Don't undermine maids' ability to think for themselves

Don't undermine maids' ability to think for themselves

SINGAPORE - Senior writer Clarissa Oon's commentary ("Why resist a day off for maids?"; last Sunday) prompted me to share my experience as a Singaporean working overseas.

I live alone in a rented apartment and am on state-mandated wages.

Thus, I cannot relate to the difficulties faced by the average middle-class family who cannot cope without hired help.

That said, I am very grateful to Gema, our Filipino helper, who cares for my ailing grandmother back in Singapore.

During my visits home, I have observed how Gema and other maids perform their routine tasks daily.

Some are even verbally abused by their young charges.

Reflecting upon this, I challenged myself to work without a day off each week - and lasted just two months.

While I was in another country, a former boss stipulated that I quit going to a gym 45 minutes away, citing loss of time and exhaustion as reasons.

Who was she to determine how much fun, exercise or rest I should get to keep my energy levels high, outside of work?

If one worries that the maid may be "up to mischief" during her day off, could this not be communicated before hiring?

I find it disdainful to assume that domestic helpers lack the intelligence to make sound decisions.

If employers cannot even trust their helpers with one day off each week, how can they trust the maids with their loved ones and property?

Tay Tuan Leng (Reader)

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