Covid-19 curbs

Foreign workers have had it worse

As Singaporeans hunker down for another month of Covid-19 restrictions, we lament the strict curbs imposed on our lives.

However, out of sight of most Singaporeans, the foreign worker population here has been having it worse.

Throughout the pandemic, the nation has occasionally talked about how thankful we are to the foreign workers and how we have to try and keep them safe.

The Government has deemed it risky for workers, after the Covid-19 outbreaks in the dormitories last year, to mix freely with the general population.

However, to ensure the safety of workers and the general population, it is the workers who are making the bulk of the sacrifices, with their freedom heavily curtailed.

The workers have been cooped up for close to two years and have not seen their loved ones.

For someone who is separated from my loved ones due to border restrictions, I know how punishing it is psychologically.

The recent rise in Covid-19 cases has certainly pushed back any potential initiatives to grant the workers more freedom.

Some may argue that now is not the right time to have this conversation. I disagree.

The recent restrictions only go to show how the measures imposed on the foreign workers are unsustainable.

Just as the Government has laid out a road map towards an eventual reopening, I believe a similar commitment to the foreign worker community is imperative.

The promise of freedom cannot be indefinite.

Given that the foreign workers are routinely tested, with accelerated vaccination, they should be allowed back into our communities, at least on a staggered basis.

As our nation approaches another milestone on Aug 9, I hope we can celebrate not just our economic development but also the growth of the Singapore character.

We cannot build a nation by prioritising convenience over conscience.

Tan Peck Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2021, with the headline 'Foreign workers have had it worse'. Subscribe