In a statement on Thursday (3 Dec), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) refuted claims by Malaysian newspaper The New Straits Times (NST) on Malaysian work pass holders being homeless in Singapore.
“We did not find any work pass holders sleeping in the streets,” said MOM, following checks conducted by its officers at various locations islandwide.
The NST article, titled ‘Homeless Malaysians in Singapore‘, was published on 22 November. It highlighted the harsh reality allegedly faced by over hundred Malaysians working in Singapore, who had to “live like vagrants” following the closure of the Malaysia-Singapore border due to the pandemic.
In the article, Shahruddin Haeal Helmy Mohd Noh, a 34-year-old Malaysian worker, had claimed that over 100 Malaysian work pass holders in Singapore were homeless because they could not afford to rent a room or a bed.
According to MOM, it had contacted Mr Shahruddin on 23 and 27 November to obtain information regarding his claim so as to provide necessary assistance to the affected workers.
However, the Ministry noted that he was unable to provide information such as specific names and contact details of the homeless Malaysian workers he claimed to have encountered.
What’s more, Mr Shahruddin told MOM that he never spoke directly to any of these workers, and cannot confirm if they were indeed homeless.
“He did not know of any Malaysian worker who does not have a place to stay and also stated that he did not tell the reporter from NST that ‘over 100 Malaysians there had become homeless’,” added the Ministry.
MOM went on to say that an inter-agency taskforce – comprising its officers and those from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) – had visited various locations islandwide late into the night on 26 November, including the places listed by Mr Shahruddin.
The Ministry asserted that it “did not find any work pass holders sleeping in the streets” at those locations.
It continued, “Persons found sleeping in the open, including work pass holders, are rendered assistance.
“Their employer will be asked to provide lodging immediately or the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) will house them in the interim if the employer is not able to do so.
“MOM has also established links with various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to refer any work pass holders found sleeping rough. In the past few months, MOM has not received any referrals from the NGOs.”
TOC has reached out to NST for a comment.