The caring of over 300,000 foreign workers became government’s responsibility, was started with a simple pledge.

On Apr10, PM Lee made a pledge to families of foreign workers in the dormitories:

“We feel responsible for their well-being. We will do our best to take care of their health, livelihood and welfare here, and to let them go home, safe and sound, to you.” (ST11-4-20).

On Apr20, in his fourth address, PM Lee made another pledge:

“To our migrant workers, let me emphasize again, we will care for you like we care for Singaporeans.” He thanked them for their cooperation and assured them that their health, welfare and livelihood will be taken care of, including making sure they get paid, can send money home, and that there would be help for them stay in touch with friends and families. (ST21-4-20).

The “care for migrant worker” turns out to be a monumental task beyond the capacity and capability of Manpower, National Development and Health ministries and require the deployment of resources from various agencies like SAF, SPF, and SIA personnel and thousands of volunteers besides health care professionals from public and private sectors.
With the fast and sharp increase of infections among foreign workers in the 43 purpose-built dormitories (not including about 1000 other accommodations in factory-converted dormitories housing with some 400,000 foreign workers), it was necessary for manpower and bed capacity be ramped up quickly. By end of June, Singapore aims to have some 41,000 beds for isolation and care, including at community care and recovery facilities. (ST29-4-20). We are finding such facilities sprouting up in many places across Singapore from Tanjong Pagar Terminal site to vacant HDB flats in Bukit Merah and Jurong, Anderson JC student hostel in AMK, Turf Club, Singapore Expo, Changi Expo, D’Resort NTUC chalet, and even on two cruise ships.

The SLA reported that the former Chancery Court in Dunearn Road has been refurbished to house up to 1200 healthy foreign workers in essential services.

With such massive resources pumped in to fulfill PM’s pledge to take care of the few hundred thousands foreign workers in Singapore, we are confident that most if not all will survive this pandemic in Singapore.

The government has drawn up a plan for protecting them as the country gears up for end of the CB next month. Some 20,000 foreign workers who were infected, are expected to be discharged from care facilities by the end of the month and ready to resume work. (ST13-5-20).

The Construction sector is planned to resume gradually from Jun2 and an Industry Taskforce is exploring ways to protect construction workers. The stay-home notice (SHN) that was served by around 180,000 foreign workers in the construction sector and their dependents, ended on Monday May18 at 11.59pm and ready to resume work. These 180,000 workers are work permit and S-Pass holders and their dependents who initially lived in factory-converted dormitories, temporary quarters on construction sites, HDB flats and shophouses, have moved to alternative accommodations. (ST16-5-20).

Are foreign workers with work permits and S-Passes permitted to bring in dependents? Can anyone who knows about this subject provide an answer?

All 323,000 workers in dormitories will be tested to ensure that they are free of the virus before they return to work. (ST24-5-20).

MOM even ensured that most of the migrant workers staying in dormitories have been paid their salaries during the CB period even though many had to stop work because only essential services are allowed to operate. About 3% or about 300 of the 8500 employers still owed salaries to staff. (ST2-5-20). The livelihood of migrant workers is secured.

To go further, “the government will be footing the bill for the increased operating costs incurred by dormitory operators due to the dormitory lockdowns and stay-home notices imposed on some 300,000 foreign workers across Singapore.” “These include additional costs for manpower,cleaning, maintenance, utilities and infrastructure incurred because of the restrictions imposed on the workers…”. (12-5-20). Comparing the costs of operations before Covid19, did they underspend on their tenants in order to reap high profits from dormitory operations? Is this how public funds should be spent to salvage both the dormitory operators and MOM for their failure to supervise and enforce a higher standard of accommodation for foreign workers in Singapore?

With such a huge foreign worker population in Singapore, can there be a guarantee that infections amongst them do not continue to spike?

When will PM’s commitment to take care of the health, welfare and livelihood of the foreign workers end?
In his May Day address, PM Lee pledged “to help companies adapt to the new operating environment and retrain workers for the new jobs that will become available.” Training, re-training, up-spilling, re-spilling are empty words for workers who have lost their jobs to business closures or retrenchment.

Compare his pledge to Singapore workers, with his pledge to foreign workers and their families, he made no mention about taking care of livelihood of the citizens during this Covid19 crisis.

MOM reported that retrenchment in the first three months of this year rose to a preliminary figure of 3000, up from 2670 in the previous quarter, and is expected to rise further. (ST21-5-20). Though there is a Job Support Scheme which grants wage subsidies to employers to avert a retrenchment, how practical or effective is this scheme in saving jobs in this lockdown economy? MOM only requires employers to notify (not seek approval) the ministry of retrenchment exercises if they have at least 10 employees and lay off five or more staff within six-month period.

There are thousands of small businesses, small retailers and food shops with one to five employees who are invisible and helpless if they lose their jobs during this period. They may be sole breadwinners and their families will suffer. They can apply for a Covid19 Support Grant, which provides a monthly cash payout of up to $800 for three months to those eligible. No one knows the number of retrenched workers who failed to meet the applicable conditions.

For the self-employed, they can apply for three quarterly cash payouts of $3000 starting in May, provided they qualify. Only $1.3b is set aside for about 100,000 self-employed. For sure, it’s not easy.

Like many countries, job losses and unemployment will be a very serious problem for local employees.

This Covid19 dormitory crisis offers a good opportunity for Singapore to re-think and remodel its labour policies.

With over one million Work Permit and S-Pass foreign workers living in less than ideal environment, I don’t think PM’s commitment to them can end so easily because of the difficulties of protecting all of them against the virus.
Would MOM dare to propose sending 10 to 20% of the 300,000 foreign workers who have recovered from Covid19, home with a fair compensation?

If not, the foreign workers in dormitories will be the Albatross around the necks of PAP politicians in the Taskforce.
Among the jobs perform by foreign workers, surely there are some jobs like grass-cutting and pruning of trees and bushes which jobless Singaporeans can do without going through extensive training. The long term reliance on foreign workers has given the impression that Singaporean workers, even young ones, are physically weak, which is not true. If food delivery which requires 10-12 hours of walking or cycling and pays $40-50 a day, taking on some jobs of foreign workers may not be a bad option for the unemployed.

This is the hour for Singaporeans to regain some of the jobs that they have lost over the last two decades. For sure, there will be much resistance from those businesses that rode on the backs of the low-wage foreign workers for too long under PAP rule. This must change.

Only by taking the first step now by Singaporean workers can they regain the confidence and courage to take back the many PMET jobs that were lost to foreign talents.

Singaporeans are well-educated, diligent and disciplined. Why are they uncompetitive against foreign imports? In March 2020, there are 1.14m foreign employees in Singapore’s labour market. (ST11-5-20). This is far too many, unhealthy and not in the best interest of Singaporean workers.

When our economy enters into recession due to Covid19 pandemic, we want a government that is focused on people’s livelihood and welfare by ensuring that they remained employed.

Putting People First.

This is the opinion of a Pioneer citizen.

 

Kok Ming Cheang

 

 

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30 Responses to “The caring of over 300,000 foreign workers became government’s responsibility, was started with a simple pledge.”

  • DavidNeo&IreneVanessa:Bastards:

    70% gave the govt carte blanche. They don’t care ig govt spends taxpayers money as long as not their own. Very shallow.

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  • Singaporeans want easy job:

    Hello Kok,
    You said:
    ….there are some jobs like grass-cutting and pruning of trees and bushes which jobless Singaporeans can do……………….
    =======================================================
    You must be stupid, really.

    Singaporeans want easy job.

    No Singaporeans, even the uneducated Singaporeans, don’t want to work under the sun.

    Uneducated Singaporeans even had the audacity to complain it is hot la, it is back breaking job la, it is low pay la, company welfare no good la …….

    One sentence to sum up Singaporean : Singaporeans are lazy and unmotivated…

    Go ask Gilbert Goh. He had been conned by many lazy and unmotivated Singaporeans seeking easy money by faking illness.
    Facts:
    http://theindependent.sg/activist-files-police-report-against-woman-who-said-she-lied-about-being-evicted-by-hdb-to-seek-donations/
    GE2020.PAP.Guarantee.Win.All
    $PAP$ Tua Kee; Majullah $PAP$; $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must be Cheaper, Better, Faster.
    Workers must accept wage sacrifices to keep businesses going.

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  • Fw:

    What he pledged, our reserve $billions built up by our forefathers, mothers, brothers uncles and aunts all went

    To feed, cloth , shelter n treat these foreign workers.

    Why don’t we want to fly them home by sq? Sq now got no job……..might as well fly them using our reserves?

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  • opposition dude:

    Simply put there isn’t enough places to house and separate the Banglas. This is why weeks after the outbreak in the dorms it’s still spreading. This also shows just how useless PAP is, they only care when there isn’t a pandemic and when there isn’t a need to separate foreign workers apart.

    But PAP won’t be learning from this experience oh no no no. Once this pandemic is over there will resume all their nonsense again. The dorms will again be overcrowded and even more non Singaporeans will be let in.

    Just wait for the population to go beyond 6 million, it won’t be too far off now since the last reported figure was 5.8 million.

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  • Awaken o siasuay sigina!:

    (Among the jobs perform by foreign workers, surely there are some jobs like grass-cutting and pruning of trees and bushes which jobless Singaporeans can do… The long term reliance on foreign workers has given the impression that Singaporean workers, even young ones, are physically weak, which is not true…)

    Sinchiapor Inc. and his merito-cronytocracy they want the big big foreign worker levy $$$ lah…. hehehe. Seriously …. MOM wallops $1050 every month from the employer who hires the foreign labourer ($600/mth) to cut grass and prune trees! See beh ho tann ah!

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  • most uselss:

    I think the minister already said tax payers expect to pay for higher building charges.

    Our govt will not be charitable, they will recoup and make us pay.

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  • Average Joe:

    Quote
    “Would MOM dare to propose sending 10 to 20% of the 300,000 foreign workers who have recovered from Covid19, home with a fair compensation?”
    Unquote

    Agreed with the Author! For stop-gap measures, the govt should have the courage to seriously consider and start sending the non-affected FW (starting with non essential industries) back home selectively in batches temporary – across all commercial sectors up to a manageable level – to mitigate the strain on our scarced resources instead of “chasing its tail round and round” and continue to throw away valuable monies $$$ for “upto 1.3MIL(FW)?” DAILY with no end in sight. Moreover, work is not expected to return to normal during the post-pandemic-recovery period as vaccine may not be available for sometimes.

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  • PAP is Doomed:

    Mr Kok, well written analysis. Singaporeans must come first ! But his Govt will not bother about Singaporeans. Giving NDP fun-packs is their answer to keep Singaporeans happy and hoping this will help to win more votes for PAP.

    **** Compare his pledge to Singapore workers, with his pledge to foreign workers and their families, he made no mention about taking care of livelihood of the citizens during this Covid19 crisis. ***

    Your above statement is very true and Singaporeans had already realized not to trust PAP and its 4G Ministerial Team anymore.

    Please do note that there are about 900,000 Workers, 300K in Dorms and another 600K outside dorms.

    The 600K have not been tested yet. We don’t know how many of them have been affected. Govt is telling us the community spread has reduced drastically. Without testing the 600K workers outside dorms who are mingling in the community, Govt wants to push for election soon by saying community spread is at a bare minimum.

    Singaporeans have lost trust in this Govt.

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  • Kang Ah Loo cort:

    Pioneer

    Wrong! We only want one thing : OUR CPF returned!!

    After this Reserves Vault door kept opening, I wonder how does it affect our cpf withdrawal??

    The PAP is chicken feet. The real problem is the 70%. Their brains cannot be changed despite a mother of all crisis.

    In the past I will be extremely bitter. But now, they have proven by their response to the mask advisories to be truly unquestioning dafts. This is the democracy.

    I not even feel sad anymore. It’s a gone case from now till the day all of us baby boomers have died.

    I can only be debunked in a Kang Ah Loo cort.

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  • Be humane and caring:

    Prior pandemic, JT didn’t care too hoot about FW living conditions and welfare!

    Now shit times every day publishes how the G loves and care about FW a lot.

    Millisters and Moron Pariahs one by one visit dorms to take pics with them and deliver care packs.

    Hope this will continue after post pandemic and not just another epic wayang.

    Yes, love them as your own as they are part of our community. Ok?

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  • Hopelessnuselesspap:

    In the 1970′s, all HDB estates cleaning, sweeping us done by our Malays, being paid 50bucks for half day work with or without CFP. Today, a couple of FW do not even sweep our corridors or staircase but does collection of garbage but paid less than 40bucks a day.

    Even marine parade HDB blk 63 to 65 was built by KELANTANESE MALAY and MY chinese. Daily pay is 8 to 15 bucks a day.

    Today a Bangla or indian FW us paid 25 to 28bucks a day.

    FOR THE SAKE OF COMPARISON, ESTIMATION, INFLATION,

    DO YOU THINK THE PAY FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS HAS GONE SKY HIGH ???

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  • Elcb:

    Laxative budget.

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  • Kang Ah Loo cort:

    Once you are a citizen, it’s easy to control yew.

    But not easy to control bangs. If they complain to bang garment how?
    How many x rays show lungs damaged ?

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  • Bobo:

    PM better do a good job in taking care of FTs and FWs. If not, Singapore will be in big big trouble. Relationships with their gov will be as bad as rotten rats. There’s no other choice than emptying the savings to protect them and their relationship. Since Singaporeans are such kind sole, it is alright to give everything to save them and embrace them.

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  • Boh Kia See:

    The health and welfare of foreign workers are the responsibility of the employers and owners of the dormitories. It is not the responsibility of the PAP government using tax payers funds.

    Those workers are employed and brought to Singapore by their employers. It is the responsibility of the employers to ensure safe and healthy environments for them to live. the objective is to ensure that they can return home in one piece when their contract ends. \

    As OI understand it, this virus seems to have a long incubation period with many showing no symptoms as all. Further, those who are cured from the virus may not be in the same state as they were before their infection. So there will be cases of workers being weaker after infection and cannot do heavy work while previously they could. What then? PAP superannuation for life!

    As for Singaporeans, they have to wake up just once to boot out the PAP. Their mentality and outlook no longer fit the times we are living in. As citizens we need to look for leaders that provides the best fir for the situation now and the future. PAP is certainly not the right one.

    VTO-the PAP

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  • no good reason!:

    Since when has the responsibilities of taking care of FTs become the Government’s!!??

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  • NotMyProblem:

    The only reason that LHL has to take good care of the foreign workers is there are foreigners turned citizens in Singapore. In fact there are 46% of the total Singapore population are foreigners turned citizens. These new citizens are all voting age.

    New citizens out vote true blue Singaporeans. To ensure these new citizens vote the PAP, the PM has to take good care of them.

    You do not see poor new citizens, but you see poor homeless Singaporeans.

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  • Doesn't make sense:

    These MW kenna quarantined get good stay, free meals (& daily allowance?) while those working (like taxi only get pitiful rental rebate) get little or nothing. How’s that $600 by MOF to last 2 months if CB & not everyone qualified for $500 from MSF.

    $9000 for 9 months and at the end of 5 months (provided SE still hang on out there) get $3000. End of 7th month (July) get another $3k, and finally end of 9th month (Sept) the rest of $3k. See, only at the end of first 5 months before getting “paid”. First 2 months can considered as kenna eaten when SE decide to quit end May.

    As for the other 2 months of $3K, and assuming taxi rental is $60 per day ( with subsidy from LTA)= $1800 + $120 parking ~ approx $2k per month, that would cost $4k for 2 months. Drivers still need to folk out $1k from own pocket to “SUPPORT” taxi operators, i.e $500 from “earnings” (IF ANY) per month to donate to taxi business operators. Where is this next $4k help for such Self-Employed personnel?

    Just a number game. “I ‘give’ you $, and you don’t get to hold on to the $”.

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  • Asd:

    I think told one citizen will get up to blah blah blah $x of the reserve then how much one foriegner will get up to of the reserve why no declare or is the reserve reserved for foreigner

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  • billionaires:

    BOTH GOVG AND EMPLOYERS AT FAULT.
    GREED IS THE NAME OF THE GAME.
    BOCHUP IS THE IMPETUS FOR ALL THE WRONGS.
    SPEND MORE TIME COUNTING MONEY THAN DOING WORK.

    Eh,i fill like eating XO CHYE TOW KWAY.
    NEH! you can have my middle finger!

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  • jobs anyone?:

    walk around any heartland hdb blocks and observe..
    groups of young and old men, who sit from day to night, and talk , smoke and sometimes have their meals outside in open areas of these blks. i live in circuit road and there are many clusters of such able bodied men just sitting around. i doubt that many are lazy and dont want to work.
    i presume they are jobless since being retrenched for ages and are unable to secure new employment..
    isnt it a damn sorry sight?
    gov brings in tens of thousands of cheap foreigners to take over jobs that our citizens should be doing..
    skillsfuture schemes are all crap!
    gov should give jobs back to sgs or else shs should make their precious votes “very expensive” tfor the gov to get!

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  • Do more for the locals:

    Need to do more for our Citizen very hard hit by the CB.
    Especially those who are not paid since Jan 2020 by their company ..
    Many companies cash flow is so bad as their business is at a standstill because of the CB with no revenue at all.The CB is worst than the Virus for them.
    Some under fund startup working Directors has been working without pay since Jan 2020 and has not been given any Job support because their company have not met with the support CPF requirements..etc.Better to be an employee…
    Support should be based on actual situation of each individual ..especially when the support applied is not even 15% of their lost monthly pay….
    Ridiculous situation when compare to the support given to the FW…
    Need to help our locals badly affected by the CB….
    Should have given all at least 50% of their lost monthly pay during the CB to help them cope during this period.

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  • Uselesspap:

    WORKFARE IS GRABAGE and SCAM.

    Today my WORKFARE US 91 dollars n 135 in CPF.

    CAN SURVIVE ON WORKFARE ???

    YOU MUST LIVE ON OR AROUND GARBAGE DUMP !!!

    Any around ???

    SINKUES ARE REAL STUPIDO……IN VOTING PAP

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  • PAP CLOSE DOWN:

    I’s true, The women are even more choosy because they don’t have to do NS. All just marry and let husband work. Husband from humble backgrounds still demand for car condo etc like husband is a genie.

    All this is because they went thru the spore education system.

    Singaporeans want easy job:
    Hello Kok,
    You said:
    ….there are some jobs like grass-cutting and pruning of trees and bushes which jobless Singaporeans can do……………….
    =======================================================
    You must be stupid, really.

    Singaporeans want easy job.

    No Singaporeans, even the uneducated Singaporeans, don’t want to work under the sun.

    Uneducated Singaporeans even had the audacity to complain it is hot la, it is back breaking job la, it is low pay la, company welfare no good la …….

    One sentence to sum up Singaporean : Singaporeans are lazy and unmotivated…

    Go ask Gilbert Goh. He had been conned by many lazy and unmotivated Singaporeans seeking easy money by faking illness.
    Facts:
    http://theindependent.sg/activist-files-police-report-against-woman-who-said-she-lied-about-being-evicted-by-hdb-to-seek-donations/
    GE2020.PAP.Guarantee.Win.All
    $PAP$ Tua Kee; Majullah $PAP$; $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must be Cheaper, Better, Faster.
    Workers must accept wage sacrifices to keep businesses going.

    GD Star Rating
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  • Uselesspap:

    DBS bank has been losing hundreds of millions of $$$ FOR MANY YEARS IN INDIA, WHY IS THE CEO PAID 8 MILLION IN WAGES PLUS BONUS PLUS STOCKS ???

    IT HAS TO DO WITH INDUAN FW HERE…

    ANYONE UNDERSTAND THIS, NO NEED FOR PHD, MASTER DEGREE TO KNOW WHY, PLUS $ LAUNDERING HERE BY CROOKS IN INDIA JUST LIKE CHINA, BANGLA …

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  • take heed:

    the Devil funds Evil work for Idle hands to do.
    so start paving the way – put more jobs in sgs hands first.
    Singaporeans First? its a BIG LIE.
    another BIG LIE- Sgs are fussy n lazy and dont want such jobs.
    pay us a fair wage, then see if sgs dont want the jobs!

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  • Do more:

    OK to help and take care of the FW.
    Do the same for our poor and needy Singaporean,especially the poor and needy elders…hard hit by the Virus situation and the CB.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    no good reason!:
    Since when has the responsibilities of taking care of FTs become the Government’s!!??

    We will soon have a GRC for foreign workers since their population here is almost a GRC strong. There will be 5 MPs for this FW GRC, there will be a full Minister. Of course not Minister Josephine Teo.

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  • The Foreign Sovereign Our King:

    We finally know now what “foreign reserves” mean, haha.

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  • Employers Insist On FW:

    It was reported in today’s newspaper that Business Associations, Employers, etc insisted on not cutting back the number of Foreign Workers becos they help our Singaporeans get PMET jobs. I was a PMET for over 20 years in a US Company and was replaced by an PMET Indian 5 years ago. What have the Business Association and Employers got to say about this ?

    The PAP is giving incentive such as pay 40 per cent of the salary of 40 years old Singporean if Employer employ them. The idea is good but if there is no business and the company is losing money, will the company still employ them ? Unless of course the PAP is willing to pay 100 per cent of the salary.

    How long can the PAP keep on becoming Santa Claus or Chai Sen giving Taxpayer money out ?

    Looks like PAP cannot get out of this major issue.

    PAP Talking Cock again. Vote PAP OUT.

    GD Star Rating
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