In a recent statement by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, “put it across in no uncertain terms that the Government does not make decisions under pressure, especially when these decisions are harmful to society.” (Quote from TNP)
On the contrary, I think that is precisely what the government of the day needs, pressure, to allow them to see what they choose not to see.
Especially in light of the u-turns made by the government, such as the one that was made by Minister Masagos yesterday on the home-based businesses.
Back in 2009, TOC reported the extremely poor living condition of foreign workers in container blocks, toilets clogged with faeces, mosquito breeding grounds, cramped spaces, you can read more about it here.
You can hardly believe that there are people living in such places back then. Did the government do anything about it prior to the reports? Since the reports by TOC came to light, new dorms were built and rules to improve the living conditions, showing that pressure does make a difference.
Another recent example was the improvement of food (at least temporary) provided at the dormitories as reported on the 8 April 2020.
On Wednesday (8 April), the Ministry of Manpower said it has been working with multiple caterers to ensure timeliness and quality of meals distributed to the almost 25,000 workers housed in the three isolation areas; S11 Dormitory @ Punggol, Westlite in Toh Guan and the Toh Guan Dormitory.
Again, the poor quality of food not something new that only appear during this Circuit Breaker period.
It is something that local activists like Jolovan Wham and non-government organisations like Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) and Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics ( HOME) have been fighting for over the years.
Without the media reports and pressure placed on the government by the activists, will the government have acted on the issues? Your guess is as good as mine, no. If they wanted to, they would have done so long ago.
In the very same statement, Mr Masagos also shared that it is in times of crisis that one will “know who our leaders are”. Truly, I agree with him. They are the people in the frontline working hard saving lives, not the ones sitting on the ivory towers. And that’s the reason we must continue to voice our opinion and press our government, because they cannot see from where they are sitting today.