SINGAPORE: Singaporeans online have expressed concern over a worker having lunch in the middle of the road while rain was pouring down.

The woman who shared the photo to crowdsourced news portal STOMP, where the picture was published on June 3 (Monday), said that to her, “it looked inhumane.”

The netizen, Anna, said that the incident occurred on June 1 shortly before 2 o’clock in the afternoon at a Sembawang HDB estate near Block 106A Canberra Road.

The photo shows a man sitting cross-legged on what appears to be a large piece of cardboard while eating lunch behind a van that was parked beside a grassy area. Opposite the man was a vacant area under the HDB block.

Screengrab/Stomp

Ms Anna told STOMP that she went up to the man to ask him to come to the block to eat lunch in the vacant space, but the man answered her by saying he had been instructed to eat there because of the traffic camera.

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She added that the man was “scared of this camera… It looked very inhumane to me. It was raining as well.”

Ms Anna also said it was “very sad” to see this type of incident in Singapore and wondered why he did not park the van at a multi-story car park before eating lunch.

Some commenters on the STOMP piece wrote that it’s not uncommon to see workers eating in various places, with one saying he’s seen them do so “behind the bus stop, toilets, corner of buildings, grass, rooftops, inside bushes & even next to smelly canals.”

Others guessed that the worker had been instructed to eat there to avoid a summons from the HDB.

Activist Pavithra Kabir, one of the lead volunteers at It’s Raining Raincoats, an initiative to spread kindness to migrant workers, told The Independent Singapore:  We need to get past this casual exclusion and discrimination toward migrant workers.”

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She added: “There is no reason to prohibit the worker from eating under the shelter of the estate nor is it fair to create fear in this person that he’s being observed and could get into trouble for something as small as this.

“This person has nowhere else to eat his packed meal, he can’t afford to go into a restaurant, nor would he likely be welcome there.”

Asserting that the worker’s situation evokes critical questions for Singaporeans, Ms Pavithra said: “We also need to ask ourselves – why is it we are ok to have workers in our midsts working but are not okay seeing them resting or eating?”

She pointed out: “These are hardworking men who build our infrastructure and keep our city clean and we need to respond to workers leading their lives, taking a break, eating their food, etc. with compassion and kindness, not restrictions and discrimination.”

/TISG

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