Some migrant workers are now housed in multi-storey car parks

Two days ago on Friday I wrote about the terrible living conditions of migrant workers in a dormitory in Singapore, and the outbreak of the coronovirus in their cramped living areas leading to dormitories being gazetted as isolation areas, which means workers are now quarantined in these dormitories for fourteen days.

I included some of the action taken by the government in handling this, because I felt so relieved to read in the news that something is being done. Not just about the spread of the virus but about the welfare of the migrant workers.

I had read that one of the actions being taken is to thin out the population in the dormitories (which can be in the thousands or tens of thousands) by taking out the healthy workers and placing them in alternative residence like military camps and vacant public housing blocks.

So I was really so disappointed and saddened to read in a Yahoo News Singapore article yesterday that some of these workers have been put in multi-storey carparks, instead of actual vacant HDB (public housing) flats, as shown in the video above and in the Facebook page of the HDB:

 

Questions I was thinking of when I read the Yahoo News article as well as HDB’s Facebook post:

  • Safe distancing measures, such as no visitation to other levels…“. But the person taking the video (featured at the top of this post) was walking freely between levels. And some of the men were gathering close together. So where was the safe distancing measures?
  • What happened to those vacant housing blocks the authorities spoke of previously?
  • Why this ‘temporary housing’ at car parks? The time it takes to set up the beds and other furniture at these car parks, is the same time it would take inside flats, so why not put them directly in those vacant flats. Do we have them or not?
  • Living in the ‘open air’ like this subject them to mosquitoes. Not only is it cruel to subject them to itchy, uncomfortable mosquito bites, but why risk a dengue fever outbreak on top of the existing logistic headache of the coronovirus?
  • Do those other alternative residence other workers are being moved to, such as military camps, also feature ‘open-air’ living like this? And therefore, also subject the workers to mosquitoes especially at night when the workers are trying to sleep?

Even refugees from war-torn countries are given tents to stay in which would protect them from mosquitoes. And these men are not refugees. That they are being put to live in car parks is just so terrible to me.

They live and work in Singapore, not some poor country. Not only do we fancy ourselves a First World country, not only are we considered a rich country, but our government collects a levy of between $300 and $950 for every single worker, every month. So I just don’t understand why we can’t even give them basic, decent, humane living quarters. Oh, the shame!

I hope these workers now living at the car parks will be quickly moved to a more humane living space. Whether temporary or permanent, one with walls, windows, doors. I can’t believe one has to write that, but yes, please give these human beings a place to stay with walls, windows and doors.

 

5 thoughts on “Some migrant workers are now housed in multi-storey car parks

    • Yes, I find it so as well. Sometimes I wonder if they are unfairly subjected to these conditions not only because of their economic background but because they are men, who come from tough circumstances in their countries, and work in industries like construction so there is an expectation for them to be hardy and put up stoically with conditions like this. That would be a cruel excuse. Everyone has a breaking one and there is never any reason to be brought to the edge. As someone who is likely boxed by general society here as a low wage blue collar worker myself I can already feel the sneers and condescension sometimes. And I am a local. So I am just mortified by the lack of empathy for these migrant workers and how we treat them in general. All for what, in the end? To spend less money employing them. But the people still end up paying ridiculous amounts for practically shoebox flats and condos, anyway!

      Thanks, Cindy. Cheers to you, my friend.

  1. Having have left their country to make some money for the family must have been extremely hard for them already. I hope that the situation will get better soon for them.

    • Yes it’s terrible having to leave one’s family and country for the chance to earn a living. Whatever difficulties I may have, I try to remember I’m still very lucky to be born where I am.

      If only the politicians and wealthy elite of every country look after their people better instead of so many being greedy and corrupted, these workers wouldn’t have to look for jobs elsewhere. And it isn’t much better in the so-called ‘developed’ world where the workers arrive, where already-rich employers, housing operators and others insist on making so much profit for themselves, and the government allow it to happen, leaving tiny salaries and terrible living conditions for the workers. Ahh, it’s the same the world over, I imagine! It’s just heartbreaking how some of us human beings can be to each other :-(

      • That’s true. It is a shame. I think, one of the things we can do, as consumers for exame, is not buying from companies that are known for treating their workers badly. That way, these companies are forced – economically wise – to improve the working conditions. Just because they want to keep making profit.

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