Round-the-clock effort to house Malaysian workers pays off, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Round-the-clock effort to house Malaysian workers pays off

This article is more than 12 months old

From securing accommodation for about 10,000 workers, defraying the costs to house them and even patrolling the streets to look for stranded workers, officials across different agencies led by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) in Singapore worked round the clock for three days after Malaysia announced a lockdown.

The MOM yesterday provided details of the steps it took to ensure housing for Malaysian workers stranded in Singapore.

First, a multi-agency team - 25 officials from MOM, Singapore Tourism Board, Housing Board, and their parent ministries - met on Monday night, soon after Malaysia said it would stop its citizens from leaving the country to contain the spread of Covid-19.

With Malaysia's movement control order starting from Wednesday until March 31, the team worked round the clock for three days out of the MOM's service centre in Bendemeer Road, coordinating the demand for lodging from employers while calling hotels and dorm operators to hunt down rooms.

Their efforts paid off, and they were able to help about 2,000 employers find proper accommodation for their workers, from Monday night itself. But a small number were still left without housing.

Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu yesterday said on Facebook that a few workers had to spend the night in a re-purposed sports hall in Jurong East as a result.

News reports of stranded workers, including one by news site Today on Wednesday, said that workers had to "sleep rough" at Kranji MRT station.

An MOM spokesman said Today's article "did not present a full picture of the ground situation as a result of Malaysia's movement control order".

Some of these workers were found by the MOM and the police, which had stepped up patrols across Singapore to check for Malaysian workers without short-term accommodation.

"These included the 14 workers found at Kranji MRT station," MOM said.

They were then brought to the sports hall, which the Ministry of Social and Family Development said was put in place the morning after Malaysia's announcement.

It added that the "vast majority" have since been put up with friends and relatives, and in hotels and dormitories, among other arrangements.