“Displacement, Distress, Disputes: A Bag Perspective”

5 August, 2018

PracticeForte dedicates our 3rd Anniversary Celebration to Building Peace, Building Expertise.

Established in the spirit of collaboration, we aim to channel our efforts and expertise towards peace building. This year marks the 3rd year we strive towards this goal.

In conjunction with our 3rd anniversary, and as part of our twin pillar focus of “Building Peace, Building Expertise”, PracticeForte Pte Ltd aims to make a difference to the lives of today’s foreign domestic workers by bringing awareness to mediation as a peaceful way of addressing disputes between foreign domestic workers (FDWs) and employers in Singapore.  

On the 5th of August, 2018 with the support of the Chinatown Heritage Centre and Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST), as well as the Myanmese, Sri Lankan Philippines’ embassy and Old Chang Kee, we tell both sides of their story in “Displacement, Distress, Disputes: A Bag Perspective” and in the 3 old shop houses of Chinatown Heritage Centre.

Bags have great significance in the narrative of foreign domestic workers and employers. It speaks of the journey domestic workers take, packing their bags from home, to come to a foreign land. Yet, handbags are also a symbol of wealth of employers. The contrast between the two becomes a sign of the power relations between employers and FDWs and a shifting of burdens as we see FDWs often carrying the bags of their employers. This held true even to the lives of migrant workers like the Ma Jies of the old days in Singapore.

Customised Guided Tours for our guests by CHC guides

Through the ages and now not only tells both sides of the story, PracticeForte wants to bring mediation to light to parties involved and enable them to resolve their disputes peacefully and more effectively. Not only is the use of formal mediation on the rise globally, many countries are also increasingly seeking practical, affordable and reliable options to resolve issues. The Singapore courts are also encouraging parties to voluntarily resolve disputes through alternative disputes resolution methods such as mediation. 

Our invited guests will retrace the steps of migrant workers from then through the narratives of a customised tour narrated by Chinatown Heritage Centre guides, while PracticeForte Advisory recounts stories of Foreign Domestic Workers and their employers in non-narrative enactments to illustrate their sets displacement, distress and disputes.

Pledge To Mediate

A joint Pledge to Mediate to be undertaken by the officers from embassies of Myanmar, Sri Lanka & the Philippines with our Co-Founders and members of our advisory firms.

Mock Mediation session presented by one of our own PracticeForte affiliate Mr Rajan Chettiar from Rajan Chettiar LLC.

“Issue to mediate”

  • FDW has an urgent request to go on home leave for 2 weeks.
  • 4-year old son is ill and in the hospital.
  • Normally cared for by grandmother but FDW is still very worried and grandmother is unable to understand what the doctor is saying.
  • Employer allows FDW to go on home leave every December, as stipulated in the contract, but cannot approve the urgent request.
  • Employer has 2 young children that need to be taken care of and both husband and wife are working.

Possible solutions:

  • Hiring a temporary help
    • Rejected due to extra costs, plus children will have to be taken care of by an unfamiliar person
  • Getting the employer’s parents/parents-in-law to take care of the children
    • Possible but still issues to work out:
    • Parents-in-law live far away from home
      • Possibility of parents living in the home for one week
    • Employers don’t want to pay FDW during the time of her urgent home leave
      • Unpaid leave
      • Offer of 1-week unpaid leave vs 2 weeks leave

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