Monday, August 16, 2004

Nothing but a long line painted yellow

Longer maternity leave but it will be flexible
MATERNITY leave will be extended but kept 'flexible' to avoid disruption to employers and uncertainty for employees, Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said on Sunday.
Details of the 'comprehensive and practical package' will be revealed in the Prime Minister's speech for the National Day Rally on Aug 22.
The package was put up by a steering committee of ministers and MPs headed by Mr Lim to look at ways to boost Singapore's fertility rate, and the decision was made after much consultation with workers, employers and unions.
'Although an extended maternity leave is very much welcomed, it may cause disruption to the employers and uncertainty to employees. So we've come up with a more practical arrangement; maternity leave will be extended but the arrangement will be more flexible,' he told reporters at a National Day Observance Ceremony organised by the Telok Blangah Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC).

In Singapore speak this means that women should have the option to extend their maternity but it will be frowned upon by their employers. i.e. When women choose to take a longer maternity, their employers will have the freedom to dump them to the bottom of the pile when it comes down to promotions because the "really hardworking ones" will actually choose to report to work the day after they have their babies.
What a weak/lame-ass stance the government is taking. The middle ground. To avoid the stepping on the toes and to push the buck. If change is to be effected, why not make the damn changes? Why take such a bloody cowardly stance? You want the people to change their mindsets? Lead them! There's a whole country that's been too afraid to step out and make the changes in their lives that we all know we need to, and there's the freakin' reason.
Leaders lead. That's why you're in the bloody seats. You want more babies? Give us time to raise them the way we need to! You wish for us to take parenting more seriously? Allow us to do so and sanction parenthood so that the assholes who are in middle management understand that our jobs must never be prioritised over our families. Don't take the middle road and send the message that you're too damn scared to make the changes in mindset that you want to see! It confuses the brain-challenged bureaucrats that may interpret it as "women really shouldn't NEED to take longer maternities, but if they wish to, we can't really stop them..." It requires interpretation that most of them are totally incapable of. (along with independent thought and empathy...)
I agree with Anoises, that our people are capable of independent thought. But then our little culture here in our bloody country's held our lives, our families and our minds hostage with hidden threats. There's been a culture of fear that's been bred within us that keeps us in our place. Sure, we can rebel, but to what end? I think that we'd need a demonstration of esplanade breastfeeding proportions to nail the point home, maybe a mass exodus of pregnant women to Canada, where maternity leave is a Singapore-mind blowing 13 months, and maybe then our darling leaders will finally get the bloody message.
In the meantime, so much for the damn changes they wished to make. Go ahead, you yellow livered chickenshits. Lead us into our "new Singapore". I'll watch you whimper and kowtow your way in and I'll probably laugh at your prostrated forms, just as I always have.

One may wonder why I'm so damn anti-Singapore. I'm not. I love my country but with all these promises that are made and broken, it gets disheartening. All this potential to do something great that's wasted and flushed down the toilet. It all breaks my heart. It's like loving a woman who always cheats on you...there's a point in time when you finally break down and break up. I wouldn't rant if I didn't care.
Thus, I end with a quote from The West Wing that would summarise my feelings quite adequately.

You ran great guns in the campaign. It was an insurgency, boy, a sight to see. And then you drove to the middle of the road the moment after you took the oath. Just the middle of the road. Nothing but a long line painted yellow.

Excuse me, sir...

I wanted to retire five years ago. But I waited for a Democrat. I wanted a Democrat.
Hmm! And instead I got you."


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