'It's a lot of money. They give me $50 a day'

Despite the recent raids, The Straits Times still found an illegal worker at a night market this week - one who was willing to talk.

On Thursday night, Indonesian national Sri Nigisbo, 29, was manning the counter of a food stall selling dendeng (thinly sliced dried meat) at the ongoing Punggol Ramadan Night Bazaar.

Here on a social visit pass, Mr Nigisbo does not have a valid work permit nor a food handling licence, which is required for working with food. He works 12 hours a day for what he considers a lot of money.

"I earn money. It's a lot of money. They give me $50 a day," he said cheerfully.

In broken English, the Batam resident told ST that he runs a business on the island and came over specifically because of the Ramadan bazaar "to help a friend".

But he also said he would move on to sell handphones illegally in Bugis the following day.

Mr Nigisbo revealed that this is his third time working here and he will be staying for ten days. Within 10 minutes of talking to Mr Nigisbo, however, his boss walked over and told this reporter to leave.

Mr Ahmet Akpinara, 37, a stallholder at the Geylang Serai Bazaar, said there is a syndicate that offers illegal foreign workers to stall owners. He said that the workers come from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

"There is a contact point that stall owners can call to get illegal workers," said Mr Akpinara.

These illegal workers are often bound by a short-term contract that ranges from two weeks to a month.

One owner of a Turkish salad stall even claimed that there are illegal Arab workers manning some kebab stores at the Geylang Serai bazaar.

Mr Tamel Timo said that they come from Egypt, Morocco and Yemen, and stay and work here for about a month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2017, with the headline ''It's a lot of money. They give me $50 a day''. Print Edition | Subscribe