Singapore Prime Minister’s message to foreign workers

What a contrast to Australia’s treatment of foreign workers.

“We are paying close attention to the welfare of the foreign workers. They came to Singapore to work hard for their living and provide for their families back home. They’ve played an important part building our HDB flats, Changi Airport, MRT lines. We’ve worked with employers to make sure they’ll be paid their salaries and can remit money home. We will provide them with the medical care and treatment that they need. If any of their family members watch my video, let me say this to them:

We appreciate the work and contributions of your sons, fathers, husbands in Singapore. We feel responsible for their wellbeing. We will do our best to take care of their health, livelihood and welfare here. And to let them go home safe and sound to you. On behalf of all Singaporeans, I wish you well.’ ”

The above is a transcript of a message by the Prime Minister of Singapore, published on YouTube on/around 11 April 2020. It is part of a longer message by the Prime Minister to Singaporeans. The full message (around 9 minutes) can be accessed here. A shorter clip of that message (relating to the foreign workers) can be accessed here (around 1 minute). There is also a Mandarin version of the Prime Minister’s message.


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5 Responses to Singapore Prime Minister’s message to foreign workers

  1. Avatar Anthony Pun says:

    Singapore is not exactly a liberal democracy like Australia and in SE Asian terms, it is more like a “guided democracy” with “emergency” or “special” powers that can be invoked to quash opposition, “rebels”, “insurgents” and “communists” – very much curtesy of the former British colonial masters who have taught them well. The late PM Lee Kuan Yew is an expert on this; as a young lawyer trained at Lincoln Inn with Tengku Abdul Raman (Malaysian 1st PM) as his classmate in London, he started as a unionist and later gyrated to the right after taking power Singapore. He was a great legal scholar, highly intelligent and gets things done and his style of guided democracy saw the departure of strong opposition leaders getting the scholarship to study in UK and elsewhere with a one way ticket. No matter what the criticism is from the West, he made Singapore what she is today, the No 1 economy in SE Asia with a high standard of living; their dollar is nearly on par with the US dollar in value. He placed economic rights of Singaporeans before political rights and lifted Singapore from a poor island to one of the richest island state in Asia. A World Bank study showed that up till 2010, almost one million Malaysian Chinese had emigrated to other countries, with 57 per cent of them moving to Singapore. Half my relatives have migrated to Singaporean in the late 1960s where there was a brain drain from Malaysia to Singapore and they all have done well, despite a “slight” autocratic nature of the democracy in Singapore. Today 300,000 ethnic Chinese works in Singapore making the 77% of the population of 5.6 million.
    Singapore is basically a well planned democracy with a some autocratic features, meritocracy in selection of MPs and public servants, socialism with Singaporean characteristics and unlike her neighbour Malaysia, she has no racial problems where a multicultural, multiracial and multi-religious communities can live in unity and harmony under the direction of Lee legacy, which is continued by his son PM Lee Hsien Loong.
    Hence, the political stability, dutiful and responsibility citizens, economic stability and racial harmony provided no barriers in the governmental control of everything from housing to health. The island enjoys a very high standard of health care and is available to all citizens, residents, temporary residents and even illegals. A well controlled ship can fight the coronavirus more effectively. However, readers may not accept my fait accompli of the Singapore government because it runs short of western liberal democracy. Chairman Deng has used Singapore’s experience when he opened up China to the world.

    • Avatar Kien Choong says:

      I often feel we pay too much attention to the dichotomy between “authoritarian” vs “democratic” states; whereas the more important dichotomy is between “good leadership” vs “bad leadership”.

      We understandably prefer to rely on “good institutions” over “good leadership” to deliver good outcomes. But neither democracies nor authoritarian states ensure good outcomes. I recall Amartya Sen saying to the effect that there is no “single step” (or “one ring to rule them all”). Instead, we need to always broaden our perspective and assess how the world goes in a comprehensive manner.

      Political parties need to understand that they have a moral duty to cultivate good leaders.

  2. Avatar Gil Teague says:

    Excellently inclusive. But are there no female foreign workers in Singapore?

    • Avatar Kien Choong says:

      Ha ha, that was my only complaint about the PM’s message. I am sure there are many female foreign workers. Perhaps most of them work as maids, whereas possibly the foreign workers the PM had in mind were those (mostly male workers) who lived in dormitories.

      As I understand it, there had been a small Covid-19 infection outbreak among foreign workers living in dormitories, which understandably caused some concern. And so the PM may have wanted to assure them that their welfare was important to Singaporeans too.

      Nevertheless, the PM could have been more gender-neutral.

  3. Avatar Lorraine Osborn says:

    Singapore shows us up. This of course doesn’t get reported in our MSM. Too busy telling us what a great job the government is doing.

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