Kokila Annamalai, a petitioner for migrant worker rights, took to social media questioning an alleged double standard with regards to employment pass holders and work permit holders who flouted circuit breaker rules.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (Jun 2), Ms Annamalai pointed out that the six men and a woman who were charged in a district court on Tuesday (June 2) with gathering outside bars and restaurants at Robertson Quay to drink last month, faced the penalty of a hefty fine or a jail sentence.

She wrote: “None of these employment pass holders were deported for flouting circuit breaker rules, while work permit holders were deported and permanently banned from working in Singapore ever again”.

In n April, the ministry revoked the work passes of 24 foreign workers, deported them and permanently banned them from working in Singapore after they breached the safe distancing rules. They were caught eating, drinking and gathering in groups near Tuas View Square.

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The ministry said then that it deported the workers to “send a clear signal of the seriousness of the offence”.

It also revoked the work pass of one essential services worker on April 12 and permanently banned him from working in Singapore for loitering at various places without going home for an entire night. It also revoked on May 9 the work passes of another 29 foreigners who violated circuit breaker measures and Stay Home Notices.

“This is an indefensible double standard”, Ms Annamalai wrote.

“migrant workers shouldn’t face such disproportionately harsh consequences. There is no explanation for this difference in treatment other than class-based discrimination”, she added.

In a statement on Monday (Jun 1), the Ministry of Manpower said that foreigners working in Singapore “must abide by our laws”. Those convicted, regardless of the type of work pass they hold, risk having them revoked and banned from working here.

In the past three years, more than 100 employment pass holders have had their passes revoked, the MOM said.

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“(Circuit breaker) measures are enforced strictly regardless of nationality. Singaporeans and foreigners alike have been penalised for flouting the rules. These have been widely publicized”, the MOM said. /TISG