From the text written by Yeoh B., Huang S. and Gonzalez III J. (1999, p 114); Migration have been as old as human existence, this involves the movement of people from one geographical location to another. There are different reasons why people migrate from one place to another, they can be economic, political, environmental or social reasons. Using Singapore as a case study, a country located on the southern part of Asia, with an estimated population of 5,612,300 million (as at 2017) and with one of the lowest unemployment rates among developing countries. There are more than 100,000,000 domestic workers who migrated from countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines and work as a foreign maid in Singapore because of economic value or necessity attached to such works, and this also has economic, political and social consequences.
Examining the state policy which deals with the transnational labor migrants with respect to female domestic workers, those impact which is made by the foreign maids such as their participation in the workforce, the assignment of the burden of the domestic work and the bringing up of the young ones. These activities have an adverse effect or repercussion on the lives of the people and can only take the intervention of the government to implement a dynamic policy. Globalization can say to be a driving force behind Migration, Considering the economic restructuring which is carried along with, as well as technological innovations and social activities attached to such movement across borders which is significant in the existence of man. With the uprising economic activities across the globe, there is a flow of capital which tends to increase labor mobility. Disparities in economic activities within the Asian region seem to be on increase and there is more segmentation when it comes to how the division of labor experiences changes internationally. For the sustainability of economic growth, developed countries seek cheap labour(predominantly female) from the industrialized countries in order to replace high labour cost in the economies, the economies which their level of industrialization is growing rapidly seek for industrial workers(usually combination of male and female) and domestic workers(usually female) from the developing countries. East and Southeast Asia have experienced a tremendous increase in the level of migration from women who come from countries such as Sri lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Thailand and Myanmar to places like Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, because of the higher demand of paid domestic work and workers in those countries. Some of the women (labour migrants) who move across from one country to another as economic migrants, experience different difficult situations, such as discrimination, abuse and all sorts of exploitations. Those who are employed in private sectors are more vulnerable when compared with their counterparts from the public sector who receive some form of protection under certain laws in the respective countries. Despite the fact that it is risky to embark on such an adventure, there seems to be a form of alternative employment strategy which the women are presented with. Taking into cognizance the decision of those women to leave their respective countries in order to become a foreign domestic worker overseas can be asserted on inequality ( both economic and social), and also on individual`s orientation. In other words, the circumstances of individuals and some of the influences which are structural led to the increase of the Asian women searching for employment in other countries. Considering that the majority of these migration are done illegally, it is difficult to obtain the accurate statistical data of those involved.
According to Heyer and Wee, the number was estimated between 1 million to 1.7million who moved from countries such as Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia, to work as domestic workers in the 90S. This increasing number has raised some policy issues for both the sending and receiving countries. The next chapter will focused and examine some of these policies and its effects on foreign labour migration, with Singapore as a case study.
2.1 Economic effect of foreign Domestic workers in Singapore.
The need to achieve higher economic growth in Singapore leads to the dependant on the labor resource, especially between the 1980s and 1990s. There is about 1.9million workforce in Singapore with about 590,000 foreigners, making up 30% of the total workforce. This figure gives the country one of the highest numbers of foreign employers in the Asian Region. With respect to domestic labor, this pattern is likely to continue in the future if new measures are drafted to retain the services of women which is a major dominant element of the foreign labor force in the country. The period between 1980 and 1994 experienced an influx of domestic workers(maids) and also an increase in the number of women who are married that works to boost the workforce. The was about 70% increase of females employees as a result of the migration of foreign maids.
Works which most of the locals do not want to do, are undertaking by the foreign migrant workers who now perform such jobs with wages below the normal standard of the country. This occur because most of the foreign workers have temporary status and they are not fully aware of the legislation of the country with regard to work and productivity. Due to the economic necessity of the employment of foreign maids and the unwillingness of the locals to work as maids( on a full-time basis), there is the need for foreign maids who can work in the house in the capacity of a domestic worker, taking care of children and old people.
Though there has been a lot of debate between the governmental agencies on how to reduce the inflow of foreign domestic workers to Singapore, some of the locals were of the opinion that such a measure will have an adverse effect on the career of the women who have the sole responsibility of providing for the families, taking care of domestic work and also maintain their career. This opinion portrays the essentiality of foreign workers in Singapore.
The maid levy was introduced by the government in order to reduce or moderate the demand for foreign workers(maids). A total amount of about S$30million is collected annually though some sections of the locals questioned the fairness of such an initiative, as they saw it as a strategy to reduce the demand of foreign maids. The government on her own part argue that it is necessary to impose such levy because without it, there will be more increase in the number of foreign migrant workers and that can cause an economic negative effect on the social problem, due to the fact that hiring of the maids is very cheap and affordable. Secondly, there may be a sudden disappearance of family support, which can hinder part-time jobs and the development of child care centres. The third issue is that there may be an increase in a number an of unskilled workers which will definitely affect industrialization. This issue of the imposition of a levy on the foreign maids has remained a bone of contention. The government insists that it is a regulatory pricing mechanism, and there is a social consequence attached to the dependency and reliability on foreign maids which is a source of paid domestic work. The next chapter examines the social consequence.
2.2 Social effect of foreign Domestic workers in Singapore.
The presence of foreign maids in Singapore has a caused a lot of controversies, as it is perceived as a social menace by the government and some of the locals. Majority of the locals are of the opinion that the gathering together of some of the foreign maids in the public, especially recreational parks, and other social gathering places, can constitute a nuisance to the surrounding environment, and this can cause social disorder or unrest.
There is a major concern about the usage of foreign maids in the childcare capacity, this they see as a threat to family values and norms.
The government also questioned the effect of hiring a foreign maid to raise someone’s child or children. Such an act needs to be thoroughly scrutinized by the Singaporeans. She stresses that in the case where the foreign maids are employed to do all sorts of domestic works, that this will have a negative effect on the upcoming Singaporean generations. Some sections of the public is of the opinion that the intellectual growth of the children are being hampered by the availability of foreign maids who does virtually anything and everything for the child or children in order to keep or maintain their jobs.
The consequences of the having foreign maids in homes as well as in public sectors still remain a big debate.