The outbreak of COVID-19 in foreign worker dormitories had prompted the Singaporean government to gazette two dormitories as isolation areas on 5 April. The dorms – S11 Dormitory @ Punggol and Westlite Toh Guan dormitory – were placed in a complete lockdown as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19. Toh Guan dormitory was also gazetted as the third isolation area on 6 April.
With the implementation of “Circuit Breaker” that started on 7 April, all foreign workers will not be allowed to come out of their dormitories, so that it can cease the spread of the coronavirus to the public. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had also released a statement on 6 April, highlighting the efforts the Ministry had made to ensure that the foreign workers are well taken care of.
However, it had been revealed that the workers were provided poor and insufficient portions of food that looks absolutely unappetising. The photo on the left was a slice of plain bread with something that looked like a spring roll for the workers at Toh Guan dormitory. The photo on the right shows a small container of fried rice given to the workers at Westlite Toh Guan dormitory for breakfast.
The workers had also told TOC that the food was tasteless and the vegetable was old and hard to bite through. Some other workers also revealed that the vegetables that were given on 7 April tasted spoilt.
The good news is that changes and improvements were seen in food preparation for the foreign workers, and a social worker shared it to her Facebook earlier today (9 April) showing an obvious upgrade in terms of food quality.
In Kokila Annamalai’s post, she emphasised that advocacy matters if we want to see changes in something and she wanted to make sure that the foreign workers are well taken care of during and beyond this pandemic. She was told that the people responsible for food preparation were also foreign workers in most cases, therefore, Ms Annamalai hoped that the workers who work for food catering would also be treated fairly.
Ms Annamalai applauded the people who were adamant about speaking up and pressing on this particular issue and she was convinced that this is how we can all make a difference.
People were glad to see how the food had improved and some of them left comments for Ms Annamalai.
Walid J. Abdullah thanked Ms Annamalai’s advocacy and tenacity in caring for the wellbeing of foreign workers in Singapore. Mr Walid mentioned that Ms Annamalai’s advocacy on this issue had been consistent as well.
Teng Qian Xi hoped that the food quality will stay consistent even after the “Circuit Breaker”, implying that things may go back to how they used to be if nobody keeps their eyes on this issue.
In regards to Ms Annamalai’s spirit, Mansura Sajahan also believed in the power of speaking up.
Lai Ah-Eng stated that this entire issue had inspired her to adjust her efforts in helping the cleaners in her local community since most of them are Bangladeshi foreign workers. She said that she buys them fruits and biscuits occasionally, but from now on, she will give these food items to the workers every single day. She had also confirmed that the workers now have face masks to protect themselves.
Looking at this issue, it shows that the foreign workers’ quality of life tend to be overlooked when nobody is willing to take a stand and voice up when things are not right. When people get together and demand situations to be improved, it simply proves that every person’s voice matters and a difference can be made.