Fear over home addresses misused to register foreign workers as tenants; Almost 500 reports since December
Home owners worried about safety after finding out their addresses were used to register foreign workers as their tenants
A resident of a condominium in Jurong West was shocked to find five foreign workers using his residential address to register with the Ministry of Manpower.
Mr Ruzaidie Dar Surnik, 41, had checked MOM's Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service (FWTES) after a tip-off from a neighbour last month.
He was not worried at first because he had never had tenants in his unit at The Floravale before.
When Mr Ruzaidie, an executive at Nanyang Technological University, found out about the workers, he was initially confused.
Then fear and panic set in as he became concerned for his family's safety.
"I've got two daughters, aged 13 and 10, and my wife at home," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"Sometimes my daughters get back early from school and are alone at home. What if these people had borrowed from loan sharks and they turn up at our home?"
When he reported the issue, MOM assured him that it took the matter seriously and would investigate.
An MOM spokesman told TNP yesterday that investigations are still ongoing.
Mr Ruzaidie posted on Facebook about his situation and urged other homeowners to check on their addresses as well.
Ms Betty Koh, 45, the neighbour who tipped off Mr Ruzaidie, said she did it after finding out a person had been registered under her address since March.
She also discovered several other residents at The Floravale, which has 700 units, had the same problem.
"More than 20 units were affected," she said.
Noting that some units were occupied by foreign workers, Ms Koh suspects those units may have exceeded their occupancy limits, so other addresses in the block were used to register some of the workers.
The supply chain officer called for a stricter notification system to be introduced.
"It's too lax now. Even banks send you a notification when a new beneficiary is added," she said.
The FWTES currently allows home owners to check the names of work pass holders registered to their home addresses.
Replying to TNP's queries, the MOM spokesman said in a statement that the FWTES, which was soft-launched last December, is yet to be fully rolled out.
The system will implement SMS or e-mail alerts by the end of this year to notify home owners when a foreign worker registers at their residential address.
MOM has also contacted affected home owners to rectify residential records and block addresses from further misuse.
They can also "delist" their properties if they have no intention of renting them out to foreign workers.
Since the FWTES soft launch, MOM has received at least 489 reports of misused addresses by home owners, compared with less than 30 cases a year previously.
A minority of cases were due to employers making administrative errors when registering the addresses.
In other cases, employers had deliberately falsified information, likely due to housing their workers in overcrowded units or unapproved factory premises, said MOM.
There were also cases where workers living in overcrowded units deliberately provided false addresses to their employers.
Of the 489 reports, MOM has fined 19 employers for failing to exercise supervision over their foreign workers' residences and for providing false information to MOM.
The spokesman said that fraudulent declarations of information by employers or workers could result in fines of up to $20,000, 12 months' jail, or both.
Additionally, 13 workers have had their work passes revoked and have been banned from working in Singapore.
Home owners whose addresses have been misused can report to the ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Ruzaidie said: "I'm glad that MOM is taking this seriously. It's good that it is doing something about it.
"I didn't expect the problem to be so widespread. It's a serious issue."
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