Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Protest in Singapore

April 27, 2009

In Singapore, the country that has not reported any protests in the past 20 years, had a protest outside the Ministry yesterday to complain about unpaid wages and cancellation of their work permits.

8Gen Construction Pte Ltd hires only experienced Singaporean workers, who have been displaced by these lowly paid, unskilled foreign workers. 8Gen Construction believes that exploiting these foreigners is not morally right and as a socially responsible company which uses sustainable materials for construction and renovations, the government should do more to curb the loopholes that allow "manpower" companies to just bring in these foreigners who are mostly "tricked" by unethical agents to come and work in Singapore.

These workers barely have any human rights. Firstly, they are packed into the rear of trucks while being transported around in Singapore. This way of transportation is especially hazardous when the workers are also transported with equipment and tools. Most of these tools are very heavy and edged, and any slight accidents may easily turn fatal if the equipment lands on the workers.

Secondly, the workers live in very poor conditions, sometimes even worse than where they live back in their own countries. These workers are usually packed 4 workers in a room and about 10 workers in an apartment with 1 or 2 toilets. A lot of these workers constantly fight over minor things like the use of toilet and personal space.

Thirdly, the workers are often exploited as the large companies that bring them in applied for their work permits. Often, they salaries are paid late, and sometimes they have to work on Sundays and late nights without overtime pay.

Lastly, when the workers are injured during work, these large companies sometimes cancel their workpermit so that they can employ an extra worker to replace the injured worker. This was due to the fact that Singapore often write laws and guidelines that benefit corporations and companies, and exploit the workers to promote certain industries.

These foreign workers usually have no voice, and when they complain, they usually get turned into "illegal workers" as their work permits are cancelled, and the government ar enot on their side.

The recent protests are about their Chinese "Boss" absconding with their wages and cancelling their work permits without warning. I've heard of a lot of such cases, but no actions have been done. In Singapore, the workers are more likely to be punished that the companies as Singapore tightens the law on outdoor protests as it prepares to host it largest Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' forum in November.

The laws against outdoor protests can also be applied to deal with any outbreaks of public frustration amid the city-state's worst recession. Together With the highly moderated media, residents in Singapore rarely have a voice against any government policy, even when they feel that it is wrong.

Singapore constantly claims that this is their form of democracy, which is different from other countries' democracy, and this had proved to be a good form of governing the people and allowed Singapore's great growth and development in the past. However, after a sustained growth and amid the worst recession, this form of democracy can be questioned as sometimes the public may feel that the government's policy favors certain groups of people, however the people do not have a voice to point it out.

--Iron Bowl.

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