Singapore – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon said on Saturday (July 25) that Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo will remain in her current role. Members of the public responded by searching for accountability regarding how the Covid-19 outbreak among foreign worker dormitories was handled.
PM Lee said during the announcement of the new cabinet lineup that Ms Teo had made “significant changes” to improve the income security and job opportunities of Singaporeans despite only having joined the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) two years ago.
Ms Teo also took to Facebook on the same day to outline her “topmost priority” which was to “help displaced Singaporeans get back to work.” Whether middle-aged job seekers, fresh graduates or freelancers, she noted that “everyone deserves a fair chance to move into new roles or take up meaningful company-attachments until the economy recovers.”
Another priority highlighted by Ms Teo was the uplifting of essential workers wherein they deserve fair opportunities to progress. “Ever since I was in the NTUC, the tripartite partners have been doing much more than the bare minimum to support these brothers and sisters. We will not let up,” she said.
Raise standards in foreign worker dormitories
Ms Teo mentioned the work of MOM in foreign worker dormitories, promising to raise standards and help migrant workers stay healthy as the Covid-19 outbreak began. “This is happening as we speak, but it is still early days,” said Ms Teo. “Just as important is how we help the industry and employers manage the transition.” She noted how the crisis had not been easy on employers with workers living in the dormitories and confirmed that she would “seriously consider their request” to extend levy waivers for a few more months before phasing out gradually. “This is so that they can meet their obligations to their employees and implement safe management measures as they restart,” explained Ms Teo.
At the latter part of her post, she introduced and welcomed the additional help at MOM. Tan See Leng will be joining the cabinet as Second Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry. “I have asked him to champion the health and wellness of our migrant workers while ensuring improvements are sustainable,” she added. Gan Siow Huang will focus on SkillsFuture SG in the Ministry of Education. At the same time, Zaqy Mohamad will continue “to steward our workplace safety and health initiatives, with an added focus on inclusive growth and care for our essential workers,” said Ms Teo. She also extended their appreciation to Low Yen Ling who is transitioning to the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Meanwhile, netizens responded to the news of Ms Teo remaining at MOM by asking for accountability. “This is a ministry that has failed,” said Facebook user Bridget Dorai, referring to MOM. “Failed to secure jobs for Singaporeans, job welfare for both Singaporean and migrant workers. Where is any accountability?” asked the concerned citizen. Others expressed they weren’t “a fan” of how the outbreak was handled within foreign worker dormitories. “Only in Singapore can a minister retain his or her post even after mishandling an epidemic in the foreign worker dormitories,” added Facebook user Lee Jason.
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