Thai workers have help fitting in here, thanks to group

Thai workers have help fitting in here, thanks to group
Ms Rungnapa Kitiarsa from the Friends of Thai Workers Association says the association is a "second home" for Thai nationals here.

THE Thais were here first, making up the bulk of workers during Singapore's construction boom in the 80s and early 90s, years ahead of workers from India and Bangladesh.

Like them, the Thais also had an enclave of their own - Golden Mile Complex.

But unlike their South Indian counterparts, they could count on a body that acts as an intermediary with the Thai government and helps them integrate into Singapore society.

The Friends of Thai Workers Association operates under Thailand's Office of Labour Affairs but is run by volunteers. It organises courses, such as English lessons and computer classes, as well as recreational activities, to help keep Thai workers here occupied and out of trouble.

Committee of Inquiry chairman G. Pannir Selvam mentioned this group on a few occasions - most recently on Tuesday when he told Transient Workers Count Too president Russell Heng of its efforts to help ease Thai workers into life here by teaching them local languages.

The committee had also gone down to Golden Mile Complex in the course of their investigation to speak to migrant workers from Thailand.

On Wednesday, three representatives from the association appeared before the panel to share its experience.

Language, said Ms Rungnapa Kitiarsa, is crucial in helping Thai workers fit in. Her late husband, one of the association's earliest volunteers, started English classes for workers who were usually skilled but struggled with the language barrier.

The association, she said, is also a "second home" for Thai nationals here, and a platform for them to learn new skills.

"It's people living there instead of going to hang out drinking or spending time doing something else... They can upgrade themselves to get a better job as well," she said.

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