As we cautiously emerge from the circuit breaker, now's the time to take pause and reflect on what the past 64 days have taught us. One of the key lessons we've learnt is that we cannot turn a blind eye to the inequalities faced by migrant workers in Singapore any longer.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Manpower, there are almost 300,000 people living here under Work Permit (construction) passes. Many of them reside in dormitories that have been ravaged by the coronavirus. The flaws of their living conditions have been made more apparent by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of daily cases reported in the news. It has also brought to our attention the other plights faced by our migrant workers, including ill-treatment, unfair payment practices and even basic access to medical leave and nutritious food.
There are many great non-profit organisations like Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), the recently established Covid-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC) and Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) that have dedicated themselves to helping the community and raising awareness. But these NGOs, like our migrant workers, have been doing the heavy lifting for us for too long.
It is time that we, as a community, look at how we can contribute to treating our migrant workers better. If you're a reader of Time Out, then you know that we actively celebrate the best things to do, restaurant and bars, retail shops and cultural venues in the city. These places would not exist for our enjoyment without the people that build them, clean them and maintain them.
We can all do our part to shape what we want Singapore 'new normal' to be. And our wish is for a more compassionate, inclusive and caring society that acknowledges our privileged position and uses it to help those in need.
We talk to @sgforfws, a ground-up initiative led by Melody Zaccheus that has been collecting notes written by Singaporeans for foreign workers. The initial plan was to collect 300 notes and have them translated, printed and distributed to workers – they've since collected 1,333 messages to date. But beyond spreading positivity through words, we should also look at our actions. Melody shares how we can all pitch in to help.