Does maid's complaint about living conditions constitute 'fake news'?

A maid doing laundry at a home along Thomson Road, on March 8, 2017.
A maid doing laundry at a home along Thomson Road, on March 8, 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

A recent story circulating on social media concerning a maid who posted images of her "cramped living space" highlights one of the concerns that surround the treatment of foreign domestic workers. Any such transgressions should be quickly and harshly dealt with to protect these vulnerable workers.

However, the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) investigation into the incident appears to suggest that the maid had ample space to reposition her bed in the room and that there was no evidence of mistreatment.

Without corroboration, the maid's reasons for the allegations are unclear. Perhaps we could conjecture she had an ulterior motive.

However, she appears to have taken it upon herself to publicise this alleged problem without going through any official channels.

Following the introduction of fake news and online falsehood laws in Singapore, it would be interesting to understand if this apparent fabrication, or the publicity surrounding it, constitutes a breach of such laws.

It appears, from the comments made on Facebook, that the employer's reputation has been or could seriously be tarnished by this unproven and perhaps exaggerated accusation.

The employer appears to have no recourse once the court of social media has sat in judgment.

Such stories also serve to diminish the cause of those maids who are suffering genuine abuse, and who need the support of MOM and those who advocate for improving conditions for foreign domestic workers.

Graham Spriggs (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2019, with the headline 'Does maid's complaint about living conditions constitute 'fake news'?'. Print Edition | Subscribe