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Adopt holistic approach to the hiring of maids


Are you willing to get down and dirty to scrub the toilet?

Indonesian President Joko Widowo said last month said that his country wants to stop sending its women overseas to work as maids to preserve the country’s “dignity”.

Given that maid abuse has risen here, I am not at all surprised at this move. But this directive is cause for concern as many of our households and healthcare organisations are heavily dependent on maids to provide that much-needed support – more so with our rapid ageing population.

Do the domestic workers take full responsibility for the employee-employer relationship?

Employment agencies have called for domestic workers to undergo professional training here so that they can become skilled workers. However, training should not just be restricted to maids, but should also include their employers as relationships are often tricky.


In a certain way, just like marriage or taking in a tenant to a flat, hiring of maids is often a gamble. If you are lucky enough to find a good person, the relationship will grow and blossom. But if the maids or their employers cannot see eye to eye, then both parties will end up feeling bitter as the relationship turns sour.  In extreme cases, abuse and tragedies take place, and this has grabbed the headlines one time too many.

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But, is there really a need for physical violence?


Can this situation ever be resolved?

For a more productive working relationship, I suggest that a holistic approach is adopted whereby both maids and their employers undergo professional training.  Given that many of our elderly folk will at some point or the other have to grabble with mental health issues such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia or depression, it is also useful to train both maids and their employers on how to manage patients with mental illness.


With these proposals put in place, I have every confidence that relationships between maids and their employers will improve and our citizens can look forward to the structural support from not just Indonesia, but other neighbouring countries as well.  For it is surely better to be proactive, rather than reactive.