Monday, October 02, 2006

Snippets about MM and MOM

1.MM Lee says sorry that recent comments caused discomfort to PM Abdullah

By Farah Abdul Rahim, Channel NewsAsia

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says he is sorry that his recent comments about Chinese Malaysians had caused Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi a great deal of discomfort.

Mr Lee had said during an international forum in Singapore more than two weeks ago that ethnic Chinese minorities in Malaysia and Indonesia are being marginalised.

In his letter to Mr Abdullah, Mr Lee said he had no intention to meddle in Malaysian politics.

Nor does he have the power to influence Malaysia's politics or to incite the feelings of Chinese in the country. (Read more from CNA...)

Comments:

Hi friends (from both sides of the causeway & also Indonesia),

Now that MM Lee has clarified his position, I hope that we can all move on.

Let us all concentrate our resources on creating a win-win situation for all.

Enlarge the economic pie so that ASEAN can be the next miracle to rival China and India.

It may seem a tall order, but let us put our differences aside to pursue this vision together. How about it?

Cheers,

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan


2. MOM unveils measures to help maids and their employers

By Noor Mohd Aziz, Channel NewsAsia

The Manpower Ministry has come up with new measures to help maids and their employers forge a better understanding and relationship.

Top among them is prompt salary payment.

From November 1, maids can ask for their salaries to be paid into their bank accounts here.

The Manpower Ministry will introduce this as a new work permit condition for employers.

But maids who have been promptly paid by their employers can continue with their current arrangements.

One employment agency that has enshrined this practice in its contracts fully agrees with this new requirement.

Mary Goh, Director, Garden Home Employment Agency, said: "Opening of the bank account is a good move in a sense that it ensures transparency. And the maids are happy because they feel very secure with the bank account and they are motivated to work harder because they know the money is in their bank account."

Another measure will be random interviews with maids, especially those working here for the first time.

The Ministry will randomly select these maids during their initial months of employment.

During the interviews, the welfare of the maids will be looked into and safe working conditions, their rights and responsibilities will be reiterated. (Read on...)


Comments:

Dear friends,

I am again happy that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) appears to be doing something to address some of the problems facing our domestic workers ( maids).

Making sure that the employers pay the maids directly into the bank accounts is good. Making random checks on the maids is even better. This would certainly discourage any employer or his family from abusing the vulnerable maids.

But, it still does not address the sad fact that these same maids do not even get a day off a month! As noted in my previous post, although the new contract stipulates that the maids be "given a compulsory day off every month" it then pulled-back by qualifying that they may be paid "cash in lieu”. As rightly pointed by MP Halimah, a maid would find it tough to go up against her boss “because the power relations are uneven”!

Singaporean employers can be extremely persuasive for at the drop of a hat, this maid can be bundled straight to the airport and sent back to ulu kampung or province somewhere faraway!

If faced with a choice of a lifetime of debt ( if deported unexpectedly) or $20 paid in lieu of a day-off, the choice is obvious.

So at the risk of being labelled a ranting lunatic, please go all the way, MOM, and make a weekly day-off compulsory for all workers in Singapore, maid or not!

Cheers,

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

13 comments:

Rowen said...

Words said can cause a great effect. Once said cannot take back.
The effect of MM's slight comment has damaged our relations with our neighbours. I suppose even with a public apology, the harm is done already.

It would be similar to a person hitting and causing hurt to a victim whom he mistook as another target. And later the one who caused the hurt apologies.

The help given by the MOM is a good sign. Yet I would expect the same help MOM would give to singaporeans who are working in the SME companies to ensure that they are promptly paid by their employers too.

My 2 cents worth.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Rowen,
I remember a sticker which said, " The best way for saving face is to keep the lower half shut!"
It was good for MM to apologise, but it would have been better if he did not utter words requiring apologies.

About SME's- isn't there a mechanism to enforce prompt payment of salaries? Sorry for my ignorance.
But some SME's are genuinely tight.
Dr.H

Anonymous said...

MM did not apologise for his remark. He is only sorry for the discomfort that he has created for Badawi.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon,

Yes. and I also said that MM apologised but not what for. Ha ha

You are absolutely right. I can say, " Mr. ABC, you are an asshole and a pig!" and later say, " Mr. ABC, I apologise that saying that you are an asshole and a pig has caused you grave discomfort,"

I have seemed to apologise but have not really. How ingenious.. or is it disingenious ( sorry my English is failing me at a crucial moment).
Dr.H

Rowen said...

Time of payment.
21. —(1) Salary earned by an employee under a contract of service, other than additional payments for overtime work, shall be paid before the expiry of the 7 days after the last day of the salary period in respect of which the salary is payable.
21/84.

(2) Additional payments for overtime work shall be paid not later than 14 days after the last day of the salary period during which the overtime work was performed.
21/84.

(3) The total salary due to an employee on completion of his contract of service shall be paid to him on completion of the contract.

Taken from http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/

In the statues it only states within 14 days from the date which is promised to pay, the employer must pay.

However, local SME do not always practise this and MOM do not take action unless there is a complaint by the employee.

If the employee still wants to work for the SME, they will definitely not complain.

As a result the SME still do not pay on time due to the MOM's inaction.

Hence that is the reason for my remark.

sei-ji rakugaki said...

i think mom will eventually make it compulsary for maid to take a day off..once we catches up with the world.remember once upon a time...when everyone was clamouring that we should have a 5 day week...and we were told that our competitive edge will be dulled as a result by some minister...but EVENTUALLY...we did have the 5 day off, didnt we?... the key is to be patient ENOUGH...welcome to singapore...

WANG said...

Lets view from the perspective of the maid. Working 7 days a week may be no hardship as they are in the same situation even in their previous places of residence.

Frankly, being paid extra is a significant number of maids prefence.Even among a significant circle, all offered days off weekly and the maids especially those working to support their families requested for cash instead to save money & time. Some had no time off and a number only 1 day monthly and they have had the same maid for a number of cycles.

So I do not regard it as a pull back but a realistic view.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all:

rowen: it's a tough world. If there are bodies looking for work, then employers have last say; if work looking for bodies then employees can dictate terms.

sei-ji: you know something I don't? I hope I can be as optimistic as you and just be patient. If I am patient, then GRC's will revert to single seats and PAP ministers will voluntarily take only pay packages which are not obscene? I wish!

Wang:
Maids are in vulnerable position and have to practically take anything dished out to them because of "uneven power relations". Does that mean that just because they need to feed their household in Ulu Kalimantan or wherever that they should be treated less well than another human being?
Would you and your colleagues volunteer not to have any day off 365 days a year, since you really have to bring back the bacon and feed your kids? You think the maids all volunteer not to have a day off? " Ma'am, please do not give me a day off or I will quit and work for the neighbor?"

Dr.H

aliendoc said...

I read LKY's letter in the papers. An excellent example of a political correct response to a politically incorrect booboo!

Anonymous said...

MM could give a politically correct response because what he said is true.

Now, compared this to what he said regarding the James Gomez incident. He said many things but because the truth was not with him, no matter how he turned and twisted, he could not give a persuasive reponse.

So it is always important to stick to the truth.

Knowledge-economy slave said...

Dr H.: "Would you and your colleagues volunteer not to have any day off 365 days a year, since you really have to bring back the bacon and feed your kids?"

Sigh! That's the reality of work life for most knowledge-economy employees. Personal experience and those of friends in IT sector can attest to bosses who expect staff to sacrifice Saturdays and Sundays, on-top of weekdays OT for months at a stretch (only to repeat the cycle almost immediately). Without apology/sympathy/compensation of any kind. Even non-critical govt staff are not spared, with various downsizing and/or "resource sharing" initiatives.

Then these slaves-at-work go home to transfer their "unbalance" psychology onto their slaves-at-home (aka maids/employees). Think the movie "Singapore Dreaming" by talkingcock.com shows good example of how it plays out.

Dr H. : "I hope I can be as optimistic as you and just be patient. If I am patient, then GRC's will revert to single seats and PAP ministers will voluntarily take only pay packages which are not obscene? I wish!"

Not forgetting their guaranteed govt-paid million-dollars pension scheme for those same men. Strange... it was claimed that the obsence pay was pegged to industry norms (compared with pte sector), but I didn't hear of any pte sector company that pays their ex-leaders guaranteed pension.

Anyway, I share Dr H.'s pessimism.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi knowledge slave:

My commiserations for your slavish life.

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I think that MP's and maybe Ministers do not get pensions anymore ( since a few years ago).

This was confirmed by an ex-colleague who (ahem) forsook his medical calling to do National Service as a politician ( How noble and self-sacrificing he is- but actually he is a decent chap).

Cheers

Dr.H

Legal Layman said...

Hi Mr Wang,

According to EnerNorth website, it is now pending Canada's Supreme Court's decision.
http://www.enernorth.com/press/06Aug02.pdf

"Court of Appeal for the Province of Ontario has granted Enernorth's motion for a stay of
execution of the Oakwell Claim pending the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on EnerNorth’s
application for leave to appeal and, should leave be granted, the appeal itself".

Does it mean the following may still happen?

1. Supreme Court decides in favour of Singapore company. Case closed? That is, no more higher levels of appeal?

2. Supreme Court decides in favour of Canada company, leave to appeal granted.

3. Assumes 2 happens. Another round of hearing on appeals which may swing either way again?

Typically, how long will the above steps take? Wonder when to check on news again :P

Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge in this area!