The New Paper published a laudable background feature on domestic maids from the Philippines and Indonesia on Monday, March 26, 2012. In the three-page spread by lead writer Amanda Phua, the story described their pre-Singapore lives back in their villages where electricity is a luxury and modern household appliances unknown. It shows how hard the adjustment process can be for some of them.

The last third of the story touches on the demands made by employers, including requirements about looks.

Transient Workers Count Too vice-president Noorashikin Abdul Rahman was interviewed for the story, though some of her quotes were left out — this is not unusual — including a comment about long hours and no pay.

She had said to the reporter: “The helper’s work hours can be very long. In addition, only very few have regular days off.

“With the number of hours they have to work and be responsible for the house, plus no regular days off, their productivity will drop.”

Noor also pointed to how upsetting it can be for new helpers to see no cash flow; their salaries for the initial months are used to pay off their debt: “The fees have gone up over the years and now they need at least eight months of their salary to repay it. They might receive only $20 a month. They work for so many months without seeing the fruits of their labour. Where is their motivation?”

PDF scans of the feature:

First two pages

Third page