by Teo Soh Lung
It is reported that with a falling number of “community” cases, Singapore will be easing some of its circuit breaker measures. Chinese medicine shops and several small businesses will soon be able to resume operations, some from tomorrow onwards.
Singapore must be the only country where COVID-19 cases are divided into “community” i.e. Singaporeans and permanent residents and “non-community” i.e. migrant workers.
While the number in the former has dropped to a daily double-digit average of 11 (as of Sun 3 May) the number in the latter fluctuates in the hundreds with the highest on Friday (1 May) at 921. This does not take into consideration the large numbers that have been isolated in venues such as Expo halls but not tested, even though they are likely to be infected by the disease.
I recall that more than 20 large workers’ dormitories have been gazetted as “isolation areas” and many if not all migrant workers have been issued with “stay home notices” or SHNs.
It is not disclosed in any of the reports or the speeches of ministers, if these migrant workers, excluding those who are engaged in essential services who thus far have hopefully been tested negative, will also be able to enjoy the loosening of these lockdown rules. It would, however, appear that our government has no intention of lifting the SHNs or de-gazetting the isolation areas in the near future.
In other words, while Singaporeans and permanent residents may enjoy the lifting of some of the circuit breaker measures, nearly 400,000 migrant construction workers and hundreds of thousands of other pass holders who may be residing in dormitories and who may have been issued with SHNs will not be able to enjoy these “privileges”.
I hope I am wrong in my speculation. If I am right, then the government has again made a bad mistake. Are our needs to enjoy some normality greater than these migrant workers? Why are they treated differently from us? Are we masters and they the slaves?
I am very tired and ashamed of how our government discriminate one section of the population from another. “Community” no matter how you define it, must necessarily include migrant workers because they are in our midst, even though we don’t see them today. Their well-being must surely be our well-being too. How can they be left behind while we carry on business as usual? They are infected in such large numbers because our government has failed them. It has failed to take care of their health from years ago, and such neglect has now shown to the world our cruelty and meanness to migrant workers.
This government has brought endless shame to our country with its handling of this health crisis. I am not casting any criticism on our doctors, health workers and all those involved in saving lives. They have done a marvellous job and have sacrificed their lives for all.
It is the multi-ministerial task force and their cronies, especially the Ministry of Manpower that I am complaining about. They must take full responsibility for mishandling this crisis. It has resulted in immense sufferings for us and our migrant workers. They have given Singapore a bad name.