Sunday, June 17, 2007

Childcare Centres, do your own housework and less hours at work.

I agree and support Teresa Kok's opinion in Malaysiakini today. I do not know what is wrong with us, that we have such a love affair with foreign maids. Malaysians like to show off that they have maids. The lowliest are the one without one, classified as 'not well off'. the next rung are those with Indonesian maid, because they are relatively cheap. Then there are Filipino maids, because they speak English well, and highly educated, some with degrees.
Well I suppose Sri Lankan, Indian and Thai maids falls in between somewhere?
In Australia and New Zealand, very rarely families have maids. If hte children are young, most likely one of the parents would stay home and take care of the kids. When I say one of the parents, doesnt mean wife only, could be the husband. Some of my friends are stay at home husbands. Why, because the wife earns more, so make sense.

Child care centres in NZ generally opens from 8am to 5pm, no more. and they charge on average NZD8 per hour per child. So unless you earn big money, there is no point sending your kids to childcare centres so that you could work. You would be better off give quality care to your own children, and enjoy the little precious time with them while you can, otherwise you would miss out altogether.
Research shows that children who get early childhood education do well in later life. So its may well be a good solution if Govt subsidize the cost of early childhood education, by giving grants, say 20 hours per week subsidised cost at childcare centres and kindergartens. Its kind of investment in education.

Another solution is to reduce the average work hours, say 35 hours a week, and work days stretched to 6-7 days on rotation. Businesses could open longer hours, so people work on shift. Parents could share household duties taking care of kids. One parent could work 4 days a week and the other work 3 days a week.

Build childcare centres

by Su Hui Hsing in MALAYSIAKINI 16, June

It is true that Malaysians in general have become very dependent on maids. Why is this so?

“Because we do not have proper childcare centres where parents can drop their kids to be well taken care of when they go to work,” opined Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.

“This is one solution which should be seriously considered by the government as well as those in the private sector if we wish to lessen our over-dependence on domestic helpers,” she told malaysiakini in an interview.

Queried for her comments on Wanita MCA chief Dr Ng Yen Yen’s remarks against allowing maids from China to work in Malaysia because “Chinese maids have a tendency to snatch our husbands”, Kok said that the root cause why we are so dependent on maids should be tackled first.

The MP said to put our woes of Chinese maids (whom Ng refers to as ‘dragon ladies’) snatching our husbands to rest, we might as well not employ maids at all but consider other solutions to our need for help with housework and childcare.

“To say that Chinese maids will snatch our husbands is superficial. Maids from other countries can snatch our husbands too,” said Kok, ading that “what we need are quality childcare centres.”

Low wages

“We have to ask ourselves the question: Will China girls come in to work for us for RM500? The low pay will open up channels for employment visas to be abused by employment agencies, the maids themselves, or human trafficking offenders,” said Kok.

Low pay has been given to be one of the reasons why Indonesian and Filipina maids no longer want to work in Malaysia.

Often, reasons given by Malaysians for their dependence on domestic help are the lack of time or their refusal to do menial jobs. Foreign maids come in handy because they would help us do the tasks that we do not have time to do or do not want to do ourselves. And the amount we have to pay them, which is relatively low, makes it all the more attractive to hire a maid.

Kok also expressed concern on cases of employers violating the dignity of their maids which are not rare in the country.

“Under the system, maids are sometimes forced into a corner when they receive inhuman treatment by their employers but are unable to return to their home countries due the debts they owe to middlemen in getting a job,” she said.

“It should be good news that Indonesians and Filipinas no longer need us as their source of income. Perhaps they have experienced a sense of awakening that they no longer want to be exploited to work for so little pay while having to subject their lives to the whim and fancy of their employers.

“At the same time, employers should examine their treatment towards their maids - whether they have treated them like human beings and rewarded their maids’ time, effort and commitment with the fairest possible remuneration and benefits,” Kok said.

Increase employment

The DAP parliamentarian said that not only does setting up more childcare centres alleviate the problem of dependence on maids, it also alleviates the problem of unemployment and low participation of women in the labour force.

“At the moment, only 47% of women are in the workforce but in the universities, there are more women than men. Where are these women? They are staying at home because of their children. If we can set up childcare centres, we can train women for the job and allow other women to go out to work. It is a win-win situation,” she explained.

Instead of paying foreign workers, Kok said, we can help our own economy by providing more employment to local women.

“Setting up more quality childcare centres and training local women for the jobs in these centres is certainly a viable solution - until, of course, employers think that they can make more profits by hiring cheap foreign labour from sluggish economies to work in their childcare centres,” she added.

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