peanuts?  You felt if FDW's employer can't throw away $1500/month is unsuitable, not rich enough and don't qualify to employ a FDW?  Such mentality and jealousy happen to western educated people 西方的不良影响.... earned much more than Sporeans yet not entitled to employ maids to "show off"  妒忌使他们心理不平衡 变态 对人刻薄.  Shouldn't I feel heartache to spend such money on maids who can't really meet my needs and their salary kept climbing upwards +getting more and more demanding... resort to trickery and deception, all due to the vast efforts of obnoxious activists?  

The topic here is "Who earns lesser than FDWs?"  Some people enjoy attacking me by leaving insensitive, self–righteous and ridiculous comments in my blog!  Their senses are solely for FDWs, have no heart for other humans who are trying to survive in a decent, lawful and responsible way.  There are locals who are paid lesser than maids and need your help for a better living but your righteous and generosity went to FDWs instead of your own countryman! I am confused, readers here, are you born as a Sporean?  胳膊肘往外拐  

You may want to squabble maids are poorly paid then us, overworked, salary per hour is unfit for a human... in the first place, how can you compare maids with us?  We are of different education level. Shouldn't you be fair by comparing the Spore low income VS the so call underpaid FDWs?  You don't dare to use this comparison because you're afraid/don't want to show the world the truth, that is FDWs are not underpaid in Spore and you've been making a mountain out of a molehill 无稽之谈!  FDWs here have been treated better than their source countries, apart from leaving their loved ones to work in a foreign country and treated as commodity by maid agencies, which aren't employers' fault.

FDW is a job foreign women have chosen on their own will, employers are not responsible to give them good lives. As long as Employers carry out our duties as per Spore/MOM's law, we don't owe maids anything.  It is up to individual employer to give FDW better privileges. This is a paid relationship so if either party is unhappy, terminate and get separated at your own costs.  If Spore is a lousy place and maid felt exploited, why remain here?  Are you out of your mind to cling onto an 'inhuman' job?  Everyone makes bad decisions sometimes. Most people also make some good decisions. People with low incomes have made both. "Choices" have long-term effects. People with extra money and social capital can mitigate the consequences of "bad" choices, but people (low income) without those buffers face severe consequences over time. (click)

FDWs, your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is a great work, be a good helper/employee. The only way to do great work is to accept what you do and who you are.  Don't put limit on everything you do or telling people/yourself you can't do it.  Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.  You are not perfect, so am I. I do my best to deliver my duties as an employee. I tried to make my company felt it is worth employing me.  I don't resort to trickery or push the consequences of my choices to others (ie Employers to bear the consequences of FDW's wrongful/wilful decision).  It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.  How bad can you be compared to what KK Hospital did to me .... a gloomy lifelong journey, can't choose to terminate?

Spore is a tiny country but it is well governed, has lots of fine$ policies and laws to make people living here behave well unlike some countries, corrupted, "selling their citizens out" for a high price, collaborated with maid agencies and expect the respective employers to absorb the costs as well as improve the lives of their citizens (foreigners in the red dot)! 

Most Singaporeans (that includes me) earn more than FDWs but are we required to share or waste our hard earn money on bad performing FDWs?  FDWs want a good income and the recognition of their employers then do a good job, put in the extra mile and stop whining!  Yes, there are bad employers but there are also bad maids who are mentality unfit, not tuned to work as FDW and lie stressed, ill-treated by their employers, thus pushed them to take revenge/became bad, read Unbelievable Acts of Maid and New maid capable of doing .....  

$1500 to a number of people seemed like peanuts because this money doesn't come from your pocket and the underperforming FDW wasn't employed by you.   You're probably the rich type who can take your family out for yearly vacations, maybe have car and carry branded stuff.  I certainly can't afford these because I have a lot of 'rainy money' (emergency/future funds) to earn and set aside for my special needs teen!  I work hard for an income that I deserve 不靠别人 不欺诈 自力更生, I carry out my duties as per my employment contract because I can't depend on PAP to help or expect money to rain on me 不劳而获... if I stay home for my special needs child!  Based on statistic, my child won't die before me.  Rare Disorders Society (Singapore) says living expenses alone for a child with a rare disease averages $2,500 a month for essentials including special milk, tubing and medication. Besides being in financial straits, families struggle emotionally too (click) – in the face of misunderstanding from strangers and insensitive relatives, the deepest cut can come from those closest to you, a relative said to her: “Why didn’t you check? Could this not have been detected before the baby was born?”  S'pore children with rare diseases (click).

KK Hospital failed to provide good antenatal care and rejected my request to do detailed screening.  As a result, I ended up with a special needs child (chromosome deletion can be detected during the first trimester) but KKH is not required to be responsible for my girl (negligence) because KKH claimed I have no medical history .... no easy route or a clear direction for them to start their tests.  It would be a chore for KKH to carry out bundles of lab tests.  Thus, as the 'factory owner' (my womb), I've to bear all the consequences.  Life is unfair so I have to accept unwillingly and move on.  Mother nature has treated most of you well and your life have been smooth sailing.  Therefore, you can't understand how I feel and the difficulties to survive with just one breadwinner in Spore... dual income is necessary. 

The low income families are living worse than a FDW.  They have to face living standard that is much higher and harsher than any FDW's source country.  Most maids live and eat better than these families but activists prefer to cheat the world (camouflage) 人格扭曲, adamant that FDWs are lowly paid, stepped on the locals 无耻踩人上位 to make themselves look really glamorous.  Some FDWs are choosy and can discard good food (I'm not referring to instant noodles and bread) ... just because they don't feel like eating and most important, food weren't paid by them.  Food wastage to them is not a sin or crime.

The elderly couple are already struggling with caring for their adult daughter, intellectually disabled, also suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and a neurogenic bladder (meaning she has no control of her bladder). "I'd rather not know if I'm sick. Worrying is also an illness. What if I'm sick, but can't pay for the treatment," said the 72 years old father.  Madam Lau (mother) works about four hours a day at the coffee shop, earning between $300 and $400 a month.  The New Paper, 7 March 2016

Family of 7 live on $1,300 a month, Straits Times, 28 Feb 2016
Some people call sole breadwinners like Mr Ong Leong Hock the "sandwiched class" because they have young children to take care of and elderly parents to support.  But Mr Ong, 49, is literally sandwiched between his wife and three daughters on two beds joined together in a room every night. His family of five would squeeze in a room because the other room in their three-room flat is occupied by his parents.

Though he promised his wife when they got married 13 years ago that they would get a place of their own, it has yet to materialise because finances are tight.  "I have applied for a two-room rental flat nearby because the kids are growing and need their own space and my parents can rent out the room for some income," says Mr Ong in Mandarin. His three daughters are aged four, 12 and 13.

To make ends meet, Mr Ong puts in long hours as a cooked food stall assistant. He starts work at the economical rice stall at the nearby Kovan Hougang market and food centre just after 7am and knocks off at nearly 9pm on weekdays.  
Yet he brings in only $1,300 a month, barely enough to provide for all seven family members. So his 73-year-old mother, until recently, has been working as a cleaner to supplement the household income.  Last week, she quit her $1,000 a month cleaning job to help care for her husband, 80, who has lung and heart problems, diabetes and other chronic medical conditions.

Together with her daughter-in-law, a homemaker, they wipe him down every day and cook for him. Last Sunday, he was admitted to hospital after coming down with a viral infection. He has since been discharged.  "We scrimp and save by sharing packets of food and getting donated clothes from the aunties at their schools," says Mr Ong.  "But the bigger headache comes when one of the children gets a fever in the middle of the night, as the hospital bills and taxi fares can come up to a few hundred dollars," he adds. For such situations, he borrows money from friends, as he has no savings.

After dropping out of Secondary 2, he worked as a food delivery man and a food stall assistant.  "It is stressful coming home after a long day having to worry about the health of my parents and putting food on the table for the children, but this is reality," he says.

When asked about switching to a better-paying job, he says: "With my age and educational qualifications, who wants to hire me? The most I get is $1,800 as a delivery man, but the sums work out to be the same. As a stall assistant I get free meals and it's walking distance so I save on transport."

He has not applied for the ComCare financial assistance scheme as he has not heard of it. "My English is not good and I don't have any computer so I don't know what all those are," he says. However, his three daughters are on the Ministry of Education Financial Assistance Scheme that covers textbooks, school attire and transport expenses.

He does not have any ideas on how to plan a better future. "By the time I come home, I am too tired to think. I can't go for those skills upgrading courses because my pay will be cut if I take time off work. The economy is so bad, what if I get retrenched? Better to stick to what I am familiar with," says Mr Ong.  "I would rather look for extra part-time jobs during the weekend, as they give me immediate cash, than worry about the future."  

The loving father makes a point to set aside time to bond with his family. Last Monday, the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, he had a day off, so he took his family out to nearby provision stores to stock up on household supplies.

"Since I can't give them much, I always nag my kids to study hard so they can find good jobs," says Mr Ong. "For myself, I don't dare to dream because there are no savings, no starting point. I will take one step at a time."

It's a tough job, Straits Times, 28 Feb 2016
When Madam Jayamalini Ariatheven's husband walked out on her eight years ago, after a marriage that involved arguments and domestic violence, she was left to look after their three sons, two of whom have special needs.  Feeling helpless, she attempted suicide in 2008, taking about 100 anti-depressant pills and alcohol.

"I wanted to die. I didn't bother about my kids. It was selfish," said the 40-year-old at her four-room HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang.  With motivation from her doctor, social worker and friends, she realised she had to live for her sons.

"They understood what I was going through. They consoled and counselled me, giving me tips on how to handle my children," said Madam Jayamalini, whose mother died in 2005, and who has lost contact with her father and elder sister.

Madam Jayamalini's second son, Immanuel Raja Rajendra Verma, 11, was diagnosed with global developmental delay at birth and requires frequent hospital visits, while her youngest son, Isaiah, 10, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Her eldest son, 13-year-old Isaac, has been her pillar of strength. Now she is giving her three schoolboys "a childhood like any other children's", after overcoming her problems with the help of two people - a close friend and her boss.

"JM" has known Madam Jayamalini for 25 years, and has been on hand for heart-to-heart conversations. She visits the family twice a month and sends Madam Jayamalini daily messages on WhatsApp.  "She is my best friend and the three kids are innocent," said 43-year-old JM, who is also their godmother. "I want her to get up, step out of the house, start working and get in touch with society again."

Madam Jayamalini works as a home-based administrator for Dx Marine Services, earning $1,000 a month. Her employer, Madam Thanaletchemi Ramasamy, understands her struggles. "She can't leave her sons and go out to work," said the 52-year-old director. "I just want to help by giving her a job."

A study by a group of final-year Nanyang Technological University students found Singaporeans do not help caregivers enough. Nearly half of those surveyed know someone who looks after a family member with special needs. While six in 10 agreed it is necessary to show care towards family caregivers, only two in 10 offered help.

Dr Kalyani K. Mehta, chairman of the Silver Caregivers Cooperative, said the caregiver role is often thrust upon a person. It can impact their life in areas such as employment, social life and finance.  "Looking after someone with special needs requires tremendous amount of energy, time and patience," she said. "As they (those with special needs) may not listen to reason, it can be frustrating."

A social worker, who did not want to be named, said: "Sometimes caregivers have their own reason for not wanting help." Madam Jayamalini said she seldom asks for assistance. "It's very difficult, very tough. I cry thinking about their future," she said of her children. "Sometimes I feel paiseh (Hokkien for embarrassed) to ask (for help). I don't want to disturb people. They have their own lives and family."

No money for food at end of the month, Straits Times, 28 Feb 2016
It is 9pm on a Monday and Sasha (not her real name) has not only skipped dinner, but breakfast and lunch as well.  "I haven't eaten all day because there is no money for food towards the end of the month," says Sasha, who is in her 40s and a single mother of four children. She has been married three times.  "Usually, I just drink water and let the children have instant noodle or $2 packets of food," she adds, breaking into a hacking cough.

Sasha wakes at dawn each weekday to prepare her children for school, then leaves for her job as an administrative assistant. The mum and two daughters, aged seven and 14, together with a 15-year-old son, live in a two-room rental flat in Woodlands. She also has a 21-year-old son from her first marriage - the husband died in an accident- but he is estranged and lives with her mother.

Sasha is bringing up the three children singlehandedly as her current and third husband, a former warehouse packer, was jailed in 2014 for drug offences. He will be released only in 2019.

• Single parents are defined as a sole parent caring for dependent children. They parent alone because of various circumstances. Some are unwed mothers, while others are divorcees, widows or have separated from their partners.

• Single parents are caregivers to their children as well as the breadwinners. They bear responsibilities usually shared by two adults and so face huge time pressures and financial strain.

On how she copes with day-to-day living, she says: "Thankfully, the older children are sensible and they pick up the youngest child from student care in the evenings when I am at work. They also supervise each other's homework and help with housework."

But then there is the other struggle - finances. Or lack of them. Her $1,200 pay does not cover the family's monthly $1,500 expenses on food, cellphone bills, transport and debt repayments.

The debts - about $11,000 to electronics and furniture retailer Courts - are from her second marriage. That husband, a drug addict who was in and out of jail, was physically abusive. They divorced about 10 years ago and Sasha took out a Personal Protection Order.

Sasha pays it off in $200 instalments each month. "Since 2001, I have been paying little by little but there is still $9,000 left because with the interest, the money owed keeps snowballing," she says.  She does not know how much interest she is being charged. When asked why, she replies: "They have been asking me to come to discuss this but I have no time and I am stressed enough already."  She also owes nearly $2,000 in credit card debts, but the bank has waived its interest charges.

To cope with daily expenses, she has asked her boss for pay advances for the past two years. Most of her gold jewellery has been pawned and she manages debts by borrowing from friends.  She does not turn to her parents or siblings for help because they are not on good terms.

For three months last year from September, the family received $1,000 a month from the ComCare short-term assistance scheme. Though those payouts have ended, they are on another form of ComCare help now. All rent, utility and service and conservancy charges are being covered but that ends this month.  "My neighbours have asked me to go together and renew the ComCare application but I have no leave to take and if I take time off, my pay will be cut," says Sasha.

Touch Community Services has also been providing weekly tuition to her children at home.  Sasha admits: "In the past I had depression and suicidal thoughts, and sometimes, those feelings come back. But I think about my children and of others worse off than me and I tell myself I can do it."

Smiling, she then tells The Sunday Times that the family can collect the keys to a four-room flat in Yishun by the year-end. She and her husband had booked the $350,000 flat in 2013. It is being paid for with the money from their Central Provident Fund accounts, and they have taken a housing loan.

When asked why she did not cancel the application for the new flat given her financial constraints, she says: "I don't want to waste money renting a place and the children need something long-term. There are a lot of drug addicts here.  "With the new house, we hope to start a new life. I want to give the children a good life."

Jobless man cares for wife and kids - who suffer from epilepsy, kidney failure The New Paper, 1 Apr 2015

Mr John Low suffers chronic pain from arthritis and rotator cuff disorder - a tear in a tendon in his shoulder. But that's the least of his worries, said the father of three.

Epilepsy, cerebral palsy, kidney failure and mild intellectual disability are just some conditions that plague his family.  Yet when asked about the stress of looking after their needs, Mr Low, 58, said with a shrug:  "One step at a time." His resilience and positivity in the face of adversity made him one of 32 recipients of the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient and Caregiver Award yesterday.

It recognises patients and caregivers for their dedication in improving the health outcomes of their loved ones.  Speaking to The New Paper before the award ceremony, Mr Low went through the list of his family's ailments. His wife, Irene, 47, had a heart operation in 2009 and has end-stage renal failure.

His eldest child, Cassandra, 21, who is waiting to go to polytechnic, has anaemia. Second daughter Celia, 19, is partially deaf and needs a hearing aid.  She also has mild intellectual disability and knows just a handful of words like "Papa", "Mama" and "Didi" (Mandarin for younger brother).

His son, Bernard, 12, has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and needs round-the-clock care.

Mr Low was supposed to have an operation for a tear in his shoulder tendon in February, but he had to reschedule it.  "It was during the Chinese New Year period. What if my wife needed me to carry heavy things for her? What if anything happens to my family when I'm not around?" he said.  He recalled an incident in 2013 that still haunts him to this day.  His wife fainted after a stroke.  "I remember it was a Sunday. I had just stepped into the flat when she suddenly fainted. The packet of rice in my hands fell to the floor," he said.

That was how Mrs Low found out she has end-stage renal failure.  "In 2009, when her heart doctor told her to check her kidneys, the advice fell on deaf ears. She didn't care. That's why this happened," Mr Low said, chiding his wife.

Mrs Low now goes for dialysis on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at a centre near their three-room Tampines flat.  She said:  "By the end of the four-hour session, I'm always very weak and drained, so my husband comes and takes me home."

On weekdays, Mr Low wakes up at 5am to bathe Bernard, who is wheelchair-bound. He then makes breakfast for his family, usually a simple affair of cereal or bread.  Celia leaves home to go to the workshop at SPD, an organisation that helps people with disabilities, using transport provided by SPD.

Mr Low accompanies Bernard in the school bus to Rainbow Centre Yishun Park School, which runs special education programmes, and he stays with his son till the end of school.  "Bernard needs me to be around. I have a doctor's letter certifying that I have to do that," Mr Low said.

After school, they reach home at about noon or 12.30pm. Bernard is left to play alone while Mr Low does the housework.  Said Mrs Low: "He does all the chores, like laundry and mopping. I am only in charge of cooking.  "Everyone in the family is not particular about food. Whatever I cook, they eat."

He keeps track of each family member's medication and doctor appointments by writing them on a piece of paper stuck on the fridge.  The couple are jobless and rely on the $1,240 a month in financial assistance from the North East Community Development Council.

Medical social workers help them with the medical expenses. Mr Low, who used to run a provision shop but gave it up in 2004 because of the high rental, conceded that it is not enough.  

But he refuses to fret excessively.  "If we don't have enough to eat, let the children eat first because they are still young. My wife needs fresh food because of her kidneys.  "I can eat less. It doesn't matter," he said quietly.  When asked if he takes a day off to relieve himself of his caregiver duties, Mr Low shook his head.  "What for? Even if I go out, I will keep worrying about what's going on at home. We try not to go out as a family because it can get a little troublesome," he said.

Bernard, for instance, sometimes takes things out of people's bags out of curiosity, but those who do not know about his condition may think he is a thief, Mrs Low said.  It is evident from the family dynamics that Mr Low's love for his family is what keeps him going. During the interview, the couple would pause to bicker over little things.

Mr Low said he sometimes calls his wife a "tiger" at home. While Mrs Low tended to a restless Bernard, Mr Low took out a card holder filled with pictures of his wife and him in their younger days.  "Very pretty, right? Don't tell my wife I carry them around. She will confiscate them," he said with a cheeky grin.

He then let on that his only worry now is about his children when they grow up. "Who will take care of them? I don't know.  "One step at a time," he said, repeating his mantra.nts to care for sick wife and three children. 

Jun 2014
Winter: A lot of people, activists, minsters and those who are born with golden spoon ... graduated or 'groomed 'as high flyers, didn't touch ground, didn't get to face 'short of cash' and how to manage a household with a miserable income. These people will not know or believe some citizens, the low-income earners are having take home pay that are lesser that FDW/maids.  Maids need not bear the full cost of her living in Spore.  Her salary is what we call take home pay.  Others, all other employee in Spore get a salary but that salary has to be deducted for meals, transport, insurance, accommodation, CPF, etc.

Anybody underpaid compared to FDWs (maid)?
Who are the poor?  Straits Times
Mr Hamdan Ahmad, 45, works two jobs day and night to take home a total of around $2,170 a month. It's barely enough for his family of eight. Still, he is proud that his hard work will allow his family to have a new two-room Housing Board flat next year.But he does not qualify for the Workfare Income Supplement which would give him an additional $2,000 per year, most of it in CPF. The reason: his combined pay from his two jobs is higher than the $1,900 Workfare income ceiling.

Mr Hamdan and his family represent one group of the poor in Singapore: people with large families, doing their best but struggling to make ends meet. Social workers say single mothers and the elderly poor need looking out for too.

A new paper by a team of researchers and poverty experts from the Lien Centre of Social Innovation says Singapore needs to define poverty and make available more information and data about the poor. This will not only guide experts in finding solutions, but also generate more public support from donors and citizens for efforts to help the vulnerable. Many of Singapore's poor may not be destitute like those in developing countries, but they do exist, the experts say.

Winter: When I was doing my means testing (many years ago), the social worker said having a motor cycle is a luxury.  To get a miserable and short-time financial assessment, hubby cannot have a motor bike.

Isn't it cheaper to buy a 200cc to 400 cc motorbike and pay thru instalment?  The total cost of that bike hubby bought was about S$3000 (COE wasn't that high at that time) but we have to opt for instalment.

Hubby bought a bike so that he need not take taxi to work and then taxi back after work.  He worked shifts.  Morning shift, he left the house about 5.30am (with a bike or taxi.  To take bus/mrt, he has to wake up early and the problem is bus/mrt and still not operating so early).  After shift, he clocked out about 11pm.  No bus/mrt available for him to connect and reach home. The last train was too early. He doesn't work nearby. By taxi/bike, about 30mins travelling time, smooth traffic.

Did social worker factor all these when assessing our expenditure?
Guess she thought I was trying to get easy money from govt 有手有脚 有学历 却想不劳而获 当寄身虫. 
When I hired a FDW, I was shocked to know she gets everything that a low income family was denied of! 同人不同命 真的很悲哀!  
努力靠自己也有错?  精量省钱 未雨绸缪 不因该吗?

To determine who are the needy .... the poor, some people suggesting setting a poverty line but Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing made a parliamentary reply, stating the Government's approach is to use broad definitions for the groups it seeks to help, set clear criteria to identify and assess those in need, and come up with tailored schemes. If we use a single poverty line to assess the family, we also risk a 'cliff effect', where those below the poverty line receive all forms of assistance, while other genuinely needy citizens outside the poverty line are excluded.

** As long as there is a need for financial aid, it is poverty. Can exist in any spectrum. Even the richest will need help when they are bankrupted. Having a poverty line (or many such lines) will give insights to the economists, when determining how many poor there are in Singapore. It will help in national budgeting. Every little info counts.

** Ya, i think setting an offcial poverty line will taint PAP's perfect set of KPIs in GDP, highest SWF and national reservers, wealthiest nation, world's most liveable city, world class financial hub, education hub, first class airport etc. By meeting a set of criteria means one has to submit many documents n go thru many red tapes to prove that he deserves help from the govt. This is PAP's way to deter n limit the pool of people draining their reserves.

**the real statement in between lines "we don't want to set a poverty line because it will expose the reality of Singapore and FT might stop coming over and Singaporeans will vote PAP out".

**No poverty lines means there are no poor people on Singapore! Let foreigners assume we are rich and able to offer higher salary to foreigners. Let citizens continue to earn lesser and have lower quality of life compared to imported workers.

**  bottomline is, the more info and stats presented, the less PAP can bluff, the more they will contradict each other cos they cant cover up everything.**  This is like giving the gov another set KPI to meet besides using GDP to measure their performance. Lowering the number of people below the poverty line is a much harder target to meet then raising the GDP hence the reluctance to do it. I recall Warren Buffett quote “You never know who's swimming naked until the tide goes out.” Setting a poverty line is akin to revealing the tide.

**  if our million dollar ministers cannot be trusted to have the courage to call a spade a spade and tackle the problem head-on, then why are we paying you guys anyway??!! Pick sanitary pads and soiled daipers?? oh wait, you're already doing that???! BTW, the REAL cleaners get paid less than $1,000 a month. That's less than what you make in a day assuming you actually put in 30 days of work a month. So not setting a poverty line allows our millionaire ministers to continue to behave like ostriches, burying their head in the sand whenever problems arise!!

** You can always set the poverty line and review those outside the poverty line on a case by case basis on whether they are eligible for help lah. Lazy to think out of the box? paid you and your office so much money for what? There are so many scholars working for you, all cannot think? or think everything too complex?

**  if got poverty line, minister salary confirm kena attack again cos earning so many times more than people under poverty line

**  Its the PAP and government mentality: "I'm highly paid while doing minimal work, why should I go and find extra work or give myself extra trouble?" Typical, no small surprise that Singapore turned out to like this current situation.

**  Unbelievable answer. The poverty line is the basic standard and beyond which you apply a case-by-case basis. For all their live of metrics and KPIs I find it unbelievable that they really think this benchmark is unhelpful. Let's also call their current pay benchmark as unhelpful and determine it on a case-by-case basis and see how they jump to defending a peg of sorts. 

**  Imagine setting a poverty line which is internationally set at half mean wage right? That means for Singapore anyone earning less than $1500 is poverty liao. What are the jobs that are poverty jobs? Construction worker, cleaner, McDonald...etc. So to save them from poverty, must increase their wage to $1500 or give them enough assistance up to $1500. You think the govt wants to do that? That's as good as minimum wage. Govt just wants to keep labor cheap and exploit the poor la. In the US Obama has recently said no one who works a full shift job should live in poverty, but PAP obviously wants construction workers, cleaners, cashiers, etc to live in poverty or their profits will be reduced.

More ....
**  He has to come out with counterproposal then to say what is useful. When I disagree with something, I would expect myself to come out with a better proposal or at least ask questions to help to trigger the thinking process. The desire to maintain status quo is obvious. This is what the men in white call as unconstructive criticism. 

**  He has to come out with counterproposal then to say what is useful. When I disagree with something, I would expect myself to come out with a better proposal or at least ask questions to help to trigger the thinking process. The desire to maintain status quo is obvious. This is what the men in white call as unconstructive criticism. 

**  He has to come out with counterproposal then to say what is useful. When I disagree with something, I would expect myself to come out with a better proposal or at least ask questions to help to trigger the thinking process. The desire to maintain status quo is obvious. This is what the men in white call as unconstructive criticism. 

**  i am a bit skeptical about what he is saying. His reasons for not wanting a poverty line... is he afraid that Singaporeans will be affected by the actual statistic of the rich and poor divide? or is he worried that people will aim to be below that poverty line so that they can get assistance

** Are they afraid that setting a poverty line will actually truly reflect the harsh truth that there are actually more less fortunate than they able to help with ? 

**  The reason for not setting up such a poverty line does not make sense. They can of course assess cases on individual basis instead of this standardized "poverty line". If they feel that a certain caller does not fulfill the criteria, then they can suggest alternative means of seeking aid. If not this hotline, then how? Do people need to start writing in? How would the rich or powerful ever know about the truly indigent hidden away in some dark corner flats with no electricity / food etc?

S$5 per day in Spore?
Can you get by on less than $5 a day? Mypaper, 6 Nov 2013

Try eating and commuting on less than $5 a day. A campaign along these lines was launched last week to raise awareness of poverty in Singapore.Called the $5 Challenge, this is part of an initiative - called Singaporeans Against Poverty - by Caritas Singapore, the social-service arm of the Catholic Church, and other partners, including charity Catholic Welfare Services.

It aims to get people to develop empathy for the less fortunate by spending less.So far, more than 30 people have pledged to keep their spending to under $5. A spokesman for Caritas Singapore said: "We think it would help to feel, to know what it's like to be in the shoes of the poor or at least to have a taste of it. "The spokesman added that the amount is set at $5 because that is how much a person from a low-income household would spend on food and transport, according to their estimates from statistics.To join the campaign, one can simply pledge online. There is no rule on how long the challenge should last, and members of the public are encouraged to share their experiences with others.

Mr Lawrence Tan, 40, said that he has taken up the challenge for the whole of this month. Mr Tan, who is taking a course to become a certified professional trainer in the IT field, gets by through eating less and spending less on transport. "If my friends want to meet me, they have to meet me near my place. I also spend my time in the library so that I don't have to spend any money," he told My Paper. "It's a very tough challenge, as I have to give up on a lot of things. But I believe it's possible to do it for this month and I now know how it's like to survive on so little. "Another participant is student Amadea Ng. The 18-year-old pledged to do so from last Sunday for two weeks. She said: "It's not so hard for me because I eat at home and in school, and my transport fares are subsidised. But I see how it is a struggle for the poor to live within this constraint, and the stress they face.

"Those in the social-service sector said that such a campaign will help to generate publicity for the causes. Mr Hosea Lai - deputy director of SG Cares, an initiative by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre - said: "The Singaporeans Against Poverty campaign is a good advocacy campaign that highlights and raises awareness of poverty-related issues in Singapore...Campaigns are useful in generating mass awareness on these needs and hopefully they inspire action towards solving them. "But others said that it is equally important to come up with iniatitives to benefit the needy.

The president of youth organisation Voluntarius, Mr Farhan Mohammed, 27, said: "Such initiatives are interesting, but it's not exactly very effective if there is no follow-up. The focus should also be on creating action, and not just awareness, especially as our society has grown to be more caring. "Mr Sean Kong - chief executive of Halogen Foundation Singapore, a non-profit organisation which trains young people to be leaders - said: "The question is: What happens next? Is there an avenue for people to contribute besides just raising awareness? It's important to take action to help the poor.

"Visit  sgagainstpoverty.org  for more information.

Surviving with $5 a day
For the $5 challenge, however, I was determined not to "cheat" by indulging in the free food at the office -- after all, our friends who live on $5 for food and transport may not necessarily work at offices with pantries that are as well-stocked as mine.  Read full via Yahoo - Jeannette Tan's $5 challenge

That train bit turned out to be pretty important, because I live in Sembawang. My journey to work involves a roughly 10-minute walk to the station, followed by a 45-minute train journey from there to Tanjong Pagar, where the office is. In this era of distance-based fare, my journey to work sets me back by $1.77.

Multiply that by two (the trip back), and I fork out $3.54 just on travel to and from work alone. That's about 70 per cent of my $5 budget already.  So what does one eat when one is left with $1.46 for food for the entire day?

Public transport in Singapore is wickedly expensive. I felt this especially because of how far away from the CBD I live, and, thanks to distance fare, I pay a lot to travel to work by train ($3.54 a day, $1.77 each way). Don't even suggest the bus, which would take me one and a half times longer, and cost at least 22 cents more, and also be subject to peak hour traffic conditions. You might ask, "What's $2 in the grander scheme of things, especially with how much it costs to drive?" and I must admit I did, too, before I became restricted to $5 a day. Cycling isn't an option available to people like me who live too far away from work either. And where's the money for the bicycle going to come from first? I have become painfully aware of how much I am spending on transport, I wonder how the poor can afford to commute by public transport. It's no wonder The New Paper ran a story on elderly workers who sometimes sleep over at their work places to save on transport to and fro. 

My diet for my first day can certainly attest to that fact, although to be fair I could possibly have made room for a chicken breast or some minced meat to cook up on one of the days last week, to ensure that I didn't only have meat on Friday. Instant noodles are a definite go-to for many who live below the proverbial line. However, as it was for me on a couple of occasions last week, it's quick, fills you up and is fairly tasty too, except it doesn't do much for one's health, of course.

I'm definitely thankful to earning enough that I can afford my own insurance plans -- even save a bit of my salary each month -- and also have some to spend on the occasional nice dinner, watch that film I was looking forward to catching, join a couple friends for late-night drinks on a whim, and stick my arm out to flag a cab down when I feel too tired to take the bus and spend 15 minutes walking home late at night.

Ultimately, I would also say that it is possible if extremely difficult to subsist on $5 a day for food and transport. It requires, however, conscientious planning and it is potentially damaging to one's health. I sincerely hope, though, to live to see a day where my fellow Singaporeans, particularly those with household incomes of below $1500 a month, will not need to live this way.

Netizen's comments:
* I am tired and annoyed by people in Singapore who keep posting article and stuff about how they can survive with $5 in Singapore per day as an adult. It is IMPOSSIBLE! so stop the posting. You have to take in not just food cost, transport cost what about your utility bills, hand-phone bills, internet bills?

* The only minister I know who can live on $3.00 a day is Vivian Balankrishnan, he once said why the poor need to eat in the hawker centre or coffee shop in reply to Dr Lily Neo who had asked for a $30 increase in the monthly allowance ($1 per day).

That is how sick he is after having millions in salary. I guess he has forgotten that eating at hawker centres and coffee shop is already expensive for the working class, for the poor is unaffordable. 

* Don't insult the poor and give ammunitions to MIWs that $5.00/day is sustainable and $1000.00 income can own a flat.
The poor have only $5.00/day to feed 4 mouths , transport and accommodation not included.  If you are fasting , you don't even need a dollar a day going to work except transport.

* Jeannette Tan, you mentioned how you even managed below the $5 by staying at home and cooking your own meal and stated that there was no transport cost. However, where do you think you get those raw materials to prepare the food with what fuel did you use to cook them?

Buying food and claiming for reimbursement, is not even relevant in this study. So what is the point of all these activities?

Are you trying to say that since you can manage it, then those poor fellows out there should not have a problem. Have you ever thought on how they have to rely on others to provide them a shelter and share the facilities and fuel, if they have relatives or close friends that is. Oh, and please understand our asian culture of 'face value'. That is why, we have the old and sick who chose to commit suicide than to hang on to life and make their children bear the burden of looking after them. Have a heart, why not go and befriend a poor person you see on the road and ask them how they get by their days and nights and perhaps lead them to improve their situation instead, I think that will be a better way to prove your wisdom and understand what poverty is all about. Just my little advice.

* Renting a small place is already more that $5/day. I really don't know why she is so persistent to prove this meaningless experiment.

* Absolutely agree! Writer is too insensitive. No transport for her alone save almost or more than half of the $5 already. She did it for test only. For long term I am very sure she cannot tahan surviving only for $5 daily. There will be times in the midst of the long term she will take transport. Mind her, the transport costs here is high and will continue to increase.

Let us ask the MIW especially the Lee Hsien Loong the "prince" who is so extravagantly fed and lived lives on $5 for the rest of his life, do you think he can take it?

* Five days is too short a duration to really feel the impact of living on only $5 a day. Should try it for a whole month. I'll bet my last dollar she will fail the test miserably or even give up before the month is up!

* I think the point that is proven, is that $5/day is not possible for the working class, or the student class. 

A secondary point that I see (derived from this exercise), is that it would severely damage our GDP is everyone was challenged to this $5 /day thingy. It would make some of us not go out and incur transport cost and food. The gov or companies that made investments in these infrastructure and malls will go crazy! 

* Mine a bit simple, I'm a guy, current living (feed myself) habit is, 
breakfast: bread(one loaf per work week) with cheese(24 pieces, each a day) for 5 work days per week(3/5=0.6)+(6.25/22=0.284) = 0.88 per day
lunch, maximum 3 dollars food
dinner bread with spreads, example peanut butter which technically last as long as the cheese so, (0.6+ (5.95/22)) = 0.87
ok than transport (I stay currently stay at woodlands, work at pioneer but I take my company transport at Jurong East) cost: 1.55(in total)*2 =2.6

so my daily (workdays) expanses is $7.35

* For those who feels that this is not realistic or too far fetch ... it's precisely the situation. Not saying that you are wrong, but just that our poor are made "invisible" by the establishment.

For me there is 2 classes -
Poor - living on Public Assistance - which recently had an "increased", even than, a Minister said to the effect of - do you want to eat in a restaurant or hawker centre?- a statement in support NOT to increased the the $200 plus a month.

Working Poor - those that have a job but pays is stagnant even with the cost of living getting higher year by year, due to the salary being depressed by foreign workers swarming into Singapore - who is willing to accept the low pay offered by companies - not necessarily better than a Singaporean though.

$5/day - is real enough for me - people are suffering - but it falls onto deaf ears. Unfortunately.

* Some people did mentioned that with $1k, you can well afford a 2-room flat. Do your own calculation and don't listen to all these craps. Only you will be clear on your very own expenses and your very own earning. These people earning millions will not understand, so no point arguing with them. They will have their retribution and as the Chinese proverb says: Deeds done by evil-doers and the god is watching.

* Training for stay alive but malnutrition or die of starvation.
If the inflation pattern keep continue, may be need not wait too long, old ppl in developed/developing countries will be dying of starvation.

* Of all the MIWs only the ex-peoples' president, the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong, probably could live and survive on $5 a day. I remember immediately after his death his son was quoted in a ST article that his father's favourite food was a plate of white rice topped with a sunny side up (egg) and a piece of luncheon meat, a very simple meal indeed. Hey, that's exactly what a lot of us Singaporeans eat. At least we have an ex-president who, when he was alive, lived like us in his private life (which is why he understands us better than the rest of his cohorts living in their ivory towers).

* Incidentally, may I know who suggested this $5 a day. We have not calculate other things that we need to pay such as:
a. Electrical and water bill - unless you don't use electricity and water at all
b. Our small pigeon HDB flat the price of at least 300k - unless you stay by the beach at Marine Parade with a tent illegal pitched up
c. Medical fee - unless you are an angel or God and never fall sick

Care for the needy Singaporeans
Speak out on policies - the words of the advertisement clearly contravened the rules on such advertising laid down by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP). Its first rule states: “Words or phrases that exclude Singaporeans or indicate preference for non-Singaporeans should not be used.” 

While government has tried to assuage public disquiet over issues such as employment discrimination by companies and businesses, the government has not made any substantial statement or promises with regards to population or immigration numbers. Indeed, Singapore’s population has increased to 5.4 million. This includes a substantial 40 per cent foreigner component. 

With such a (continuing) influx, is it any wonder that there will be those who will take to the extreme to register their unhappiness and, yes, even disgust? Before we condemn these Singaporeans – Singaporeans who indeed have always been welcoming of foreigners and indeed continue to be so – let us understand first the deep anxiety and disquiet they feel. 

If you have children to feed, elderly folks to care for, mortgage payments to upkeep, healthcare to afford, and an increasing cost of living to deal with, you might perhaps too feel just as utterly disappointed at how you no longer have job security. In fact, you may no longer even have a job. 

And even if you are one of the lucky ones, the job you have may no longer pay you what you are worth. In February this year, The Straits Times reported: “For the lowest 20th percentile of employed residents, their real gross monthly income rose 0.1 per cent each year from 2002 to 2012, and 2.2 per cent a year from 1996 to 2002." This is the type of situation we are talking about which is giving rise to the feelings of intense unhappiness. 

Certainly we can take the moral high ground and condemn all who speak up against the influx of foreigners, or we may even condemn those who take aim at individual foreigners, but let us not forget that this will not solve or address what they feel at a very visceral level personally. 

It is in fact about survival. 
Ideology and reality
It is not about intellectual argument over philosophies or ideologies. 
How does one give one a decent income without also asking for fewer foreigners to be here to compete for even the lowest jobs? 

It would be a sad day if we are cowed into silence over what we genuinely feel. The strident attacks on those who are speaking out will do just that – but the problems, the unhappiness will only go underground. And when it remerges, we will have a more serious issue to deal with. Better to hear the unhappiness now. 

Why are people so upset about employment discrimination advert? It is the experience of Singaporean workers that they are being discriminated against. And to make fun of Singaporeans for supposedly seeing themselves as "victimised Singaporean" is to know nothing of what some Singaporeans have gone through. To focus on job ad is to be ignorant of what really is going on on the ground. And to condemn those speaking up against the likes of job ad made by Randstad is well, to be naive which some seem to be, living in utopian worlds where Singapore is entirely open to all and sundry - without consequences. I too would love to live in that world. But it doesn't exist. 

Dreaming of utopias is good for intellectual exercises, but not for living in reality. 
PAP must get the small things right first, Yahoo news

Discriminatory job advertisement - Sporean first, not foreigners, Yahoo news 
Ease financial burden of caregivers, Straits Times Forum

In the end, some are left financially devastated, emotionally burned out, and often begin their own journey into their twilight years alone and lacking care themselves. Rising health-care bills are a financial burden. For lower-income households without private insurance, Medisave and MediShield are insufficient to defray the costs of caring for the elderly. Patients and their families can see their savings wiped out by chronic illnesses.

Setting a poverty line
Winter: I am sure Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and PAP govt know how to draw a line and protect the needy/low income as well as Sporean FDW-Employers.

Some netizens commented based on his reply:

** As long as there is a need for financial aid, it is poverty. Can exist in any spectrum. Even the richest will need help when they are bankrupted. Having a poverty line (or many such lines) will give insights to the economists, when determining how many poor there are in Singapore. It will help in national budgeting. Every little info counts.

**  Social issues are always complex and drawing the line will cover the majority of the truly needy but does not mean it should be mutually exclusive for those above the line. It comes down to real dollars and cents or it is better to dodge the unpopular decision?

Winter: Assuming holding 2 jobs, he earns $2170 after CPF deduction. Based on his family of 8, each 'gets' $271 to spend on 3 meals, education, transport, medical, accommodation .... is this really enough? How to make some savings? If I use the simpliest and cheapest calculation of daily meal at $6/day per person, it means $180 gone. Maybe he can get free education for his children as a Malay but what about transport, sundries, medical, accommodation and insurance, etc?

Govt currently focusing on the aged but hasn't touch on the different types of special needs persons. The attention and funding on special needs is on surface area.  We need your concern and have affordable healthcare too.

When I was classified as a low income family, I was not allowed to keep any insurance policy, except Medishield. The social worker said insurance is not part of basic neccessity. When hubby rode motorbike to work due to his working hours, either 6am report for morning shift work or knock off from afternoon shift around 11.30pm ... bus (no direct bus so long travelling time) and mrt do not suit his timings. Are we suppose to take taxi with surcharge, everyday?

Is this the right way to save money or cut down transport expenses?

FDW works long hours so did my husband and other citizens.   I worked too, as a mother, a cook, wife cum domestic maid, clock 24/7 hours (sometimes my then-young girl needed attention in the night.  Her night is her day (waking time), my opposite.  She cries but I don't know how to pacify her as a 'normal parent'), no 'salary', no paid leave or air-ticket and no off days.

How can you/PAP expect me to keep quiet, continue to suffer and don't highlight what I had been through as a special needs parent cum FDW's employer? You can enjoy a good life but why I can't get a decent life? I didn't expect PAP/MOM to 'nurse me' or protect me and family like what you're doing for FDWs and maid agencies. I didn't ask (actually, I wish I can) to be enjoying life as much as you, didn't ask for all my expeneses to be sponsored by govt/tax payers ... merely to have a life of better quality and not so frustrating 处处碰壁 遭人恶意刁难... able to work with peace of mind, have good and trainable domestic helpers.

Why setting a poverty line may not be helpful?  Straits Times, 23 Oct 2013 

Winter: Draw a clear line to stop maids, agencies and source countries from being too demanding and greedy.

Draw a red line to tell the whole world there are low income people who are having take home pay that is much lesser than domestic helpers (FDWs)!

Tell the foreigners we are not ministers or PM Lee who earn salary higher than CEOs or country heads. Govt dislike the idea of telling others there are poor citizens. They welcome foreigners to earn or reap easy profits and then go back home to enjoy good lives. Earn SGD here but spend in home countries - local currency!  Live like Queens by working a few years in Spore, separate from families but paid 3 to 5 times more and given live-in benefits, not worth it?  

I wish I can work overseas, drawing a salary that is 3 times of what I'm having now.  Too bad, our currency is too strong, nobody would dare to employ me, especially I don't have any special qualification. I am excited to see MOM allowing live-out FDW. I hope there's such a day.  Pay FDWs a monthly salary of S$900, ensure each FDW pays her own daily meals, transport, accommodation, medical, sundries, etc and get hammered that she is no longer getting a take home pay of at least S$400 each month. Make these ungrateful and pampered women to regret not being good helpers and appreciate what FDW's employers did for them as live-in maids. 

No employee in Spore enjoys live-in benefits with daily expenses paid by employers, except FDWs! I really want to see the faces of regrets and guilt! I hope such a drastic change will hit you and activists hard, be awakened that maids are currently receiving a take home pay that is very much higher than the low income full time employee eg local cleaners, security officers, etc. If PAP/MOM has any intention to care for us, do I have to create this site? If MOM/PAP is truly caring and protecting our interest, do I have to sound so anti-govt?  I can fly the country flag during National Day but what's stopping me?  

How to love a country that dislikes me and family? You may say since there's 'hatred', why don't I & family leave our birth place?  I am not loaded so I can't migrate.  No other country/overseas appointment offering me or hubby a good salary (2 times our current pay, just like what maids are enjoying - a salary 2-3 times more than its home country ... hack care the difference in living standards and salary scale ... activists didn't bother to look at this, so why should I) or offer me permanent residency with no strings attached.

Do I need to wash dirty linen in public? 
Is it shiok to tell others low-middle income citizens are treated like dirt, parasites in Spore by its govt? Do I have better option?  

Didn't I try real hard to make the ministers and grassroots to hear and understand what had really took place?

** Ministers prefer to benchmark their salaries to top professionals but unwilling to officially set the poverty line. They care more about their own pockets than the poor people. 

** Why is the government so evasive when come to drawing line for the bottom of the society or having minimum wages. These are clear signs of insincerity. When come to drawing lines for people applying for HDB, CPF contributions age cut off after 50 and contributions rates, government shares benefits etc, our government is always very clear as to who will benefit, who can apply and who are outside the benefit zone. Its shady practice to at times draw lines but sometime leaving things vague to the advantage of government to keep things open so as not to commit or in other words, a back door to retort citizen that they didn't say that or it's not written in the rules. We are already an educated society compared to 40 years ago where majority were primary or no education and fall easily to such tactics or silly explanations. If its difficult to draw line, we can use banding. Very poor - income below $1500, poor - $1500- $2500, slightly poor $2500-$3000. Other considerations can be taken in such as bedridden needs or member in family that have special requirement. Trust we have enough smart people working in our government to think of better methodology for measurement and not skirting around these issues time and again. High time for the ruling party be sincere, "inclusive", in responding and work on these sticky issues and give us a fair answer.

Read more about poverty line. 


  1. Jolovan Wham of HOME is a joke, a self-righteous joker. He doesn't even know what sort of bad maids he is sheltering! My maid was caught stealing from us and she ran to HOME when we informed her that we will be bringing her back to agency. She went there to act pitiful and wanted a free ticket home. We lodged a police report and as the case dragged on, the maid turned around and requested us to drop the charge! She now agreed to return the things taken and the police closed the case and she went off. Police told us most maids sheltered at HOME are NOT abused, they mostly ran there due to alleged 'scoldings' from employers. So they all want to be princess maids? Can't even be told off when they do wrong things?

  2. I've read many entries on your blog and have a couple of thoughts:

    1. I feel bad that your child has been put into the care of all these maids that you claim don't look after her properly. Maybe it's time to think about looking after her yourself instead of entrusting her to strangers who are being paid such a minimal wage. I understand you may need your job to support your household but is it really worth more than your child? Claiming that maintaining a maid cost you $1500 a month, I hope you're earning significantly more than that to make it worth the heartache of leaving your daughter every morning.

    2. Your views on how you treat your maids are just absurd. I think there is a huge gap in how you think you treat your maids and how they deserve to be treated as such. Yes, they have a tough job looking after a special needs child, and yes you give them so many "privileges". But the former does not dictate the latter when a privilege is to let her talk to her family, our letting her go home once a year.

    I'm not in your shoes so I can't imagine what it's like, but if you air your life for the world to see, do expect to get some critique.

    Having had a rather unpleasant experience with my own maid, I still treated her with respect and dignity, and above all, as an adult human being. Just because she is uneducated, from low socio economic background and has a menial job doesn't mean she deserves to be treated less than. She did a lot of stupid things in her two years with my family (giving us food poisoning twice, leaving my 1yo in the shower by himself and letting him jump on my bed till he fell off and had a golf-ball size bump, bleaching almost adjust all our clothing and bedsheets and towels, always asking for an advance on her salary) but at the end of the day we parted ways mutually because it wasn't working for either side and on friendly terms.

    What I learned was, if you're not happy with something, do it yourself.


This blog is not meant for screw-lose activists or loans. My blog aims to gather all FDWs' news scattered everywhere, become a one-stop site for mentally & financially bullied FDWs' employer to beware and learn. Don't pollute this blog with your pro-maid, insensible and selfish comments! Activists posting here are BLIND IDIOTS, IRRITATING freaks and deliberately showing no RESPECT for others... robbing our only breathing space.