- Three generation homes on the rise
- The alone in Singapore are not alone
- Reforms slow in Bangladesh’s toxic tanneries
Posted: 02 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST
WHEN their first child was born three weeks premature, financial services director Royce Lee and his wife, Sarah May, felt ill-prepared to care for the infant.
So his parents moved in to help. That was eight years ago. The senior couple stayed on as Lee and his wife had two more children.
There are now eight people living under one roof in the family's four-bedroom condominium apartment in Bukit Timah: the couple, both 41, Christabelle, eight, Oliver, three, and Annabeth, two, as well as Lee's father Henry Lee, 73, a retired human resources officer, and mother Jessie Lim, 66, a housewife, and a maid.
Lee said: "Nothing beats having your mother to care for your children, as children are so precious."
Like the Lees, more couples are choosing to live with their parents to get help with childcare, said Alice Tan, head of research at property consultancy firm Knight Frank Singapore.
The latest data shows a slight increase in the proportion of resident households with six or more people – the largest number listed under household sizes in the Population Trends 2013 report.
Such large households inched upwards from 9.3% of all households in 2002 to 10.6% in 2012. Resident households are those headed by a Singaporean or permanent resident.
This rise comes even as the average household size dipped from 3.55 persons in 2002 to 3.53 in 2012.
Aside from having parents live in to help care for the grandchildren, the red-hot property market in recent years may have contributed to the rise in large households, property analysts say.
Some seniors may have rented out or sold their flats to cash in and moved in with their children, said Nicholas Mak, head of consultancy and research at property consultancy SLP International.
Some seniors used their rental earnings or profits from the sale of their property as retirement income or to help their children upgrade to a bigger home, he said.
For the Lees, three-generational living has worked out well so far – with a lot of give and take.
For example, he worries that his parents are spoiling his children. His father allows the children to eat on the bed and watch television at the same time, while his mother feeds the younger two instead of letting them feed themselves.
But there are advantages in living with the parents, said his wife, the youngest of seven children.
"We can go for date nights once a week and go for holidays without the children as we know there are two trusted people at home," said Lee, who helps with the accounts in her husband's business. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Posted: 02 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST
MORE Singaporeans who are single, widowed or divorced are living alone.
The proportion of one-person resident households has doubled from 4.6% of all households in 1992 to 9.5% in 2012.
The Population Trends 2013 report of the Department of Statistics showed there were 109,500 such households in 2012 – more than triple the 32,400 in 1992.
Professor Jean Yeung, a sociologist at the National University of Singapore (NUS), described the increase as very significant and said: "The trend is just starting will increase rapidly in the next two to three decades."
In fact, one-person households are the fastest-growing household type in Asia, especially East Asia, said Prof Yeung, who organised the NUS Asia Research Institute's conference on the subject last December.
It was the first conference to examine the trend in Asia, with countries like South Korea and Taiwan also seeing a surge in the number of people living alone.
For example, the proportion of one-person households shot up from 9% in 1990 to 23.9% in 2010 in South Korea and from 13.4% in 1990 to 22% in 2010 in Taiwan.
Singapore's figures are lower given the relatively lower percentage of singles and the elderly, coupled with high housing costs, Prof Yeung said.
But the rising trend also reflects changing values and the desire for greater personal space and privacy, sociologists said. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Posted: 02 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST
DHAKA: Standing knee deep in toxic chemicals, Mokter Hossain loads animal hides into huge drums filled with still more dangerous liquids at a tannery in the Bangladesh capital.
Barefoot and sick with fever, Hossain stops every now and then to cough, a legacy of the job that his doctors warn could one day kill him.
"Some days I am too ill to work," said Hossain, 25, who has spent years inhaling fumes from the hexavalent chromium and other chemicals used to turn the raw hides into soft leather.
"I take medicine to control my skin diseases. If I don't, it gets worse," Hossain adds, gesturing to his arms and legs which are covered in rashes and black spots.
Hossain's tannery is one of 200 in Hazaribagh in Dhaka, where some 25,000 workers toil for as little as US$50 (RM163) a month to produce leather for shoes and other goods for stores in Europe and the United States.
Ten months ago, Western retailers were forced into action after a garment factory complex collapsed killing 1,135 people, one of a string of tragedies that have shone a global spotlight on that sector's shocking labour and safety conditions.
But there are few signs of reform at Bangladesh's leather industry, where conditions are equally atrocious and business is booming thanks to the West's growing demand for cheap, leather items.
Top local activist Rizwana Hasan blames a lack of headline grabbing disasters in the industry that could make consumers think twice about where their shoes and bags are made.
"In these tanneries, death comes slowly," said Hasan, referring to respiratory problems, cancers, skin diseases and other illnesses that doctors blame on long hours and few safety precautions.
"(So) While Bangladesh garment disasters make headlines across the world, the even more terrible conditions at the tanneries don't.
"These tanneries remind us of factories in the 19th century," she added.
Activists are also frustrated by murky supply chains in Hazaribagh that make it difficult to link specific tanneries to individual top Western retailers, and possibly shame them into action.
In Hazaribagh, the environmental and public health costs of the growing industry are on full display.
Every day, the tanneries collectively dump 22,000 cubic litres of toxic waste, including cancer-causing chromium, into the Buriganga – Dhaka's main river and a key water supply – according to the environment ministry. — AFP
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