Hong Kong's Apple Daily report on 'prison-like' dorm here untrue, COI told

Foreign workers in their dormitory at Terusan Lodge dormitory at Jalan Papan in December 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG 
Foreign workers in their dormitory at Terusan Lodge dormitory at Jalan Papan in December 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG 

A Hong Kong tabloid report that described the Jurong Penjuru Dormitory as prison-like is "a blatant lie", said the residence's security manager who appeared on Wednesday before the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Dec 8 riot.

Mr Saffarullah Abdullah of Mini Environment Services disputed the January report by Hong Kong's Apple Daily, saying it was untrue that barbed wire was used anywhere in or around the dormitory.

The article written by a female journalist had also stated that foreign workers here were squeezed into cramped and dirty dormitories, and lived under oppressive conditions, including having their movements monitored by CCTV cameras.

"We have no barbed wire anywhere at our dorm, and the cameras face the perimeter... (the reporter) is totally wrong," said Mr Saffarullah, adding that visitors were free to come and go at any hour of the day.

While workers are not allowed to bring visitors up to the living quarters, they were free to meet friends at the common areas within the dormitory compound, such as at the canteen or beer garden, he said. There was, however, "no way" women - like the Apple Daily reporter who had claimed to have entered the rooms and took pictures - are allowed into the workers' living quarters.

Mr Saffarullah also said that because the dormitory is modelled after HDB flats, "people are very happy at our dorm because they have their own privacy".

He also added that complaints received from residents were mainly about maintenance issues such as broken taps.

yanliang@sph.com.sg

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