Minister of State for Manpower, Gan Siow Huang (Gan), has said in Parliament that regardless of whether the employers are aware of the illegal deployment, actions will be taken against the employers in the similar illegal employment cases as the one involving former domestic worker (FDW) Parti Liyani (Parti).
But even as she says this, we must note that no action has hitherto been taken again Liew Mun Leong (Liew) for his illegal deployment of Parti to work in his son, Karl Liew’s house.
Yet, despite the lack of action, Gan said that in taking no further action against Liew, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had considered “the degree to which the well-being of the foreign domestic worker had been compromised, and the extent of the illegal deployment.”
Is Gan saying that the MOM is of the opinion that Parti had suffered no harm and therefore no action was required?
In light of how things have transpired in the Parti case, how can the MOM have come to that conclusion?
Immediate questions abound in relation to what the consideration framework is. For example:
- How does the MOM determine whether or not the well-being of an FDW has been compromised?
- Are doctors involved in this consideration?
- Is there an objective and publicly available set of questions that have to be asked before the MOM comes to this conclusion?
- Is there a specific and specialised committee of persons from the MOM and whose names are listed on the MOM website that make this determination?
Given the heavy reliance we as a society have on FDWs, the above should really be the bare minimum standard.
Without the above, how does the MOM decide? How do the public know for sure that the cases are properly investigated? How do we trust the integrity of the process? How do we know for sure that the MOM took the decision it did, not to take any further action against Liew because Parti was not harmed and not because Liew was who he was – a man well connected with the ruling establishment?
If say, Lim Tean or another who is not friendly with the establishment did the same as Liew, would he or she be punished? Without an objective and transparent standard, we cannot be sure can we?
That’s thing about accountability. You have to explain your decisions. You cannot just tell us what your decision is without explaining why.
Gan went on to say:
“There is a review ongoing for Ms Parti’s case. MOM will give an update when the review is completed in due course.”
Will the review simply be a statement telling us what they have decided without telling us how they have come to the conclusion?
Without a public Committee of Inquiry (COI), this may be all we get. Ministers who talk – but just talk. No action.