You’d know by now that a maid was not allowed to dine with the family she works for at Singapore Cricket Club last Friday because of the club’s rules.
But it is 2018.
Is it time for clubs to rethink their rules – which were made in an era that was very different from the world we’re living in today – especially when they appear so discriminatory?
The incident was brought to light via freelance actor Nicholas Bloodworth’s Facebook post on Monday. His family had attempted to sign in their helper, Mary, as a guest, but she was not allowed to remain in the premises by a member of the staff.
It was supposed to be a nice outing for the Bloodworth family. However, their experience turned sour in the end. Not just for the family but for Mary, too.
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“It was not fair for Mary, who works hard and makes sacrifices like everyone else, to be deprived of having dinner with the family,” Bloodworth wrote in his post. He added that when his sister-in-law asked the member of the staff how their helper was not a cousin, he replied: “I will know”.
But how could the man, whom Bloodworth described as a middle-aged Chinese man, know Mary was a helper? It certainly was not because of the way she dressed. Was it then because Mary had a different skin colour? Even so, what if it had indeed been a family friend – who could be signed in as a guest?
Maybe there were other factors that gave her identity away. But all this judgment wouldn’t have been necessary had the archaic rules preventing helpers from entering the club been reconsidered a long time ago.
The Straits Times reported that the SCC by-laws state that “no domestic help providers or chauffeurs may be brought into the club premises or use any of the facilities provided in the club”.
Other clubs that The Straits Times spoke to revealed similar rules, with The British Club saying that its policy of not allowing maids in its premises was put in place “quite some time ago”. I wonder how long this might have been. Such rules have no place in modern times.
After all, helpers are no longer looked upon as a lowly servant to a household. Society has grown and they should never be treated as such.
Furthermore, helpers now take on the roles of a caregiver, babysitter, and at times, a companion. Such roles include looking after the elderly who require an extra pair of watchful eyes, or looking out for energetic kids in case they hurt themselves while running about.
For some, helpers are treated as part of the family – which might be the case for the Bloodworth family. And to have someone in your family told to wait at the carpark while the rest dined at a restaurant in a club – as Mary was asked to do by the member of the staff – is simply absurd.
The family eventually had to have a quick meal inside the restaurant and packed a share of food for Mary, who had taken Bloodworth’s infant niece for a walk.
Yes, the SCC is a private club and they are well within their means to decide what works. But if their rules mean that people of a perceived lower social status cannot enter the premises, even though they are there under the invitation of a member of the club, then perhaps it’s time to consider rewriting the rules.
A spokesperson for Transient Workers Count Too, an organisation that dedicates its time to assist migrant workers, said to TODAY: “It is fair that clubs enact rules on use of facilities to protect members’ privilege, but banning certain groups of people from the premises because of their social status is discriminatory and elitist. This harks back to a time in history when people of certain races or ethnic groups are not allowed as guests or as members of exclusive clubs.”
It’s hard to disagree with this. I’m sure no one likes to be discriminated against. Especially not within a society that has placed emphasis on being inclusive.