Help Or Not
I have been reading lots lately about the maid or 'help' culture in Singapore and whether it is abused and so on. The latest I've seen are the photos doing the rounds on the Internet of the National serviceman having the family maid carry his rucksack, and whether that is acceptable or not.
We don't have a maid and to me it still seems an alien concept. In the UK the only people you imagine having that type of luxury are the very wealthy, celebrities and the royal family who can afford to have live in nanny's or servants. That said as it is only me and my fiance and I'm not currently working there is no need for us to have a maid. I've come to realise it is a pretty common practice here and indeed our condo, as many others are, is equipped with a maid's room and shower/toilet cubicle for her. This part of the condo is without air conditioning or hot water however and the bedroom is not much bigger than a walk in wardrobe. It therefore makes a very handy additional storage space for us instead.
Family and friends in the UK are always fascinated when I tell them about these facilities and this culture. If we did have a maid I'd struggle with her being cooped up in that room with not much more than a wet room as a bathroom, though I fully appreciate that this is the accepted norm for accommodation. As my fiance is also often away with work too I'd find it weird sitting watching TV in the evening knowing she was sat in her room or in the kitchen just a few feet away from me. I think I'd also find it hard to justify to myself why we needed one.
For family's however I can understand why a maid is a god send and as I've mentioned in previous posts when I'm mopping my brow doing the housework I'd happily justify having someone else do it for me. The working culture in Singapore means that individuals work very long hours and if you have a family and can afford it I can understand why that extra support is very useful. However I do also wonder how much of a culture shock it is for young Singaporeans, who perhaps move abroad to study and have been privileged enough to have a maid, when they suddenly have to tidy up and cook etc. for themselves. Likewise with Singapore being such a safe place to live how much of a shock is it when they come to a place, such as the UK, and suddenly have to be a lot more aware of the situations they are putting themselves in. I'm digressing though and maybe that is something to think about for another day.
If the photo of the National Serviceman is genuine though I personally think that is taking the privilege of having a maid too far. I am sure there are lots of families who cope perfectly well without that additional support and if they had it would not allow that to happen. What are your thoughts?