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Low wage workers also deserve to watch the beautiful game

By Ghui

It is disappointing to note that the police have stopped a resident of Sing Road from putting his television, screening the World Cup matches, outside his terrace house.

Perhaps it is a fear of a repeat of the by now infamous Little India riots that resulted in this move. While that fear is understandable, this action of preventing a kindly resident from sharing the joys of football is a knee jerk reaction that bears no logic.

The events that contributed to the Little India riots are many. I do not wish to over simplify the situation by pinpointing any one specific reason as the key contributing factor. However, I do believe that frustration without an outlet is a contributing factor.

Many of Singapore’s labourers earn very low wages and work very long hours. They do not have the privilege of returning to the privacy of their own homes at the end of a long hard day. Instead, they return to shared dormitories. With their low incomes, they do not have the ability to go to a nice restaurant for dinner or a swanky bar for an after work drink to unwind.

Indeed, most of our low wage labourers do not have the means to have the same outlets for stress that we take for granted. It is therefore no surprise that some, if not many, of our low wage workers feel a sense of injustice and frustration. Over time, this is just a ticking time bomb waiting for the right trigger to set it off.

The killing of one of their own by a hapless bus driver and the catalogue of errors that occurred thereafter was but the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Permitting a resident to provide the simple entertainment of a football match is a good way for the workers to relax for two hours. Surely that is something that should not be negative? If the workers were given the ability to have an outlet, surely it would alleviate their stress, and reduce the chances of a rage-fuelled event such as the Little India riots from happening again? Not only is this an act of compassion, it is also a sensible and free way of reducing the chances of any future unrest.

Perhaps the police are worried about licensing issues. Mr Rooban Kanth likely does not possess a license to screen such matches in public. That said, I don’t think Mr Kanth was thinking of such legal issues when he put the TV out. It was merely an act of generosity and thoughtfulness to a group of people who might otherwise not get the chance to watch a momentous sporting event.

Given that Mr Kanth is not profiteering from this act of kindness, I doubt the television networks would have raised this as an issue. Not only would it not be worth their time, it would also be good PR for them to permit this. Besides, even if they were to raise this as an issue, I am sure that members of the public would object to them so doing. I understand that Singaporeans are already paying the most in the world for the honour of watching the beautiful game.

With the levies charged and the money made, it is surely no harm to share a little with the low paid immigrants in our midst?