Poh Yong Han argues that while addressing poor dormitory and food standards for migrant workers are important, they merely represent the tip of the iceberg. Unless we tackle the underlying structural issues that explain why migrant workers “consent” to such poor standards (low wages, high agency fees) in the first place, we are not addressing the root cause of the problem. To address them, she proposes setting a Minimum Income Threshold, and enforcing fair recruitment practices. She further suggests reconsidering whether the Work Permit scheme as it stands is even ethical, and asks if current restrictions (such as tying workers to specific employers) need to be loosened, and whether a fairer migrant worker policy would entail providing them with pathways to citizenship or residency.Read more
In Singapore, foreign domestic workers (FDWs) on Work Permits are subject to various bio-political restrictions: namely, restrictions that govern who they can marry and whether they can be pregnant.
What explains these restrictions, and why is the state so invested in policing the private intimacies of foreign domestic workers? Poh Yong Han traces through parliamentary debates and newspaper articles to show how these restrictions are informed by a neoliberal philosophy that informs how we view citizenship, and unpacks its consequences.Read more
Migrant workers are all too often shut out from avenues to express their issues and concerns for public discussion. In this op-ed, Zakir Hossain Khokan tells us about the issues he has faced as a migrant working in Singapore, and what solutions might look like.Read more
Golden Mile Complex is a Brutalist building facing potential demolition after its owners agreed to a collective sale attempt – much to the dismay of many in Singapore. Most news coverage, however, focuses on its architectural importance to Singapore’s heritage. But it plays an important social role, too, for Thai migrants. In this long-form research paper, Al Lim explores Golden Mile, and investigates the effect of its potential destruction on the Thai migrant community in Singapore.Read more
A humane society cares for all of its members, whether they are citizens or not. But in today’s world, rights are often tied to citizenship. Poh Yong Han explores the options for migrant worker advocacy in Singapore, focusing on the potential power of the arts in bringing about positive change.Read more
Public spaces are under appreciated in their impact on society, Nur Atiqa Asri writes. Based on her evaluations of public spaces in Singapore regularly used by migrant workers, she argues that democratizing our public spaces can help address the emerging fault lines between migrant workers and locals in Singapore’s social fabric.Read more
Yet again, a refugee crisis in Southeast Asia has concerned the world. In Singapore, however, the Government’s usual rejection of an asylum policy has hardly been questioned- unusual for a nation with thriving and critical online discourse of issues. Theophilus Kwek argues that other options are possible- and questions the assumptions that make us shy away from them.Read more