Monday, December 16, 2013

Don't Sell Something No One Believe

In the wake of the Little India riots, one of the things that has been attributed as the cause of the riots is the frustrations felt by foreign workers on their working and living conditions in Singapore. In the light of this, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam visited a foreign workers’ dormitory in Yishun and was quoted as saying that the foreign workers “have no complaints about working conditions, about their salaries, about their employers".

Basically, he is saying foreign workers are not exploited in Singapore.

Come on, foreign workers are so routinely exploited in Singapore it's almost the norm. Their salaries are hideously low, their working conditions dangerous, their living conditions bad, and in any dispute between them and their employers, the pro-business Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will almost always side with the employers. That's the image Singapore has, and it's one that not entirely incorrect.

Take the examples of the past year for instance. Foreign workers had to go on strike to improve their living conditions, and even just to get their pay. In one case, foreign workers whose contracts were ending were not paid for months and they had to strike to force the employer to pay them. Once it made the news, the said employer's money problems suddenly disappeared and the workers were paid promptly. The employer was suspected to have intended to deport the workers immediately once their contracts were up without paying them a single cent of what they were owned.

In most countries that provide Singapore's low-cost workers, Singapore's reputation as an employer is so low, workers would not want to come here if they have a choice. We are the third or fourth choice on their list and it is a totally understandable position to take when the Singapore Management University (SMU) conclude that 65% of injured foreign workers in Singapore had been threaten with premature repatriation by their employers.

So I find it strange that a minister from the Singapore government is trying to sell a picture that Singapore do not exploit foreign workers. Even to a Singaporean like me, that's total nonsense. And if Singaporeans are not buying that, you can just imagine what they think of it in other countries.


sgcynic said...

Shamugam's reasoning could be since "it" is the "norm" in Singapore, ergo there is no "exploitation". It is the norm. In "this", it applies to citizens and foreigners alike.

Anonymous said...

Just want you to read the "right facts."...Maybe the WP MPs can raise this in Parliament..or they can go and talked to the workers..and confirm what the Minister says is the truth..or are they simply laughing all the way to the aSTAGED OPPOSITION PARTY

Ghost said...

The WP MPs will say nothing because that's the safest thing to do. I can totally understand why they are keeping quiet because's hard to see what benefits they can get from speaking up. This riot has the potential to be a total can of worms for all involved.