When we needed them, we brought them in by the hundreds of thousands. There was little in the way of protection. They were put in the hands of sometimes unscrupulous agents who charged them a hefty amount which they had to borrow and then handed over to employers who were even more unscrupulous and did not pay them for their work. Many Singaporeans are concerned about the large number of foreigners brought here causing among other things structural unemployment, depressing wages etc. However, most Singaporeans have nothing against the workers as individuals. I really wished they were better treated. You might think these are just foreign workers - why bother?
If you allow them to be exploited, you will soon find your own low skilled workers either jobless or also exploited because the employers get used to unprotected workers whom they can treat anyway they want.
Now that the boom time is over and we no longer need them, we send them back....hey they are just one of the factors of production. But human beings are not machines, you can't just turn them off or turn them away when you no longer need them. They too have hopes, dreams and expectations of a better life. They too will be shattered when send them home with debts unpaid.
It may seem that we have no choice but to release them to safeguard some of the Singaporean jobs - but I hope we do this with a heavy heart and at least know the pain we caused to these migrant workers. In the long run, we have to ask ourselves if Singapore's way of achieving GDP growth at the expense of our own lesser skilled and older workers by bringing in hundreds of thousands of migrant workers whom we don't properly protect is beneficial to our society as a whole.
SINGAPORE, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Some 50 unemployed Bangladeshi migrant workers gathered in front of Singapore's Ministry of Manpower on Monday, urging the government to give them work and help retrieve overdue pay from previous employers. The shipyard workers said they were promised new jobs by ministry officials when they were moved out of their employers' dormitories after their firms went bankrupt and could not pay them. "No job, no money, only eating and sleeping," said Tutul Abdul Manan, a 31-year-old who said he gave up his temporary job with the government in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka and paid some S$9,000 ($5,964) for a brokerage fee to work in Singapore. Singapore's construction, shipyard and manufacturing industries were once red hot, hiring almost 800,000 migrants in 2007. But as the economy slid into recession last year, demand for labour dived and major projects were cancelled or delayed. Human rights groups say many of the world's estimated 100 million migrant workers are in dire predicaments as economic woes in the Gulf, Singapore and Taiwan lead to mass layoffs of labourers from across Asia. Protests in tightly-controlled Singapore were only made legal last year in a designated zone, "Speakers' Corner", modelled after the one in London's Hyde Park. Elsewhere public gatherings of five or more people are illegal without a police permit. The Bangladeshi migrants were allowed to meet officials after an hour of waiting. "We are trying to help them negotiate with their employer discreetly. But they have become more and more savvy by inviting the media here," one government official said at the gathering. Singapore defends the need for tough protest laws, citing concerns over public safety and order. But several international human right groups such as Amnesty International have said Singapore uses these laws to stifle dissent. ($1=1.509 Singapore dollar) (Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan) Keywords: SINGAPORE MIGRANTS/ (firstname.lastname@example.org, +65 6403 5665) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved.