A petition on the change.org platform calling for a Commission of Inquiry into the Covid-19 spread in Singapore’s migrant worker community has so far garnered more than 2,200 signatures.

The petition was started on May 1 by a man named Joshua Chow. He wrote: “By as early as February 2020, reports of cramped and unsanitary conditions in migrant workers’ dormitories had begun to flow over social media, and several migrant workers’ groups were sounding the alarm. People were concerned that the conditions in the dormitories would provide a hotbed for the rapid and massive spread of Covid-19 should no mitigatory action be taken.”

He added that the vast majority of confirmed Covid-19 cases were migrant workers residing in dormitories. “Of the 20,198 confirmed cases, 18,365 were migrant workers. That’s 90.92%*.”
*Statistics as of May 6

Mr Chow also wrote that: “The severity of the spread was not inevitable. Steps could have been taken to contain it at an earlier stage. We must understand how this happened, so we may do better next time.”

He added: “Underlying systemic conditions contributed to these mistakes being made. We must understand all of this, how this happened, before we can move forward.”

Mr Chow suggested that a COI with independent elements should be convened, with its focus on root causes and long-term change.

“We therefore make this petition to the President of the Republic of Singapore for the convening of a Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the circumstances and contributing factors that allowed for the rapid and massive spread of Covid-19 in Singapore’s migrant worker community,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, in Parliament on Monday (May 4), National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that the country was still in the heat of battle, but at the right time, there will be a comprehensive review of the pandemic and the country’s responses, including the outbreak in migrant worker dormitories.

Those who signed the petition mentioned why they did so: