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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Work Permit for foreign domestic worker

To hire a foreign domestic worker (FDW) or a confinement nanny in Singapore, you must ensure she holds a valid work permit. You can apply for her work permit personally, or through an employment agency.

Who can hire foreign domestic helpers?

You can hire a foreign domestic helper if you are one of the following:
  • A Singapore citizen 
  • A Singapore permanent resident 
  • An employment pass holder 
  • A dependent pass holder 

How long does it take to hire?

Type of domestic helperAverage time required
First-time FDWs
(i.e. never worked in Singapore
4 to 6 weeks from date of approval
Transfer FDWs
(already in Singapore,
seeking a new employer)
1 week from date of approval
Confinement nannyBook your confinement nannies as early as 6 months before delivery (due to high demand)

FDWs: How to hire

Hire through an employment agency

You can engage an employment agency for a fee to help you hire an FDW. Engaging an agency is convenient if you are a new employer or you are hiring a first-time FDW. 
Apart from handling all paperwork and formalities, most agencies also provide value-added services such as replacing the worker should you find her prove unsuitable.

Hire directly

If you prefer to hire a FDW on your own, you have to go through the following steps:
Stage 1: Getting ready & selection
  1. Attend the employer’s orientation programme (if you are hiring an FDW for the 1st time). 
  2. Look for a candidate. You should come to an agreement with her on the employment terms (e.g. salary, rest days). Check the MOM website for requirements.   
Stage 2: Before FDW's arrival in Singapore
  1. Apply for a work permit from MOM. If your application is approved, MOM will send you an in-principle approval letter (or a letter of notification if the FDW is working in Singapore for the 1st time.) 
  2. Place a security bond with MOM. 
  3. Buy personal accident and medical insurance
  4. Mail the in-principle approval letter (or notification letter) and an air ticket note to your FDW. 
  5. If your FDW is working in Singapore for the 1st time, book online for settling-in programme (SIP) training course. You will need copies of her passport and education certificate.  
Stage 3: Upon FDW's arrival in Singapore
  1. Within 3 days of your FDW's arrival, send her for the 1-day SIP course (if she is working in Singapore for the 1st time). 
  2. Within 14 days of your FDW's arrival, send her for a medical examination. Bring the blank medical form
  3. Request online for MOM to issue the work permit. MOM will inform you of when to collect the work permit. 
  4. Within 1 month of your FDW's arrival in Singapore, make your 1st monthly levy payment. 
You can find detailed instructions on the MOM website.

Hiring more than one FDW

Households with children and elderly can hire more than 1 FDW, subject to MOM’s approval.

Confinement nannies: How to hire

Hire through an employment agency

You can engage an employment agency for a fee to help you hire a confinement nanny. Some agencies also provide other services, such as replacing the nanny if you find her unsuitable.
On the other hand, many agencies do not allow you to select your nanny. 

Hire directly

If you prefer to hire a confinement nanny on your own, you can follow these steps. 
  1. Find a suitable nanny. Please see the MOM website for detailed requirements. 
  2. Come to an agreement with her on her employment terms. 
  3. Apply for a work permit. If successful, you will receive an in-principle approval letter within a month. 
  4. Collect the work permit by following the instructions in your in-principle approval letter. 
You can find detailed instructions on the MOM website.

Your expenses at a glance

On top of monthly wages and agency fees, employers are required to pay the following:
Foreign domestic workerConfinement nanny
Administrative fee$20$20 
Security bond$5,000Not required
Medical insurance ($15,000 coverage)Ask maid agency or insurerNot required
Personal accident insurance ($40,000 coverage)Ask maid agency or insurerNot required
Medical examinationAsk clinic Not required
Monthly levy
Additional performance bond (Filipino domestic workers only)
  • $7,000 for newly-deployed workers 
  • $2,000 for transfers & renewals 
Not required
Settling-in programme - if your FDW is working in Singapore for the 1st time$75Not required
Employers’ orientation programme (EOP) - if you are hiring an FDW for the 1st timeClassroom EOP
  • $30 (Singapore Polytechnic)
  • $28 (Nation Employment Pte Ltd)
Online EOP
  • $40
For more information, please visit MOM website
Not required

- See more at: https://www.ecitizen.gov.sg/Topics/Pages/Foreign-domestic-helpers-How-to-hire.aspx#sthash.Z7XXu1ln.dpuf


Myanmar business be financially ruined!

YANGON, Myanmar — Visitors flying into this buzzing tropical metropolis step into a modern glass-and-steel airport that symbolizes both Myanmar’s aspirations to rejoin the wider world after years of isolation and the country’s troubled past.
The company that built the terminal, Asia World, was started by one of the country’s premier drug kingpins, a warlord whose militia peddled heroin extracted from the opium fields of the mountainous hinterlands. It is nearly impossible to visit Myanmar today and not encounter the company’s other projects: roads, hydroelectricdams, the country’s biggest ports and one of its most luxurious hotels, the Sule Shangri-La in downtown Yangon.

There is no evidence to suggest the company has any current ties to drug trafficking, but as Myanmar strives to modernize after decades of dictatorial rule, Asia World’s role in that effort provides a prominent example of how the drug trade is inextricably intertwined with the country’s new economy and lies at the root of many of its efforts to rebuild.

Real estate brokers, law enforcement agents and economists say companies with ties to the drug trade have helped reshape the skyline of Yangon.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times 

“The seed capital of the Burmese economy is heroin,” said Ronald Findlay, an economist at Columbia University who was born in colonial Burma, which the military government renamed Myanmar in 1989. “If that’s an exaggeration, it’s not a huge one.”
According to interviews with real estate brokers, economists, and current and former law enforcement agents, illicit drug profits have been a major source of investment in rebuilding the country, and companies linked to the drug trade are building new roads and bridges and reshaping the skyline of the biggest city, Yangon.
Until recently, Yangon was a low-rise city frozen in time, where dangerously potholed sidewalks bordered decrepit colonial buildings. Today cranes swing in nearly every corner of the city and billboards promote the opulence of soon-to-be high-rise condominiums.
While the new infrastructure may be welcome, the drug economy threatens the country’s transition to democracy, one of the Obama administration’s signal foreign policy accomplishments. The drug trade, analysts say, reinforces corruption, bolsters the power of the military and threatens to return Myanmar to a pariah state instead of the democratic ally the administration hopes for.
Since Myanmar began opening up to the world four years ago, heroin trafficking has surged. The United Nations estimates that opium poppy cultivation has nearly tripled over the last six years. Myanmar has become the world’s second-largest producer of heroin, as well as the region’s leading supplier of methamphetamine.
Sean Turnell, an Australian scholar and one of the leading experts on the country’s economy, estimates that Myanmar’s drug tycoons have annual revenues of around $2 billion.
Yet in a country where many business deals and real estate transactions are still done in cash and less than 15 percent of adults have a bank account, it is nearly impossible to trace where all that money goes.
“There is no document trail,” Mr. Turnell said. Following the drug money, he said, “is like nailing jelly to a wall.”
Its impact, however, is clear.
Real estate agents and economists say the drug trade has helped fuel the vertiginous rise in property prices in Myanmar’s major cities.
“Almost everyone involved in this business is laundering money,” said U Sai Khung Noung, the managing director of a real estate company in Yangon that bears his name.
He calculates that average prices for apartments in Yangon rose 600 percent over the past decade to an average of $250 per square foot, higher than the average price for a new condominium in much wealthier Bangkok.

In Myanmar, Harvesting for Heroin

A toxic mix of civil war and poverty has driven some Burmese farmers back to the poppy, satisfying a growing global hunger for heroin.
 By Jonah M. Kessel on  Publish Date January 3, 2015. Photo by Adam Dean for The New York Times.

Illegal drugs are not the only source of black-market cash. During military rule, which ended in 2011, illegal trade in teak, jade and precious gems also created huge off-the-books fortunes. Starting in 2007, when the government slashed real estate taxes to 15 percent from a prohibitive 50 percent, traffickers seized the opportunity to convert their cash to real estate.
U Khin Maung Aye, a real estate agent in Yangon, said a home buyer brought him a down payment, the equivalent of $200,000, in cash stuffed into rice sacks, not uncommon for home purchases.
“It took two men to pick up each bag,” Mr. Khin Maung Aye said. “I couldn’t carry it myself.”
The buyer was later arrested on drug trafficking charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison, the police said.
But such arrests are relatively rare in a country with weak law enforcement and where vast swaths of the country are under the control of ethnic militias, not the central government.
The government says it is trying to crack down on the drug trade and money laundering, but officials say law enforcement is hampered by the legacy of a dictatorship under which the educational system was destroyed, millions of Myanmar’s most talented citizens fled the country, and the economy and banking system were rendered dysfunctional.
U Ye Htut, the head of Myanmar’s Ministry of Information, said the government had introduced regulations and checks to trace dirty money.
“There is positive movement on this issue,” he said in an interview. “There is more transparency for anti-money-laundering issues here and more accountability. It can now be debated publicly.”
But a government adviser, U Tin Maung Than, a director of the Myanmar Development Resource Institute, a research organization, says the government does not have the wherewithal to distinguish good from bad money.
“There is no effective mechanism or capacity to crack down on money laundering and corruption,” he said.
Because most of the economy is informal — unregulated and all cash — Mr. Tin Maung Than said, “if we cracked down on informal-sector businesses and black money, we would not have enough space in prisons in Myanmar.”
“Almost every business here is in the informal sector,” he said.

The site of what is billed as the tallest condo in Myanmar. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times 

Although regulations exist on paper to trace ill-gotten money, real estate agents say the government’s unofficial policy appears to be don’t ask, don’t tell.
“If you pay the tax, they don’t ask you where the money comes from,” said Mr. Sai Khung Noung, the real estate director. “If the government doesn’t check this, how am I supposed to know where the money comes from?”
For Asia World, one of the country’s pre-eminent builders of infrastructure, the heroin money trail is no secret.
Founded by Lo Hsing Han, a drug lord once described by the United States as the “kingpin of the heroin traffic in Southeast Asia,” Asia World led the way in converting heroin proceeds into legitimate businesses.
Mr. Lo, who died in 2013, hailed from an ethnic Chinese group, the Kokang, who occupy an impoverished region in northern Myanmar that for years had only two main businesses: tea and opium.
His drug business was tolerated because the ruling military junta found him useful in negotiating with ethnic rebels. A 2007 United States diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks said that Mr. Lo had been given a heroin “concession” by the government in exchange for helping to arrange cease-fire agreements with rebels.
Mr. Lo and his son, Steven Law, were two of the military’s most important business partners and were awarded contracts to build roads, provincial seaports and other large infrastructure projects.
In response to questions hand-delivered to Asia World’s Yangon headquarters, an inconspicuous seven-story building a few blocks from the Irrawaddy River, an assistant to Mr. Law said Friday that he had received the letter and “he replied he does not want to spend time answering it.”
John M. Whalen, the former head of the Myanmar office of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, says the rise of Asia World was followed by the appearance of other companies with unexplained wealth, many of them with connections to the impoverished areas along the borders with Thailand and China, where the drug trade flourishes.
“We started seeing a lot of these companies cropping up out of nowhere with a lot of money to invest,” he said. “There was no indication of the source of their funds. We still see that with all of the construction that’s going on today.”
Among those companies is the Shwe Taung Group, which built and operates one of the biggest and most modern shopping malls in Yangon, Junction Square. The company’s website boasts of its building housing developments, office towers, condominiums, hospitals, school and university buildings, television and radio production complexes, “and a lot more.”
The company’s chairman, Aik Htun, was cited by the United States Treasury Department as “having connections with the narcotics trade.” He was also a founder, director and co-owner of the now-defunct Asia Wealth Bank, which was the target of Treasury Department sanctions in 2003 because it posed “an unacceptable risk of money laundering and other financial crimes” and was “linked to narcotics traffickers.”

One of Yangon’s largest malls. The builder has  been linked to drug cases.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times 

After the United States imposed sanctions on Asia Wealth Bank and the Burmese authorities withdrew its license, Mr. Aik Htun changed the name of his corporate holdings, which were part of the same group as Asia Wealth Bank, to the Shwe Taung Group.
Mr. Aik Htun also did not answer questions hand-delivered to his secretary at the company’s headquarters.
One of the largest real estate developers in the country, Jewellery Luck, was tied to a large heroin seizure six years ago.
The police found 37 packs of heroin concealed in a shipment of timber that the company was sending to a customer in Taiwan. Photos from the police investigation file documented how the heroin packs, each the size of a hardcover book, were carefully hidden in cavities carved out of the wooden planks.
The police arrested five people and seized an additional 220 pounds of heroin, with a street value of millions of dollars, stashed in a house in Yangon.
A company executive, U Tin Tun Oo, whose father heads the company, said the heroin had been planted by the customers, who removed the wood for inspection before shipping and inserted the heroin before returning it.
No company employees were charged, Mr. Tin Tun Oo said, and he denied that the company had profited from heroin trafficking.
“No such money comes from drugs,” he said in an interview. “Not a cent.”
Mr. Whalen, the former D.E.A. agent, said company officials probably would have been charged had the seizure taken place in the United States.
“It was clear that the company was deeply involved,” he said. “As with most cases in Myanmar, the big guys didn’t get charged.”
Jewellery Luck is building two large condominium projects in Yangon, including one advertised as the tallest condominium in the country, a 33-story complex overlooking the golden spire of the city’s premier landmark, Shwedagon Pagoda. Sales are cash only.
Jewellery Luck owns half of the recently completed Kempinski Hotel in Naypyidaw, the capital, where President Obama stayed during a summit meeting in November. He was the first guest to occupy the hotel’s largest suite, a luxurious villa with four bedrooms and its own private dining room, swimming pool and gym.
At Jewellery Luck’s headquarters in Yangon, a framed photograph sits on a conference room table showing Mr. Tin Tun Oo and other company executives with Mr. Obama, smiling.


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