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Foreign workers 'need to be integrated'

It won't be easy but isolating them could lead to social problems

Published on Sep 21, 2013 8:29 AM
 
Workers’ dormitories in Jurong West. Migrant worker NGOs agree that problems could arise if foreign workers feel isolated, or if they have nowhere to go outside of their dormitories. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Integrating foreign workers into neighbourhoods, rather than isolating them in far-flung dormitories, is ideal but not easy, said analysts and activists.

Most Singaporeans may agree that foreign workers are needed, but are uncomfortable with living alongside them, said observers.

Yet, a solution is needed. Failure to do so could lead to social problems, as Banyan Tree executive chairman Ho Kwon Ping observed on Wednesday.

Instead of Dubai's "dormitory towns" far from the city centre, foreign worker housing could be better incorporated in residential neighbourhoods, he said at a conference on Singapore's physical transformation.

 
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Background story

SEEING A DIFFERENT SIDE

In these relaxed environments, Singaporeans can see a different side of the foreign workers. They get to learn about their cultures and see them as individuals.

- Mr John Gee, an executive committee member of migrants' organisation Transient Workers Count Too, on having social integration activities