Singapore—Polish blogger Michael Petraeus, who is known as Critical Spectator online and who has made his decidedly pro-administration views very clear, apparently has very little patience with those he terms as the “caring do-gooders” who are speaking out on the issue of foreign workers’ dormitories amid the rising number of infections among this community.
In a lengthy post, Mr Petraeus criticizes the individuals who are now making noise on an issue that, according to him, most of them never cared about in the past.
There are very few people who annoy me more than all the "caring" do-gooders crawling out of the woodwork to preach and…
He laments that they hold the Government responsible for these problems and demand that, therefore, the Government fix it. The writer then makes the point of saying that one reason the Government has been able to rescue the economy amid the coronavirus crisis is because it has saved money on inexpensive labour from migrant workers.
In his opinion, this is not exploitative, as the workers would have an even smaller salary working elsewhere, and that they have it good, relatively speaking, in Singapore, where no one forced them to come and work in the first place.
He further points out that in this land-scarce country, giving foreign workers more space in which to live would mean “the government would have to sacrifice space for local citizens and their children.”
Mr Petraeus writes that giving migrant workers accommodations similar to HDB flats would not be possible. He cited the example of Europe, when foreign nationals came to work in countries such as France or Germany, they chose to fit “5 or 10” people in small apartments in order to save money.
“In other words, the main motivation of the low-wage workers is to maximize their financial gains at the expense of personal comforts – it happens quite naturally, whether the government is involved or not. Only in this case they would be distributed among the local population, yet still living in dorm-like conditions that they’ve created for themselves to save money.”
At the end of his post he reiterated that the dormitories for foreign workers “made financial sense,” allowed them to do the jobs they came to Singapore for, and even prevented the further spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Petraeus’ post has been widely commented on and shared, with many netizens agreeing with him.
However, some people commented and pushed back on Mr Petraeus’ points
One comment stated that Mr Petraeus had missed the point, which is that Singapore can do better in providing a higher standard of living for the workers.
Find an article written as a rebuttal to Mr Petraeus’ points, “Why Critical Spectator Is Dead Wrong On Foreign Workers,” on the Wake Up, Singapore website. The author wrote, “Yes, their situation back home is as bad or worse. SO? We can’t make it better? We can’t, though we claim to be one of the richest and smartest nations in the world, do better for them?…The point is the shi**y conditions they live in. Yes communal housing is fine, the conditions are just f***ing terrible.” /TISG