'Maid knows kid better than mum' video draws flak, but some say it reflects situation

SINGAPORE - A Mums & Maids film urging employers to give their domestic workers a day off every week has been criticised by some who felt it portrayed mothers in a bad light.

But some said it reflects the sad truth of some parents relying too much on their maids to look after their children.

The two minute-long video features interviews with mothers, children and their maids. Through a series of questions and answers, it shows that domestic workers understand their employers' children better than their employers.

In the video, a mother said her daughter "wants to be a teacher", while the maid answered: "I think she wants to be a princess." The girl replied: "Princess."

Another mother was asked about her son's best friend in school. She answered: "Very difficult to say, not too sure."

Her maid said: "Joseph." The boy's reply? Joseph.

Marketing communications firm Ogilvy & Mather teamed up with migrant workers group Transient Workers' Count Too (TWC2) for the video to mark Labour Day on May 1. TWC2 president Noorashikin Abdul Rahman said: "The film is provocative. Provocation sometimes helps to generate a buzz on this issue that domestic workers should have a weekly day off."

But some questioned if it was an appropriate way to get the message across.

A netizen, who goes by the name "Lydia Shah", wrote in a comment on the video's Youtube page: "Hmm shaming mothers not the way to go. I don't see how not knowing your children well = give maids a day off. Kind of a roundabout way to get to a point."

Another netizen, known as "Vj Veerasamy", commented: "The decision for a day off for domestic workers does not only fall on the responsibility of the mother but the fathers too."

Netizen "Patrick Chng" added: "You don't give a day off to a domestic worker because you should spend more time with your child. All workers/employees must be given a minimum of a day off a week because everybody needs time for rest and leisure."

But some said the video was well made.

Netizen "Hong Kong Blog" wrote: "Very touching well made video."

Some also felt it reflects what is happening in some families.

Netizen "Yuet Shan POON" said this also applies to Hong Kong, where many busy parents tend to focus only on the academic results of their children. "How many moms can get all the correct answers?" she wrote.

Mr Eugene Cheong, chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific, was quoted by Marketing Magazine as saying that the film is deliberately confronting because it has to be effective and must actually change behaviour.

He said: "We focused the creative strategy on tapping into modern parents' fear of missing out. By showing how parents are losing out on their relationship with their children by always requiring their domestic worker to be around, we reposition their day off as an opportunity to enhance family bonding."

Mums & Maids can be viewed at http://igiveadayoff.org/