The Minister for National Development, Lawrence Wong, had announced yesterday (27 April) that the Government is looking into new housing arrangements for migrant workers who had recovered from COVID-19.
Mr Wong stated that this new arrangement is part of long-term plans for housing the migrant workers who typically live in sardine-packed dormitories provided by their private operators. He added that the plan will begin now and eventually be ready in a year or two.
This announcement was made at a press briefing by the multi-ministry task force that is currently leading Singapore’s response for the COVID-19 pandemic.
It had also been revealed that the Government also has an “extensive plan” to house workers in short- and medium-term facilities. This particular plan will involve building new sites, as reported on Today.
“It is a whole pipeline of arrangements for the short, medium to long term,” said Mr Wong.
Mr Wong had also described the plan as “holistic” and they will present it to the public as soon as they are ready.
“(We are) thinking holistically what is the ideal arrangement for the housing of our migrant workers, so that is something we will present quite soon to the public, as we pull together all of these plans.”
Last week, the Ministry of National Development revealed that the Government was continuing to seek out more space to cater to future medical needs. This would include facilities for suspect cases or infected workers, as well as for workers who are recovering or who have fully recovered.
However, as we listen to the new plans that will be laid out by the Government, it seems like no one is going to address the enforcement of the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act (FEDA).
This Act was passed into law way back in 2015 when Tan Chuan-Jin was the Manpower Minister. In regards to this Act, Mr Tan talked about licensing conditions that the Commissioner appointed under the FEDA could impose on licensed dormitories.
Mr Tan also said, “operators must develop quarantine plans, in the event of an infectious disease outbreak, and provide sufficient sick bay facilities, based on guidelines set by the Ministry of Health”.
Considering how the Government wanted to look into new housing arrangements for the migrant workers, if an outbreak is to ever happen again in the future, will history repeat itself because of the unaddressed quarantine plans under FEDA?