Response to TWC2 post

It has come to my attention that my blog and myself were cited by TWC2 (transient workers count too) in a blog post entitled “Why are Singapore mums demonizing maids online?“.  The specific paragraph where I am cited reads is

On another blog, an expat mum writes: “Were we to hire a new helper, I’d bring my purse into my bedroom at night, and I’d be more aware of my cash, removing temptation.” She wrote this after her maid allegedly stole some money in 2011 and her blog relays in exhaustive detail the investigation, firing and eventual deportation that followed.

 

For context, I am being lumped in with a blogger who posts names, nationalities and the last 3 digits of work permits of “bad maids” as well as demeaning rules for maids, and a blogger who is worried that her maid will bring back contagious diseases from her day off.

You could knock me over with a feather.  I have never portrayed maids as anything but human beings that deserve our respect.  That we are not better than our FDW’s.  Yes, I wrote about the night we fired B–because my blog is about my experiences in Singapore.  Firing her will always remain one of the strongest memories of Singapore–because it threw everything into question–how I had not seen what was happening, how off was my judgment, what had I done wrong, did I really need a maid just because everyone told me to.

I wrote a rebuttal and emailed them

Dear webmaster

One of your bloggers-Farah-cited a blog post of mine in her article “Why are Singapore mums demonizing maids online?“.  Yes, this post is very detailed about what happened when we learned that our maid had stolen from us-it was written within the next 48 hours.  My blog is about my experiences in Singapore-and that includes my experience of being an employer.  I tried to always be respectful of my helper, even after we had a bad experience, by using an initial and not her name as it wasn’t mine to share.  My blog is my truth.

I resent, strongly, being categorized with people like Tamarind, whose blog I’m familiar with and am horrified by.  Saying I wouldn’t leave my purse out at night is hardly in the same line as Tamarind’s nonsense.

Farah chose to ignore this post written two month after we fired our maid where I talk about all the ways in which I failed as an employer.  My helper absolutely holds some culpability, but I failed too.  This post, not the one cited, is my post popular post on the blog in part because I take responsibility for my failures.  Not as popular, but it is also worthwhile to note that in my post written one year after, I realize that I am a better, more involved mom without a maid–not demonizing her, criticizing MYSELF.

Clearly, Farah did not any other post of mine in my “helpers” category.  I have never demonized having a helper-I constantly remind readers that one bad experience does not mean helpers are bad.  I do remind people that it’s okay to not have a helper–there is tremendous pressure on expats to have one, whether we are prepared to be good managers or not.  Most of us who come from countries where a maid is not common are NOT trained to be a good manager.

The points that I have been advocating strongly are that

A-You shouldn’t bow to pressure to have a maid if you don’t want one or feel ill prepared to have one.
B-People who have never had a maid before need to receive more support and training as they hire a maid.  A test that my (now) 4 year old could pass doesn’t constitute training.

C-Just because I had a bad experience and have chosen to go a different route doesn’t mean all maid are bad. That every family should choose what’s right for them.

Please remove the paragraph related to myself and my blog or amend it to reflect that while some of us have bad experiences, not all of us are demonizing maids and take responsibility for our own actions.  The way in which you portray myself, and my attitude toward helpers is misleading and wrong.

But there are many other examples I didn’t include in that post that Farah chose not to ignore…
I wrote a post highlighting the scheme run by some agencies that there are two sets of paperwork filed–one with the Philippines Embassay saying that the FDW’s pay is 600 SGD a month and another with MOM listing their actual (almost always lower) salary.  When we found out that, we increased B’s pay to reflect that and gave her back pay.  I deserve no applause for that, but the maid agencies deserve to be called out for that lie.

I advocated for maid’s rights, writing to MOM on behalf of the day off policy that many strongly opposed.

Farah says no one is writing about the positive experiences–I would refer her to the following posts–it’s there, but it doesn’t fit her narrative of me as a demonizing vindictive mom).
I talked about this mismatch of cultural expectations and cultural misunderstandings and how employers (which included myself at the time) needed to be aware of what they’re projecting on to and expecting of someone who is not of the same cultural background.

I wrote about how when getting vaccine updates for all adults in the household when a new baby arrives, not to forget your helper.

I wrote about how mother and child offers first aid classes for parents and helpers and that I’d signed B up for classes.

I’ve never written about it, but I held safe sex classes for B and her friends once a month on a Sunday to educate on condom usage, clear up misinformation, and to answer questions.

I didn’t write many posts about B in the months before because she deserved her privacy.  My blog is about myself and my family and she was not and is not a sideshow attraction for readers to gawk at.  I would reference that she was somewhere with us, but overall I tried to keep her off the blog because her story isn’t my story to tell.  Even though we’ve fired her, I still have tried to maintain her privacy because her story still isn’t mine to tell.

I am disheartened and a bit angry to be lumped  in with the other employers cited.  I don’t think that the advice to have your wallet in your room at night is wrong, nor does it demonize an FDW–I stand by that statement.  But choosing to highlight a post that was, until today, not all that popular instead of taking 5 minutes to skim my helper category is a misleading portrayal of who am I.

Ironically, TWC2 is an organization I believe in and would encourage readers to support.  I just wish in this instance they hadn’t used sloppy journalism.

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10 Responses to Response to TWC2 post

  1. Pingback: Disconnect | Expat Bostonians

  2. KJ says:

    Excellent rebuttal. To be lumped in with that Tamarind person and her 33 ridiculous rules blows.

  3. Ireen says:

    yes, excellent rebuttal. You were honest, factual, and very fair to B. It’s what I love about your blog. Sounds like Farah made up her mind after reading only ONE sentence/entry.

  4. Pingback: Daily SG: 2 May 2013 | The Singapore Daily

  5. Chan says:

    TWC2’s association with SDP is already giving TWC2 a bad name and now this.

    • I think they’re an organization with admirable goals. I’m not informed enough to speak to political associations, but I think it makes them look bad to write lazily researched articles like this.

  6. finally catching up on my online stuff.. WTH TWC2?! makes me wonder if the person who wrote that article even read your posts on what happened and the angst / guilt you went through. You weren’t demonizing B, you were telling us what happened. I actually like what TWC2 tries to do here.. read that article makes me very annoyed. The article would have worked if she omitted the paragraph that referred to your blog..

    on a separate note… those other ‘bloggers’ mentioned are crazy.. CRAZY.. it’s employers like that that gives us Singaporeans a bad name!!

    • I agree.

      This whole experience, though, was largely a lesson in learning that I can’t control how people interpret my work, which is always useful to learn/be reminded of.

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