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Friday, 14 November 2014


It is interesting how we sometimes can change perceptions after second, or even a third and fourth thought if necessary, 

On first contact with the pictures
and the post title "Simulation exercise involving real foreign workers dehumanizing : says rights group", my first thought seemed to resonate with the writer who was suggesting that the police, and indeed later on Mr Khaw the MND minister for lacking in sensitivity in the deployment of foreign workers in an exercise depicting a riot that could broke put in foreign workers dormitories across the island.

The police responded that the foreign workers had volunteered themselves in this exercise, and according to reports they are actually from an organized group known as "foreign workers ambassadors".  Recalling, I remembered the group was initially formed years ago to tackle littering in public places.  Not much was reported about the group thereafter till this incident.

My second thought to this has somehow diluted the effects of strong condemnation by migrant workers groups.  The police as well as the organizers of this exercise cannot be that inhuman.  What would be most inhuman is when the authorities, the broader community left the foreign workers disengaged, and pull the trigger when they become naughty.  In other words, don't talk to them not inter-relate with them, keep them alone like chickens in cages to lay eggs and sell them away for slaughter when they don't produce anymore.  

But the police cannot be let off without taking some blame.  Their response to the public was grossly under-represented. They have said that the exercise was to test or demonstrate their response towards such incidents and in reality you don't need real foreign workers to co-stage the show in order to arrive at similar outcome. They had not in their public response elaborated the more important side of the exercise which is, 1. To continue informal engagement with the foreign workers community who are alien to our way of life, our laws, and our social expectations.  2. Such exercise can drive home a mental image in the foreign workers community that sad and unbecoming outcomes can be avoided.

While the condemnations by migrant workers groups were well meaning, and what they have been doing for transient workers were highly commendable, there are areas and roles they cannot and probably will not be part but are equally well meaning and beneficial to the foreign workers community.

These experiences in Singapore prepares them to be mentally and emotionally richer than their fellow citizens when they return to their home countries.

Singapore wants to treat foreign workers as fellow human beings and not chickens in cages waiting to be fed, produced, and slaughtered.

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