Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and her team seem to be embarking on a public relations exercise in amid the increasing public outcry against how the COVID-19 spread has disproportionately affected our blue collar foreign workers.
As new cases continue to emerge, Teo has released a video to our migrant blue collar workers saying:
“Today is the start of the new year for you, but it is difficult to celebrate without family and friends….The COVID-19 outbreak has affected all of us, but I know it is especially hard for you. I want to thank you for all your hard work in Singapore and for your cooperation during this period……On behalf of all Singaporeans, I wish you good health in the new year. Stay safe for your families, stay safe for your friends“
Is it not a bit rich to ask them to stay safe when her ministry is perhaps the reason why they may not be safe to begin with?
According to reports, it would appear that the migrant workers have been failed by their host country at every turn from their squalid cramped living quarters, to their health services being curtailed to the initial lack of face masks for them.
It would be easier to give her the benefit of the doubt if the cases within the migrant blue collar community isn’t still sharply increasing.
Instead of posting a video, why not sacrifice another month of her salary and donate this to the workers who must now be desperately concerned about finances. That would be much more useful than a video.
What is the point of saying thank you now when it is too late to thank those that have already contracted COVID-19? If we were really thankful we would have looked after them in the first place. Our failure to do so at the very beginning makes these words sound hollow and meaningless.
It would have been better received if she has just apologised for our failures as a country to treat them fairly with a promise to do better. That would be far more sincere than empty words of thanks.
This is likely to be our general election year. The initial international praise that was heaped on us has now turned into an international spotlight on how we, a first world country treat our foreign labour.
How will this affect Teo’s performance in her Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representative Constituency (GRC)?
Given that it is a GRC, will her handling of how the foreign workers are treated over COVID-19 affect the performance of her running mates?
The spiraling number of cases in the migrant worker community is directly attributable to her ministry. When all this is over, will there be a proper inquiry into her and her team?
With international attention on this, it might serve Singapore’s reputation best if there were one.