The Online Citizen

HOME’s Bridget Lew mentioned in Hillary Clinton’s speech

June 28
15:05 2011

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) founder and President Bridget Lew Tan was mentioned in a speech by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the release of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP).

In her speech, Clinton said:

Our TIP – our TIP heroes today show us that individual action can lead to some astounding results. For example, in Singapore, Bridget Lew Tan has dedicated her life to protecting migrant workers. And Singapore, albeit a small country, has more than 800,000 immigrants. And she has been volunteering with a local archdiocese. And while there, she met 30 Bangladeshi men assembled behind a coffee shop in the middle of the night, and she helped to set up shelters – one for men and one for women – to provide refuge to migrant workers who had been abused.

Bridget Lew Tan, HOME Founder and President

Lew founded HOME in 2005. Since then, HOME has provided direct assistance to more than 50,000 migrants and victims of human trafficking and forced labour. HOME has also been granted Institute of Public Character (IPC) status. In 2010, HOME was awarded the Asia Public Service Award 2010 by the Asia 21 Society. The award included US$10,000 prize money from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Lew was also nominated for honorable mention in the fourth annual Reader’s Digest Asian of the Year award for 2010.  In an interview with the magazine, Lew explained why she took up the migrant workers’ cause.

“In Singapore the group of people that are discriminated and marginalised, more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse than other groups are migrant workers, who are unskilled and semi-skilled,” she said.

HOME has been actively campaigning for Singapore to sign the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which has been signed or ratified by nearly 150 parties. In June 14th  this year, the government announced that it is ‘working towards’ signing the UN treaty.

Singapore’s position earlier was that a foreigner who entered the country willingly to work illegally – as a sex worker, for example – was a party to ‘human smuggling’, and therefore an immigration offender. But with the signing of the treaty, such foreigners could be treated as victims and allowed to remain in shelters here while their cases are investigated.

The move is also seen as a partly a result of the United States State Department, downgrading Singapore to a watchlist of countries which it said did not fully comply with minimum international standards to eliminate trafficking in its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report last June.

  • Richard

    Congrats Bridget! Way to go! Keep up the great work and may God bless you abundantly.

  • Agree

    No ministers in Singapore have been accorded with such high honour. Well done Bridget, you proved PAP has a lot to learn and for lacking behind international standards in treating human beings.

  • Hands Up

    Human are Human must be treated fairly on every platform.
    May God bless you for what you have done.

  • James Chan

    Yes, 3 heartliest cheers for Bridget She taught me Human Resource Management, many years ago at SIM. A very nice, simple and down-to-earth lady. Singapore is indeed proud to have her.Who on earth in Singapore would go down to Little india in the middle of the night to help another group of human beings under dire circumstances!! A real heroine in my book. God bless her.

  • Well Done, Bridget

    Well done, Bridget. You have done our country proud.

  • Bridget Tan

    Thank you for your Congratulations! May we all move as a nation that believes in ‘Building a Culture of Welcome – where No man, Woman or Child is a Stranger – weare family.’ I am but one,you are many – let’s all be heroes for a new Singapore.

  • 2 cents worth

    Very proud of you Briget!

  • eaglefly

    In Singapore the group of people that are discriminated and marginalised, more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse than other groups are migrant workers, who are unskilled and semi-skilled,” she said.





  • nuri

    well done sis,,
    im proud of you..still in my mind
    you though me about the law,rule n regulation in Singapore..God bless you :)

  • The ghost of YOG

    As Darkness of the Brotherhood once said, (god rest his soul).

    “……I think some stories need to be told…because….because…it lifts the soul and gives us the precious gift to believe…and that’s something….no…I am sorry, it’s everything and much more.”

    Ekunaba thread 2005

    Well done Bridget Tan.

  • SG

    We need more people like her. Perhaps doing such volunteering works is more fulfilling than to working so hard to chase $$ in Singapore.

  • Robert Teh

    Whereas our system seems to treat morality, human values and human suffering with the last priority. Look at our promotion of all the policies like the tax-and-privatise services that drive the poor to the corner.

    It is good we have Bridget Lew who champion the human spirit and compassion.

    Economics is not everything. It is time, we grow up and promote the human spirit movements.

    Draconian laws targeted at punishing the lowly ordinary people should be changed.

    The real culprit is human trafficking is the trafficker who should be punished and not the hungry and desparate who are driven to great human misery the only way is to seek redress.

    Go for the real culprits. In drug law, do not just go for the lowerly runners. Demonstrate the humane side of government – go after the drug lords and the syndicates.

  • Political Observer

    Singaporeans are proud of you!
    Your efforts if not for the commendation may nit have been known.
    Thanks on behalf of all of us and yes while there may have been numerous articles on FT, the majority of the articles are not targeted at the misplaced who like many in Singapore are finding it hard in the ever widening income gap. Neither are they meant for a desire for a listing ear from the Elites. Rather they are grievances which are growing in magnitude and severity. They may not be addressed as they may be viewed by the Elites as spolit complaints from singaporeans wanting more. Personally I do not think so unless you choose not to see what is in front of you or only hear from the those who are benefiting.
    Thanks once again for making us proud.

  • Ss

    We should teach pappies true value of money…

    Greed knows no bound pappies.. U Thot u can provide your off springs more and more money but it might harm them. U Thot that u made lots of money by denying our cpf monies and taxing us, actually u are mentally enslaved voluntarily, whereas rest of singaporeans are forced to be enslaved by monies due to survival

  • Richard

    @ Robert.

    Yes, my sentiments exactly. The PAP government places GDP and other material achievements above respect for human lives and freedom of individuals. This is why I vote opposition, which I shared in my facebook note before the GE:

  • chou Ah Lian

    Angmo standard is always higher, so be proud and be very proud. The emerging of the “little kitten generation” & the “strawberry generation”, a great combination. The “little kitten generation loves to HELP the poor, jobless, homeless cats & dogs, the dolphins, the sicko man who fall for another man, the weak, the aged.

  • Robert Teh


    So good to see we still have some right thinking people speaking up here.

  • Pingback: Daily SG: 29 Jun 2011 « The Singapore Daily

  • pokemon

    u bring out a good pt and make mockery of our human rights record.
    personally i know many forced or cheated migrant workers being treated like criminals and finally jail them. they are we jailing the victim??

  • felloe catholic

    hi bridget,

    congrats from a felloe catholic and a fellow legionary. You are from my praesidium many years ago. You make your parish IHM proud too!

    God Bless You!

    a fellow catholic!

  • George

    I know a lot of Singaporeans are concerned about the ill treatment of foreign workers and it is great to see someone like Ms Lew being recognised on the international stage for her work in helping others who are desperately in need of help.

  • AJ

    We have the wrong people in Govt, they create the problems with their mil $ salary & we have people like Ms Lew correcting the problems. It is quite an uphill struggle & it shouldn’t be like that. It is all wrong in Sg.

  • AL

    If anybody wants to be proud of Sg, it is this sort of achievement by a Singaporean that we should be proud of, not the YOG or even economy.

  • Rebel without a cause

    Indeed I am impressed of the Bridget’s work in helping abused and victimized migrant workers by setting up the shelters.

    However for once I agree with the current administration’s inaction towards ratifying the UN treaty. I am not convinced that a blanket treatment allowing the foreign plaintiff to remain in the shelter is a good response to the problems caused by unscrupulous businessmen and agents.

    The plaintiffs could be willing parties, as the article alluded to. It is a procedural loophole to the well-meaning UN treaty that needs some tweaking and one cannot ratify a treaty in spirit without agreeing on all procedures and recommendations.

    Furthermore I am under the impression that our boys in blue do not have the most enviable reputation these days in solving cases involving migrant workers. Such cases may well drag on indefinitely.

    As an ordinary citizen, I cannot ascertain how much taxpayer’s money would be needed for these shelters when the exception now becomes the rule. There are simply many other national issues more worthy of our attention, such as labour reform, public housing, healthcare and retirement planning.

    Readers should focus your attention elsewhere. Not every cause against the PAP government is worth fighting for.

  • Robert Teh

    @Rebel without a cause

    As confirmed by a latest survey, Singaporeans are highly self-centered.

    Self-centeredness affects the performance of leaders as well. Look at our leaders’ claims of success and their being the world’s bests. A country run in this self-centered manner has no future. Self-centeredness is always the root cause of problems. Thailand’s election demonstrated self-centeredness of Abishit has lost against the sharper scrutiny of the people who collectively know what is right and wrong more than the leaders’ own claims of being guardian angels.

    Look at all the self-centeredness of the government in promoting its ministerial lottery-like talent self-rewards and market-pricing DBSS and Foreign talent policies.

    Bridget’s has demonstrated a precious insight needed for government and sustainable government. It should not be straightaway equated to costs of providing some shelters alone.

    What the government fails to grasp is there are deeper and more important issues of primary importance to nation building needed to arrive at developing a our truly sustainable maturing democracy.

  • Rebel without a cause

    @ Robert Teh

    I could ramble on explaining why I think self-interest (or self-centredness, assuming we are referring to the same thing) is the cornerstone of sustainable economic growth, but that is for another day.

    It is not uncommon for people to place primary needs before aspirations. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an old concept, but it appears intuitively true. If the survey is indicative that a large proportion of Singaporeans are self-centred, could it imply then that many citizens/residents believe themselves to be surviving rather than thriving?

    Self-interest is not the root of all problems. The lack of social equity is.

    Charity begins at home. Before one considers extending aid to others at the periphery, perhaps it is best to make sure our own is well-taken care of.

  • Robert Teh

    Rebel without a cause

    What you said about the need to take care of one’s own interest first is a normal human behavior.

    At a personal level, it is acceptable.

    At the level of government it is not. If someone is a leader, he has to serve others’s interests first especially when he is paid or rather pay himself from public funds princely salaries.

    A line should be drawn. There should be no “if” and “but” about the need for leaders to be above-board and serve followers with distinction and not himself with hidden agendas or ulterior motive.


    In the 70′s & 80′s, women like Bridget Lew would have been marched off to jail as Marxists conspirators. Teo Soh Lung, Vincent Cheng and many like minded social activists were carted off routinely by LKY (via the dreaded ISD) bec he feared passion, humanitarianism, and community involvement.

    PAP favours nepotism, elitism, cronyism and “grassroots infiltration of the community to influence the way citizens think”. Poor Sinkingpore, we need protection of Mrs Clinton to ensure the arms of ISD does not over reach itself.

    Time to dissolve ISA. Time to fade off, Mr Lee. The earth is waiting, the oven is hot,