Singapore — The deaths of two Filipino domestic helpers in a car accident at Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road on Dec 29 has sparked debate on whether foreign workers here should have a space where they can gather on their days off.
While there are a number of parks where domestic helpers and other foreign workers can spend time with each other, the mall has become the go-to place because it is easily accessible, has remittance outlets, food and drink shops, and toilets.
Additionally, it costs nothing to hang out in the mall or on the pavement outside.
However, Lucky Plaza is in Orchard Road, a place some believe should be for tourists and not for the country’s foreign domestic workers, who now number around 255,800. This number has also grown quickly, with the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reporting that the number grew by more than 25 per cent in the last decade.
And three out of five of them have Sundays as their day off, which explains the large crowds that gather around Lucky Plaza on those days.
The SCMP reports that as many as 10,000 people are at Lucky Plaza on weekends. While security guards ask them to leave when they sit on the floor of the mall, they return when the guards are elsewhere.
One week after the deaths, while some Filipino domestic helpers wondered whether it was time to find a new place where they could hang out, many gathered at Lucky Plaza out of sheer habit.
On Tuesday (Jan 7), TODAY quoted one Filipina as saying: “Where else can we go? We have no choice. We have no other place to go.”
Another Filipino domestic helper named Lyn was quoted as saying that she believed it is the Government’s responsibility to provide a place in Orchard Road where they can gather. Calling Lucky Plaza “our kampung”, she added: “You don’t need to wait till someone died to do something.”
Many netizens reacted strongly to the Today report, saying that the helpers do not belong in Orchard Road.
Others said that if the helpers didn’t like it here, they could go home.
One netizen suggested that the helpers should ask to hang out in the grounds of their embassy.
Some commentators pointed out that the domestic helpers seem to have become entitled in asking for their own place to gather.
Read related: “Stay or go?”Lucky Plaza accident leave Filipinas in a quandary as to where to hang out