The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has clarified that Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck did not make the comments that were attributed to him on its Facebook page.
The photo showed Mr Teo, on a bed with no mattress in a dormitory, with the caption: "I learnt that some workers prefer to sleep without a mattress as they are used to it back in their home country."
An MOM spokesman told The New Paper last night that the photo and the accompanying caption, which was posted on Dec 11, were put up by the MOM Facebook administrator.
"We regret the unintended implications and any misunderstanding that the post has caused. To avoid further misrepresentation, we will remove the captions and put up a clarification post on the MOM Facebook page," the spokesman added.
When TNP checked at 8pm yesterday, the photo was still up, but the caption had been removed.
Some Facebook users had felt that the caption was insensitive.
User Johnny Tang asked "...You can't even see how insensitive and condescending this post is?"
Another Facebook user, Ibrahim Khalil, commented that in "our home, we used to sleep (on) the mattress", but it is not comfortable here because the weather is too hot.
"One room 12 person (sic) but only two fans. Is it possible to sleep in (sic) a mattress with two fans only?" he posted. Mr Teo responded on Facebook to Mr Ibrahim's comment, saying: "We will see what can be done."
However, some Facebook users defended Mr Teo by saying that at least he had made the effort to see what life is like inside these dormitories.
The photo is one of eight that MOM uploaded on its Facebook page to show Mr Teo's visit to the foreign workers' dormitory ahead of International Migrants' Day yesterday.
It is observed worldwide every year on Dec 18 to commemorate the sacrifices made by migrant workers.
The MOM spokesman said the visit was to show appreciation for the well-being of the workers.
The spokesman added that MOM hopes the public can refocus their attention to show appreciation to the foreign workers here.
On the clarification, social media and international communications expert Lars Voedisch said: "If you have someone else running your social media accounts, you have to make sure it's built on a clear understanding and trust of the brand.
"It doesn't matter if the brand is a personality or a product, the person must get the tone right. ... And when it comes to comments that could potentially be sensitive, always get it approved. Better be safe than sorry."
This article was first published on Dec 19, 2015.
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