Singapore—As the rest of the world reels from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the lines between the haves and the have nots seem to be more sharply drawn than ever.
And while Singapore’s migrant workers have been in the news lately not only due to the high number of coronavirus infections among them but also because of the overcrowded and unhygienic living conditions in their dormitories, a foreign worker of another kind was also in the news lately due to the amount he pays each month, just for a swim.
A British expatriate in Singapore who was featured in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reportedly pays S$10,000 (US$7,040) every month for a swimming pool rental. The UK national, whose condominium pool is now off-limits due to the circuit breaker measures implemented to curb the coronavirus spread, has rented the pool of one of his neighbours for his family’s use.
SCMP says the British man at first wanted to rent a S$30 million bungalow in Sentosa Cove but found that the S$30,000 rental fee was too expensive, since he was already leasing a flat, according to property agent at Singapore Realtors Inc., Lester Chen.
Mr Chen is quoted by SCMP as saying, “I asked the man why he wanted to rent the bungalow. Is it because of space restraints in his current home? The man replied that he just wanted to use the pool because his was closed due to the lockdown.”
The property agent then spoke to the owner of the house, who said yes to renting it out at this time on two conditions. “First, it will only be a short-term lease of three months. And if someone else wanted to rent the bungalow in its entirety, we can terminate the agreement,” said Mr Chen.
And while the house itself is off-limits to the British expat and his family, they can enter the property through gate on the side of the grounds. Going to the neighbor’s pool only ten minutes away from their flat is a big benefit to them.
The British expat’s lease arrangement is likely not the only one since Mr Chen told SCMP that there are others who are looking at properties in Sentosa Cove due to their gardens and pools. But this is not possible for those living on Singapore’s mainland, he added.
One cannot help see the stark difference between this and other foreign nationals living and working in Singapore, many of whom also live in the country’s outer areas and are worrying about the future as well as their families back home.
While the government has done much to provide for their needs as many of them are quarantined and all but a few thousand in essential services are temporarily out of work, the lives they live are very different from the British expat and his family. Reports have emerged saying that meeting even their most basic needs—their meals—has continued to be problematic, as activists for migrant workers have said the food brought to them has at times been inedible, and photos have circulating online of food being thrown in the trash at workers’ dormitories. —/TISG