HK tabloid report on Jurong dorm 'a blatant lie'

A HONG KONG tabloid report describing the Jurong Penjuru Dormitory as prison-like is "a blatant lie", said the residence's security manager, who appeared on Wednesday before the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Dec 8 riot in Little India, to testify about dormitory living conditions.

Mr Saffarullah Abdullah of Mini Environment Services disputed the January report by Hong Kong's Apple Daily, and said it was untrue that barbed wire was used anywhere in or around the dormitory.

The article by a female journalist also stated that foreign workers were squeezed into cramped and dirty dormitories, and lived under oppressive conditions, including having their movements monitored by CCTV cameras.

"We have no barbed wire anywhere at our dorm, and the cameras are all facing the perimeter of the fencing," said Mr Saffarullah.

He added that the 2m high perimeter fencing was a Building and Construction Authority requirement, while residents were free to come and go at any hour of the day.

"She's totally wrong."

While workers are not allowed to bring visitors up to the living quarters, they were free to meet friends at the common areas in the dormitory compound, like the canteen or beer garden, he said.

There was, however, "no way" women - like the Apple Daily reporter who had claimed to have entered the rooms and taken pictures - are allowed into the workers' living quarters.

Mr Saffarullah also said because the dormitory is modelled after a one-room HDB flat, instead of army barracks, "people are very happy at our dormitory, because they have their own privacy".

He added that complaints received from residents were mainly about maintenance issues such as broken taps or showers.

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