Legislation needed to take care of foreign workers

It is important for all of us to realise that foreign workers are an important and indispensable part of our labour force.

Without them, our economy would collapse.

Therefore, logically, their welfare is the responsibility of the Manpower Ministry and the whole country.

We must make them welcome, and integrate them into our social structure.

We must make their environment a happy one, and help them to be more productive.

This attitude must be adopted not only by the authorities, but also by us, as citizens.

There are many areas that need attention.

The state of the workers' accommodation needs urgent government intervention.

At present, the workers are poorly housed, and many have to pay highly for very poor accommodation.

Their leisure activities, especially at weekends, also need attention.

Large groups of foreign workers congregating at shopping malls on Sundays is a source of irritation to Singaporeans, who complain about their bad behaviour and littering.

This is also a public health and environmental issue.

There are many more areas that need attention.

If we look upon them as fellow humans living in our midst, we will need to legislate to look after their welfare.

We must not let it be said that Singapore exploits and neglects its foreign workers.

George Wong Seow Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2017, with the headline 'Legislation needed to take care of foreign workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe