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Title: Injured Citizenship: Civil Society and Governmentality in Malaysia and Singapore
Keywords: Civil Society, Rights, Migrantion, Governmentality, Malaysia, Singapore
Issue Date: 1-Aug-2009
Citation: YEE YEONG CHONG (2009-08-01). Injured Citizenship: Civil Society and Governmentality in Malaysia and Singapore. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In multicultural Malaysia and Singapore, where ethnic markers persist as categories of governance, the plight of abused foreign domestic workers is still conditioned by racial notions of humanity and sub-humanity. Furthermore, the state?s hegemonic imperative to secure middle-class entitlements depends on the influx of cheap foreign others, and thus the regulation of foriegn bodies - via differentiated citizenship regimes that attach value according to skills, gender and ethno-race - is necessary for the reproduction of class privileges for the electorate. Into this nexus of situated power and ethics, civil society groups campaigning for a legislated day-off for domestic workers introduce a debate on their plight and articulate claims for their dignity. As case studies of how civil society activism may develop differently despite a shared colonial history, the divergent styles of the day-off campaigns of Malaysia?s Tenaganita and Singapore?s Transient Workers Count Too present new directions on the well examined topics of political agency, civil society and human rights in both countries. This study has two objectives. Firstly, I discuss how nationalist discourses on development have structured the institution of domestic service in both countries. In reorganizing the family and the economic role of women, the developmental mission of Malaysia and Singapore induces the labour participation of women while maintaining conceptions of housework as feminine labour. In facilitating the influx of foreign women as replacement labour without comprehensive legal protection, the state tacitly subjects the worker to a regime that ranks her according to her identity marker as `manual labour,? `female? and `ethno-racial alien?. Secondly, I illustrate how civil society interventions into this current configuration of domestic work have to address specific questions on entitlements of non-citizens, gender equality and human rights in the respective national contexts. In Singapore, where material stakeholding and multiracialism have displaced rights claims as `anti-national,? advocacy groups operate instead through extra-legal ethical interventions and training to improve the domestic worker?s market position. In contrast, where elite factionalism and ethnic policies in Malaysia continually place identity claims at the forefront of political contention, groups still leverage upon rights claims for the protection of new migrants.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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