No Malaysian workers found sleeping rough in Singapore, says MOM

In March, some stranded Malaysian workers were housed in a temporary relief centre and provided with basic necessities. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - No work pass holders here have been found sleeping rough in the streets, contrary to various articles in the media on homeless Malaysian workers in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has said.

Following a Nov 22 New Straits Times (NST) report titled "Homeless Malaysians in Singapore", MOM said it contacted an interviewee that was quoted claiming that over 100 Malaysians were homeless in Singapore as they could not afford rent for a room or a bed.

MOM said it contacted Mr Shahruddin Haeal Helmy Mohd Noh on Nov 23 and Nov 27 to obtain information about his claim in order to provide assistance to these workers.

The NST, a Malaysian newspaper, said hundreds of Malaysians "had to live like vagrants following the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the closure of the Malaysia-Singapore border".

But Mr Shahruddin could not provide information such as specific names and contact details of the homeless Malaysian workers he claimed to have encountered, MOM said on Thursday (Dec 3).

"He admitted that he never spoke directly to any of these workers and cannot confirm if they were indeed homeless," it said.

"He did not know of any Malaysian worker who does not have a place to stay and also stated that he did not tell the reporter from NST that 'over 100 Malaysians there had become homeless'."

Officers who are part of the Singapore Government's inter-agency task force that conducts routine checks across the island also visited various locations islandwide late into the night on Nov 26, including to places listed by Mr Shahruddin, but did not find any work pass holders sleeping in the street, the ministry added.

Those found sleeping in the open, including work pass holders, are rendered assistance, said MOM. Their employer will be asked to provide lodging immediately, and if they are unable to do so, the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) will house them in the interim, it said.

"MOM has also established links with various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to refer any work pass holders found sleeping rough," it said.

"In the past few months, MOM has not received any referrals from the NGOs."

The Straits Times reported on Thursday that the 21 temporary shelters for the homeless here are mostly full, with about 100 people on the wait list.

One reason for the current shortage of shelter space is increased demand, including from those who can no longer make the daily commute between Singapore, where they work, and their homes in Johor Baru or Batam due to travel restrictions, said a spokesman for the Homeless Hearts of Singapore, a charity group.

Employers here are obliged to ensure their foreign employees have proper accommodations during their stay in Singapore, MOM said on Thursday.

Members of public who know of any work pass holders facing accommodation issues should refer them to MOM or the MWC's 24-hour hotline at 6536-2692 for further assistance.

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