I didn't want to watch 'Supervision' by W!LD RICE (under its sixth edition of the Singapore Theatre Festival), because it's a sad plot. However, it promised great acting, and since everyone bought tickets and scheduled supper after, I didn't want to hide away (sun spots were crusty and dark lah), and bought a ticket too, and joined the friends for supper.
Written by Thomas Lim and directed by Glen Goei, this is a familiar Singapore tale of a daughter hiring domestic help for her wheelchair-bound father who suffered a stroke and is paralyzed on one side of his body. Surveillance, privacy and an aging society. It stars Umi Kalthum Ismail (young domestic helper from Indonesia, Yanti), Patrick Teoh (father, 67-year-old Teck), and Janice Koh (daughter Jenny). Yanti forms a bond with her ward Teck, and against Jenny's instructions, sneaks him forbidden unhealthy food, and cigarettes, and somehow, Jenny always knows. Jenny has set up cameras in her father's flat, and she even justifies having one in the toilet and the domestic helper's bedroom. She doesn't see the need to have boundaries; she doesn't think that there's an invasion of privacy.
Yup, it's a sad story. With no neat ending. Just like real life. The script was compact, and chose its scenes beautifully. The one hour and twenty minutes passed by in a flash and yet felt so rich in its contents and topics addressed. I grimaced loads throughout. Jenny isn't a caricature. She represents an average portion of Singapore employers who hire domestic help (I don't think I'm generalizing here), and horrifyingly, I know a number of them who spout the same self-righteous lines and justify their actions and attitudes towards domestic help.
Security assurances and psychological well-being. Even if the logic is sound, it's warped, and I totally disagree with it. If you live life guarding against domestic help whom you think might otherwise seize every chance to poison and cheat you, steal from you, or abuse your children, the ill, and the elderly, then don't hire domestic help. If you're in this position where you have to reply on domestic help, and justify doing all these in a self-righteous tone, then you are so screwed. We could do much better with regard to improving labor laws to protect foreign workers and domestic helpers, and tightening restrictions for middlemen in order to prevent exploitation. This is an overall sad state of affairs in Singapore society. Where do we draw the fucking line?