S'pore needs 'values system' on how foreign workers are treated here: Maruah

Singapore has to do more in terms of values training on how guest workers are treated here, Ms Braema Mathi, from local human rights group Maruah, which was invited by the Committee of Inquiry into the unrest in Little India. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE
Singapore has to do more in terms of values training on how guest workers are treated here, Ms Braema Mathi, from local human rights group Maruah, which was invited by the Committee of Inquiry into the unrest in Little India. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE FANG 

Singapore has to do more in terms of values training on how guest workers are treated here, the head of a local human rights group told the public hearing into the Dec 8 riot on Wednesday.

"We have had foreign workers here for a long time...and we need to develop a healthy approach to this phenomenon," said Ms Braema Mathi, from Maruah, which was invited by the Committee of Inquiry into the unrest in Little India to share their views on what led to the incident that night.

Maruah had earlier submitted a report that included recommendations on what can be done to avoid another outbreak of violence in the Indian enclave or among the migrant worker community here.

Ms Mathi, who was testifying at the inquiry, asked whether Singapore has done enough to create "a values system", particularly at school level.

"Do we have a values system? Yes we do but more work needs to be done from the... school system. Are we talking enough at the school system? (Education Minister) Heng Swee Keat said when he first came to Parliament said that values are the most important thing," she said. "Are we doing enough values training on how we treat guest workers? I think this is the biggest area we have to work on."

She also brought up the issue of human rights, saying that it should never be a matter of "my rights are greater than your rights" and the issue "has to be looked at".