Singapore’s treatment of its migrant workers has been defended by Ambassador to the United States Ashok Kumar Mirpuri in a letter to the New York Times (NYT) as a rebuttal to an opinion piece on its website edition entitled A Sudden Coronavirus Surge Brought Out Singapore’s Dark Side.
“We believe Singapore has done more for our migrant workers than any other country with large numbers of them,” he said.
The NYT piece, written by American writer Megan K Stack, was published on May 20. Ms Stack has been based in Singapore for sometime now. It depicted a somewhat unflattering portrayal of Singapore and was hotly debated on social media, with many Singaporeans unhappy with the writer’s view.
Ms Stack had highlighted how the Singapore government was “blindsided” by the high rate of coronavirus infections among foreign workers in dormitories, and how its early success in the management of the disease quickly disappeared.
The Ambassador’s rebuttal was published in the NYT on June 2.
Mr Mirpuri mentioned that Singaporeans understand the need for strict measures in response to the coronavirus. He said: “We have brought the situation under control and kept our fatality rate among the very lowest in the world.”
The Ambassador also said the Government “acted early to prevent virus transmission in the dormitories where 300,000 of our migrant workers live” and “still the outbreak happened”, for the same reason as on cruise ships, aircraft carriers and in nursing homes: “The virus spreads extremely quickly in dense, community-living conditions.”
He said that Singapore is doing its utmost “to protect the lives and livelihoods of migrant workers”, including carrying out intensive testing, with an eye to eventually test them all.
He added that “more than half of those who tested positive have no symptoms, and in other countries would not have been tested at all”. /TISG