'I have not come across one single migrant worker himself that has demanded an apology': Teo

Teo said that workers are more focused on how the government can help them.

Jane Zhang | May 04, 2020, 08:19 PM

When asked in Parliament on Monday (May 4) whether the government will consider issuing an apology to migrant workers in Singapore on the Covid-19 outbreak in dormitories, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that none of the workers she interacted with have demanded an apology.

Teo said that based on interactions and feedback she received from migrant workers, they instead ask about the present situation, how not to fall sick, and if they do, how to ensure their wages are paid.

Singapore's migrant worker community has come under focus during the Covid-19 outbreak, with 90 per cent of the country's 18,205 cases concentrated amongst work permit holders.

Teo: Migrant workers are focused on how we can help them

Teo was responding to a question posed by Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Anthea Ong:

"Will the government consider issuing an apology to the migrant workers, given the dismal conditions that they are currently in, because the conditions of the dormitories and all the other conditions? Especially now that they're in complete lockdown, for the sake and safety of Singaporeans."

Responding to Ong, Teo replied that she had not come across any migrant workers asking for an apology:

"Ms. Anthea Ong asked about an apology. We interact very closely with the workers themselves, on a very regular basis at the dormitories, and even outside the dormitories whenever I'll ask teams, you know, follow up on their requests and feedback.

I think what they’re focused on is how we can help them to handle this present situation, not fall sick, and if they fall sick, help take care of them, how to look after their wages being paid, how to ensure that they can send money home.

These are the things that they have asked of us. I have not come across one single migrant worker himself that has demanded an apology."

May Day messages

Teo posted a May Day message on Facebook on May 1, wishing Singapore's migrant workers a happy May Day, despite it being a different way of celebrating due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

"Still," she said, "We want to say thank you to you, for your contributions to Singapore."

Teo also thanked the workers for their cooperation with the measures that have been put in place.

She highlighted the mass singalong that took place on Apr. 25, and said that she was happy that many migrant workers joined in, and added:

"In the same way, I hope you will join in the fight against COVID-19.

With your support, we will succeed. And we can celebrate together at the right time!"

On May 1, Ong had also taken to Facebook to share a message, which she dedicated to frontline workers, migrant workers, and low-wage workers worldwide.

She wrote:

"THANK YOU for your labour and love, and SORRY for all the discrimination and disadvantages you have been subjected to.

The world sees you now, you are no longer invisible - we must and will do right by you."

Top photos via YouTube / gov.sg and Parliament website.