Sundays for them too

SINGAPORE - South Asian workers had congregated in Little India on Sundays to spend their days off for many years. The numbers became obviously untenable when a recent riot broke out there.

So the Government's announcement, that it will build four more recreation centres for foreign workers by the end of next year as an alternative to Little India, is good news indeed. They will ease the bunching of foreign workers in Little India on Sundays. Locals will find it more convenient to go there to eat and buy groceries. Foreign workers will have an alternative place to gather and to rest and relax.

The four centres, to be built in Tuas South, Kranji, Simpang and Jalan Terusan off Jurong Port Road, will have amenities such as basketball and volleyball courts, football and cricket fields, fitness corners, foodcourts, supermarkets and Internet cafes. At least two of them will be located next to dormitories that will house foreign workers, so it will be convenient for them to use the centres. There are four such centres already - in Jurong, Penjuru Road, Woodlands and Kaki Bukit.

Even as the Government begins to build the recreation centres, Singaporeans should collectively demonstrate that they care for the welfare of the foreign workers who, after all, help build Singapore.

The Singapore Contractors Association has shown the way by running a recreation centre in Jurong, providing services such as money transfer, barbering and mobile phone repair. It draws about 6,000 workers on weekdays and as many as 10,000 during weekends. The centres can also narrow the gap between locals and foreign workers, as residents and workers from nearby factories visit the centres for food and groceries. Such interaction can only build social harmony, as the contractors' association president Ho Nyok Yong has pointed out.

This article was published on May 11 in The Straits Times.

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