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Tommy Koh: The way Singapore treats its foreign workers is not First World but Third World

"They stay in overcrowded dormitories and are packed likes sardines with 12 persons to a room. The dormitories are not clean or sanitary," said the retired diplomat on his Facebook page on April 6

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 Singapore—Retired diplomat Tommy Koh, who made some irate last year with the comment that ‘Singapore is a first world nation with third world citizens,’ has used the same words to describe how Singapore treats the country’s migrant workers.

On his Facebook page on Monday morning (April 6), he wrote,

“The way Singapore treats its foreign workers is not First World but Third World. The government has allowed their employers to transport them in flat bed trucks with no seats. They stay in overcrowded dormitories and are packed likes sardines with 12 persons to a room. The dormitories are not clean or sanitary. The dormitories were like a time bomb waiting to explode. They have now exploded with many infected workers. Singapore should treat this as a wake up call to treat our indispensable foreign workers like a First World country should and not in the disgraceful way in which they are treated now. I feel angry when I see foreign workers sitting on the ground eating their lunch. I see exhausted foreign workers stretched out on the ground to rest.”

 

The way Singapore treats its foreign workers is not First World but Third World. The government has allowed their…

Posted by Tommy Koh on Sunday, April 5, 2020

Mr Koh posted a photo of a story from The Straits Times (ST), entitled “Coronavirus: Workers describe crowded, cramped living conditions at dormitory gazetted as isolation area.” Online, it can be read here.

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Authorities announced on Sunday (Apr 5) that due to a growing number of transmissions of Covid-19 coronavirus among migrant workers, two of the dormitories where they are housed have been designated as isolation areas, effectively putting the 19,800 workers there under quarantine for two weeks.

“The S11 Dormitory @ Punggol (2 Seletar North Link) and Westlite Toh Guan dormitory (18 Toh Guan Road East) are of particular concern,” the Ministry of Health wrote in an April 5 update. There are 63 confirmed Covid-19 cases linked to S11 Dormitory @ Punggol and 28 cases linked to Westlite Toh Guan dormitory, making them the two largest clusters among the affected workers’ dormitories.

The ST article said that workers from the S11 Dormitory @ Punggol said that the dormitory’s toilets are overflowing and that the rooms are infested with cockroaches. Furthermore, there have been no social distancing measures to ensure that residents stay apart from one another.

The article quotes workers at Westlite Toh Guan saying that the situation is similarly unhygienic there.

“You can see cockroaches crawling in the rooms. There are also many mosquitoes. Many people just stood outside their rooms, in the corridors. There are also smoking areas at each end of the corridors, and the toilets are also there. You can smell urine when you stand outside the rooms,” said one worker, Venkate S.H., to ST.

Many netizens agreed with Professor Koh, whose post was shared over 1,000 times in less than two hours.

Some netizens thanked Professor Koh for speaking up on behalf of the workers.

 

One netizen challenged other civil servants to add their voices to Professor Koh’s

/TISG

Read related: “Many of our people are selfish and unkind” – Tommy Koh laments that Singapore is a first world nation with third world citizens

“Many of our people are selfish and unkind” – Tommy Koh laments that Singapore is a first world nation with third world citizens

 

 

 

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