Little India Riot Inquiry: Workers happy with condition of dorms

Little India Riot Inquiry: Workers happy with condition of dorms
Mr Manickam Ramesh (foreground, second from right) enjoyed the outing with his friends as they checked out the static display area at the Singapore Airshow 2014 held at the Changi Exhibition Centre on 16 February 2014. They are part of a group of 100 foreign workers whose dormitory boss subsidised their airshow tickets and transport.

Our dormitories are not hellholes.

That was what Mr Saffarullah Abdullah, security manager of the Penjuru Dormitories 1 and 2 in Jurong, told the Committee of Inquiry (COI) on Wednesday.

This came after the Committee chairman G. Pannir Selvam referred to an article by Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily that foreign workers at the Penjuru Dormitories were crammed into dirty rooms, fenced in by barbed wires and closely monitored by closed-circuit televisions.

But Mr Saffarullah disputed the report, which was written by a female reporter and published in January this year.

"We have quarterly inspections of the rooms and we will call the company managers to clean it. We tell the workers to keep it clean," he said.

The dormitory also does not have barbed wires on its premises and the security cameras are placed only on the perimeters. Even then, the cameras are meant to look out for intruders and monitor activity outside the dormitories, he said.

He added that there was "no way" the female reporter could have entered the dormitory, as women are not allowed inside. He also said the workers living there are happy because they have their privacy.

Also appearing before the Committee on Wednesday was Mr Willy Ng, a dormitory operator of Homesafe Lodge in Kaki Bukit.

STANDARD

Having operated Homesafe Lodge for 15 years, he said the standard of the dormitories approved by the Singapore Government surpasses those set by the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's private sector arm.

He said dormitories here should have a living area, canteens, mini-marts and recreational facilities such as an air-conditioned reading room and gymnasiums.

Operators also have to provide Wi-Fi in the dormitories, he added.

"Conditions in dormitories here are better than the living conditions in their own countries," he said.

"When I speak to workers, I realise they are very happy because it offers a clean environment to live in."


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