Feb 24, 2011
— PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG
A LETTER sent to The Straits Times forum pages, arguing that most families can actually do without maids, has sparked an emotional debate among Singaporeans online.
In the letter, Ms Emily Leong argued that many working parents have come to see a maid as a necessity, not a luxury.
‘I believe only two types of families cannot do without maids: Those with young children, and those with elderly or sick members,’ she wrote.
‘For all other families, there are many other options, such as day care, childcare or part-time help.’
Ms Leong used to be a working mum who employed a maid to look after her children. She has since become a stay-at-home mum.
Instead of sending her two boys – then eight and six – to enrichment classes, Ms Leong and her husband taught them to do housework, using it as bonding time for the family.
‘Having a maid is an easy option,’ she wrote. ‘If our children grow up seeing all the cooking and household chores done only by the maid, they will grow up thinking there is no other option.’
Reactions to her letter came in fast and strong. Here’s a selection:
Bhas Kunju: ‘The maid culture in Singapore is really out of hand. It has become a stop-gap solution for everything. People in other countries manage just fine and they’re having more kids than us…’
Chris Chong: ‘Having a maid is like putting blinders on. Many families only have one or two children nowadays. If both parents cannot even look after a small family while having jobs, then it speaks volumes about what Singapore society deems most important in building the nation.’
Deborah Elkes: ‘I personally do not see the point of having children if you are not prepared to care for them yourself.’
Joon Kai: ‘(Saying that most families can do without maids) is a sweeping statement…’
Vincent Ong: ‘When you need a maid, it’s because you have no other choice. If you don’t need a maid, just keep quiet and don’t pass judgement on others who badly need a maid to tide things out.’
Giam Lay Hoon: ‘All you need is a man who helps out.’
What do you think?