Senior Minister of State for Manpower Dr Koh Poh Koon said in parliament today that shortcomings by the dormitory operator and worker’s employer gave rise to the shameful Westlie Jalan Tukang dorm incident.
He also said that the Manpower Ministry’s Assurance Care and Engagement Group (ACE) was found lacking.
He added that newly-arrived workers at the dormitory were “used to a different COVID-19 management strategy” in their home country.
Workers at the Westlite dorm had complained about the lack of access to medical support, breaches of Covid-19 health protocols, and poor quality of catered food.
They shared photos online of food laced with insects and newspaper bits, fellow workers sleeping along the corridors of the dormitory to avoid infecting their room-mates, and complaints that they were denied medical supplies.
The issue came to a boil on 13 Oct when a large group of workers gathered in the open space of the dorm, prompting the deployment of riot police to the scene.
“In summary, there were shortcomings by all parties. On the employer’s part, workers were upset and had raised issues about food quality and hygiene.”
“On the dormitory operator’s part, they struggled to cope with the surge in numbers. On ACE’s part, we stepped in but did not put in sufficient resources in time to resolve the problem.”
Koh said that all parties have “diligently addressed the issues” following the incident.