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
Al Lim looks at how COVID-19 exacerbates existing vulnerabilities that small business owners already struggle with and considers how government support mechanisms can – and should – be deployed to help them cope with both the ongoing effects and aftermath of the pandemic.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
Protests have a bad rep in Singapore. Framed by the state as violent, divisive, and a threat to stability, protests are deliberately discouraged, largely disallowed, and when permitted, heavily controlled. Poh Yong Han make a case for encouraging “protest culture” in Singapore by responding to common criticisms of protest culture, and outlining the ways in which protests might actually serve to strengthen Singapore.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
Amidst the ongoing debate on how Singapore’s Government responds to inequality-related issues, Theophilus Kwek points to misalignments between the policy lens of the technocratic state, and the naked human eye through which its constituents must view the same issues. He argues that we must go beyond purely data-driven perspectives of inequality, and include street-view perspectives in policy considerations too.Read more