SINGAPORE - Around $500,000 has been raised by the business community to help migrant workers who have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, said the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) on Thursday (June 18).
The sum comprises $300,000 donated by 77 businesses and individuals associated with ASME and $200,000 from the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Foundation.
The money will go to an assistance fund run by the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) that provides emergency help in the form of accommodation, meals, ex-gratia payments and other forms of financial support to workers caught in wage disputes or injured at work.
ASME launched the initiative on June 12 to recognise the contributions of migrant workers.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam told a virtual event to mark the end of the fund-raising drive: "It's a very important project, and we all know that migrant workers play a very important role in our system.
"The large majority of Singaporeans value them, and during this period we have seen how the Government, the community and non-government organisations have come together (to support them)."
Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad added: "It is nice to see how many of our SMEs have given migrant workers recognition in terms of their contribution as essential workers, as well as their role in building up Singapore."
ASME president Kurt Wee said: "I want to give my heartfelt appreciation to all those who came forward. Everyone responded to a call because you have a heart for what we do.
"The migrant workers are having a very difficult time, and as the economy opens up and activity resumes in the construction sector, it is a very important signal that we are sending to employees of Singapore companies and members of ASME and SBF."
Mr Shanmugam also addressed difficulties that business owners - particularly in the construction sector - had in complying with Covid-19 measures relating to safe distancing and dormitory provisions.
He noted that the Government and businesses are aligned in wanting to stop new infection clusters.
Mr Shanmugam said stakeholders and the Government will need to engage in "sensible conversations" on how to manage the costs of social distancing and be prepared to keep such measures in the long term.
He urged business owners to see the measures not an impediment, but as essential for work to restart.