This blogger is ambivalent about Bertha Henson. The conventional wisdom is that this once Sith Lord in the making changed her spots after retiring from SPH* where she was a cyber warrior (general rank) at ST, no less, into a Jedi warrior. One of these days, I’ll go into the conspiracy theory as to why she could be a Trojan horse (and explain the inconvenient fact to said theory that MDA fixed her). But as this is Christmas, I’ll not be that Gringie.
Whether on not she is part of a black ops against us cowboys of S’pore’s cyberspace, she writes well, very well. She’s pretty witty too, and has mastered the dark art of black humour, if not satire. Example: http://berthahenson.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/personally-speaking-no-fund-intended/. And she loves journalism; she did a lovely piece on her accreditation to an activist event: sorry lazy to find the article to link to it.
But despite being treated as Jedi both by the cowboys and the MDA and ST, she recently was attacked by two tua kee cyber activists (both ladies) on Facebook for writing http://berthahenson.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/a-sunday-problem/. Read it for yrself before going on to read their comments, and my take on the piece and them.
I’ll not name them, ’cause its Christmas and I’m no Grinch or Krampus.
One said: What a lovely way to dehumanise a group of people: make assumptions and fall back on stereotypes, while coming across as reasoned and reasonable. Dear Bertha, the problems facing migrant workers go beyond what happens to them on a Sunday. Of course, we only notice them on Sundays because they’re busy working themselves to the bone, building our city, cleaning our loos, clearing our trash and staying out of YOUR way the rest of the week. Where they go on their rest day really isn’t anyone’s problem but their own. Would YOU like your boss to tell you what to do when you’re not working?
It is a very condescending article. From the very first paragraph you can see the belittling and patronising: “We have a problem. We have hundreds of thousands of foreign workers – and we don’t know what to do with them on Sundays. And they probably don’t know what to do with themselves on Sundays either.”
Why do we need to do anything with them on their off day – it is THEIR off day. And who are we to say that they don’t know what to do with themselves, simply because from our standpoint that don’t seem to be doing what we would prefer them to do (which is what, attend Alcoholics Anonymous and play friendly games of basketball in their dorms?)
The second paragraph is just as facepalm-worthy: “The foreign maid can stay “home” and be paid for not taking the day off. And even if they are out, they’re not likely to get into a drunken stupor and throw pieces of concrete around. They’ll just crowd somewhere until someone shoos them somewhere else.”
The fact that foreign domestic workers stay “home” on their day off potentially means that they will also be made to work on their day off. This is not a situation we should be okay with, much less use as a sort of “ah this is okay for FDWs, but what about the other migrant workers” example.
Also, migrant workers in Little India are also “not likely to get into a drunken stupor and throw pieces of concrete around”; just because a group of men did it once on one Sunday night – out of all the many Sunday nights over the many years that they DIDN’T do it – doesn’t make that entire group of people suddenly prone to doing it.
And the last sentence of that paragraph: “They’ll just crowd somewhere until someone shoos them somewhere else.” Like that’s an okay state of affairs too! Oh, these FDWs don’t bother us, they just hang about with their friends and if we Singaporeans don’t like it just shoo them away lah! <- How condescending and dehumanising is that?!
So just in the first two paragraphs already almost every single sentence is offensive. Wah lau.
Foreign workers should be able to do whatever they want on their days off. It is the Singaporean mindset – the one that tells us that we enlightened beings must take care of “those from the Indian subcontinent” because they don’t know what to do with themselves – that should change.
I think Ms Henson is having a dig at the govt’s uncaring attitude to solving a problem, any problem: everything has to be neat and tidy, and damn the human cost.
My take on her critics is that these two gals don’t do humour, at least when it comes to FTs. Or they may think that the issue should not be the subject of any humour: too serious to joke about. Bit like the attitude of the authorities in the aftermath of the riot: no alcohol, and apparently no Maruah meeting in restaurant private room which employs FTs. On the latter, scared that FTs will riot? Come on Maruah are wimps in action: talk cock, sing song. Sorry KH, can’t resist that.
But to be fair to the gals , one of Henson’s BN team “Liked” the second entry. So maybe I’m wrong about said lady activists. Either that or her disciple is a Judas, or a sotong boy. I suspect the last is most likely.
Merry Christmas. Keep on feasting.
*A more classy, intelligent version of what Tan Kin Lian did after he retired from NTUC Income: resigning from the PAP and standing as the People’s Voice in the presidential election, where he lost his deposit and deprived us of cocking a snook at the PAP. The PAP’s preferred candidate won by around three hundred votes. But to be fair, TKL fought the gd fight for those who invested in securities that invested in credit-default notes. (Declaration of interest: I helped out there) Investors got a raw deal, but it could have been worse if not for TKL.( http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/helping-retail-investors-the-hk-way-and-the-spore-way/#more-7316 and http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/what-abt-high-notes-sm-goh/)