Commentary: Some Facts Josephine Teo Should Have Cried Over Instead

Dormitories, dormitories, dormitories. Something that I have plenty of bones to pick with over and OVER again. Contrary to popular belief by the companies that run them and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), just because they are “disinfected” does not mean that Covid19 would spread slower in the domiciles of these foreign workers. Here are some numbers that Josephine Teo should actually cry over instead of whatever it was she used to pander to people.

Around 200,000 migrant workers live within 43 Purpose-Built Dormitories. That’s roughly 4,652 people per Dormitory on average, and around two-thirds of them are lowly-paid migrants. This same group of people make up about NINETY-FIVE percent of people infected with the coronavirus. Government regulations requires a MINIMUM 50 SQUARE FEET of personal space for each inhabitant. That is 1/3rd of a regular HDB parking spot. Mix this with probably a dozen shared bathrooms and reports of unreliable ventilation, no amount of disinfection will prevent the virus from spreading over and over again.

Even though they come here with the understanding that they would be paid little (in this case, probably $600 – $1000 a month), for roughly $350 a month they get a bunk bed with 11-15 other room mates and amenities that vary in quality. With migrant workers facing higher restrictions than citizens and White-Collar Expats, it doesn’t take a university degree to figure out these kind of conditions will drive the normal person mad. This matches up with plenty of Facebook reports regarding suicide attempts and self harm.

However, not all news is entirely sad. Several measures like routine tests every 2 weeks and limitations on which communal facilities can be visited are in place. This at least gives hope to being detected if one had the virus with a fast response. But it does nothing to the natural instincts of panic over their family overseas, who are scared sick but separated by lines on a map.

And with many of their jobs placed within a standstill by lack of economic activity, they are stuck in a creek without a paddle to escape with. While things like malls, restaurants and parks slowly get back to normal, it still feels like the “circuit breaker” for those in our lowest economic classes. Along with murmurs of a new normal in which groups cannot gather without the proper social distancing, I cannot help but cry for these souls condemned entirely by being at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

I have to sleep soon, but I ask you this dear reader. If Miss Josephine had concern for the working men and women of this country, apparently yearning for a time where demand was crippled in an artificial manner and the stresses of work can be remedied with social interaction or a nice meal out, where the hell is her emotion towards fixing the uneasy relationship we have with the near-invisible hands that literally build our nation one block at a time? Locals they are not, don’t they deserve the same degree of dignity as fellow human beings ?

Until the next incident or injustice, I am your loyal reader Justin

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