On Hari Raya Haji, Singaporeans probably let out a collective sigh of frustration after it was announced that we were heading back to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert). Indeed, the recent setback in our Covid fight has been a matter of great frustration for law-abiding citizens and businesses alike. That said, can you imagine how tough it is for our migrant workers who haven’t been able to head out since April 2020?
Strict movement curbs have been placed on migrant workers living in dorms since the covid clusters emerged and quickly surged within that community last year. They are unable to meet friends living in different dorms and can only chat via video call.
Hence, it is not surprising that an increasing number of migrant workers are feeling isolated and blue from the pandemic. We’d imagine it is more than just feeling stir crazy from cabin fever because they face extra pressure having to worry about their family’s safety back home too.
Making sure that migrant workers enter Singapore safely during Covid
The demand and need for more migrant workers has not fallen since Covid. In fact, we have heard of multiple delays in BTO flat construction and various renovation works. Even as Singapore continues to need their manpower and help, we should also ensure that we bring them in safely and reduce their risk to Covid.
Thankfully, there is now a calibrated approach to bring workers into Singapore. The approach includes proactive testing of the workers over 14 days before they depart for Singapore. After arriving in Singapore, the workers will serve stay home notice and adhere to safe management measures before they commence work.
Transport them safely! No more lorries please!
Even within Singapore, we should ensure their safety. Recently, the spotlight has been on the issue of transporting migrant workers on the back of lorries. There were two accidents, which resulted in the deaths of two workers.
CNA experimented and asked a few Singaporeans to experience what it was like to ride at the back of lorries. One said, “I felt like I was going to fall off”. Yikes! If we would not transport ourselves in it, then we shouldn’t be doing the same to our migrant workers! There were suggestions to improve safety by introducing seatbelts. However, safety experts cautioned that these only work for front facing seats and not lorries. Hence, it would be safer to altogether ditch this mode of transport and find an alternative.
Labour MP Melvin Yong echoes the same view and has been lobbying for employers to transport migrant workers safely via buses instead. Though costs may be higher, it is worth it to have workers be transported safely from destination to destination.
Befriend a migrant worker, show some kindness!
All the isolation and separation has resulted in a mental health risk to our migrant workers. We can all do our part, by befriending our migrant workers and showing them some kindness and care. Over the June holidays, more than 150 children banded together to bake cupcakes and cookies for some 7,000 migrant workers, to thank them for helping to build Singapore. This goes to show that you are never too young to contribute or show that you care!
Apart from baked goods like cookies, these children also included heartwarming messages of encouragement to migrant workers.
Don’t all the bright colours and sincere wishes melt your heart already?
Beyond the sweet gestures of these gifts (which is amazing, don’t get us wrong), it is even more important for us to pass on the correct thinking to our younger generation. Parents can take the chance to explain to their children why migrant workers deserve our care and concern. By involving the children and having them express their thoughts, we are also educating them in the right way. We hope that Singapore will continue to move in this positive director in the future. And toxic mindsets such as NIMBY (not in my backward) and xenophobia will be put away. We can definitely do better and encourage our younger generation to make a positive impact!