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Speech by Minister of State for Manpower Ms Gan Siow Huang at FAST's 1st Migrant Domestic Worker and Employer Appreciation Day

Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State for Manpower, FAST Hub, 3 Chin Cheng Avenue

1. Good afternoon Mr Lim Fang Sung, President, Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST), foreign ambassadors, distinguished guests, partners and friends of the FAST community.

2. Thank you for inviting me to join the first ever Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW) and Employer Appreciation Day.

3. I think it is a very meaningful event to hold. We have seen how migrant domestic workers and employers have grown closer and appreciated each other even more than before. For migrant domestic workers, many have not been able to go home, for at least two years, some three years or more. They miss their homes, their families terribly.

4. Employers as well as their families are the ones providing support and care for migrant domestic workers. For the employers, the last 20 months have also been tough. Besides handling their daily matters at work, at home, for their children and the elderly at home, employers are also taking care of their migrant domestic workers, some of whom need more help than others.

5. Many employers have also had difficulty hiring migrant domestic workers. As you know, we’ve had to restrict travellers into Singapore since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. I’m glad that things are looking up and things are improving. Ms Jayaprema (President, Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore)) will be able to share with you the stories of how AEA(S) and the employment agencies have worked very hard to bring domestic workers into Singapore, working in close partnership with the Ministry of Manpower, to support employers during this very tough time.

6. I’m very glad to be here today for this event that celebrates and appreciates domestic workers with their employers. Thank you FAST for starting this great event.

7. This year’s theme, “Mutual Care and Respect”, is indeed a fitting one as we will be recognising the winners of FAST’s inaugural “Exemplary MDW and Employer Award”. This award recognises the special bond between a domestic worker and her employer over the past year. Congratulations to the winning teams!

Appreciating MDWs and MDW Employers

8. Despite the difficulties brought by COVID-19, many of our domestic workers continue to extend full support to their employers. For example, our domestic workers stepped up to assist with new household arrangements given the Work from Home and Home-based Learning models last year. They also heeded the call to stay home instead of spending time on days off with friends.

9. Likewise, employers are also more sensitive and attentive to the needs of their domestic workers. We have received many stories of how employers demonstrated care to their helpers by treating them as an integral part of the family and lifting up their spirits.

10. I am touched by the story of Ms Wong and Ms Fitarini, both of whom have forged a strong bond over eight years. When Ms Fitarini lost her sister to COVID-19 in Indonesia, she immediately turned to her employer Ms Wong to share her sorrows. To take Ms Fitarini’s mind off her loss, Ms Wong and her family got her to join them on weekend cycling trips to different places around Singapore. Thank you, Ms Wong and your family, for your thoughtfulness and kindness towards Ms Fitarini!

Support by FAST for MDWs and employers

11. Over the years, FAST has put in place a suite of services to care for our domestic workers. These include organising social activities such as batik bag painting, handicraft workshops; conducting courses to upskill our domestic workers and help them spend their days off meaningfully; running a 24/7 helpline that provides advisory to domestic workers in their native languages; as well as provide mediation services to build harmonious relationships and achieve win-win outcomes between domestic workers and their employers.

12. I would like to commend FAST for working tirelessly to create an ecosystem of support for our domestic workers. I encourage all MDWs, their employers and employment agencies to make use of the services provided by FAST.

Concluding Remarks

13. Before I end, I would like to extend my appreciation to the organisers, their partners, as well as all of you for making this event possible. For many families in Singapore, our domestic workers provide critical support for our household and caregiving needs. Let us continue to show mutual care and respect for each other. It is the key to building and strengthening a harmonious working relationship.

14. Do enjoy the activities today, and please stay safe and healthy. Have a very happy MDW and Employer Appreciation Day, thank you!