Publication Details

Lyons, LT, Transient Workers Count Too? The intersection of citizenship and gender in Singapore’s civil society, Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 2005, 20(2), 208-248. Original journal available here.


In November 2002, a group of Singaporean activists established a group called The Working Committee 2 (TWC2) to advocate for the rights of foreign domestic workers in Singapore. By limiting both its lifespan and the scope of its activities the TWC2 avoided the requirement that all NGOs formally register under the Singapore Registrar of Societies. At the end of its year-long campaign, however, the group signalled its intention to continue with its advocacy work. The new TWC2 (now called Transient Workers Count Too) was registered in August 2004. For some commentators, the TWC2 represents a new phase in the People’s Action party’s (PAP) engagement with Singapore’s ‘civil society experiment’ and a loosening up of the ‘OB markers’ (boundaries marking politically acceptable activism). An examination of the TWC2’s experience, however, shows that the opportunities for Singaporean activists to address the politically fraught issues of citizenship and gender remain little changed. Nonetheless, the TWC2’s success in raising the profile of foreign domestic workers has brought about some significant improvements in the regulatory regime governing the conditions of maid employment.



Link to publisher version (DOI)