Monday, February 16, 2009

Foreign Workers : Now we need you now we don't!

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/ (, +65 6403 5665) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved.


Anonymous said...

Australian Prime Minister Mr Kevin Ruth on the Victoria state fire... What can I say,,,What can I say,,,What can I say,,,What can I say,,,this is mass murder!!

About the Temasek Story...What can We say,,,What can We say,,,What can We say,,,this is mass deception!!

Anonymous said...

the Singapore and Bangladeshi leaders need to work prevent this oversupply of foreign workers. I suspect the main cause is the agent's greed...they make the workers pay so much to them to be sent to Singapore...and only to find out there's no work for them!

therefore, the politicians should be the ones in charge of bringing these workers to Singapore ONLY IF THERE IS A NEED.

The MASS DECEPTION is caysed by those greedy ruthless agents!

Anonymous said...

you can't have a hub here and a hub there and drive towards creating the best, most innovative cosmopolitan enterprising beautiful city plus....a respectable market( size does matter) without enlarging your .. tent.

the more dependent they are on external injection of talents to chase after elitist's idea of meritocratic rule and vision, the more we subject our people to vulnerability.

its common knowledge by now that real estate bloodbath in the west has sunk the world into recession.

when we send foreigners home in large number, their absent will hit our real estate like what it did in the US.

these foreigners are not the only "poor thing"

your retirees, poorly paid uncles and aunties, sickly etc etc will have to lose a vital source of income from leasing their hdbs to all these foreign workers.

aiyah, everything - jobs,assets etc spiral downwards when they pack and leave.

whose fault leh?


in short, there are serious economic repercussion when we sent them packing.

bloody idiots!

Anonymous said...

The other side of the story which I know personally. Main contractors were allowed a quota(man-years) of foreign workers given by MOM which they either hire direct or gave a part of their man-years to some of their sub-contractors. In most cases the quotas given far exceeds what was originally requested for. As this is somewhat of a scam to have as much as possible for the purpose of re-selling the man-years for personal profit. The main contractor hires an agent to scour around for local companies in need of low paid foreign workers.

The price per man-year varies from $2000 - $6000 per man-year depending on the demand. The agent is paid a commission and the main contractor pockets the rest. So one finds these foreign workers supposedly to be from the building trade doing other jobs like cleaning, agriculture, air conditioning services etc.

I am pretty sure MOM personnel should be aware of the loopholes or maybe they close one eye to such going-ons for personal gain. This was quite rampant during the boom years 2001 onwards. If the main contractor has excess of 200 man-years, you can imagine how much money changed hands.

Onlooker said...

The real problem is Why aren't their more fortunate countrymen with EP/PR working in GLC/MNC speaking up for them while they are asking for more benefits(HDB, Fire local first, etc,etc) normally reserved for citizens.

The Silence says it all.It's Every man for themselves.
While everything is rosy,throw Migrant workers at any place/ country that will take them.
When thing goes bad,Please do not send them back home.

Pity really, The over reliance on FW will ultimately cost Singapore's employer dearly when their Business dwindle.

Anonymous said...

foreigners lose jobs by the thousands...they inevitable lose money. they lose money, we lose money.

when we lose money, we spend less or not at all.

businesses then suffer and more lose jobs.

jobs get smoked, more lose money and....more and more people

Anonymous said...

Actually the problem is out of control, that's why so many cases of these foreign workers turned up at MOM for help.

If MOM cannot help much, of course these foreign workers suffer lah. Let it be, let it be lah. Just like other cases of you folks suffering lah.

Anonymous said...

pap is good at making beggars of its people

in times like these, it must feel damn good to play the good samaritan role with taxpayer's monies.

imagine, the people must be so grateful for all these financial aides that they will keep these elites in perpetual power.

maybe the people enjoy begging the garbagemen so much that they don't mind being kept in a vicious cycle of rip offs and financial payout by the elites.

Anonymous said...

i like Onlooker's comment insightful but sad. that's true, every man for himself.

btw, i think it's the ns that moulds little boys into compliant adults. see how easily every first to third world citizen takes to streets to protest, except our sg boys...

Anonymous said...


KY never trusted residents of the 600+ sq km land,,,

He has Gurkha to protect him and major installations against local residents, most probably with orders of Shoot to Kill; NS men are for fighting foreign threats.

His Gombak underground HQ is built by Taiwanese who were banned from Singapore soil.

He had ex-schools buildings kept to house mass protesters.

He had $80,000 from every Singaporean held as ransom in the CPF, our national reserves if any are only known to his family, if he and his family packs and leave with the CPF money anyone know how much his family took?

He lives in his Palace within the Istana grounds since he was the Chief Minister.

He had build a reputation amongst foreign governments that if anything happen, his family would be welcomed in open hands because of their huge investments there.

Most of our former government authorities were sold to foreigners such as the former Public Works Department, if anything happens, they are the ones who will manage the Singaporeans.

His Foreign Talents is only one of his scheme to turn Singapore to become a financial institution run by LHL and children.

We wouldn't win in mass protests, we can only win if there are mass CPF withdraw by major accounts.

Anonymous said...

"We wouldn't win in mass protests, we can only win if there are mass CPF withdraw by major accounts."

Yep, I think that's the Archilles heel of PAP right now if enough people were to withdraw through emigration or stock investments.

But they will also be quick to plug loopholes through new regulations on CPF usage and withdrawal. But in the end these will just be more of the kind "corrective regulations" we have been seeing: higher drawn-down age, higher minimum sum ...

Those top ministers had better think again if they are going to let this game of perpetual damage control of the CPF system continue. There will come a day in an unexpected manner the "beautiful patchwork" job they made out of the CPF system will give way and the terrible truth will explode into the open.