Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Tale of Slavery in 2 Cities

I read not one, but two reports of modern-day slavery in TODAY this morning.

The first was about a slavery ring in China in which more than 1,000 people were forced to work in brutal conditions. More than 450 young men and children had been rescued from a string of brick factories in Henan and Shanxi provinces. Some of the children were as young as eight. Many had injuries sustained at the hands of their cruel bosses. One man in his fifties was even beaten to death with a shovel for ‘not working hard enough’.

Many of the children had been abducted from streets and sold for as little as 500 yuan (S$101) to factories and mines where they were starved and forced to work long hours under appalling conditions, with dogs ensuring they could not escape.

The second report was about slavery right here in Singapore! In a story titled, The Story of Workhorse Albert’s Life or Lack of One, Murali Sharma wrote that “unsatisfactory work conditions are quite widespread”. His good friend Albert is a typical example of a victim of Singaporean-style slavery. He had to slog from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm on most days. His boss is a slave driver who doesn’t trust him and wants him to be contactable even on Sundays, and often berates him for his own mistakes. The poor chap is so miserable and stressed that he cannot even perform what in Singapore is considered a patriotic duty - marrying and procreating.

There is a slight difference in Albert’s case of course. He earns a 5-figure salary; and if he were to try to escape, he is unlikely to beaten or bitten.


zen said...

The first story talks about abuse that derives from a political system which promotes corruption backed by the police and military. There is no check and balance in such a society which favours the rich and the connected. When I was in Chengdu on holiday, one day I saw our hotel security guard chased out a small group of hawkers near the gate. Of course he had every right to do so, but the way he did it was like a riot police executing his job. His fierceness put frightening hawkers to flight. If an ordinary security guard can exercise such power, how about those higher-ups?

As for the second story, it was an abuse by an individual boss, and because of a high salary, the victim tolerated the abuse, but if another job opportunity comes, I am quite sure he would exit in doublely fast time. In this kind of a political system, at least an employee has an option, and society is regulated by laws which some people may view them apprehensively.

Lam Chun See said...

Zen. I think you missed the point that Mr Sleepless is trying to make by putting the two stories side-by-side.

In the Spore case, he is saying; "Not happy quit lor. Complain so much for what. Nobody force you to cling on to the job wat."