S Iswaran: S'pore govt working to provide all foreign worker dorms with WiFi access within 2 weeks

Meanwhile, the government will continue to explore other options like MiFi or even mobile-type solutions.

Melanie Lim| April 08, 11:40 PM

All foreign worker dormitories in Singapore will be kitted with WiFi access as more of their residents remain indoors and stop work during the circuit breaker period within the coming two weeks.

This was shared by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran on Tuesday, in an online media interview where he discussed various initiatives the government is rolling out as the majority of the Singapore population stays home.

Following an earlier visit he made to the Westlite Papan Dormitory on April 4, he also spoke about the new restrictions imposed on their movements, concerns about their livelihoods being disrupted and issues regarding their welfare.

IMDA working to provide WiFi or other types of internet access for foreign workers at their dormitories

At the moment, Iswaran acknowledged that not all foreign worker dormitories in Singapore have the infrastructure for WiFi, although a significant proportion of them do.

"IMDA is working with the dormitory operators and telcos to put in the infrastructure for the rest. We think that this is something that can be accomplished over the next one to two weeks."

The minister also noted that in this period, given that more foreign workers are now staying in their dorms, higher amounts of internet bandwidth are likely to be in demand as well.

"... because now if you have many foreign workers staying in situ when that was not the case before, and if they all want to access either content or link up with family and so on and things like that, then that is going to be an area where there needs additional effort."

And so, he says, the government will continue to explore other options like MiFi or even mobile-type solutions, and allow IMDA to work with the telcos and dormitory operators to adapt the solutions available for the needs of the dormitories and their residents.

Government will look after the welfare of foreign workers

In speaking about the Covid-19 movement restrictions surrounding our foreign workers, in particular those who are locked down in their dormitories, Iswaran noted that the government is imposing restrictions on everyone, including foreign workers, in the interest of everyone's health and well-being.

"They need to understand that we are doing this because everyone’s health and well-being will be improved and safeguarded by taking such measures. We are imposing restrictions on everyone, including the foreign workers."

Despite the disruptions to work for many of these foreign workers, Iswaran mentioned that the government will work with their employers to ensure that their livelihood "is not unfairly or unduly disrupted" because of these changes.

He also gave assurance that the government will also look after the welfare of foreign workers, be it in terms of medical care, accommodation, food, WiFi, and even content.

The minister shared that he was very moved by the selflessness of some of the workers, who approached him offering their help in view of the fact that they would not be able to work during the circuit-breaker period.

But ultimately, he said he seeks their cooperation with the restrictions in place, in the same way this is necessary from Singaporeans.

"My main response to them was that given the kind of restrictions we are imposing on movements, the best way they could serve our national efforts was to ensure that the dorms and all the workers in the dorms are cooperating and complying with the measures that we have put in place."

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Top image courtesy of Ministry of Communications and Information, via India in Singapore Facebook page