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A domestic worker’s ordeal with mandatory interview conducted by CDE

In January, a mandatory CDE interview left an Indonesian domestic worker traumatized, as described by her employer. The session, meant to ensure adaptation to Singapore, involved threatening and repetitive questioning, resulting in severe distress.



An incident that has been highlighted since January on social media remains unaddressed, involving an Indonesian migrant domestic worker (MDW) who has been left traumatized following a mandatory interview conducted by the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) in January.

The CDE, a non-governmental organization established by the National Trades Union Congress in 2016, facilitates these interviews to ensure that MDWs adapt to their new living and working conditions in Singapore.

The interviews, required by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for first-time MDWs, typically cover various aspects of life and work in Singapore, including safety practices in household chores.

However, this particular session left the worker in a state of distress, as reported by her employer.

The employer also encountered stonewalling in her attempts to find out why the interview was conducted in such a manner with her MDW. Efforts to engage local media to address this incident have proven futile, leading to her turning to friends to post her story on social media.

In an interview with Gutzy, the worker described the interview process as involving repetitive questioning about her work and treatment by her employer, despite her reassurances that she was well-treated and satisfied with her conditions.

The situation escalated when the interviewer threatened to change her employer or cancel her work permit if she did not comply.

When asked if she knew why the interviewer made the threats, the MDW shared that she did not know.

She told Gutzy in Bahasa Indonesian, with the help of an interpreter, that she had been eating well and enjoying her work in Singapore before the interview.

However, the aftermath of the interview has been severe for the MDW, with her employer noting that she has been crying, unable to focus on her duties, and showing signs of severe anxiety, such as freezing at the sound of a doorbell.

The worker also reported a loss of appetite and sleep, complications that have hindered her daily responsibilities, including the care of her employer’s parents.

The employer, distressed by the impact on the MDW, reported the incident to MOM, which has expressed interest in conducting a follow-up interview. However, the previous interview has left the MDW unwilling to leave the house to attend the interview offered by MOM.

Due to the refusal, MOM officers conducted a surprise visit to the house and caught the domestic helper who then insisted on going out only with her employer accompanying her.

MOM officers eventually conducted the interview in front of the employer and translated the questions, as the interview was conducted in Bahasa Indonesian.

While MOM stated that these were the same questions as those used in the CDE interview, the employer noted that the approach differed from that of the CDE interviewer.

The MDW was also plagued by repeated unknown calls, which have heightened her fear and anxiety, recalling the traumatic experience with the CDE official.

The employer questioned how MOM interacts with CDE, given that CDE is its working counterpart, and remarked that it seemed like a closed case after the MOM interview.

Despite attempts by the employer and Gutzy to obtain a response or explanation from the CDE regarding the nature of the interview, both parties have been met with silence, raising questions about the efficacy and intent of such interviews.

The employer voiced concerns to Gutzy, questioning whether the interviews are genuinely intended to support the MDWs or if they inadvertently foster conflicts between employers and their helpers.

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