Apr 27, 2008

Domestic Maids, Mas Selamat and Why Wong Kan Seng Should Be Fined

Pardon the slightly bizarre title of this post. In a roundabout way, it was inspired by the following article from Today:
2 years on, employers still skirt day-off clause
Should there be a law to get employers to comply?
Friday • April 25, 2008

NEWLY arrived, a maid asked her employer if she could get a rest day. Her employer was incredulous.

"If I wanted to give my maid a day off, I would have hired one from another country," said the employer, who had signed her up on the assumption that maids of some nationalities were more pliant than others.

Faced with an employment contract that requires them to either give their maids a rest day, or compensate them accordingly for working, some Singaporean employers have sought ways to get around the terms or extract the most from their workers.

And this begs the question of how much has truly changed for the 170,000 foreign domestic workers in our midst — two years after the industry association put together a standard contract requiring employers to give maids at least one day off a month.

A Today straw poll of 50 employers found that only 62 per cent gave their maids a rest day.

With some industry watchers criticising the rest-day clause as being too flexible, should legislation be put in place to mandate the issue? ....
There are several simple reasons why many Singaporean employers are reluctant to give their maids a day off.

You see, the maid's work permit comes with numerous conditions. For example, she cannot prostitute herself. She cannot have sex with a boyfriend. She cannot get pregnant. And she cannot (of course) commit any crimes such as shoplifting.

If she does any of the above, then she has breached her work permit conditions and the employer has to repatriate her. And if the maid runs away before the employer can do that, the government will fine the employer $5,000. For that matter, the government will fine the employer $5,000, if the maid runs away for any reason.

If you didn't know any of the above, then either you do not employ a maid, or you didn't read the small print of the Manpower Ministry's work permit conditions.

(On a positive note, maids running away is such a common occurrence that it is possible to buy insurance for it. On a negative note, maids running away is a common occurrence).

Many employers are afraid that if their maid has a day off and gets herself into trouble, the employer will not only have to solve the trouble, but also have to fork out $5,000 as a free gift to the government.

(Not that the government will then help you solve the trouble. It's just a fine, plain & simple).

Intuitively, this smacks of gross unfairness. The employer gets punished not for something he did, but for something that somebody else (the maid) did. Furthermore, once the maid leaves the employer's residence, the employer has no way of monitoring where the maid goes and what she does there.

To encourage employers to give their maids a day off, the government needs to change these ridiculous rules.

I agree that employers should be fined and punished, if they fail to perform their responsibilities as employers - for example, paying the maid's salary on time; providing adequate food and accommodation; and ensuring a safe, secure working environment.

But employers should not be held responsible, for things that a maid may do, of her own free will. When the maid goes out on her rest day, the employer simply has no viable way to ensure that she will not do anything that breaches her work permit conditions.

(Which, by the way, are quite extensive and onerous).

We may draw a curious parallel with Mas Selamat's escape, and PM Lee's determined, if muddled, defence of Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng in Parliament.

Mas Selamat ran away. But PM Lee said that Wong Kan Seng was not at fault and should not be punished in any way. The reason being that Wong Kan Seng personally did not do anything which allowed Mas Selamat to escape.

Strangely, if your maid runs away, it IS your fault and you SHOULD be punished. Even if you did not personally do anything to let her run away (apart from giving her a day off).

Similarly, if your maid becomes pregnant, it IS your fault and you SHOULD be punished. Even if you did not personally do anything to make her pregnant.

Oh well. What can I say? Maids are not terrorists. But then you are not Wong Kan Seng. So the rules remain stacked against you. Wong Kan Seng gets off lightly, but you won't. Even if his lapse has far greater, and graver, implications than yours.

Your runaway maid wouldn't blow up Changi Airport, would she?


Anonymous said...

i've thought about the domestic maid situation before... my conclusion was that the government wants to appear to be the good guy in this situation, by forcing the employers to "police" their maids through fines. by handling the responsibility to the employer, he/she will then not dare to be Complacent (heh) in making sure the maids behave.. think of it from the gov's pov--it's a win-win business.

in terms of human rights, it's just wrong.

but human rights isn't our strongest card, anyway. i think domestic workers need more protection against possible work abuse. you can't just allow anyone to hire a maid, then never check up on them to make sure that she's even getting 3 meals a day. i really feel sorry for them. i think even construction workers get more protection and compensation from the state.

Anonymous said...

hahahah ! this is a great post ! typical example of why george orwell is always right... :)

Anonymous said...

WKS is highly talented and not easily replaceable, not even from among the elites. Hence cannot do anything to indicate he is at fault which imply he is not so talented. Remember after all this fiasco, no censure or blame and PM Lee said he still has full (100%) confidence in him.
Who are we as ordinary employers of maids? So what if they fine us? What can we do? If we can do nothing, of course they can fine us. Law of the jungle - Can eat, eat lah, unless the deer can outrun the tiger or like Mas Selamat can outwit his captors.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Wang. So true yet so sad. It's always the common folks who get the short end, while them MIW get away with everything. To help the poor, raise GST. Ease congestion, raise ERP. Defend country, forced conscription. Why even be a Singaporean? It's really high time for a change. Any change

Anonymous said...

Do unto other what others do to you.
In this case:-
Do unto maid what Govt do unto you.
Low pay ----- check
More work no minimum pay -- Check
CPF ----------Maid levy -- Check
Fine won't work Pay Cut lah.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant!!

This is really an amazing point. This is a classic case of double standards.

That's the type of arguments the opposition should have used in parliament.

I wonder how LHL would refute that.

Anonymous said...

This is amusing. Really.

If the upper beam is crooked, the lower beam won`t be straight.
If the senior is lax in moral restraint, his juniors will follow suit.


The mirror upon which society gazes upon has failed, showing what it wishes to see, and not what is.


Anonymous said...

Pardon me, Mr. Wang.

The title of your blog should be changed to "...... and Why Wong Kan Seng Should Be Jailed"

Why fine only ? The consequences of the escape could be disastrous. And to commensurate with the potential disastrous consequences, the minimum should be a custodial sentence, similar to some of our current laws.

For example, currently we have a law known as the Workplace Safety and Health Act which states that an employer of a firm can be jailed if he/she is found to have provided an unsafe environment for his/her workers at the workplace, even though it may have not resulted in any fatal casualty ?

If we have enacted laws which do not hesitate to send bosses to jail, I do not see why WKS should not be sent to jail considering the fact that consequences of his Ministry's negligence in allowing Mas Selamat to escape is much more disastrous if there is a terrorist attack.

By arguing the merits of why WKS should be fined, you are just being too kind.

Anonymous said...

don't be so mean to the maid, can or not??

anyway WKS good what. too bad he not PM material la. lee say no one is PM material yet.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point u brought up Mr. Wang. This is the kind of unfair double standards which the pap government is famous for. It is this type of attitudes which has caused many Singaporeans much frustrations and angers at the pap government. It is this type of head they win and tail u lose attitudes of the pap government which has created a huge divide between government and citizens in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Wang for the good analogy. I also like Yawning Bread's point on the failure of management. WKS should at least resign gracefully if not fired/fined/jailed for his ministry's failure in planning and control.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang, is this type of law against the rule of natural justice ? What are the chances of success if these laws are challenged in the Singapore court if it is possible at all ?

Sleepless in Singapore said...

Even if we ignore the non-material consequences like damage to Spore's reputation, threat of another attack etc, the monetary costs for us tax payers to bear of this 'lapse' is staggering. Just the printing cost of the Mas Selamat's stupid poster is probably a national record. I really pity those innocent truck drivers who have to ply the Spore-JB route.

Ser Ming said...

I have a manager in the office, who often screw things up, making us do things for his benefits in seeking credits and we do the shit. Can't communicate well. Really not the type that cut out to be a manager. But end of the day, he's still my manager lor.


Anonymous said...

nice post ... but garman will counter say .. oh we must see thing in perspective ... cannot like dat compare ...:-)) so we LL

Anonymous said...

WKS should not be fined, because he is talented, unlike the stupid S'poreans who complained about the Gahmen and yet voted them in all the time.

WKS should not be fined, because he is irreplaceable, unlike the idiotic S'poreans who can be replaced by any cash-loving Chinese, Indian... nationals.

Interetingly, who suffer fools gladly, the gahmen, Singaporeans or both?

Anonymous said...

That was what the whole 'marxist conspiracy' was about. A bunch of lawyers and playwights - ahead of their time, protecting filipino maids and their human rights.

Today, has anything changed? Even Male China workers are washing dishes with only 2 days off a month, working 12 hour shift. How are their rights protected?

Seriously, if ISA can allow 22 catholics to be branded Marxists, Francis Seow branded an american spy, what is one Malay to them? Was the 'terrorist' really so dangerous, or like WKS said he was just a harmless person in the first place, (the terrorist story got carried away and took on a life of its own ?) Like Chua Lee Hoong said - let's move on - he wasn't so dangerous actually - ISA probably made a mistake - oops - she should know as an ex-ISA agent.


Sleepless in Singapore said...

’Even if we ignore the non-material consequences like damage to Spore's reputation, threat of another attack etc, the monetary costs for us tax payers to bear of this 'lapse' is staggering...‘

Ah! But did you not read the commentary by ST POLITICAL EDITOR Chua Mui Hoong? She wrote:

“But the Mas Selemat escape? What loss has there been, bexcept that of face -- mostly?"

Well, maybe the cost of printing posters is considered a gain, for printing companies, that is.


Anonymous said...

That was what the whole 'marxist conspiracy' was about. A bunch of lawyers and playwights - ahead of their time, protecting filipino maids and their human rights...

Talking about the Marxist conspiracy, one of the "conspirators" I know pointed that that at an exhibition to mark the nth anniversary of ISD last year, there was NO MENTION about the Marxist conspiracy.

Another "honest" mistake?

Let's see if Mas Selemat fiasco will be featured in the next ISD anniversary exhibition some years down the road.

Anonymous said...

The PAP government is two-faced and self-contradicts all the time. It is getting glaringly embarrassing. Today a 50 plus auntie expressed her unhappiness to me over the whole Selamat affair - the high ministerial salaries, WKS's refusal to assume responsibility, PM's no show and defense of WKS in parliament. She said the PAP leaders, and she included LKY, must be taught a lesson.

A decade ago someone like this auntie would probably be voting for the PAP. Today I am not so sure. The ground is shifting, slowly but surely.

Anonymous said...

The costs and loss of opportunities due to the escape of Mas Selamat should be billed to WKS. This is the only way to redress this double standard of justice in the land.

Can the lorry drivers and businessmen sue WKS and MHA for compensation?

Anonymous said...

I respectfully beg to differ. I think we should be fair in our comparisons with the Mas Selamat episode.

No doubt the $5,000 maid levy is independent of the fault of the employer, but the purpose of the maid levy is, in my view, not a punishment, but an instrument of shifting the financial responsibility of remedying the harms caused by errant maids from the taxpayer to the employer.

I think this is a fair move from the "poorer" taxpayer's point of view who cannot afford a maid to begin with and who will not be able to understand why his tax money should be used to sponsor the "luxuries" of the well-off who are well able to support themselves.

Hence, the analogy with WKS may not be particularly apt, because LHL is saying in Parliament that WKS ought not to be **punished** because of his managerial default. On the other hand, the imposition of the $5,000 maid levy has nothing to do with any notion of punishment.

However, this comment should not be taken as my personal acknowledgement of the correctness of LHL's view of the Mas Selamat fiasco.

Anonymous said...

So was the marxist conspiracy one created by 2o+ catholics, or one created by the cabinet at the highest level? Or one MM and a handful of ISA agents eg the Chua sisters?

How will this Selamat conspiracy unwind?

When some international papers interview the family of Mas Selamat?

When the Gurkha guards return to Nepal and talks to the press?

When the Gurkha contingent says 'Enough' and resigns enbloc to protect their hard earned integrity?

When the COI members migrate and speaks out because they have a conscious?

Yes, part 2 - the truth will come out because there is truth, duty, honour and justice code in mankind.
Seriously, was Mas Selamat a dangerous criminal or not? This, the government cannot even tell us with a straight face. I hope the cabinet will collapse with infighting because they have the honour code and are God fearing people.

I don't know how the ground feels. But this is how I feel. And I am one of those who gets to vote.

Anonymous said...

66.6% of the population should be fined

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are really good at telling others what they should be doing...ie. Wong Kan Seng should resign blah blah blah.

But does ANYONE actually push for it? Are Singaporeans prepared to be loud enough to make themselves heard (and taken seriously by the government)? Obviously NOT.

So why keep blaming the PAP when all you people want to do is complain in private under the veil of anonymity? It's no wonder the PAP gets away with what they do.

Like the saying goes...empty vessels make the most noise.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:37am - No doubt the $5,000 maid levy is independent of the fault of the employer, but the purpose of the maid levy is, in my view, not a punishment, but an instrument of shifting the financial responsibility of remedying the harms caused by errant maids from the taxpayer to the employer.

Because the fine hinges on certain undesirable events happening, it is still a punishment, a financial one.

If the purpose is to shift responsibility to the employer, then what it says is the authorities are shirking their own responsibilities and passing it to the people. In that case the people will have to "police" the maids within their limited powers and this is the situation we get today, no?

I think this is a fair move from the "poorer" taxpayer's point of view who cannot afford a maid to begin with and who will not be able to understand why his tax money should be used to sponsor the "luxuries" of the well-off who are well able to support themselves.

This is unsound and irrelevant logic. This is not a question of the rich vs the poor. Using the rich vs poor argument on the other hand is a common tactic by the govt to divide and conquer.

Blogter said...

In a perfect world, WKS's bonus should be chopped and distributed to all the lorry drivers affected by the causeway jam.

Practically, he would probably lose some of his bonus. And if a real terrorist event were to happen in Singapore, then his job.

Personally, I think all Ministers should not have been paid so highly, the expectation of them would be god-like to receive such god-like pays. With great pay comes great expectations from the public.

Anonymous said...

i think internally among the Cabinet, WKS's value has gone down another notch.

dun expect him to be DPM and Home Affairs Minister for long.

PM Lee only kept him in position as a matter of principle - but i dun think he would have been impressed.

Expect a reshuffle next elections

Anonymous said...

Where is justice?

Justice must be practised fair and must also be seen to be fair.

Can a defense lawyer used the same line of argument, " my client should not be held accountable,removed,fined for those mistakes committed down the line" , for this particular case, the maid has gone missing/escaped from the employer's house.

It really sucks!

Anonymous said...

I wondered whether can we have a Referendum to ask Singaporean about the fate for WKS.

Only then , Singaporean really knows whether to 'move on". It really pity, politician just simply "rojak' many other issues together with this great disappointment without taking any due responsibilities for any mistakes committed.

At any particular time ,which country/govt in the world is not facing any issues: high inflation , security issues ,unemployment , education ,health threat, and many other issues... In other words, so long there are issues on hand for the govt to work , let's "move on" without taking due responsibilities and accountability.

He must be joking !

Anonymous said...

"No doubt the $5,000 maid levy is independent of the fault of the employer, but the purpose of the maid levy is, in my view, not a punishment, but an instrument of shifting the financial responsibility of remedying the harms caused by errant maids from the taxpayer to the employer."

In the same light, then may I ask why should the poor taxpayer be penalised for the oversight of the ministry? Think about the man hours of our security forces invested into recapturing Mas Selamat, as well as the opportunity costs of the delays at the causeway checkpts, etc. Shouldn't that financial responsibility be shifted as well?

Anonymous said...

The entire discourse in parliament really smacked of a bochup, easygoing attitude - "oh we screwed up but its okay, we will rectify it, nevermind, everything's okay ... "

For crying out loud, a terrorist is on the loose lor. Is the apology and resignation going to come when the shit really happens?

Anonymous said...

Me quotes anon April 28, 2008 7:22 AM; "I hope the cabinet will collapse with infighting because they have the honour code and are god fearing." Unquote.

When we have Ministers of Christian, Bhuddist/Toaist, Islam, Hinduism and other Faiths supporting the building and operation of casino. It is clear their(Ministers) god fearing and CONSCIENCE can be fed to the dogs.

Cabinet infightings there will be, it is just like any other working environment. But, it will be for coveting promotion, power and glory. The Party Ideology and Discipline will very much be in place. Trying to outshine, outclass others are likely behaviours whilst jealousy/envy and bitterness should be as common as anywhere else.

Even if they are god fearing, they are no gods themselves. There were Teh Cheang Wan, Phey Yew Kok, Wee Toon Boon and others to cite for examples. It cannot be said for certain that no others may follow.

For all we know, the Total Whites are about the easiest to get stained, that is factual in physical sense and maybe beyond.

Having a $5000 Bond to prevent maid from going astray have resulted in some maids getting confined in the house for their entire working lives in Sg. This I would say, is a very inhumane practice.

Someone said that there are some employers not affordable for maids but have them. So long as the maids they employed get paid, the question of affordability does not exist. True some may have to squeezed themselves hard to have a helper in the house. But there are many valid reasons to have one, such as caring for immobile elders and others.

What is important is that employer be vigilant not to allow the maid to go haywire and create social problems. LIKEWISE, GOVERNMENT AND THE PEOPLE THAT COMPRISED IT must uphold the same principle. THAT IS THE COUNTRY THEY RUN(MANAGE) MUST NOT BE IN HAYWIRE AND SUBJECT ITS' CITIZENS TO ANY DANGERS AND HARM.


HONOUR, in my opinion, is a lot more difficult to attain. To be honoured; one must be competent, efficient, upright and fully respected by everyone or at least almost by everyone, that is a near perfect score to achieve.


Anonymous said...

Mr Wang said...
Strangely, if your maid runs away, it IS your fault and you SHOULD be punished. Even if you did not personally do anything to let her run away (apart from giving her a day off).

You silly twit! Of course it is your fault. If you didn't give the maid a day off, she wouldn't (or couldn't run away, could she?)

Mas Selamat's case is different. Cousin Wong didn't give Mas Selamat a day off, did he??

Mr Wang, I don't understand why you ask Singaporeans to treat their maids better. I mean, you don't see Singaporean employers treating their own employees with dignity, do you?

If you read the most reliable paper in the world, the Straits Times, you would learn that Zi-char owners are complaining that locals are not willing to work around 15-hour shifts 30 days a month, with non-existant medical benefits and a pay of less than $2000 a month. It is probably the same for other industries. They don't treat the China dish-washers any better.

I hate working for local management. They always wish to squeeze as much as they can. If local bosses think nothing of exploiting their own workers at work, you think they will show mercy to their maids at home?

Miao 妙 said...

BRAVO. I wish our leaders actually read your blog!

Anyway, this was reported in the Chinese papers a few days ago: Leader of the Worker's Party, Mr Low Thia Kiang, actually questioned why Singaporean ministers are not accountable for their own mistakes like CEOs are, when the government finds it imperative that our ministers' pay is tied to CEOs' salaries. CEOs have to resign or be demoted when they commit grievous mistakes. Our politicians enjoy the same privileges as CEOs working in the private sector, so it is only reasonable that our leaders are also burdened with the same weight of responsibilities. But in reality, this is obviously not the case. Seems unfair, isn't it?

PM Lee didn't directly answer Low's question (except briefly saying that companies which change their CEOs frequently will not prosper). PM Lee simply asked Low something like this, "Does Mr Low think that Mr Wong should lose his position over this issue?" Mr Low didn't reply, and PM Lee continued again along this line, "I think your silence has spoken volumes." (I.e., PM Lee took it that Mr Low agreed that Mr Wong shouldn't resign.)

I wonder why Mr Low didn't just say, "Yes, I think Mr Wong should resign," if he genuinely thought that he should. What could the PAP do anyway? Sue Mr Low for libel/slander (which is the PAP's favourite pastime)?

Anonymous said...

A brilliant side kick. There is always the use of word "reasonable" for everything in life, except in the dictionary of the PAP towards citizens. The resposnibility of employers is one good example. The employer get fines regardless of the situation. WKS - he is a different animal and not under the control of this strict rule - like all ministers.

Anonymous said...

As you can see, Wong Kan Seng is going to be fine, not fined. I think most Singaporeans predicted this verdict immediately after the escape. See how smart the minds of the peasants are in forecasting what the Government is going to do!

With such accurate forecating abilities, I think the peasants should be given a hand in working out the next budget forecast, so that it does not go haywire again and our talented ministers do not need to shoulder any more responsibilities, except to calculate how much higher to peg their salaries. After all, any mistake is going to be blamed on the peasants, not the ministers.

Anonymous said...

The guard heard the running tap water.... running tap in the toilet of the Whitley Detention Centre?

They don't use the automatic sensor or save-water tap for their toilets?

Almost all public facilities in Singapore now instal automatic sensor or save-water tap. If the centre did indeed use such device, then the report and breakout by Mas Selamat Kastari is a big cover-up.

Use your imagination.

Anonymous said...

Come on fellow netizens, we have to face the truth, we deserve the gov't we voted for. However with so much unravelling, I hope the 66.6% now realise that they owe the 33.4% big time. To understand the type of leadership we have in sheep city, you have to look at the top of the food chain. Where in the world do you have a PM who needs a MM and a SM to hold his hands whilst on the job. You do not need to look back too far to see the cockups he was personally involved. And can we realistically expect that he can /will make things right. Someone aptly described it best, " spineless leader ". However we do have some hope, going by the overwhelming reponse from the public to the MSK fiasco. There is intent to make things right come 2011. When that time comes and they are given the boot, we can say that we made an honest mistake.

Anonymous said...

I have just read most of the comments from your readers on this recent issue of Mas Selamat and Wong K S aka the PAP or the present ruling government which hase been in power since Singapore became independence. Some are rather passionate while others are just vending fruastrations. Let me share with you all a story I heard many years ago when I was still a young student about to graduate and get into the rat race.

The story is call the "asshole theory" and applies very much to politics, management and your lifestyles. It goes like this.

One day while God was called away from the factory floor, the various assembly parts got into a great debate as to who should be the leader. The hands said they should be the leader because if they didn't do the killing and cooking the man would stave to death. The legs commented that if they object for one moment and not respond to an attack the man is dead meat anyway. The head and of course the brain got into the act and demand to tbe the leader because they are the most important organ that keeps the man ahead of his time and etc... God got back and sent the man into the world. The first three days were fine as usual the brain did the thinking and control the man. However, the asshole then goes on strike !! After weeks of constipation and much debates, the asshole got elected the leader of the man.

The moral of th story is that if you think you can do the job better than the guy leading then you should stand up and be counted and fight to do the job and asked for the rewards. If you don't then the asshole has the right to make life difficult for you.

Yes, once we get into the rat race we forget about the guy next to us whose life may have been screwed through no reason other than that society has let him falls between the cracks. It is the societ problem or yours or is it the government of the day ?? If you don't believe in the policies of the government of the day, can you do the honour and stand up and be counted and fight for change so that your fellow men has a chance to exist and have a better life. To just be "passionate" and stand at the side line and be the critic does your fellow men no good. If you think you can be the leader and do a better job for your fellow man then stand up, be counted and take the lead. No one can blame you should you then demand a high salary because you have the leadership, the experience and you do the job well for the benefit of your fellow Singaporean.

Do something constructive of course........

Anonymous said...

very well said!
LTK have quite a lot of stuff to learn from u! much i respect him for all his opp work so far, his response or non-response to LHL in parliament was such a disappointment and let down.
Pls, i hope all the opp ppl are reading this blog!
please read!

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

"Do something constructive of course........"

Thank you for your comment. I believe that I am doing something constructive through this blog. Among other things, the blog provides an avenue for any Singaporean who so wishes to express his opinion here, and the blog thereby serves as an informal feedback channel to the government, giving them some information on how the average citizen feels about their policies, performance, speeches, etc.

In terms of eliciting readership participation and citizens' views, my blog certainly is much more successful than the average PAP or government online efforts to gather feedback from the masses. If you would like a comparison, you may visit, for instance, the government's REACH website (formerly known as the Feedback Unit), or the Young PAP Discussion Forum, or the the P65 blog run by 12 PAP MPs, or the Beyond SG blog where Minister George Yeo regularly writes (receiving, most commonly, zero reader's comment per post).

Your suggestion, by the way, sounds very extremist and quite illogical to me. You seem to be saying that unless you are willing to run for election, you should not criticise elected officials. Singapore has a few million citizens and you are saying that none of them should breathe a critical word about any government minister unless they themselves will run for election. Do you understand what you are saying?

Anonymous said...

"WKS is highly talented and not easily replaceable, not even from among the elites."

If this statement is true, then it's not WKS we should be worry about, but the dire state of affairs in our ministry.

Can anyone qualify as to why WKS is "highly talented and not easily replaceable"? Is this based on his level of education, or his vaunted record of running the ministry of home affairs?

ah mok said...

let resolve the matter quickly and move on. fine him for some money and that's it right? the best is to donate to some charity. Next time whenever our ministers make mistakes the charity gets money. After all the government does not ask the employers to quit their job when their maid run away

Anonymous said...

I haven't read a good posting here for a long time.

Well done and well written.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at April 27, 2008 11:10 PM said
"A decade ago someone like this auntie would probably be voting for the PAP. Today I am not so sure. The ground is shifting, slowly but surely."

totally agreed. im 20 yrs old and think im may not cast vote for PayAndPay in due time. thats if my district doesnt get a walkover, again - (for like the past 20 yrs).

geriatric_eunuch said...

If you think you can be the leader and do a better job for your fellow man then stand up, be counted and take the lead.

Indeed Mr. Wang, you beat me to it. I too, felt a distinct tingle of déjà vu when I read those oh so familiar words. I believe it goes something like: "If you want to make any political criticism at all, then go form a political party and take us on. Otherwise, STFU". Now where might we have heard that line before, I wonder?

Then follows the act of vindicating or defending against criticism or censure for obscene remuneration:

No one can blame you should you then demand a high salary because you have the leadership, the experience and you do the job well for the benefit of your fellow Singaporean.

Anon should have finished off with a resounding declaration of the advantages to the country of the doctrine of succession via "dead men's shoes", and the art and practice of passing the buck and ducking responsibility. That would have made it game, set, match then.

Anonymous said...

It is not practical for every citizen to strive to be the minister, but it is possible for many citizens to participate in the process of building a better nation.

I believe that giving feedback and expressing your views is a very important way by which citizens can do this. If you feel that something has gone wrong, it is actually your duty as a good citizen to speak up. As a matter of fact, the idea of blindly following & supporting your leaders even when you think they are wrong .... is just absolutely absurd.

It must be a by-product of our education system, especially in the past, when students were afraid to speak up and ask the teacher questions. (Actually I wonder if that has changed). It does not bode well for Singapore, if there are people who think that the best thing they can do is just shut up and just play "Follow the Minister".

I believe that even the government knows that it is important to get feedback from the people. It is just that the government does not know how to do it properly. As Mr Wang has pointed out, their own efforts to get feedback via the Internet are indeed quite unsuccessful. IMO, it is due to the government's failing. They just do not know how to make the connection with the people. Catherine Lim called it the Great Affective Divide, if I recall correctly. In this respect, the uninspired and uninspiring efforts of the government are really shown up badly by Mr Wang, Mr Brown etc who each have their own natural, easy styles of communicating with the masses and thereby draw a huge amount of readers' feedback (compared to the government's own online efforts anyway).

P65 in particular strikes me as quite a bad job done, right from the first step. The template is ugly and the site is just not reader-friendly. They would have been much better off just using a standard free template from Blogger, Wordpress or Livejournal.

Anonymous said...

If the PM is willing to absolve WKS of all responsibility, then it is the PM that must take that responsibility. Stop asking for WKS to be sacked, and start asking for the PM to be sacked.

Anonymous said...

I put it another way. Do we need a man of WKS calbre to allow the Mas error to arise. Or can any one of PAP 80 MPs step up and make that kind of mistake. Or is any of his parliamentary secretary (earning 6 fig salary) make that kind of mistake?
If the answer is yes, then the role of Ministers, and the talent required, is severely overstated by our PM / SM / MM.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dear All,
WKS is having a nice time in PAP, high pay, good life. Do u really think he will resign or step down?

Anonymous said...

The Government wants feedback, but I think the wrong kind of feedback that is conducive to the ear and gives a kind of feel-good aura to the establishment. Anything critical is immediately brushed aside as anti-establishment, untruth or beyond credibility. So, feedback that they sought leaves a great deal to be desired.

Anonymous said...

..." To just be "passionate" and stand at the side line and be the critic does your fellow men no good."...

I know I'm not of any leadership qualities but sure am very passionate and concern about the comings and goings of my country. But by your reasoning since I'm just an ordinary citizen I can't comment on the PAP Govt. esp. if I'm not satisfied with some of its policies? Are you aware that every citizen have rights? Basic right of speech, whether to praise or citicise. Do you known?

And to think you use the "asshole theory" as an analogy for various political parties and people of S'pore! You must be bonkers!

Anonymous said...

Those are pretty stupid provisions.

A maid is a human being just like other people. The law should apply to them and not the employers.

This whole thing really doesn't make much sense.

Anonymous said...

With great salary comes no responsibility

Anonymous said...

Every citizen has a part to play in the wellbeing of a Country. Whether one sweeps the road, clears the garbage or patronises most expensive restaurant and drives a Rolls Royce. He/she plays a role in nation building.

The only people not playing any part in nation building are those who 'think and believe' they are not qualify to do so. Due to inferiority complex, they fear losing 'face', lack confidence but funnily and ironically, sometimes they prodd, instigate and criticise others.


Anonymous said...

WKS is cousin of Ho ching what. You think can anyhow sack relative one ah..

Anonymous said...

Huh? How do you know WKS is Ho Ching's cousin?

Anonymous said...

sorry guys, i must admit culpability in my part as a member of society incorporate... i was complacent.

I trusted the government who are so efficient and effective that they are reading these very words (hi guys, take a coffee break, there's nothing here).

I'm sorry I trusted my government that it managed to record on video what a politician was putting into his bag, but have a CCTV system inoperative/uncomissioned in a ISD facility. I'm sorry, i should have gone there to see for myself. I was complacent

i was not able to have any opposition member of parliament represent my constitutency, to make useful and constructive suggestions, as my side is always getting walked over. It's also my fault that I live here because it is my "choice" to live in a walkover GRC.

I'm sorry I was complacent. Please, do not refrain from raising minister's pay again. They're doing a great job. It's only the fault of the common citizen for being complacent and not having the initiative or ability to monitor everything in a secret facility.

We're all guilty.

SM said...

Nice one, Mr Wang. I didn't notice that.

Anonymous said...

The MS case is a sign of man on the job for too long. Its better off its due to complacency... but this could be a case of lacking of awareness and sharpness to anticipate changes. And the danger is MS saga may not be last as long as the same old guard is still standing at the same place.

Anonymous said...

I'm an expat working in SG and have had high expectations of SG, Singaporeans and their govt, due to their mainly good image painted abroad. But having lived here for some time now, especially after the whole Mas Selamat debacle, the ministerial pay issue and the whole responsibility - accountability subject tied to it, I started to realise SG is just another Asian THIRD WORLD country with first world facades. It surely looks great on the surface, but when one scratches a bit deeper, one will immediately see this place is just a sad and backward FEUDAL"LEE"ISM. The whole country is governed at the whim of very small elite (the Fami-lee) with ZERO people participation / dissent. 1000 times more backward than SG's immediate neighbours, Indonesia and Malaysia, upon whom SG so much love to look down and belittle. Beware, who says the prosperity and stability of SG will be maintained forever and ever in eternity. I fear for SG future, esp. when the Old Man passes away. Interestingly, the Western media is not showing itself critical of SG and its severe lack of democracy and basic citizen freedom. Makes me wonder SG has some powerful Western backing, which basically means SG is no more than just a vassal state / puppet state of a very powerful Western state indeed. (a crumbling power, that is. And yes, I bet $1 that SG will change dramatically when the Old Man passes. Singaporeans I meet and speak everywhere are fed-up with the Fami-lee a.k.a. PAP running the show with zero accountability, high inflation, rising living costs, Foreign Talents, degradation of quality of life, CPF being locked away forever, emigration, falling birth rate, fast brain-drain, Nepotism, Cronyism, govt monopoly, overcrowding, and the best of all: the Mas Selamat saga and the govt's handling of it; and believe me, this is only a partial list. So, PAP, if you're reading this, watch it, please! Don't take people and things for granted! This is 2008, this is the Internet Age and this is not North Korea. You can't fool people eternally).

Anonymous said...

With a world class salary, the PAP is showing us their version of a world class accountability, responsibility and transparency.

Wake up 66.6%. How long do you want to live in a well tended bird cage?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7.04

'the Western media is not showing itself critical of SG and its severe lack of democracy and basic citizen freedom'

Part of the reason is that if any foreign newspaper is too critical of anybody, it is immediately banned or accused of interfering with our internal affairs. And then, perhaps, in extreme cases, getting sued in Singapore courts. There have been many examples in the past.

Anonymous said...

We are nibbling at the giant's foot. Look at the bigger picture. Singaporeans don't experience enough pain. The buses run, the garbage gets cleared, phone works, they have a roof over their heads, the electricity works, they have some job, annual ang pows, etc. They know they are generally okay compared with the rest of the world. Who (the majority) wants to rock the boat and jeopardize this. They know things can be a lot worse than others if tiny Singapore goes under. Because they do not want to lose what they have, they will tolerate what little restrictions on them. The world is basically materialistic. Without the basic needs of food, shelter, employment, fueled by a strong and going economy, everything else is false.

Anonymous said...

I get your point, but the analogy is not entirely perfect.

WKS is not the immediate direct supervisor / employer of whoever is responsible for the escape of Mas Selamat, unlike the employer of the domestic maid. The way in which they manage the people under them thus has to be different.

In this case, punishing WKS is like saying you should fine the dosmestic maid's employer's parents' primary schools' principals cause the maid got pregnant.

Not that WKS should not be punished, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Neither is the employer the immediate supervisor of the maid.
Usually the person applying for the maid is working, otherwise no permit will be given. If the applicant is working how can he/she supervise the maid ?

Anonymous said...

Look it up. How others see us when we get bored of Singapore.


Anonymous said...

Yea he should be fined...and everyone who employs a maid should get a share of it!
Great analogy. But then again, nobody can really bring up a valid argument in front of the parliament that WKS is at fault. It just really shows how 'smart' they are.
What WKS has demonstrated is a very smart way of shifting the blame by disassociating himself from the situation. They are already on an unleveled playing ground and the odds are in their favour. No point fighting with them.

Anonymous said...

Good argument. It is up to a person to be courageous and admit his mistake and take responsibility.
What irks me most about WKS is the way he puts the onus on property owners to be responsible for tenants being bona fide foreign workers. As a citizen, I viewed that he has a way to push responsibility to others. I know it is tough being a MHA minister but then what he expects of us, I think it is only fair he expects of himself.

Anonymous said...

it is exactly how i felt, however i feel that the entire government should be fined and Wong Kan Seng be Fired (or a dis-honorable discharge) for their mistakes.

Indeed, the government has been quick to fine and punish its people. I feel the ministers should not be given special treatment. WE Pay their salary afterall!

How i just wish we could all stand out together and insist Wong Kan Seng step down along with a hefty fine and maybe jail term (with the amount of years Mas Selamat had).

Anonymous said...

Regarding what the expat working in Singapore (April 30, 2008 7:04 AM) wrote:

There are many ways to classify a country and its people as 3rd world. But haivng lived in Australia, Europe and Japan for a good part of my life, there are good and bad things about each place. What criteria counts whether a country makes it to 1st world status? Is it according to your standards or the man next to you?

Western countries have their fair share of problems where the government debates over which policies to implement and after years of debate, still no action (ie. solution). In fact, what is so great about Western countries?

There are still Aussie beggers, German garbage collectors, Swiss sewage cleaners, Dutch road sweapers and American homeless people - and with this, i mean the 'white man'. It doesnt mean that just because you dont see them in this part of the world they dont exist. In fact, going by population ratio, the homeless numbers far outnumber those you would find in your so-called 3rd world Singapore.

So i say, get down from your self-made pedestal and stop snorting at the air below.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is small and easy to manage. It also has enough wealth to eradicate homelessness and sufferings by the poor. The case of the lady who survive on rice and soy sauce so that her children can have an education is such a heart ranching one. It is also unbelievable. The case of the old couple who live by candle light to save on electricity charges is another sobering one. These people deserve better. A country with more than US$500 billion invested all over the world, should not have this type of problems. Why are there no free medical and welfare for the poor and unemployed ? The country can afford it. 8% return on US$500 billion is US$40 billion which is more that the total government annual expenditure. Singaporeans have delivered their end of the bargain in returning the pap to power for close to 50 years, some are still waiting for Lee Kuan Yew to deliver on his promise of a good life and secure retirement. The sooner the pap government wake up and act on these heart ranching cases, the better it is for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Fuer Fraupenguin,
Vielen Dank fuer Ihr Schreiben.
Ich bin der Expat in Singapur. Was ich mit meinem Schreiben meine ist dass man in Singapur ganz keine Freiheit geniesst wie man in sogenannten 1e Weltklasse Laendern hat. Natuerlich in jedes Land gibt es Berufe wie Sie geschrieben haben. Aber das ist doch nicht der strittige Punkt hier! Der wichtige Punkt der Debatte ist wie man den Rang der 1e Weltklasse mit Freiheit und Verantwortlichkeit verbindt.
Herr Lee Kuan Yew Jr. kann natuerlich immer die SG Leute einer Gehirnwaesche unterziehen dass sein Land und seine Regierung die Beste in der Welt ist, aber wenn er gleichzeitig keine Freiheit an der Bevoelkerung bewilligt um eine echte demokratische Regierung zu waehlen mit echter Verantwortlichkeit fuer das Wohlbefinden der Bevoelkerung, nicht nur das der Fami-lee; und alle Sachen mit Offenheit und in aller Ehrlichkeit behandelt (nicht wie die Mas Selamat Sache); und nur und allein wenn die Bevoelkerung diese Freiheit voellig geniesst und ausuebt, kann Singapur sich keine 1e Weltklasse nennen.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fraupenguin,

I'm fortunate enough that I've travelled to many parts of this planet and tell you the truth, I've met many common folks Europeans (yes, as you put it, the 'white man') who travelled to places such as Bangkok, Hong Kong and even here to lovely Singapore. And guess what they do in their own countries? They are German garbage collectors, Swiss sewage cleaners and Dutch road sweepers. What's wrong with these professions? Are you looking down on them? These are perfectly honest, honourable and legitimate professions. There is totally no shame in doing these professions in Europe. And guess what, people in those professions in Europe actually earn a living wage. And reading your writing that you've lived in Europe before, you should know this. Those Europeans having this type of profession have a normal life, family and income to live a decent life. Maybe they don't live extravagant life like the SG's Fami-lee, but for sure, they need not survive only on rice and soy sauce so that their children can have decent education (Govt subsidises education for citizens in most European countries, FYI) or they need not live by candle light to save on electricity charges either. (Thanks to the comment by Anon, May 2, 9:16 PM). And yet, these lowly-in-your-eyes 'white man' can save enough money to have a vacation to far-flung places like Bangkok, HK, even SG. Hey, maybe they don't stay at 5-star Ritz Carlton with golden bathtub in Bangkok or SG, but that's the not the point of having a vacation, right? I still yet have to meet Singaporean garbage collectors, sewage cleaners and road sweepers in Berlin, Zurich and Amsterdam, though. Have you guys met any?
I truly want to meet Singaporean garbage collectors, sewage cleaners or road sweepers, who earn like, what? S$ 600 a month? who can afford to travel to Berlin, Zurich and Amsterdam and actually have vacation there paid from their own working wage.

That's what I mean between genuine 1st world country like Germany, Switzerland and Holland, compared to 1st-world-wannabe like Singapore, or better said, Sillypore, with more and more silly locals like yourself, who have been brainwashed too long and too severe, beyond repair, by the ruling party a.k.a. Fami-lee for the last, almost, half-a-century? High time for a fresh change, anyone?

geriatric_eunuch said...

To encourage the discussion, I took the liberty of translating your message from German to English. Please correct me if something has been lost in the translation, expat.

To Mrs. Penguin,

Thank you for your letter.
I am the expatriate in Singapore. What I mean in my letter to you is that Singapore does not enjoy the sort of freedoms to rank as one of the so-called world-class countries. Of course in every country there are professionals such as you wrote. But that is not the point disputed here! The important point of this debate is how it measures up against the 1st world in terms of freedom and responsibility.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew Jr. can of course always brainwash the people of SG that his country and his government are the best in the world, but if he simultaneously does not allow the population in a genuine democratic government to choose with real responsibility for the well-being of the population, not just the family-lee, and does not treat all things with openness and honesty (like the Mas Selamat thing), and if and only if the population does not fully enjoy this freedom and practice, Singapore cannot be 1st World class.

Anonymous said...

The example of the German garbage collector on a holiday in Bangkok cannot be said to be a good example. Germany uses the Euro and by this virtue, the exchange rate gains allows his money to be stretched much further than the Singaporean garbage collector who would have to convert his wages to Euros to materialise his holiday in Amsterdam. But for the record, i have no qualms about people in such professions and it is indeed true that these people are paid wages. However, to give your argument more credit, we could discuss (with regards to the first world countries compared to Singapore) the unemployment rates and number of homeless people or people living below the poverty line instead.

Yes, some of them do have normal lives, families and income. But there are also many others who dont, who have to slog several part-time jobs, barely surviving on what they earn every month in the so-called first world countries. Some even do not work (although they could) and live on the cost of the community. German tv channels frequently run reports of these people i must add. So therefore, we shouldnt cherry pick examples.

In this discussion the definition of first world seems to be based on the democracy factor. Could anyone support this point with facts regarding this definition? Even Wikipedia acknowledges that there is (i quote) "no precise definition of the 'first' world". However, apart from democracy, they also do mention things such as "technologically advanced, and whose citizens have a high standard of living". Wikipedia also mentions on the other hand, that the World Bank does categorize countries according to income (high, upper, and lower middle, as well as low income). According to their definition, high income countries are countries with a Gross National Income per capita of US$11,116 or more.

By this, the classification of Singapore as third world doesnt fit the mainstream definition but those who insist that Singapore is, it only reflects a typically skewed perception and myopic opinion.

For the sake of discussion i shall bring it to the other extreme as opposed to the fervent support of democracy. I'll highlight a very detailed article which Der Spiegel ran in Feb 2007 which questioned how well democracy has worked for the western world. If you are interested, you can read it here:


Just in case anyone starts assuming that i'm a communist, i'll state for the record that i'm not for communism.

Lastly, if one dislikes what they see and experience in Singapore so greatly, what are they still doing there? Sounds like those Germans who keep complaining about the Turkish in Germany who are always demanding that German laws accommodate them and their believes even though they go against those of the German way. I hear Germans in Germany say this all the time - if they (the Turkish) dont like how things are done here, they should just go back to where they came from ;)

Surely if one chooses to stay on, there must be some enormous personal benefit derived out of this decision which outweighs all the cons mentioned. So in fact, something good has evolved out of the Singapore system for these who complain but yet remain.


Das Beispiel des deutschen Muellmanns, der Urlaub in Bangkok macht, kann man nicht als gutes Beispiel anfuehren, denn:
Deutschland nutzt den Euro, und durch den guenstigen Wechselkurs hat der deutsche Urlauber einen monetaeren Vorteil gegenueber dem singapurianischen Muellmann, der Urlaub in Amsterdam macht. Um noch einmal festzuhalten: Ich habe keinerlei Vorurteile gegen Personen, die solche Berufe ausueben - und es stimmt, dass sie natuerlich dafuer bezahlt werden. Um Ihrem Argument aber gerecht zu werden, koennten wir (mit Bezug auf die Erste-Welt-Laender, verglichen mit Singapur) diskutieren ueber Arbeitslosenrate, Obdachlosenzahl oder Zahl der Personen, die unter der Armutsgrenze leben.

Ja, einige dieser Leute in dieser Berufsgruppe fuehren ein normales Leben, haben Familie und ein geregeltes Einkommen. Aber es gibt auch einige andere, fuer die das nicht zutrifft - solche die in mehreren Teilzeitjobs hintereinander schuften muessen, und dennoch kaum ueber die Runden kommen in den sogenannten Erste-Welt-Laendern. Einige andere arbeiten sogar gar nicht - obwohl sie koennten - und leben auf Kosten der Gemeinschaft. Im deutschen Fernsehen sieht man davon viel. Daher sollten wir uns nicht die "Rosinen-Beispiele" bei dieser Diskussion herauspicken.

In dieser Diskussion scheint die Definition der Ersten Welt alleinig auf dem Demokratie-Faktor zu basieren. Kann jemand belegen, dass dieser Faktor der einzig ausschlaggebende ist (und auch mit Fakten belegen)? Auch Wikipedia erkennt an, dass es "keine praezise Definition der Ersten Welt" gibt. Jedoch werden neben Demokratie auch Faktoren, wie "hohe technologische Fortgeschrittenheit" und "hoher Lebensstandard der Buerger" aufgefuehrt. Weiterhin wird auch erwahnt, dass die Weltbank Laender nach Einkommen ("high, upper, and lower middle, as well as low income") kategorisiert. Entsprechend dieser Definition sind Laender mit hohem Einkommen solche, die ein Bruttonationaleinkommen ab US$11,116 pro Kopf haben.

Durch diese Mainstream-Definition passt die Klassifizierung von Singapur als Drittes-Welt-Land nicht. Aber fuer diejenigen, die darauf bestehen, dass Singapur ein solches Dritte-Welt-Land ist: Dies spiegelt ein typisch verzerrtes Wahrnehmungsvermoegen und eine kurzsichtige Auffassungsgabe wider.

Fuer die Diskussion mit den eifrigen Anhaegern der Demokratie moechte ich das andere Extrem auffuehren. Ich verweise auf einen sehr detaillierten Artikel des "Spiegel" vom Februar 2007, in dem in Frage gestellt wird, wie gut die Demokratie dem Westen getan hat. Fuer die, die es interessiert: Hier kann er nachgelesen werden:


Falls jemand vermutet, dass ich eine Kommunistin bin, halte ich fest, dass ich nicht fuer Kommunismus bin.

Letzten Endes - wenn jemandem so sehr nicht gefaellt, was er in Singapur sieht oder was ihm dort widerfaehrt, was macht diese Person dann noch da? Es klingt so, wie wenn Deutsche sich fortwaehrend ueber die Tuerken in Deutschland aufregen, die fuer sich beanspruchen, dass die deutsche Gesetzgebung quasi ihren Beduerfnissen und Glauben angepasst werden soll, auch wenn es gegen die deutsche Lebensart geht. Ich hoere dies von Deutschen in Deutschland fortwaehrend - wenn sie (die Tuerken) nicht moegen, wie Dinge bei uns erledigt werden, dann sollen sie dorthin zurueck, woher sie gekommen sind ;)

Sicherlich, falls jemand sich dennoch dazu entscheidet zu bleiben, dann muss an dieser Entscheidung ein enormer persoenlicher Nutzen haengen. Tatsaechlich ist dann doch etwas Gutes aus dem singapurianschen System entstanden fuer diejenigen, die sich darueber beschweren, aber dennoch bleiben.

geriatric_eunuch said...

fraupenguin asked the question: What criteria counts whether a country makes it to 1st world status? Is it according to your standards or the man next to you?

Well, looking at the IMF's 2007 list, Malaysia (pop: 27.5m, GDP: $186b), Indonesia (pop: 245.4m, GDP: $433b) and Ireland (pop: 4.34m, GDP: $258b) have higher GDPs than Singapore (pop: 4.59m, GDP: $161b). New Zealand (pop: 4.2m, GDP: $128b) ranks lower. Two in that list can be classified as true 1st world countries and I don't think S'pore is one of them yet, do you fraupenguin? So affluence is a factor but there are seemingly other considerations to take into account.

Infrastructure? Health? Housing? Transportation? Freedom from corruption? I'd say S'pore, NZ and Ireland are pretty much even, give or take, so it must be something else that excludes S'pore from the club, something intangible that detemines status.

Race and skin colour? Nope, Japan and Taiwan would give the lie to that.

Perhaps it's how a nation is seen to conduct itself when judged by 1st world norms? Maybe attributes like respecting the rule of, not by, law; valuing civil society; honouring the right to free speech, assembly and peaceful protest; upholding a free press, media and judiciary; kindness and mercy for the less fortunate....call it, oh, I don't know, being cultured and having a generosity of spirit?

Might that be it, do you think?

Anonymous said...

I think only PAP cadres and those who have a poor knowledge of current affairs will believe that Spore is a 1st world nation.

Anonymous said...

yes i do agress that it is NOT FAIR, soon singapore will become the old TAIWAN where the black and white facts is not there...... LHL is unfair

Anonymous said...

I have my reservations about labeling Singapore as first world. But i wouldnt go so far as to brand them third world.

My gripe with people who go to another country and then b**** about everything there is that if things are SO BAD like how they see it, then what the heck are they still doing there? It is so typical of complainers...they complain just about anything and everything but yet still go through the same hypocritical motion. He is an expat. He has a choice. So why doesnt he leave if Singapore is so unbearable in so many sense? Obviously there must be some benefit which compensates him for his choice to remain in this so-call third world Singapore.

IMO, there are many criterias when classifying a country as first, second, third or even forth world. If you say absolute democracy is one, Singapore does not totally qualify in this aspect. But if you say graciousness and lack of racism is another, then certainly many first world countries do not qualify. Germany has its own fair share of problems regarding racism. An African man got stabbed just for speaking English while queuing up to get into a pub. There are tons of other real life examples about race-related crimes in Germany and Nazi-ism is very much alive still. The Kiwis are quite known to be racists too actually.

We could go on and on debating about what makes a country first world. But most of these would be according to western standards anyhow. What might work for one country might not work for another. Every country is different. In the most extreme scenario, let's say Singapore adopts ALL American values - freedom of speech and all the other things that come with it. Would it work? I have my doubts.

Anonymous said...

The 123 of Human Rights in Singapore:
1st world - standard of living.
2nd world - citizens' rights (especially voting)
3rd world - foreign workers' rights (especially maids)

Sad but true...

Anonymous said...

Another BIG difference between genuine 1st world country and 1st-world-wannabe Sillypore is the accountability and responsibility issue.
When some blunder of such a scale as the Mas Selamat case takes place in genuine 1st world country, the Minister in charge will do one of the following:

1. Resign voluntarily
2. Offer to resign (pending the PM or President's approval)
3. Be sacked by his superior, i.e. the PM or President

If the Minister in charge does not do one of the above, most probably the people will go to the streets and hold a peaceful protest, I emphasise, a PEACEFUL protest, to demand his resignation, because no matter what and how one looks at it or argue about it, it is still his responsibility and accountability, at the end of the day.
An example: PM Jose-Maria Aznar of Spain resigned after the Madrid train bombing and a HUGE people protest ensuing it. Do we have to see something like a train bombing in Singapore before WKS resigns? Does he or the Singapore govt for that matter have FACE after the Mas Selamat scandal? Do they still dare to claim themselves "1st-world-government"?

Anonymous said...

Both situations (Maid and Selamat escape) seems to be comparable in the comments made by Mr Wang.. However, I don't see it that way.

Firstly.. put yourself in the shoes of Mr WKS.. under his jurisdiction, he has dozens of areas to look into, hundreds of subordinates in different levels to supervise (whether directly or indirectly) and maybe hundreds or thousands of so-called "dangerous" criminals, terrorists so as to say etc to keep in place.
So what is his margin of error? Should he be punished for every mistakes made by any of his subordinates? Is it his personal or direct negligence which leads to the escape or a mistake done by one of the many many subordinates which I don't think he even knows.
Now for the maid issue. The maid is definitely employed and overseen by the employer. So, someone must be responsible if the maid does anything unlawful.

If anyone wants to compare, WKS shouldn't even be in the picture. A more accurate comparison would be the employer vs maid AND the warden in charge vs Selamat.

So lets assume there is a ministry set up for all the maids, say.. "Ministry of Maids". So if one maid escapes or commits a heinous crime, the minister for "Ministry of Maids" should be fined? jailed?....

So when doing comparisons, the factors used must at least be of equal status. WKS is a talented person (at least from what i know and heard). I feel that we should be fair to him. What WKS needs to do is to plug as much loopholes in security and to set up better systems to prevent any similar cases from happening. And seriously speaking.. its the abilities of his subordinates who are keeping these loopholes plugged.
So, i do agree that he has some responsibilities, but he shouldn't be compared using domestic maids. The comparison is too skewed.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

In my usual style, I have designed this blog to be thought-provoking and instead of stuffing my own opinions up my readers' throats, I have provided room for readers to take from the post what they will.

For example, it's up to you to take either the view that:

1. employers should be treated like WKS, and similarly permitted to go scot-free for "operational errors" beyond their control;


2. WKS should be treated like employers, and held responsible for the errors of their subordinates

You have interpreted my analogy as:

Maid = mas selamat


Employer = WKS

But it could also be seen as

Maid = errant prison officer


WKS = employer.

Anonymous said...

There are many interpretations of first, second and third world definitions here. Many gauge and define them with administration of the country, the political criteria and the social situation of the country.

Is it possible for us to simplify the definition by just gauging how happy citizens are with their livings? Let us say that the Bhutanese people are found to be the happiest people, but their material lives are basic, their educations, technological developments, national infrastructures, healthcares developments are not developed and remain fundamental.

Much of Nature in Bhutan are preserved due to lack of developments and also conservations. The Bhutanese are self sufficient, conservative and insular. They have plenty of land and resources due to their conservative lifestyles and hence the resources remain quite intact for further uses. And therefore the Bhutanese are free of worries for survivals.

I do not believe that Bhutanese are not capable of developing their nation. Rather, I believe they do not see the need to modernize. Simplicity has given them much happiness and few have to worry about their food supplies. They are not bother much by fashionwares, automobiles, electrical appliances and other opulences of modernity. Their main focus in living(existence) is HAPPINESS.

Conversely, Singapore is not just only a modern city state, it is cosmopolitan, a metropolis (over)developed to capacity and depleted most of what Nature has endowed it. Yet the Leadership is continuously raking to further develop it. I think it(Leadersip) is trying to pour more wine into an overflowing cup because they(leaders) love wine too much!

The Singapore Leadership and much of its' citizenry are intoxicated by their loves and greeds of materials, both edible and ornamental. On top of that, they are boastful and hence fame seeking having overflowing material possessions! Can Singaporeans ever be happy?

Is there anyone in the World ever satisfied with his/her material crave/craze if that is his/her purpose in life?

So, as a whole, is Bhutan, is Singapore a First, Second or Third World Country, for the existence of being(human)?


Anonymous said...

...."Firstly.. put yourself in the shoes of Mr WKS.. under his jurisdiction, he has dozens of areas to look into, hundreds of subordinates in different levels to supervise (whether directly or indirectly) and maybe hundreds or thousands of so-called "dangerous" criminals, terrorists so as to say etc to keep in place."....

Dear Anon May 5, 2008 10:57 AM

I agree that WKS has got his hands full. But isn't that's what he is paid top dollars for? For christ sakes, he's paid more than the president of the USA!

So let me ask you. Who has more areas, dept. to look into? Who has more subordinates directly or indirectly? Who has more terrorists to worry about? WKS or US president? I think everybody knows the answer. But you know what, since WKS - or the rest of S'pore ministers for that matter - is paid more than US president with less areas/dept and subordinates to supervise. Why the hell can't he do a good job of it?

....""Now for the maid issue. The maid is definitely employed and overseen by the employer. So, someone must be responsible if the maid does anything unlawful.""....

You seems very understanding and sympathetic to WKS but not to the people who employs a maid. Does a employer of a maid has only the one maid in his house to supervise? Doesn't it occur to you that people who employ maids are busy with their jobs as well? He/She may be a top or middle manager who has areas to look into and subordinates to supervise This is especially so for CEO of large companies.

So why are they have to be made responsible for the illegal activities of that one maid he/she employs? Let me repeat a ridiculous statement made by you below:

....."So, someone must be responsible if the maid does anything unlawful.""....

When a person does anything unlawful. Isn't that the responsibility of the law enforcement dept. and its officers?

Wake the hell up anon 10:57 am. The people here are doing, (i.e. telling WKS to be accountable), exactly what the PAP have been doing to its citizens all along - getting us responsible for a lot of things. Mr Wang's maid example is just but one of them. We acquire it from the PAP.

Anonymous said...

From HDB Heartlander;

There is no Singaporean road sweepers or cleaners as there are being replaced by foreign workers from India, Malaysia and etc.
So do not expect to meet anyone Singapore road sweepers or cleaners while you are on holiday in Bangkok. What are these Singaporeans doing? Sitting around and wait to die, lor. Some aunties just went over to Australia to be fruitpickers in wineyard.
Why is the state of affairs happening now? The new Sg Policy of pay top salary based on $$$ performance for all government dept give raise the incentive of having more foreigners to take over the low paying jobs from Singaporeans so that Labour dept helps to generate more $$$ as foreign levies collected.
Sg aunties have became our 'new Fillipino maids' to Sg government ... Or wait to die of starvation lor

Anonymous said...

To Anon May 5, 2008 10:57 AM.

You are kind of confuse. The confusion is due to your eagerness to absolve WKS of his share of blame over the Mas Selamat disaster.

The basic thrust of this post is to show the unfairness of the pap government. On the one hand they are so willing and eager to hold Singaporeans responsible for their actions while on the other hand they are so reluctant to shoulder their responsibilities. To make Singaporeans responsible for the "crimes" of their maids, the pap government is unreasonably stretching the Singaporeans onus of responsiblities. The pap government by obsolving themselves from this Mas Selamat disaster is shirking their responsiblities. Any decent and fairminded person will see the more than double standard that the pap government conveniently used to suit their own personal agenda.

Anonymous said...

lol this post is hiliarious.

Good way of comparsion, anyway, the government is always right and its citizens are always in denial.

SG said...

Well Said Mr Wang! I honestly felt that WKS should resign from the Mas Selamat issue... PM should not cover for him, with reasons whatsoever, cause the damaged is done. And i believed the duty guard at that time, as well as his superior, have already been released from their appointments. Why not WKS?

Anonymous said...

Fret not sporeans... The tide is changing... Look at MSIA for a start... the people's voice are slowly getting heard and actions thru their elections had proved it... Our up and coming young sporeans will eventually make a difference and forced a political retink/reshape in our country.

Anonymous said...


This situation reminds me of Army, especially the MP Provost Dog Unit.

The dog bite another dog, handler tio DB
The dog get sick, DB
The dog bite innocents, DB

Are maids dogs? Oh wait, "maids" is too much of a demeaning term, lets refer them as "domestic helpers" for now, shall we not?
Cos the word "maid" seems to refer to beings incapable of self thought in the government's eyes.

Anonymous said...

So sad that this post has been plagiarised. An email is circulating with the entire entry (minus the comments) reproduced. The email does not state the source at all and, in fact, reads from start to finish without defining the TODAY article portion as an excerpt.

If anyone receives this email, please be civic-minded and inform the email sender about the original source accordingly, thanks.

Ideally, I would like an investigation to be carried out on this plagiarism, but am reminded by my (not so) wise leader, "What to do. It has happened."

Anonymous said...

Wa! Filipino maid moonlight as loan shark on weekends!


Will her employer be fined?

Anonymous said...

government not helping the citizen.they only cover those in thier ranks. everything going up except our salary, and what is the government doing - nothing! asked for help in muis and mcds - they say our household pay cannot more than 1500 per mth - logic or not? can anyone live in s'pore with 1500 per house hold - in the end all the donation the government collect and saved used up to pay the salary, they saved up the money for thier own backside.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Can anyone tell me where can i get a virgin belt for my maid?