SINGAPORE: A Singaporean spoke up on behalf of migrant workers, in the context of some having been seen consuming alcohol outdoors and even falling asleep on the street.

A large part of the issue has stemmed from the workers posing as a safety hazard for motorists and endangering their own lives. The workers have said, however, that they sometimes prefer to stay outside where it’s quieter, cooler, and less crowded.

A letter-writer to The Straits Times asked the public not to be so quick in pointing the finger at migrant workers for public drinking.

Mr Rahul Patwardhan noted in a letter published on June 14 that there had been strong reactions to the issue but felt that these have been one-sided, seeing it as only a problem of the workers behaving badly and needing a firm hand to tackle it.

Mr Rahul then pointed out other factors that make up the bigger picture. First, workers have as much right to drink after their working day, especially since their work takes a physical toll on their bodies.

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However, there are dormitory operators who do not let workers consume alcohol within the premises.

There are also fewer available and accessible options available to migrant workers to relax at the day’s end due to the amount of pay they receive and how far their dormitories are.

He added that the same beer at a bar for those living in more central areas would be more expensive for the migrant worker, who has to travel to that bar.

Additionally, Mr Rahul wrote that a migrant worker will likely need more distractions than others, given the long time he needs to spend away from his loved ones.

However, the issue of seeing workers consume alcohol outdoors has upset Singaporeans, whom the letter writer says assume the worst of the workers, thinking that this behaviour leads to rash and unruly actions.

Mr Rahul then asked if the workers were supposed to stop drinking altogether or if Singaporeans could show some compassion toward them.

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If the workers break the law, they should indeed be dealt with under the law. But the letter-writer asked everyone not to paint the whole community with the same brush.

He appears to see dormitory operators as more at fault since they fail to provide workers with a venue for socializing over a drink. But seeing workers as a separate species without the same rights is not a helpful way to tackle the issue, he added.


Featured image: Depositphotos

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