Forum: Worker dorms have recreational facilities, programmes for community living

We thank Mr Tang Li for his views (Let dormitory operators face the music themselves, May 21).

It is misleading to conclude that dormitory operators make "vast profits merely by maximising the number of people in a certain space".

He is correct to point out that Centurion made $103.8 million in profit last year. However, this included a one-time, fair valuation gain of $66.3 million recorded during the fourth quarter.

Excluding one-off items, net profit from our core business operations attributable to equity holders was $38.2 million, which is more representative of our performance.

Further, this profit derived from the company's global accommodation portfolio, of which 42 per cent was from business outside Singapore.

Returns on worker dormitory business from our assets deployed came to 6.57 per cent in the 2019 financial year; comparable to reported yields for other property assets such as student accommodation, industrial or data centres.

We welcome the growing concern for migrant worker welfare.

Our worker accommodation comprises spacious, well-appointed self-sufficient estates. Each dormitory includes amenities such as gyms, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, minimarts and canteens.

We also have programmes for active community living. They include sports tournaments, talent contests, yoga and language lessons.

Now, with Covid-19 restrictions, we continue to support our residents with virtual activities, free Wi-Fi and additional services through chat-groups, hotlines and mobile app solutions, to meet their physical, mental and social needs.

It is understandable that regulatory standards that were acceptable in normal times now need to be adjusted, given new needs arising from Covid-19.

A review of standards for dormitory operations can only be good for our migrant worker community.

These improvements will come at a cost, and the apportionment of these costs should be carefully considered, between Government, employers, dormitory operators and the wider community.

Kong Chee Min

Chief Executive Officer

Centurion Corporation

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.