On Sunday (31 May), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student Nabil Khairul Anwar took to his Facebook to say that he has written an email to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), seeking clarification on the Ministry’s policy of revoking the work passes of those found to have breached the circuit breaker measures.
Mr Nabil, a Public Policy and Global Affairs undergraduate, questioned the MOM whether the policy will be applied to other work pass holders, notably those with Employment Pass, EntrePass, Personalised Employment Pass (PEP), and S Pass.
Besides having their work passes revoked, the 24 work pass holders were also permanently barred from working in Singapore.
According to the MOM, the work pass holders were caught drinking, eating, and gathering in groups amid the circuit breaker period.
This took place in a factory-turned-dormitory located in the area of Tunas View Square. It is one of such industrial sites partially converted into a dormitory for migrant workers in Singapore.
The Ministry explained that the decision to have their work passes revoked as well as having them barred from working in Singapore was to “send a clear signal of the seriousness of the offence”.
The MOM also stressed in its statement that it will take action against employers and work pass holders for any irresponsible practices and behaviour, which includes revocation of work pass privileges.
Seven to be charged in court on 2 June for breaching safe distancing measures at Robertson Quay
On the other hand, for breaching safe distancing measures at Robertson Quay on 16 May, six men and one woman will be charged in court on 2 June under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
This followed a recent stir over the crowds of people gathering around Robertson Quay without observing safe distancing measures or wearing a face mask, which had shown in the series of photos circulated in social media.
The Facebook user who posted the photos also noted that no enforcer was seen patrolling the area when the photos were being taken at around 6.25pm.
In response to the incident, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) Masagos Zulkifli took to his Facebook on 18 May to affirm that the URA officers have been patrolling the area. He added that a number of the individuals who gathered in the area have been traced by the police.
“These persons are non-Singaporeans, and are currently under police investigation,” he wrote.
Although Mr Masagos had stated that the police have tracked down the individuals who gathered at Robertson Quay and that they are non-Singaporeans, no clarification was given on whether these individuals have faced any punishments.
Netizens question why foreigner get “double standard” treatment in enforcement
This has led many netizens to question why foreigners get “double standard” treatment by the authorities as compared to migrant workers or Singaporeans who failed to comply with the safe distancing measures.
Earlier on 12 April, the MEWR announced that those who breached the safe distancing measures will face a composition fine of S$300, and will face higher fines or prosecution in court for egregious cases for the repeat offence.
Not long after that, it was reported that nine offenders will be issued with a fine amounting to S$1,000 each for failing to comply with safe distancing measures for a second time.
Commenting on repeat offenders, Mr Masagos said in his Facebook post on 20 April, “If these are acts of defiance and irresponsibility, they clearly undermine the efforts that everyone else has been making. What will it take to get them to understand that they are putting everyone’s safety at stake?”
In light of COVID-19 situation, Singapore has implemented the circuit breaker measures to tackle the transmission of virus in the country since 7 April.
The country had decided to exit the circuit breaker on Monday (1 June) and resume specific activities safely over three phases, given that the daily number of new community cases has declined and the dormitory situation has stabilised.
As of Saturday noon (30 May), the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed an additional 506 cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the total tally of infection cases to 34,366 in the country.
Among the new cases, the vast majority are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories while five are community cases, include two Singaporeans/Permanent Residents, one Work Pass holder, and two Work Permit holders, according to the MOH.