Migrant workers' experiences, contributions celebrated at new gallery

Friends of ACE volunteers Letchumanan Muralidharan (left) and Shanmugam Ganesan attending a tour of the new gallery in Geylang Bahru on June 30, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - While the Government is closely monitoring the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases, migrant workers living in dormitories will continue to be able to visit the community freely, said Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng on Thursday (June 30).

The Popular Places Pass, he added, is a necessity to curb footfall at popular haunts on Sundays and public holidays.

To visit Little India, Jurong East, Chinatown or Geylang Serai, workers living in dormitories have to apply for a pass on the SGWorkPass mobile app.

Up to 80,000 such passes will be available each Sunday or public holiday, and approval is granted almost instantly.

He added: "(While) we want them to integrate as fast as they can back into the community and also to be able to visit the community as and when they need and they like… we are not really out of the woods completely yet."

Speaking to the media at the launch of a gallery celebrating the contributions of the migrant worker community, Dr Tan expressed his hope that Singaporeans will come together in acknowledging the efforts of migrant workers here.

"Our Migrant Workers Gallery symbolises our appreciation for our migrant workers' contributions to Singapore, and recognises their resilience through the Covid-19 pandemic," said Dr Tan.

Located at the Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group's headquarters in Geylang Bahru, the gallery was launched by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to pay tribute to migrant workers here.

The gallery features more than 150 photographs split into four zones.

Each zone explores different facets of the migrant worker community, with visitors first being greeted by the portraits and stories of individual workers.

The second zone takes visitors through the spread of Covid-19 in the dormitories and how response teams worked to curb the spread.

The third zone details MOM's road map for a more resilient migrant workforce, which was laid out in December last year. It includes raising housing standards for the workers, providing them with quality, accessible healthcare that is affordable, and enhancing their social well-being.

In the final zone, visitors get to see the various efforts by the community to engage with migrant workers, including the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and student volunteer groups.

Before leaving, visitors can pen messages of appreciation to the migrant workers on stickers. These stickers can then be pasted on the walls.

While the gallery is not open to the public yet, guided tours will be organised for students from tertiary institutions as part of MOM's School Partnership Programme, which engages young people on issues relating to Singapore's migrant workforce.

These tours will also be organised for migrant workers and are slated to begin next month.

Giving students a glimpse of the contributions of migrant workers would help them better understand the sacrifices that the community has made by coming to work here, which would hopefully mitigate any negative perceptions being espoused by the minority, said Dr Tan.

Other guests at the gallery's opening included Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean and Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon.

(From left) Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng tour the gallery on June 30, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Representatives from various stakeholder groups and NGOs like the Dormitory Association Singapore and Migrant Workers' Centre were also at the event, along with volunteers from the Singapore Institute of Technology and Friends of ACE - a network of migrant worker volunteers providing social support in dormitories.

After touring the gallery, Friends of ACE volunteer Shanmugam Ganesan, 34, said he was heartened that the efforts of migrant workers like himself are being acknowledged.

"It's a very proud moment for everyone. We can see the part that we played here."

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