The Law Ministry said on Saturday that the key question in the issue of repatriating foreign workers is whether Singapore's laws should be changed to give foreigners who come here to work the right to be heard in court before they are sent home, or if it is in the interest of Singaporeans that decisions on repatriation continue to be made by the Minister for Home Affairs.
Ms Praveen Randhawa, press secretary to Law Minister K. Shanmugam, responded in a statement on Saturday to points made by activists Jolovan Wham and Braema Mathi in letters carried in the free newspaper Today last Thursday and Friday.
Mr Wham, of the group Workfair Singapore, said the Controller of Work Passes and the Controller of Immigration here "should not have arbitrary powers to revoke work passes and deport migrant workers".
Ms Mathi, of the human rights group Maruah, wanted the workers sent before the courts before being deported and said due process should not be subordinated to expediency.
Both wrote in response to earlier comments on the issue by Mr Shanmugam.
This is an excerpt of the ministry's statement on Saturday:
"Today, one of the conditions under which foreign nationals are allowed the privilege to come here to work is that they can be repatriated if, for example, the Minister assesses them to be security threats.