Construction workers not allowed in mall toilets

From ‘Mall apologies for barring construction workers, threatening $107 fine’, 9 June 2018, article by Noel Low, ST

A shopping mall owner has apologised for putting up a sign banning construction workers from its toilets and threatening them with a $107 fine for unauthorised use.

Facebook user Martha Tara Lee took a photo of the warning – taken at the new Marina One centre – and posted it online on Friday (June 8), saying she was “shocked”.

The sign read: “A penalty of $107.00 (incl. of GST) will be imposed for non-compliance and unauthorised use of toilets at level 1 and 2.”

…Ms Lee said she complained about the sign to the building’s management and added of the fine: “What percentage of their daily wage is this?”

Some Facebook users took the sign to be a form of discrimination, while other users pointed out that workers could tread concrete and dirt into the bathrooms

In 2016, Wisma shopping mall took their threat a step further by warning construction workers that they would be banned from working in the building entirely if they ever bring their mess into the toilet. Similarly in 1989, the Manhattan House management exercised its rights as a private property by barring construction workers and supervisors from entering the building, even for services like banking.

If mud from boots and pieces of cement in the sink bothers you, then we should also impose penalties on people who can’t aim with their buttholes when they shit, or those who throw fucking tissue paper in urinals. What about a squad of sweaty boys after football practice in the rain? Ask the cleaners if they would rather mop up footprints or a floating condom in a sea of diarrhoea. I suppose there’s a nicer way to let not just workers, but EVERYONE, know that toilets are public amenities and we should all play our part out of mutual consideration and respect.

It’s easy for us to cry ‘inequality’ and ‘discrimination’ when management gets tough on our guest workers, or if the authorities charge them for plucking leaves from the Botanic Gardens, yet it’s equally easy to be a hypocrite too. Someone who lauds the Good Samaritan qualities of a foreign worker, whether they’re rescuing kittens from drains or risking their lives to save dangling babies, who lambasts a shopping mall for discriminatory practices, who empathises with their shitty wages and how much money they send home, may very well take a stark NIMBY U-turn when it comes to worker dormitories being too close for comfort. 

It’s like saying ‘OK you’re doing good work for country and you deserve the same rights as any self-respecting citizen, but please, can you not hang around the neighbourhood at night? My kids come home around that time after evening tuition. Thank you’. Yes, even if the plush condo that you live in was once built with the sweat and, unfortunately sometimes, the literal BLOOD of a foreign worker. Or if you’re mulling their plight in your cushy bed while they’re out there, without even the luxury of a portable fan, napping in the void deck.

 

 

 

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Foreign workers removing bus stop for airforce exercise

From ‘Don’t rope in construction workers for military exercises’, 17 Nov 2016, ST Forum

(Tan Yulin): I was disappointed to see construction workers removing a bus stop to turn Lim Chu Kang Road into a runway for the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Exercise Torrent (“Turning road into runway“; Nov 12).

Getting construction workers to do the work defeats the purpose of the military exercise. Besides testing the operational abilities of the air force to launch aircraft in a short period of time, it is also important to test the capabilities of our soldiers to convert a road into a runway.

It would have made the exercise more authentic if combat engineers had been activated to remove the bus stops, guard rails and lamp posts, without the help of construction workers.

Doing so would also have served as a test of the different forces working together in times of threat. Besides building teamwork and understanding among the different forces, such exercises should be a test of the operational readiness of our multi-disciplinary armed forces. I hope this can be taken into consideration for future airforce exercises.

Foreign workers have always been a key ‘shadow army’ behind the SAF machine, and if the writer herself had a boy going through NS, she would have been complicit in their invisible work as well. If not for maids, who would help lug our NSmen’s duffel bags home after a hard day’s training, or wash the mud off their No. 4s and boots?

Dismantling bus stops aside, the packing of parachutes has also been outsourced to non-soldiers, with some alleging that PRCs are behind it. With our dismal birthrate and shortage of manpower, it would be unrealistic to stretch our army’s capabilities right down to the most basic of logistics. That includes washing tanks and feeding the army in times of war. Though contracted to ‘civilian’ companies, I’m pretty certain that foreign workers will be involved.

Even the SAF and Police rope in foreign workers. In order to test SCDF’s anti-riot capacity following the Little India incident, actual dorm workers were roped in as part of a simulation exercise, right down to awkward reenactments of throwing projectiles at armed SCDF personnel. A much easier job than pulling bus stops out of the ground if you ask me.

Then Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan said in a FB post that the mock riot was ‘well received…by foreign worker ambassadors‘, and that it was a ‘meaningful collaboration’. Likewise, you could say the use of construction workers to prepare a runway for the RSAF is a cost-saving optimization of resources so that our airforce can focus on their flying stuff and our combat engineers can focus on their bridge-building/demolishing stuff.

It’s time we accept that foreign workers have contributed to our military operations in some way or another, from the rations that soldiers eat to the airborne equipment that keeps them from going splat on the ground. Or maybe the RSAF had intended for actual soldiers to do the dirty work in preparation for the exercise after all, but our boys were activated to other soldierly duties: Managing crowds during a MRT breakdown.

You can’t catch Pokemon in ‘f**king shitty’ Singapore

From ‘Australian expat fired after calling Singapore a shit country for not having Pokemon Go’, 11 July 2016, article in Today

An Australian expat working for property site 99.co has been fired from his job after he called Singapore a “f****** s*** country” on Facebook.

The man, Mr Sonny Truyen, was apparently upset that the game Pokemon GO was not yet available here.

“You can’t f****** catch Pokemon in this piece of f****** s*** country,” he wrote on Facebook.

His comments were screencapped by users of the Hardwarezone forum, who later uncovered that Mr Truyen had been working for 99.co.

Within a day, 99.co’s Chief Executive Darius Cheung published a note on his website and on Hardwarezone that Mr Truyen’s contract had been terminated.

Pokemon GO is sweeping the globe faster than Flappy Bird during its time. Unlike the latter, the ‘augmented reality’ game forces players to actually venture out into the great outdoors to catch virtual Pokemon. It’s like Foursquare meets Tamagotchi. Needless to say it’ll be a massive hit among Singaporean kids. Parents, be afraid. Be very afraid. Your children are going to start hallucinating Pokemon everywhere they go when they’re not engrossed in their phones. Not only would they ‘rage’ like the dick that Sonny Truyen is when they can’t ‘catch them all’, but by blurring the lines between fantasy and reality Pokemon GO will turn gamers into digital zombies and put their lives at risk when they start straying onto busy roads or falling into drains chasing after illusory Pokemon.

If you’re an Ashley Madison addict who thrives off meeting exotic Asian cheating wives, you’re going to be cursing about how fucking shit this country is too. Nothing good comes out of insulting Singapore. We don’t have a Thai king yet the Internet vigilante will unleash its brand of lese majeste when our sovereignty is undermined. Anton Casey was fired and ejected all the way to Perth for complaining about the stench of the poor unwashed masses on the MRT. 

Truyen has since apologised, and though what he ranted about was pretty thoughtless and juvenile, it wasn’t discriminatory or racist, nor was he inciting violence like Bryan ‘open fire’ Lim. A foreigner has every right to think that Singapore sucks balls, and if Sonny genuinely thinks Singapore is shit then so be it. Why waste our time trying to defend it? I reserve my opinions about how awful some of our neighbouring cities can be. If I get spotted walking around in some ghetto pinching my nose with a look of anguish on my face, no one is going to call for my termination. Yet if I verbalise my hate on Facebook that so-and-so place smells worse than llama poop, the shit will surely hit the fan.

Sonny’s just an employee of a company with a spammy name (99.co) that sounds like an knockoff online casino site. A Taiwanese politician once referred to us as – literally – a ‘pi-sai’ (nose shit). Where was the Internet patriot brigade then?

MP Denise Phua on walking time bombs

From ‘MP Denise Phua apologises for using phrase ‘walking time bombs”, 8 Apr 16, article in CNA

Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar Ms Denise Phua apologised on Friday  (Apr 8) for her choice of words in her recent speech during the Ministry of Home Affairs budget debate.

“I should not have used the phrase ‘walking time-bombs’ to describe congregations of high density,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Ms Phua, who is also the mayor of the Central Singapore, was relating a recent visit to Little India in Parliament. As her constituency covers part of the Little India neighbourhood, she had put forth some suggestions in an effort to safeguard against a repeat of the Little India riot. The suggestions include forming a multi-agency Task Force to manage security risks of congestion or ring-fencing communal residential areas.

“I have no intention to undermine any specific group,” Ms Phua explained. “I personally get along very well with the foreign cleaners in my constituency. To them and the other foreign workers in our country, thank you for your help and please accept my sincere apology if I have caused you concern.”

If the Mayor of Central Singapore had stopped at a simple apology, her supporters could still argue in her defence that she only used the phrase on unruly crowds in general. By bringing in ‘foreign cleaners’ in her follow up response, it’s clear who she was referring to. To make matters worse, her ring-fencing suggestion brings to mind barbed wire, sentry posts and District 9.

Amazingly, this isn’t the first time that Denise has used ‘walking time bomb’. She used it to describe the remote gambling industry, (though technically a website doesn’t ‘walk’ so it’s more accurate to call it a ‘ticking’ time bomb instead).  Whether it’s an online casino or a bunch of workers chilling with a six pack, anything that looks suspicious to Denise Phua is a disaster waiting to happen. Our dismal birth rate. The diabetes epidemic. The Korean fried chicken craze. They’re all goddamn ticking time bombs. At least our leaders are wise enough to avoid using bomby analogies to address the ISIS situation, unlike this inflammatory headline from the Herald Sun.

There are less controversial ways of employing such violent metaphors. You could call an obese man with heart problems a ‘walking time bomb‘ and no one would call you out for hate speech. Or kids who are prone to temper tantrums (What makes your little walking time bomb tick?15 March 2016, ST). Even teenage sex is a ‘ticking time bomb’. It’s a metaphor that’s designed to instill irrational fear and creates more impact than just saying ‘The crowds in Little India are, well, A CONCERN’. Still, it’s best to avoid any utterance of the word ‘bomb’ in Parliament. In today’s climate, a bomb is no longer a staple Wile Coyote prank in a cartoon. People have been arrested for making bomb hoaxes over the phone. No other 4 words in the history of the English language would incur more time, resources and chaos than you shouting ‘I HAVE A BOMB’ on a plane.

Little India is not the only place that may require you to suit up like our Explosives and Ordnance Unit. Geylang has also been affectionately termed by Police Commisioner Ng Joon Hee as a ‘potential powder keg‘ in 2014.  The chances of anyone actually getting injured in these ‘lawless’ enclaves is low however, compared to the ticking time bomb that is peak-hour commuters on a platform in Jurong Interchange MRT.

I guess it will be the last that we hear of Denise ‘Time-bomb’ Phua’s pet phrase. Maybe we’d all be less harsh on her had she used ‘a bubble waiting to burst’, ‘a kettle boiling over’ or a ‘pimple waiting to pop’ instead.

Maid starved by employers until all ‘skin and bones’

From ‘Couple on trial for starving maid till she weighed just 29kg’, 14 Dec 15, article by Vanessa Paige Chelvan, CNA

A Singaporean couple is on trial for allegedly starving their Filipina domestic helper. She weighed just 29kg when she escaped from their Orchard Road condominium in April 2014. Lim Choon Hong and wife Chong Sui Foon, both 47, face one charge each under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, which states that employers are responsible for the “maintenance” of their foreign employee, including providing them with adequate food.

Ms Thelma Oyasan Gawidan, 40, had worked for the couple for almost 1.5 years before she escaped and sought refuge at HOME, a non-profit organisation that assists migrant workers, including domestic helpers.  Ms Thelma lost 20kg whilst working for Lim and Chong. She told HOME of only being given instant noodles to eat twice a day for over a year. On some occasions, she was given bread.

…Chong would sometimes add some meat and vegetables to her food, Ms Thelma told the court, but in the form of “one slice of tomato … or cucumber“.

Ms Thelma was never allowed to eat out with the family. Even when Lim and Chong brought their three children to stay at Raffles Hotel, they packed instant noodles and bread for Ms Thelma.

…If found guilty, Lim and Chong could be jailed up to 12 months and/or fined up to S$10,000.

In 2014, Singaporeans wasted 788,600 tonnes of food, which works out to be 2 bowls of rice per person per day, or 1400 A380 planes. Mere scraps of this obscene excess are ending up in the stomachs of our foreign workers. Maids are given instant noodles, and construction workers are fed with bread as chewy as tyre. 

Like rape, such incidents are likely to be under-reported out of fear of stigma, retaliation or of losing their jobs. Yet, the MOM tells us that over 99% of FDWs surveyed report having ‘sufficient food to eat’ daily, and continue to assure us that our guest workers are generally satisfied with their employers, until they decide to flip cars over and burn them, that is. Those driven to hunger and desperation may resort to begging neighbours for food, or in the most extreme case, take it out on the employers themselves.

Despite our rising affluence and how people like Theresa’s alleged abusers can afford a condo in Orchard and have staycations at the Raffles Hotel, we still have maids being treated worse than animals, a hideous symptom of a self-proclaimed First World society practising modern slavery behind closed doors. Starvation and being monitored more tightly than prisoners aside, we have a shameful, horrific history of maids having their nipple bitten off, being fed dogshit and getting kicked in the groin.

Lim and Chong are treading a thin line with their penny-pinching tyranny. A Malaysian couple were sentenced to HANG for the crime of starving their Cambodian maid to death, which was tantamount to murder. If found guilty, the pair should not only be jailed for torture, but banned by the MOM from ever hiring helpers of any sort. The next victim may very well lose more than just a chunk of her weight.

PRC peddlers waving tissue paper in your face

From ‘Upset over foreign tissue paper sellers’, 13 Sep 15, article by Theresa Tan, Sunday Times

Able-bodied foreigners are flying in to sell tissue paper in public areas, upsetting elderly or disabled Singaporeans who are earning a living this way.

Women in their 50s and 60s from China, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar have been seen selling packets of tissue paper at hawker centres, coffee shops and other places. They come as tourists, stay as long as their visas allow, and sell three packets of tissue for $1 – the same as the local sellers.

Hawkers and local tissue paper sellers said they first noticed the foreigners about a year ago.

…In the first six months of the year, the NEA rounded up 145 illegal hawkers selling tissue paper, mobile phone accessories, clothes and other goods. About half were foreigners, an NEA spokesman told The Sunday Times.

…Retired organisational psychologist Michael Loh said he finds it annoying when Chinese nationals approach him at food courts and coffee outlets at malls near the Jurong East MRT station.

“They are aggressive and wave the tissue paper in your face. This is a disguised form of begging and I feel they are taking advantage of Singaporeans’ generosity,” he said.

The elections are finally over, and we already have the first piece of news that would make the Opposition think: ‘Damn, why didn’t I bring this up during the rallies?’.

I’ve always wondered how foreigners who need to sell tissue paper or even beg from generous Singaporeans could afford to even buy their ticket into the country. During Ramadan, foreign beggars from countries as far away as Pakistan make up the ‘seasonal menace’ at Kampong Glam, going around the enclave receiving alms from locals. (Beggars descend on Kampong Glam, Jul 5 2015, ST). Some speculate that these foreigners could be part of a syndicate. In 2014, a ST Forum writer cited an incident of a man coming out of a ‘Malaysian-registered’ van collecting and replacing a donation tin belonging to an elderly man with no legs. It’s no wonder that tissue paper is lucrative enough for schemers to capitalise on, since Singaporean office workers can’t have their lunch without their trusty ‘chope’ companion.

If these ‘guest’  tissue sellers are truly part of an international syndicate, they could be sent home with a comfortable cut on a plane the very next day, having sumptuous airline food, while our ‘pioneer generation’ count coins to buy themselves kopi for breakfast, not to mention recoup their $120 licence fee. NEA may be rounding up the flock, but perhaps the damage has already been done, as Singaporeans become more wary of tissue peddlers or street vendors in general, whether they’re licensed by the authorities or not.  But this foreign competition isn’t the least surprising, considering that it’s a struggle faced even by elderly cardboard collectors. Here we have needy Singaporeans living day by day toiling in the sun, only to have some fly by night PRC on a tourist visa bossing them around and claiming territory in a land that doesn’t even belong to them.

Maybe the Workforce Development Agency could do something, like teach our cardboard collectors how to negotiate with aggressive foreign competitors around turf lines, or self-defence catered for seniors, which they should be able to pick up easily since they’ve done so much ‘exercise’ already. Caring for our unskilled work force and throwing money at them isn’t enough. The Government needs to fight for their very survival against this tide of strangers who invade our shores to illegally eat into the rice bowls of our own people. Interpol should be engaged to crack down on syndicates, not runaway rogue politicians. ICA needs to do a more thorough job screening visitors with shady agendas, whether they’re here selling tissue paper or their own bodies for a few days. If the NEA can’t physically hunt them down, then by God, Tan Chuan-Jin, please put your sprint prowess to better use.

Singapore turning away Rohingya boat people

From ‘Challenge, opportunity for Singapore’, 19 May 2015, ST Forum

(Mohamed Yazeed): THE complicated situation arising from the desperate migration of Rohingya people from Myanmar poses both a challenge and opportunity for Singapore.

The historical narrative we subscribe to, of Singapore being small and vulnerable and, hence, needing to do whatever it takes to survive, should not be an excuse to abandon our humanity.

Let us not speak of justice and compassion, yet turn away when there are human beings facing the horrendous fate of dying out in the ocean, which is right at our doorstep.

Although Singapore cannot accept any Rohingya due to the size of our nation, we can take the lead in trying to solve this problem at its roots.

Earlier this month, the Singapore Kindness Movement reported that we are becoming more ‘gracious’. Apparently the study did not evaluate whether Singaporeans were willing to escort drifting, hungry refugees onto our island and offer them food and shelter, instead of shooing them away because we can’t cope with the influx thereby letting them perish in the middle of the ocean or get robbed and raped by roving pirates.

In 1978, the late LKY responded to critics of our nation’s reluctance to extend a helping hand to Viet refugees, saying that ‘you’ve got to grow calluses on your heart or you’ll just bleed to death’. In other words, we were looking out for our own, and trying not to play Good Samaritan like someone opening his own doors to a horde of festering lepers. Except that at the time we were already letting thousands of migrants in through another door to boost the economy, nevermind the ‘small size’.  Despite all the money rushing in, we still had a heart of stone rather than one of gold. And for good reason too, according to S Rajaratnam, who in 1979 said that us extending a helping hand would mean ‘encouraging those responsible (for the exodus) to force even more refugees to flee’. That being ‘nice’ isn’t going to help humanity in the long run. Still, one of those Viet refugees rejected by us turned out to be a rather successful Australian governor.

Today, we continue to adopt the hard pragmatic stance of self-preservation at the expense of our ‘humanity’, but while turning away ‘illegal’ boat people, we welcome with open arms rich Chinese fraudsters and grant them PRs, or Caucasian hooligans who beat up taxi drivers and jump bail.  As the richest member of ASEAN, we fully expect our neighbours to give us the side-eye for brushing some desperate, stateless, fellow humans aside. It also doesn’t help that we’re on chummy terms with military junta leader Thein Sein, so much so that we have even named an orchid after him.

Meanwhile, despite the Rohingya crisis smack in our backyward, we send medical teams to far-flung disaster-struck Nepal to rebuild lives and go around dropping spare change into donation cans at 7-Elevens. Perhaps our callused heart is not that cold after all.