17 January 2006

Mr Wang Will Cut Through The Bullshit For You

      ST Jan 17, 2006
      Maids generally not allowed in condo pools
      I REFER to the letter, 'Why bar maids?' (ST, Jan 13), and the continuing debate on the issue of maids being barred from using swimming pools in private condominiums, and would like to clarify the position of management corporations.

      Live-in maids in condominiums are employed by the individual units' owners to care for their children or elderly parents and are not pure residents in the ordinary sense.

      The industry practice is that these maids are allowed to be in the swimming pool when taking care of their employers' children and are generally not allowed to use the pool in their private capacity as though they are owners or tenants.

      Similarly, maids are not allowed to book tennis courts, function rooms, the gym, and other facilities for their own use, and this ruling has never been contested, nor discrimination alleged.

      The rationale is that maids are employees of the owners, employed to work and not to enjoy the facilities of the condominium.

      If we were to allow maids free access to the pool, then we should also allow other employees of the condominium, including gardeners, security guards and cleaners, equal rights because these personnel are collectively employed by all owners to work in the estate.

      Similarly, part-time housekeepers (the hourly maid), maids who do not live in, and drivers and cooks employed by some apartment owners should also be allowed the same privilege as live-in maids, failing which it would be a true case of discrimination.

      On the other hand, the position of these maids in private clubs is, in our opinion, quite different. When maids accompany their employers to the clubs, they should be regarded as guests of the clubs' members and should not be discriminated against.

      Even though they are employees of members, they do not share the same employment status as the clubs' own employees because they do not work in the premises, unlike those in condominiums.

      Furthermore, how would the security or management know that these people are maids and not friends of their members? In condominiums, we know their status, but how does a club management find out?

      It is dangerous to assume that the Filipino or Indonesian woman accompanying a member is a maid as many Singaporeans do marry Filipinas and Indonesians.

      Francis Zhan
      President
      Association of Management Corporations in Singapore

It is quite easy to pick apart Francis Zhan's reasoning. Poke a few holes and the whole structure of his arguments collapses like a house of cards. Here, Mr Wang will give you a few examples:
1. "Live-in maids in condominiums are employed by the individual units' owners to care for their children or elderly parents and are not pure residents in the ordinary sense."
Why are they not residents? They live in the condo apartment. They sleep in the condo apartment. They eat in the condo apartment. They shit and pee in the condo apartment. They probably spend more time in the condo apartment than the owners themselves. Their work permit from Ministry of Manpower officially states their residential address in Singapore to be that of the condo apartment.

If these maids are not residents, then all their employers are criminals. That's because the law says it is a criminal offence for an employer of a domestic foreign worker to NOT provide accomodation for her.
2. "The industry practice is that these maids are allowed to be in the swimming pool when taking care of their employers' children and are generally not allowed to use the pool in their private capacity as though they are owners or tenants."
Who cares what the industry practice is? We're talking about what the industry practice should be. And by the way, if you and your spouse own the condo apartment, your kids are NOT owners or tenants either. Why are THEY allowed to use the pool? And what about your friends and guests who come to visit? Why are THEY allowed? Are they owners? Tenants? Residents? No, of course not. So why are THEY allowed, Mr Francis Zhan?
3. "The rationale is that maids are employees of the owners, employed to work and not to enjoy the facilities of the condominium."
What a stupid argument. Of course maids are employed to work. Anyone who is employed anywhere is employed to work. That in itself doesn't mean that maids cannot enjoy the condo facilities. If I am employed to work at the cinema as a ticket-seller, does that mean I cannot go to that cinema to watch movies on my off-days? If I work at Sentosa, does that I mean I cannot go to the Underwater World or the Musical Fountain after work? That's absurd.

Hey I know a property manager who manages several condominiums in Singapore. In fact, he is also employed to manage the condominium project where he lives. Does that mean he can't use the pool??
4. "If we were to allow maids free access to the pool, then we should also allow other employees of the condominium, including gardeners, security guards and cleaners, equal rights because these personnel are collectively employed by all owners to work in the estate."
Well, maybe we should. Frankly, I don't see what's the big deal about allowing them to take a dip in the pool. But that's a completely different issue. Who's talking about gardeners and security guards? We're talking about maids. And just by the way, unlike the maids, those other folks like the gardeners and security guards are definitely NOT residents at the condo. Don't believe me? Look at their NRIC, and check their address.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Et cetera et cetera. By now it should be utterly obvious that Francis Zhan's arguments basically consist of fallacies built upon fallacies. But Mr Wang still hasn't cut through the bullshit yet. Allow Mr Wang to cut through the bullshit and reveal the heart of the issue to you. This is it:
"Do we want to accord maids the social status to use the pool, together with the bosses and their family members?"
And that's really it. This is the issue.

Some will say, "No, maids are too low-class, we should not let them use the pool."

Others will say, "I don't see any problem letting them use the pool. No big deal. Singaporeans very high-class meh, cannot share pool issit."

For now, Mr Wang merely wishes to correctly name the issue, and call a spade a spade. It is a class issue. Don't let Francis Zhan fool you into thinking that this is really some kind of employment or residency or condo legal ownership or tenancy issue.

Readers, come clean, and form your own view on the issue, whatever your view may be. If nothing else, be honest with yourself.

21 comments:

The Imp said...

this letter by mr francis zhan is so pathetic that i burst out laughing as i read it. his argument doesn't even sound good!it's so totally a class issue. a perceived status issues by condos.

maids are low-class? i've seen singaporeans with worse behavior in the condos. like peeing in the pool, spitting in the poolside shower stalls in full public view,dumping garbage anywhere....

where maids and rights are concerned, many singaporeans are not gracious,not understanding, and not forgiving.

who would merrily give the maid a day off work? many would rather pay to keep her at home to prevent 'trouble'. (i.e men and pregnancy)

this is the Singaporean concept of discipline for you. as such, banning maids from condo pools and such is another way to instill this 'discipline' in maids.

so therefore, if the maids' charges are flailing and drowning in the condo pool, they needn't go in to save their charges since they're not allowed in.

pinto said...

Spot on, Mr Wang.

This is Singapore. People think they can buy class. *shakes head*

mugster said...

It's sad, but humans enjoy making themselves feel better than other humans. That is the basis for racial, gender, income-level discrimination.

Even for RTC, people were complaining that allowing cab drivers into the club makes it not exclusive.

But I don't think it's specific to Singapore, it's everywhere.

Daffodils Aplenty said...

I think we are far from the gracious society image we are trying to potray. I don't get the whole big hoo haa over the use of a pool. And Mr Francis Zhan's reply only proved that we have taken two steps back. I guess the mentality of individuals who thinks too highly of themselves are perhaps the most in need of re-education and possibly the hardest to change.

KnightofPentacles said...

Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money. Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It's the sure footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life.
- Ann Landers (4 July 1918 – 22 June 2002)

merf said...

what happen to the 'gracious society'?

dunno why the francis guy wrote such a long crap.

Anthony said...

Sounds a lot like a set of arguments advanced about Bangladeshi Workers a while ago. The popularity of arguments like these, perhaps, explains the popularity of certain blogs.

Indi said...

If somebody got to restrict maid access to condo swimming pool, that got to be the employer's call, not Mr. Francis Zhan or the condo management.

If I found my maid dip herself in the swimming pool on a hot Tuesday afternoon, I will not take action on her because she's using the pool but rather because her absence during the working hour.

It is my responsibility to take care of my employees. To tell them what to do and don't. I pay the monthly maintenance fee of my condo (hence, I paid the condo manager's salary) to enjoy the facility for the benefit of my family, employees and sometime friends.

I hope everyone understands my point.

Written by Indi on behalf of Judhi

Indi said...

additional note:

I think the management would not mind seeing maids in pool if they see these type of maids:

http://frenchmaidtv.com/

Mr Wang Says So said...

Coincidentally, the Reader's Eye recently posted a poem about foreign workers in Singapore.

tscd said...

I don't see why maids shouldn't be allowed to use the facilities of their own homes in their spare time. I mean, if they have their employer's permission, then what's the problem?

Heretic_Guy said...

there isn't a magic bullet, but whether or not the maid be allowed to use the facilites within the condo, really should be up to the discretion of her employers even if there's a chance maid might neglect work n step out of line.i live in a condo and have a maid amongst the family... but it never has been an issue since checks are seldom in place. A dip in pool is just what it is after all.

Heavenly Sword said...

Well-dissected! Many enlightened employers give their staff benefits. E.g. if you work in a bookstore, maybe you can borrow books home to read; if you work in an organization with sports facilities, you can use them after office hours. Francis Zhan's letter reveals the views/thoughts of many employers of maids - that there is no such thing as "after office hours" for the maids. All 24 hours of the day, and 7 days a week, are official working hours for them.

jeffyen said...

Send.the.letter.to.the.newspaper, mr wang!

It's ironic that at the management corporation's website that Zhan is president of, there's a section about benefits of joining the association.

'c) to improve the standard of management so as to prevent the recurrence of the Bukit Timah Plaza/Sherwood Tower incident. In any development, the council members and managing agents, having been managing the property for some time, tend to take things for granted and overlook important defects as they are too familiar with their own environment. As the famous poet, Coleridge, once said ".....in consequence of the film of familiarity, we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not..".'

A case of...we have met the enemy, and he's us?!

http://www.amcis.org/aboutus.htm

klimmer said...

Its not class, its crass.

trisha said...

Mr Wang: excellent post. Can I show your well-reasoned argument to my students, and tell them how to "cut through the bullshit".
If you don't mind. (My class loves a good debate!)

Mr Wang Says So said...

Trisha, pls feel free.

mama mia said...

This is really an interesting issue to read this time. I am amzed that this is still happening in Singapore actually, this class status bullshit. As long as they are not swimming in that pool during working hours, that should be fine in my opinion.
Like when I found one of my son's support worker in the shopping centre queuing up to buy something from Burger King but with her daughter next to her side instead of my son Danial which she should be looking after during her working hours. That should not happen.
As long as they are not shirking responsibilities or pulling wool's over one's eyes, why shouldn't they swim in the pool with the rest of us. We are all human with needs afterall.

Livia said...

it's a singapore thing for sure.

juz becoz we can afford domestic help, we tink we're superior to another human being in lesser circumstances den ourselves.

are we superior? NO!
are we plain lucky to be born in S'pore & given opportunities our maids didn't haf? DEFINITELY!

Humility is a virtue. Snobbishness is not.

Thanx for cutting thru the bullshit!

Lihong said...

Mr. Francis Zhan regard himself as a superior person when in reality he is less honest than many honest and simple maids.

Heard he was convicted for serious criminal offence and on POLICE bail until conviction and voted out of AMCIS long time ago.

My MCST still does not allow my maid to swim with my children even in the wading pool and blame him for his high and mighty despise for another human species but he is a crook and criminal now if High Court conviction is true.

He is bull of SHIT all the times.

Tan Lihong

Roam said...

How many of you who spoke against Francis Zhan's comments are actually condo owners? I think most of you are not.
And how many of you are private club owners? I think not many.
Now if you are private club owners, you bring your family members to the club, do you also bring your maids there?
Now when you go to friends private parties in hotels etc, and you bring your family members sometimes, do you bring your maids there too?
If you play squash, tennis, golf etc with your family members, do you bring your maids along and ask them to join in too?
Also, do you bring your maids with you to the church that all your family members go to ?
etc etc etc....
The answer is obvious right?
Please dont be hypocrites,,,,,

Knight