Author: Yee Yeong Chong
My article "Reply: Political Claims and Strategies in Human Rights Struggles in Singapore," in Critical Asian Studies 41 (4): 575–96 (December 2009) owes a significant intellectual debt to the theorization of instrumentality and human rights as a process of humanizing the migrant worker in Pheng Cheah's book Inhuman Conditions: On Cosmopolitanism and Human Rights (Harvard University Press, 2007). Due to personal negligence, this debt was regrettably unacknowledged in my manuscript and in the published article. I would like to take this opportunity to express my unreserved apology to Pheng Cheah for the un-credited work. The following sections should be appended to include the following citations:
Page 580, paragraph 3: This polarization of civil society between independent and "co-opted" groups is one way of distinguishing the humane from the inhumane. Groups that embody independent viewpoints that potentially compete with the ideologies of the government are seen to be humanistic, while those groups courted by the state or have chosen to align themselves with its developmentalist interests are therefore complicit with a "market instrumentality" that disregards human interests.
Missing citation: Cheah 2007, 256. Cheah writes: "This distinction between progressive and conservative models of civil society is another way of drawing a boundary between the human and the inhuman. The former is seen as people-oriented and motivated by a sense of humanity, whereas the latter's conciliatory character is conducive to the pragmatic imperatives of a capitalist market economy that disregards humanity."
Page 585, paragraph 1: A space is carved out for civic actors here because the state's successful brand of economic pragmatism is premised on developing human capital, and civil society is precisely the domain for the articulation of these instrumental interests through governmentality; the NGOs "assist" national development by training the female migrant worker as an industrious employee.
Missing citation: Cheah 2007, 256. Cheah writes: "A space is carved out for civic actors here because the state's successful brand of economic pragmatism is premised on developing human capital, and civil society is precisely the domain for the articulation of these instrumental interests through governmentality."
Page 585, paragraph 3: Here, liberalism and strong government meet to form a regulatory discourse that allows the state to absorb criticisms and rechannel these humanitarian ideals for developmental instrumentalism; "human dignity" and "fair treatment" of the female migrant worker, causes commonly championed by regional NGOs, become hegemonic circumlocutions of national "economic competitiveness."
Missing citation: Cheah 2007, 256. Cheah writes: "What we see in the Singaporean case is precisely a complex combination of the two technologies of strong government and liberalism. The Singapore state makes strategic nods to the liberal rhetoric of the free market. But this is also a form of social control that endows the state and other actors such as employment agencies with the rapacious capacity to absorb external criticism and rechannel 'oppositional' humane ideas to further the pursuit of economic self-interest."
Page 588, paragraph 1: Instead of calling stakeholders to task according to human rights benchmarks, the circulation of discourses on "empathetic employers" and expressions of maid abuse as "national shame" become strategies to validate labor rights in the absence of state codification of these liberties. [Footnote 45: In a letter published in The Straits Times, TWC2 members Imran Price and Lim Chi-Sharn (10 March 2003) exhort Singaporeans to view "the current state of the foreign domestic worker in Singapore [as] a source of national embarrassment," and that "it is our national obligation to safeguard the welfare of foreign domestic workers."]
Missing citation: Price and Lim in Cheah 2007, 252. Cheah writes: "Thus TWC2's members have stressed in the national press that 'the current state of the foreign domestic worker in Singapore is a source of national embarrassment,' and that it is our national obligation to safeguard the welfare of foreign domestic workers."