Just as the the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Economic Development Board (EDB) and Health Promotion Board (HPB) have issued a joint media statement announcing the “multi-layered approach” to ensure that it is safe for construction works to resume in Singapore, Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied Group Representative Constituency (GRC), Gerald Giam has revealed that about 40 migrant workers will be forced to remain on their construction site until the project completes in the third quarter of 2021.
Given that construction projects often overrun, the chances are high that the 40 migrant workers could remain stuck on site (unable to leave) for much longer! Is this not akin to modern day slavery? Is this not tantamount to imprisonment despite the fact that the migrant workers have committed no crimes?
This same press release issued by the MOM, BCA, EDB and HPB also declared that dormitory testing has been complete. Announcing that testing is complete implies that the situation is under control and the dormitories are safe. So, if the situation is under control and the dormitories is safe, why do the workers have to remain essentially imprisoned on their work sites? Why can’t they return to the dormitories?
Requiring migrant workers to be “chained” to their worksite implies that the authorities deem that the migrant workers might still carry the coronavirus. Is this the Government’s way of tacitly admitting that the conditions in the dormitories are ideal for virus transmission despite their earlier (and repeated) claims that virus transmission cannot be put down to the close living quarters of the migrant worker dormitories?
So, which is it? Are the dormitories safe or are they not? If they are not, is it because the close proximity living conditions imposed on the migrant workers in the dormitories do indeed exacerbate the spread of the virus?
After all, if it is safe to live in each other’s pockets, why can’t the migrant workers return to the dormitories? And, if the dormitories are unsafe, why has it been announced that the testing is complete? There seem to be too many contradictions for comfort in this situation.
Besides, Singaporeans who have been cleared of COVID-19 are permitted to circulate among the public. Why is it different for the migrant workers? Is the Government saying that our migrant workers have less right to freedom and liberty as compared to Singaporeans and other well heeled foreigners? If so, this is exploitation and inequality plainly exemplified. Should we accept this?