In this richest nation in the world, our low income needy families have to seek assistance from the government to employ a maid. At the same time, our maids, with higher starting pay, will likely to have more savings than our low income families.
Is this a happy dilemma? Is this an unavoidable dilemma?
Some may argue that our poor and low income families are luckier than their American counterparts. These Americans have no subsidy at all, not to mention a maid grant. So, in Singapore, the government does help the poor and low income families. However, it also proves that it is very difficult to uplift the livelihood of lower 20% of the families in Singapore. Otherwise, a pragmatic PAP government, whose principle is against welfare state, will not adopt this last resort to help the needy families.
The government is now caught between the rich and the poor, successful and not successful persons, the Haves and the Have Nots. They are balancing it and monitoring it with the hope that they can influence their votes in the next election.
Here are the headlines:
Needy families to get monthly $120 maid grants (http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20120807-363939.html)
It is not sure whether the government knows the maids will have higher salary in advance or not and the maid grants are just to cover the increase. Earlier in the years, the Indonesian government had indicated their intention and some maid agents had implemented this already. So, the maid grants are only a cushion. Have the grants really solved the problems of needy families?
The higher salary shows that the Indonesian government wants to protect their maids by imposing a higher minimum salary and off day compensation. They are doing this for the welfare of their workers, however, in Singapore; we leave the market forces to decide the wages of our local workers even though their income cannot meet their end needs.
We may complain and comment the Indonesian government is corrupt, inefficient, and slow in action. However, in some ways, they are moving faster than us and possibly in the right direction.
We are the richest in the world, but certainly not our low income families. As we say we must respect our maids with dignity, so do the poor and needy in Singapore.