What could a fairer migrant worker policy look like?

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.

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Citizenship in Crisis

What happens to citizenship when crisis disrupts the state’s ability to fulfil its obligations to its citizens, or when citizens find themselves unable to depend on their states for a meaningful guarantee of protection in times of need? Using the emergent COVID-19 pandemic as a lens, Theophilius Kwek considers how states, including Singapore, can do better in caring equally for their citizens – and how citizens can also support each other.

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Il/licit Intimacies: Why The State Regulates FDW’s Intimate Lives

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.

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