~by Kirsten Han ~

Sometimes my fellow Singaporeans fill me with despair and anger. Sometimes I feel like my faith in this country is misplaced, and that I should probably not bother so much. When there are people like these, how can we ever hope to become better?

Yesterday, underground scaffolding at the construction site for the Downtown Line at the junction of Victoria Road and Rochor Road collapsed. Two migrant workers – both from China – were killed, pinned under planks and scaffolding and wet cement. It took seven hours for civil defence to get the bodies out, all the while pumping water to keep the cement from setting.

In response, bloggers Mr Miyagi and Adrianna Tan collaborated with migrant worker NGO Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) to kick off a donation drive for the bereaved families of these two workers. Yahoo! SG carried a story of the donation drive, with information on how to donate.

The comments on the article are absolutely appalling.

Why should we donate? Why should we care? An exemplary case of selfishness. Two people have died building an MRT line that will give us more convenience and accessibility in the future, and we ask, “Why should we care?” Shame on you.

It’s true that these workers are supposed to have “workmen compensation” and insurance before entering Singapore to work. But there are many documented cases (such as this one) that highlight that sometimes insurance or compensation is either inadequate, or not forthcoming. It’s one of the harsh realities of being a migrant worker in Singapore, something that migrant worker NGOs such as TWC2 and HOME are working hard to address.

But insurance or compensation aside, this donation drive is a chance for Singaporeans to demonstrate our sympathy and thanks to these workers who have given their lives to build our infrastructure. These migrant workers are very literally our nation builders. Last I checked, there is no “minimum sum” donation, not even a demand that Singaporeans give a cut of their monthly wage. If you feel touched by this tragedy, give what you can/want to give. If not, no one will censure you for not giving. It’s really that simple.

TOC thanks Kirsten for allowing us to republish an excerpt of her blog post. The full article can be found at her blog funny little world. 


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