Singapore—The news that new dormitories will be built with better standards for migrant workers was greeted with some dismay by several Singaporeans.
The annoucement was made by the National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (June 1).
The point that some of the dormitories would be built near residential areas elicited unhappy, even prejudiced reactions from some netizens.
Perhaps anticipating this, Mr Wong encouraged the public to resist a “not in my backyard” perspective with respect to the planned building of the new dormitories.
He said, “In land-scarce Singapore, it’s inevitable that some of these new dormitory sites will be quite near residential areas, so all of us have to do our part to reject the ‘not in my backyard’ mindset.
We have to appreciate the work the migrant workers are doing and welcome them as part of our community. This is an important part of how we can learn from this whole experience and become a more inclusive society.”
This did not go over well with some Singaporeans, which was pointed out by UK-based Singaporean playwright Joel Tan, who highlighted some of the more prejudiced comments regarding the issue on a Facebook post, which has gone on to be shared over 1,000 times.
Mr Tan wrote, “In this week’s edition of Singaporeans Being Disgusting On Comments Threads About Migrant Workers. Truly appalling. There is no end to the dehumanising entitlement, contempt, and plain public racism of these people. Auntie HO Ching see? This is what your “Cultural Norms” post holds up.”
In this week's edition of Singaporeans Being Disgusting On Comments Threads About Migrant Workers. Truly appalling….
The playwright tagged Ho Ching, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, in his post. Madam Ho had written a Facebook post on Sunday (May 31) regarding the massive outbreak of the Covid-19 virus among foreign worker dormitories in the country.
“Yes, we can design for better ventilation, and so on. But let’s also understand the cultural norms, and work with rather than against human habits,” she wrote.
Mr Tan posted screenshots of netizens’ comments on TODAY Online’s report of Mr Wong’s announcement.
Several comments emphasized the need for foreign workers to practice good hygiene and cleanliness.
Others suggested that the dorms need not be built near residential areas but on reclaimed lands.
Others expressed concern over workers’ cultures not fitting in with Singapore’s culture.
Yet others seemed to jump to the conclusion that their domestic helpers would get pregnant if migrant workers were living nearby.
At least one netizen was puzzled at others’ reactions.
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