Sunday, August 13, 2006

Student guardians very welcome

New MOM policy for 'study mamas'?
Letter from Andrew Teo
Voices, Today, 15th July 2006

I refer to the recent issue of "study mamas". The question is not what jobs they are or are not allowed to work at, but why they are even allowed to work here in the first place.

Will banning these mothers from masseuse jobs simply mean they will find other ways to "service" men here? It's just a matter of time before these "foreign talents" get creative and find other loopholes to exploit.

My Indonesian maid has been of great help to us, and she (and many other maids in Singapore) has the right to be with her children. Yet, are Indonesians allowed to bring their children here to study while they work as maids? Why not?

They don't work as masseuses, so they don't cause any trouble. In fact, they will work harder if their children are here.

My wife and I are willing to let my maid's child live with our family. We are most willing to pay for the child's expenses because our maid deserves this form of assistance.

When my wife and I were studying in New York, we had to show our bank accounts to the authorities as proof that we had enough funds to survive in the United States. Our tuition fees were approximately $15,000 per quarter, yet we were only given an F1 visa, which allowed us to work only within the university campus. A student's accompanying spouse was given an F2 visa, which didn't allow any sort of employment. Spouses were regarded as dependents.

There are many other types of visas, but my point is this: The Ministry of Manpower needs more sophisticated policies that cater to different situations and nationalities. The study mamas should never be allowed to work here in the first place.

Another concern: Should not the children of these foreigners be enrolled in international schools here? Why let them into our public schools, and on what criteria do they get accepted?
I had, earlier, written about this issue.
The letter-writer too questioned the level of sophistication of our visa policies. The way it is currently drafted, our policy of granting work visas for student guardians effectively means that Singaporeans are funding the education of these foreign students. And I thought the Government had been promoting our education services as a means to earn foreign exchange and boost our GDP!
Going by the Australian and the US examples, Singapore's policies on student guardians could well be one of the most liberal around.
This is yet another example why Singaporeans feel that foreigners receive very good treatment, sometimes even better than locals.
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