In a simple comic strip, a Singaporean father, Calvin Soh, explained how to respond to children when they point out that migrant workers have unpleasant body odour.
The simple but extremely profound comic strip is posted on Soh’s Facebook page Father and Son, where he shares with netizens his thoughts and anecdotes of bringing up his children.
The comic strip begins with a child telling the parent he didn’t want to sit next to a foreign worker because the latter is smelly.
The parent replied: “You know what he smells of? He smells of someone who had to work 14 hours a day.”
“He smells of someone doing work we don’t want to do.
“He smells of someone who had to pay a dodgy agent for the privilege of working here. He smells of someone who misses his family, who would see his child every two years. And he’s probably aware people think he smells.
“In fact, he probably smells like your great grandfather when he first came to Singapore.”
The last panel of the drawing ends with the child choosing to sit beside the implied foreigner.
Migrant workers in SG
Singapore’s never-ending construction work boosts the economy and depends a lot on the massive foreign labour force imported in the country.
According to data from the Ministry of Manpower, as of June 2017, Singapore had approximately 296,700 migrant workers in the construction industry. They come from nations like Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and China.
Over 250,000 migrant workers, mostly women, found employment in domestic work in Singapore.
Together, these migrant workers toil all day to ensure the Singaporean society and economy continue to function and grow.
Their work, however, remains unregulated and in many ways, undervalued.