Barring maids at private clubs an issue of exclusivity

Private clubs' members pay a substantial sum to join such clubs and thus it is natural for them to demand privacy, especially as many of them use the club's facilities to conduct business.

Hence, the issue is not about discrimination but about protecting the exclusivity of the privilege that comes with being a private club member (Debate over private clubs' barring of maids; Nov 29).

In a free market economy, one's status is often equated with one's wealth and it is inevitable that people are judged according to their occupation and private club memberships.

This is similar to the argument against letting foreign domestic workers use condominium facilities, like swimming pools.

Although they legally live with their employers, they are not defined by condo by-laws as residents and, therefore, are not entitled to use condo facilities.

Again, part of the appeal of condo living is exclusivity. It is common for the condo management to rationalise this ban by pointing out that cleaners, gardeners, guards and even condo management are also prohibited from using the facilities.

Private clubs' rules on domestic helpers are an extension of the restriction that applies to all non-members.

Perhaps, private clubs could relax the rules a little for maids accompanying members' children, people with disabilities or the elderly.

It is difficult to say that this issue is solely a case of discrimination.

We need to consider the house rules, the rationale for imposing restrictions, whether the rationale is based on sound reasons and whether there is evidence to show that the policy would be detrimental to people of a particular occupation.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2018, with the headline 'Barring maids at private clubs an issue of exclusivity'. Print Edition | Subscribe