GOH Speech at Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) (AEA(S)) 18th Annual MDW and Employer of the Year Awards 2023
Minister of State for Manpower Ms Gan Siow Huang, Holiday Inn Atrium Singapore
Ms K Jayaprema, President of Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore);
Friends from Non-Governmental Organisations and the recruitment industry;
Migrant Domestic Workers and their Employers;
Ladies and gentlemen.
- A joyous and prosperous Chinese New Year to everyone. I thank AEA(S) for inviting me to your Lo-Hei Lunch and this annual awards ceremony for exemplary migrant domestic workers and their employers.
- This year’s Chinese New Year is special. It is the first time since the pandemic that we can physically gather to celebrate the success stories, and get together to build relationships, and to congratulate one another for a job well done. We are also celebrating the special bond forged between MDWs and their employers today, by recognising the winners of AEA(S)’s “MDW and Employer of the Year Awards” as well as the MDW Long Service Award. Congratulations to all the winners!
Building Meaningful MDW-Employer Relationships
- Now, we all know it is not easy to be an MDW, because they have to leave their families back home to care for our households in Singapore. During the pandemic itself, I think some of us also experienced this – not being able to meet up with families who are abroad, not being able to connect with loved ones. MDWs who come here to work experience this all the time, and they are also seeking care, warmth and love here as well. So, it is our responsibility, not just on AEA(S) and Employment Agencies (EAs) but our society, to show love and care for MDWs. This is so that MDWs will be in a good state to support the families and care for the families, their employer’s household and have happy relationships. We all know that when the relationship is good, when the MDW, the employer and the family is happy, things will go well. Retention will be good, and it’s good for the EAs too. We have a common goal – to make the employment of MDWs work well. Let me share with you the story of one MDW, Ms Marny and her employer, Mdm Yap, which resonated with me.
- Ms Marny and Mdm Yap’s employment relationship started 35 years ago – that’s over three decades! Both had to make adjustments, especially during the initial transition period.
- For example, Ms Marny was unfamiliar with some household chores, such as cooking, when she first arrived in Singapore. However, Mdm Yap was understanding as she knew that Ms Marny was transitioning into a different life and culture. Her patience and guidance paid off, as Ms Marny is now a skilled cook who contributes many dishes to the family’s gatherings!
- Over the years, as their relationship deepened, both have also come to trust and rely on each other. When Mdm Yap was hospitalised, Ms Marny would deliver home-cooked food to the hospital every day. She also stayed at the hospital on some nights to provide Mdm Yap comfort.
- On the other hand, Mdm Yap also helped Ms Marny with financial support to set up a business and build a house for her family back home. She even arranged for Ms Marny to reunite with her son in Singapore when he graduated from a local institution! Later, she even went the extra mile to organise and sponsor his wedding at her condominium.
- These are just some instances of the special bond between Ms Marny and Mdm Yap; a relationship anchored by trust, care and understanding. We hope to see more employers and MDWs have such strong relationships like Ms Marny and Mdm Yap.
An Ecosystem of Support
- Indeed, it takes a many-hands approach to create an ecosystem of support for MDWs and their employers. Our Employment Agencies, many of whom are here today, play an important role in fostering harmonious relationships between MDW and employer.
- Matching MDW to the employer to suit the household’s needs and the MDW’s skills and expectations is not an easy task at all. Employment agencies that put their heart into doing this matching tend to have more success stories.
- EAs do help to foster not just a good match, but also can help to foster good relationship between the employer and MDW. EAs sometimes provide free dispute resolution services to allow both parties to reach an amicable solution.
- I am grateful to AEA(S) and our EAs for their efforts to support our MDWs and employers, especially during the uncertain and difficult times during the COVID-19 period. We know that during the COVID-19 period, there were several months where we were short of MDWs. Kudos to the EAs as they put in the extra effort to match them well, and to build the relationship for the MDWs and the employers.
- I am heartened to know that our EAs are conducting regular post-placement checks to ensure that newly placed MDWs and their employers are adjusting well to each other. These checks are important in helping newly placed MDWs and their employers settle smoothly into their new working relationship.
- Just last month, AEA(S) collaborated with The RICE Company Limited to launch the AEA(S) Fun Club on 8 January.
- This Club could become a trusted and safe enclave for MDWs to rest and recharge from their work on their rest days, enabling them to interact with others and to form their own network of friends.
- It is heartening to know that it is thriving with weekly activities, including mental wellness programmes, art and creative activities to engage MDWs.
- The setup of the AEA(S) Fun Club is very timely too. As you are aware, we have recently implemented the mandatory rest day policy, in which MDWs must have at least one rest day a month that cannot be compensated away. I encourage our MDW friends to visit and participate in the activities organised by the AEA(S) Fun Club. Employers too can play a role in this as they can also encourage their MDWs to visit such dedicated spaces on their rest days.
- Let me once again express my deepest appreciation to AEA(S) as well as the EAs, partners and the supporters of this ecosystem for working together to make life better for MDWs and in turn, help the employers and the households. Like Ms Jaya said, it’s more than a role, it is a responsibility. It is my wish that Singapore will be a place that other countries can look to for positive role models and examples – where MDWs thrive, they want to come here to work, they stay here for long if they wish too. Where their employers find a lot of joy and support with their MDWs at their homes, in caregiving, whether it’s for the elderly or young children, or just basic household chores.
- It takes consistent and persistent perseverance for us to reach that goal. Why? Because we’ll always have new EAs that come into the industry. We’ll always have new MDWs that come to Singapore to work. And we’ll always have new employers who are hiring MDWs. So, it is work that does not stop. For that, I think that the awards that we are giving out today are especially significant. It encourages us all to put in the effort to continue and help MDWs in Singapore to thrive well, and to help the employers manage the MDWs as best as they can. I hope that the good support will continue from the partners.
- Congratulations once again to all the winners. Your stories inspire MDWs and employers to nurture and build relationships based on trust and respect, which will ultimately, make their lives and work more fulfilling and meaningful.
- Let us continue to work together to sustain a strong ecosystem of support for our MDWs and employers; and to foster a culture of mutual understanding and respect within the community.
- I want to wish everybody success good health and prosperity in the Year of the Rabbit. Wishing everyone 兔年猛进。Thank you.