Singapore—Ruzaidie Dar Sunik was shocked to discover that five people had registered with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) using his home address. Mr Ruzaidie is a resident of The Floravale, a condominium in Jurong West. Apparently, he is not alone.
According to a report from MOM on May 2, Thursday, the ministry has received 489 reports of misused addresses similar to the case of Mr Ruzaidie as of December last year. In previous years, there have been less than 30 such incidents annually.
These addresses, MOM says, are falsely registered as the homes of foreign workers.
Residents whose addresses have been used are now up in arms due to worries that they will be taxed for rental income even if they have not actually rented out their residences, or be implicated should these alleged tenants run afoul of the law.
Having discovered that his neighbours experienced similar situations, Mr Ruzaidie took to Facebook on April 18 to warn others about it.
He wrote, “I’m sharing this post to create awareness which I feel is necessary to protect our house from any unwanted situations.
This morning I received a WhatsApp message from my neighbor who shared this MOM website and asked me to check if there’re any Foreign Workers who are working in Singapore and had registered with MOM their residing address using our residential address without our knowledge. She said many other neighbors shared that they faced this issue.
So I went to the MOM website and was shocked that there were not one but five unknown persons had (sic) registered with MOM using my residential address. What if they made an illegal loan with a loan shark? What happened if they had done something wrong and out of the sudden the police came standing in front of our house? What if.. Aduh, panic siol!
Since then, I had reported to MOM regarding this matter and also had emailed these unknown persons’ respective companies to inform them what is happening. I wonder if this is the work of hiring company or the employment agent. Haish… ????”
On April 24 he added an update because he had heard from MOM. “UPDATE 25/04/2019: MOM Replied, ‘As communicated, please be assured that MOM takes a very serious view of this matter and will be conducting investigations against the parties involved for possible false declaration offences & MOM will also tag my address from being used for the registration of foreign worker address.‘ I’ve also make (sic) a police report because I feel insecure on (sic) any implication which may arise out from this incident.”
(UPDATE 25/04/2019: MOM Replied "As communicated, please be assured that MOM takes a very serious view of this matter…
Mr Ruizadie added a link to MOM’s Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service for homeowners, which has not been fully implemented, the Straits Times (ST) reported on May 2.
A MOM representative said that by the end of the year, the ministry will be making use of alerts via email or SMS to homeowners in cases when a holder of a work pass registers their property.
He said that since December last year, when the system was soft-launched, almost 500 homeowners have reported such cases.
Since 2016, there have been cases of over 1,000 foreign workers and 2,000 employers who have given false addresses, or for employers, failed to update the addresses of the individuals working for them. MOM says that these cases are either under investigation or have been investigated already.
The ministry has also reached out to homeowners and corrected their residential records and block addresses.
MOM has also said that it carries out inspections regularly to make sure that the addresses that employers provide are correct. In a few cases, according to the ministry’s statement, employers had simply made administrative mistakes. However, in some other cases, employers had registered fake addresses in order to avoid certain requirements.
“This was likely due to them housing their workers in overcrowded units or in unapproved factory premises. There were also cases where workers who sourced for their own accommodation deliberately provided false address information to their employers, as they were residing in overcrowded units,” the representative from the ministry said.
The ministry emphasized that it is the obligation of employers to make sure that where their foreign workers live meets regulatory requirements, even when they leave it up to the workers to find their own housing.
The ministry said that employers should “verify that the addresses provided by the workers are correct. Examples of verification measures include physical visits to their workers’ place of residence and having sight of signed tenancy agreements.”/TISG