Allegations of foreign worker abuse baseless: Singapore minister

Allegations of foreign worker abuse baseless: Singapore minister

Tan Chuan-Jin, Singapore's acting manpower minister, told Parliament Monday that there is no basis for saying that there is widespread abuse of foreign workers in the country and that this was a reason for the riot in Little India Dec 8.

Tan, in a ministerial statement, said foreign workers here were, by and large, treated well by their employers, the Straits Times reported.

He said that a only a small fraction of 700,000 work permit holders here have complained of abuse by employers.

The minister was responding to questions asked by several members of parliament about how foreign workers were treated here following the riot Dec 8 night in Little India, which is home to a huge Tamil population here.

The riots broke out after a private bus knocked down and killed a 33-year-old Indian construction worker, Sakthivel Kumaravelu.

Following the riot, many non-government organisations pointed to the abuse of foreign workers as a cause of the violence.

"We do not think there is basis for these assertions but look forward to the COI's (Committee of Inquiry) perspective on the matter," Tan said rejecting the allegations.

He, however, said that the government would continue to go after errant employers.

"When we come across cases of errant employers who flout our laws, my ministry takes a strong enforcement stance, and will continue to do so," he said.

Tan also announced that more recreational centres would be built for foreign workers and these centres would provide amenities such as remittance services, supermarkets and sports facilities.

There are now four such centres. Tan, however, did not elaborate as to how many more new centres would be built or where they would be located.

"Foreign workers need a place to come together to catch up on news from the village, have a taste of food from home, and meet friends and relatives from across the island for a few precious hours... Recreation centres cannot always meet these psychological needs," Tan said.

"I believe Singaporeans understand and appreciate the need for these shared spaces."

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