200,000 migrant workers get special Hari Raya Puasa meal

Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (centre), Muis chief executive Esa Masood (right) and SMCCI deputy president Abu Bakar Mohd Nor distributing the special meals and festive goodies on May 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Migrant worker residents receiving their meal at a Hari Raya Puasa event at Chinsim dormitory on May 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Some 200,000 migrant workers living in dormitories were given a special lunch menu, including mutton biryani and chicken chop rice, to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa on Sunday (May 24).

Workers in 58 places across the island were also surprised with Hari Raya cookies prepared with the help of 15 home-based bakers in an effort to spread festive cheer.

The initiative was organised by the inter-agency task force to support migrant workers, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI).

Partially funded by donations from the community through mosques and organisations like the Association of Muslim Professionals and Singapore Muslim Women Association, the initiative comes after two gruelling months for many migrant workers.

They have been disproportionately affected by the spread of the coronavirus, with 28,806 out of 323,000 workers who live in dorms, or nearly 9 per cent, testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday.

The group accounts for more than nine out of 10 cases in Singapore. Their vulnerability to the virus drew public attention to dormitory conditions and led the Government to carry out comprehensive testing in dorms to ascertain the extent of Covid-19 infection and meet the workers' medical needs.

With some clad in traditional clothing, the workers collected their food while wearing masks. They prayed on their own in their rooms and watched the Mufti's Hari Raya sermon, which was livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

Mr Esa Masood, chief executive of Muis, said the workers have had a challenging Ramadan in the dorms.

"But I think they have really been doing their best effort as part of our national effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19...We have our families at home and we can still celebrate with our families but for them they are in their dorms," he said.

The initiative comes after two gruelling months for many migrant workers. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Mr Masood said he is glad that the task force has reached out to many community and non-governmental groups to help the workers. "It is an important signal that Singapore did not forget them during these celebrations. They are part of us and an important part of society as well."

Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that it is a wonderful effort to ensure they do not feel left out in a foreign land.

"I am heartened to see that our foreign workers in Singapore have adapted and adjusted to how they can practise religious duties in a different form," he added.

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