When the COVID-19 crisis is over, Singapore cannot return to this exploitative model that excluded migrant workers from its local eco-system, said Daniel Teo Weilong, who is a member of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), as he stressed for equality for a better democracy.
On Tuesday (21 April), Mr Teo posted a video on his Facebook account to voice his opinion on the drastic spike of the COVID-19 cases in Singapore which he highlighted that nearly 80% of the cases are linked to the infected cases in the migrant workers’ dormitories.
“We were the gold standard for the containment and testing of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were lauded by media all around the world on how well we have done. Today, we have over 8,000 cases and growing,” Mr Teo noted.
“In a short span of a few months, we have jumped from less than 200 cases to over 8,000, forty-fold,” he added. “Of the 8,000 over cases, almost 80% are foreign workers housed in dormitories.”
Noting that Singapore is a first-world nation that equipped with the resources and equipment, as well as finances, Mr Teo indicated the country is “arrogant”.
“We are prepared to fight a pandemic, we have the resources and equipment and even the money. But we were just too ahead of ourselves. Arrogant if I may say. As much as we look shinny on the outside, we have swept many things under the carpet, intentional or non-intentional, it is happening,” Mr Teo remarked.
In the video, Mr Teo showed a photo of a migrant workers’ dormitory where many migrant workers were seen lining up in a long queue.
“Take a look at this photo of how tightly packed each dorm is, 13,000 people packed into a small space. Disaster waiting to happen,” Mr Teo noted.
Mr Teo expressed a sense of disbelief that the Singapore Government did not know the living conditions of the migrant workers in the dormitories as many Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and media reports have repeatedly highlighted on the matter.
“I have read news articles that ministers are saying that they will look into the matter once the crisis is over, but I ask why wasn’t this looked into before? Come down from your throne and look at what is happening. The warning signs were there all the while,” said Mr Teo.
He noted that the COVID-19 outbreak has revealed the “two sides of Singapore”, one is for the expatriates “who get isolated in nice hotels” and another one is for the low-wage workers “who provide back breaking labour upon which Singapore benefits from”.
On that note, he urged Singaporeans to stop giving unfair treatment to migrant workers and never return to the “exploitative model” after the COVID-19 outbreak has ended.
“When the crisis is over, we cannot return to this exploitative model that pretends that migrant workers aren’t part of the local eco-system, we also need to further look at the difference on how we treat highly paid expats compared with our local talents. Equality for a better democracy, let us progress with compassion,” Mr Teo noted.