'We're sharing, not selling': Maids speak out after being accused of hawking food on day off
We’re sharing, not selling.
A group of domestic foreign workers were suspected of selling food on their days off near Funan mall, but it turns out they were simply enjoying their native delicacies among themselves.
A reader, surnamed Wu, told Shin Min Daily News that he saw a group of domestic helpers selling and eating food at a back alley near Funan Mall on Sunday (Nov 21).
"Someone gave a maid money and took the food,” said the 32-year-old. "It is not only illegal for a maid to sell food without a licence, but it also poses a safety hazard due to the risk of poor food preparation practices."
According to the Ministry of Manpower, work permit holders may work only for the employer listed on their work permit card, and are not allowed to start or take part in any business.
When Shin Min reporters visited the area that same day, they spotted more than 30 maids gathered outside the shopping mall at 1pm – some were carrying large bags and suitcases. With music blasting in the background, the group ate and drank alcohol together.
The domestic helpers in the area were mostly from Indonesia, and one of the dishes they were having looked like mee bakso, an Indonesian noodle soup dish of meatballs served with yellow noodles and rice vermicelli.
But several maids interviewed said that no one was hawking food illegally there – they were just "sharing" food to relieve homesickness.
One of them, a 26-year-old Indian national, said: "It's hard to find our hometown delicacies here. We miss it so much that we’ve arranged (among ourselves) to take turns preparing different dishes.
"My friend brought Bai (a kind of meat stew) and someone prepared Koat Pitha for dessert."
One domestic helper admitted that financial transactions took place during the gatherings, but only to pay those who cooked, to subsidise the cost of ingredients.
The 34-year-old, who did not want to be named, said: "Each of us forked out to pay for the ingredients… We do not want our compatriots to spend money unnecessarily. The person who reported (this) really misunderstood."
Under the Singapore Food Agency's (SFA) Environmental Public Health Act, the hawking of food or other types of goods without a licence issued by SFA is not permitted.