My email to MOM Minister about accusation on MOM’s blog

hiddenslums

In April, I informed the Ministry for Manpower (MOM) about several dormitories at Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace which housed some foreign workers, in rather deplorable conditions. On 14 May, the MOM published a blog post about this, and made some accusations about me.

The following is my email to the Acting Minister for Manpower, Tan Chuan Jin, sent to him on 15 May 2013, in response to that MOM blog article.

It is copied to Ms Farah Abdul Rahim (Press Secretary, MOM) and Ms Chin Yen Eu (Customer Service Officer).

Dear Minister,

I would like to commend MOM and its officers for investigating the conditions in which some of the foreign workers at Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace lived in, and for instructing their employers “to move their workers to proper housing within the next two to four weeks.”

I am, however, puzzled by the article by “Yusri” on the MOM blog, titled: “Behind-the-Scenes of Operation ‘K‘”. In particular, this part where he wrote:

“Recently, a blogger who had highlighted some possible dormitory violations publicly questioned why we needed such specific information. When asked to give more information, the blogger asked us to refer to his earlier blog post. However, the blog post only had the name of the street, where other dormitories and residential premises could be found. Without specific addresses, it would be time consuming and unproductive for MOM officers to expend resources to check every residence or unit along the same street. The blogger knew the details but chose not to share it. And when he eventually did, he chose to publicly mock the process. It was unfortunate, but we appreciate the fact that the information was finally shared with us.”

“Yusri” did not name the blogger in question. I presume that he is referring to me, and thus my response which follows is based on this presumption. Neither did he name where the “possible dormitory violations” were. I presume that he is referring to those at Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace.

In my correspondences with Ms Farah Abdul Rahim, press secretary to you, and Ms Chin Yen Eu, Customer Service Executive, about the dormitories at Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace, I provided the following information of the dormitories to them, to the best of my knowledge:

– Street name: Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace
– House number: 63-69
– Number of occupants in each dormitory: 30-40
– Nationalities of occupants: Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshis
– Conditions of dormitories: In a video and pictures
– That the workers also complained about sanitation facilities not working and bad food provided to them
– That there might be other dorms in similar conditions around that area
– Suggested and provided a Google Earth link to MOM to view the shophouses/dorms

You can check with both of them. However, I do not know who “Yusri” is and have never, to my knowledge, corresponded with him. I am thus unsure how he would know about the details of what I had provided enough to write that blog report.

Neither did “Yusri” contact me to ascertain the matter.

As for the accusation that I “chose to publicly mock the process”, I expressed my feelings on my personal Facebook page out of frustration of being asked to fill out a form to detail the dormitory conditions, and out of frustration of seeing such dormitories in such conditions after years of this being brought to light by various parties, including NGOs.

The Facebook post was a rant, more than anything. I offer my apologies to MOM and the officers involved if I had disparaged their work.

I do hope also that MOM will be accurate in the facts of the matter, vis a vis my contributing information about the dormitories. I had, to the best of my knowledge, provided what I could after having personally visited the dormitories several times on different occasions.

It is unfair of MOM to publish inaccurate and misleading information about me or the manner in which I provided the information.

I leave it to you, Minister, to decide if any corrections should be made to the MOM blog post.

Thank you.

Regards,
Andrew Loh

————————————

The following 2 email screenshots are not included in my email to the minister. I provide them here for readers’ consideration.

My email correspondence with Ms Farah Abdul Rahim, press secretary to the minister:

email1
My email correspondence with Ms Chin Yen Eu, Customer Service Executive, MOM:
email2
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4 thoughts on “My email to MOM Minister about accusation on MOM’s blog

  1. I’m almost at the stage where I believe this country should be left to fall to pieces, which is happening. It would seem that this govt would rather just carry jogging on in its non-productive, non-performing way. Perhaps Yusri was one of those told off for not doing his work, and is resentful about it?

    For a so-called First World country, Spore treats its foreign workers abysmally. Employers are simply not checked on enough. Or maybe they are and the checkers feel the lousy conditions they see are ok for foreign workers being paid a pittance. After all, employers who are caught offending just get little
    taps on their knuckles, which is hardly going to discourage them from continuing to treat their workers inhumanely. To treat Any living creature as badly as some foreign workers are treated is called cruelty. This is 5th World behaviour.

  2. Gaping DATABASE HOLE that both MOM and MND/URA are quite determined to leave as it is –

    POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Regulations could mandate that OCCUPANTS of all private housing and dormitories be registered by 1) owners/dorm operators and 2) employers.

    The latter regn could be cross-validated with former regn under monthly batch runs – that would enable MOM to take independent enforcement as effective regulators (instead of relying on whistleblowers and public goodwill). It will also give MND/URA more accurate data for land supply/demand and help MOF/IRAS reduce tax leakages from under- or un-declared rental income and property tax.

  3. If the government has the right to storm into people’s residence to check for mosquito breeding, surely the government should have even more right to storm into dormitories to check on living conditions of fellow human beings. It always remain beyond my comprehension why our government typically reacts like this when it is caught with their pants down for not doing their job. Anyone has the right to be outraged when we see things like this- the government should be more focused on making conditions better, not fixing whoever reported things like that.

    Wrong attitude. Look out for GE2016!

  4. I don’t see Andrew posting any reply from MOM or Tan Chuan Jin. That’s how the PAP government continue to engage the public in the new normal? No reply means MOM and Tan stand by the blog post uncorrected?

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