Where do we house foreign workers in Singapore? A place of their own allocated in the industrial area or a place close to main estate of locals? The total foreign workforce (excluding foreign domestic workers) is 1,058,700 (till Dec 2012) (Ministry of Manpower 2013). Let us look at the current supply of commercial foreign worker dormitories in Singapore, less than 0.2 million beds. Here is the question: Where do we find more beds for foreign workers? To arrange foreign workers in close offshore island was one of solutions being proposed by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan recently (Channel News Asia 2013).Offshore island

On the one hand, many local Singaporeans are not comfortable with foreign workers living close to their homes. They think their security and peaceful atmosphere is spoilt by loitering workers. They believe some employers or dormitory vendors do not care about amenities and activities of foreign workers’ free time. When foreign workers have nothing to do in the dorms, they may spread out from their dormitories and permeate the heartlands nearby.

On the other hand, foreign workers are contributing their value to growing Singapore which is recognized by some local residents. These groups of people believe it is not a problem to co-exist with different races. They think foreign workers can be educated on the behaviors what are ‘acceptable’, such as not drinking at void decks, not walking around half-naked, not urinating in public places, etc. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

To host foreign workers in nearby island with providing sufficient infrastructure, like convenient supermarket, hospital, transportation and so on might be a win-win situation for all parties involved in this business. The workers get proper amenities. The companies may pay lesser accommodation fees. The government can build dormitories more cost-effectively. As there are so many parties’ interest should be considered, the project needs to be executed by sophisticated companies which are experienced in designing, building and managing dormitories. As Jules Verne said, ‘Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real. ’

Reference List:

Channel News Asia 2013, Foreign workers will be arranged at nearby offshore islands, [online]. Available at URL: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/s-pore-open-to-housing/631856.html  [Accessed 6 Jun 2013].

Ministry of Manpower 2013, Foreign Workforce Numbers, [online]. Available at URL: http://www.mom.gov.sg/statistics-publications/others/statistics/Pages/ForeignWorkforceNumbers.aspx  [Accessed 6 Jun 2013].