Recent reports on 20 migrant workers who were locked inside their room for 24 hours by the Joylicious Dormitory manager on Monday (20 April) after their roommate — a Chinese national — tested positive for COVID-19 has triggered the anger of netizens.
“We have no choice but to play it safe. I have 800 workers to take care of here, and they have 800 plus families to answer to. [We can’t allow] one black sheep to cause this whole thing [to spin out of control],” the 35-year-old manager, who wanted to be known only as Mr Thng, told TODAY.
The story was first revealed by the migrant labour’s rights group, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), on its Facebook page, in which it revealed that they received “a distress call” from the men who had been locked up in the dorm.
TWC2 also posted several updates on the situation throughout the day, until the door was finally unlocked.
“At last, a positive note from the guys in Joylicious dorm. The police came and the door was opened. Now, the door is left open and they get fresh air. Hope it stays that way,” wrote TWC2.
In response to TWC2’s posts, the employer, V Spec Engineering & Supplies, corrected some information on the news, such as how the FWs were locked for only 24 hours instead of since 17 April, and the number of FWs is 20 and not 21.
Ms Wong, the design director of V Spec, also explained the reasons such measures were taken, including how two Bangladeshi workers were causing trouble at the dormitory by requesting to use the toilet every half hour.
On the Facebook page of TODAY, many netizens disagreed on how the employer treated the FWs and some of them even advised the workers to sue the employer.
They said that these workers are not criminals to be locked inside their room.
Some were also worried about what could have happened if no one shared the news, especially in the event of a fire.
They also responded toward the FW’s dorm condition, such as sleeping on the floor. They added that it seems like the employer has neglected the standard way of living.
The statement of Mr Thng using the word “one black sheep” also added another level of disappointment from the netizens.
The word is used to refer to the infected worker and netizens found it to be “inappropriate and insulting”, even though the manager’s action was to prevent coronavirus spread in the dorm.
One user said that the manager should have addressed them as “victims” instead.
However, there are some online users who supported the action taken by the dormitory management.
They explained that “prevention is better than sorry”, given that these workers were in close contact with the COVID-19 positive patient.
One user even praised the management as they are “trying their best to prevent the close contacts from spreading the virus to the rest of 800 residents in the dorm until the authorities take over”.