Human trafficking and shadow boxing

pic_201309_23Last Sunday, I was about to leave for a family dinner when the phone rang. It was a Bangladeshi worker on the line, someone I had worked with for the past two years over his employment problems. His present job is “OK”, he said. However, he wanted to bring a friend to meet me later the same evening.

“My friend, he have problem,” said Alamin.

I tried to shift the date and time, but it was near-impossible. Alamin works seven days a week and most evenings. He’s only free Saturday and Sunday evenings. Reluctantly, I agreed to see him and his friend at 9:30 pm, cutting short my family dinner. 

The two of them waited for me at a neighbourhood McDonald’s as I had requested. Alamin introduced me to Pervez, his friend from Bangladesh, who had just arrived in Singapore about a month earlier for his second construction job. (Pervez is not his real name — I don’t want to jeopardise his options by identifying him at this stage).

The tale he told was all too familiar from my volunteering experience at Transient Workers Count Too. It went like this:

Returning to Bangladesh after his first job, Pervez heard about a job opening at another construction company through informal channels. The “agent fee” would be $2,400, a sum he would need to pay as soon as he arrived in Singapore. This he did to the “agent”,  who turned out to be a fellow worker — let’s call him Hasan — in the same company. It’s an increasingly common scenario; management are increasingly turning to trusted senior workers to recommend new hires instead of using registered employment agents.

The promised basic salary was $700 a month — a figure that the employer provided to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in its application for a work permit. The same figure appears in a document that MOM provided Pervez to inform him that his work permit had been approved.

Pervez started work on 6 August 2013.

On Saturday, 14 September, he received his first wages. It was only $592 in cash, unaccompanied by any payslip showing the calculations. The amount didn’t seem right. Although he had only started work a week into August, he had worked much overtime. The normal hours themselves should add up to about $587 when prorated for the portion of August he worked.

As for overtime, in that month alone, he chalked up 56 hours of it — as can be seen from his time card — which works out to an extra $308 in overtime pay. In total, his August salary should have been $895, not the $592 that he received. $303 is a big difference for someone on a low-pay job.

Pervez asked his boss straight away why the amount was so low. The boss said, dismissively, that as far as he was concerned, the basic monthly salary was not $700, but $570.


This practice of lowering a migrant worker’s salary almost immediately after his arrival is quite common. Unscrupulous bosses take unfair advantage of the fact that the worker has paid thousands of dollars to secure the job and would suffer a great loss if he protested too hard and is sent back home.

Such exploitative behaviour on the part of employers resembles human trafficking. While we often think of human trafficking in terms of the sex trade, the key operative factor here when extracting involuntary labour is very similar, i.e. a human being is controlled and exploited by another.

Misrepresentation of salary to entice a human to cross a border, putting himself under another’s control, is no different in principle from dangling the promise of a restaurant waitress job, only to compel a woman to do sex work when she has arrived.

I did a quick calculation. Even on this lower basis, the total pay for August, inclusive of overtime, should still be $729, not $592. I cannot figure out how the latter total was arrived at. In any case, Pervez was not about to accept such an arbitrary cut in his basic pay.

What should he do? he asked.

Alamin looked at me too, half knowing the answer. He had been in the same fix in his previous job and had relied on me to help him put his case to MOM.

Lousy options

Pervez didn’t get much of a hopeful answer from me. He had two main options, both far from ideal:

1. Lodge a complaint at MOM now;

2. Continue working for the next eleven months and lodge a complaint at MOM when his work permit approaches its expiry date.

Why were these options far from ideal? Because they came with a hefty price or severe risks.

Option 1: Complain now

If he lodged a complaint promptly, he would surely lose his job. Having paid $2,400 for it, he would be in a net loss situation. Worse yet, he’d be trapped in MOM’s totally crazy system:

  • He’d have to stay in Singapore for an unknown length of time (could be months and years) while his complaint is investigated and resolved;
  • In the meantime, he is not allowed to work, unless MOM makes an exception for him to find a temporary job or transfer to a new permanent job; such permission is not guaranteed.

If he is not allowed to look for another job, which is a strong possibility, he will be broke and homeless while waiting for case resolution. That said, whilst MOM used to routinely refuse permission to seek a transfer job, more and more exceptions have lately been made. Nonetheless, because such permissions are ad hoc, it is very hard for a worker to calculate his chances before antagonising his existing employer by lodging a formal complaint.


Faced with his boss’ intransigent attitude, Pervez explored the possibility of quitting. He asked Hasan, the co-worker/”agent”, if he could get his “agent fee” of $2,400 back.

Hasan said he had given the bulk of it — $2,000 — to the boss.

Such kickbacks are illegal. But from my experience, I’d estimate that at least half of male foreign workers in Singapore have reason to believe that their employers pocket a good part of their placement fees. That the practice is so widespread, yet prosecutions rare, tells you how unscrupulous hiring practices are and how ineffective MOM is in stamping it out.

Moreover, even when MOM gives permission to a worker to look for a transfer job, MOM gives only two weeks. “If you can’t find a job within two weeks, you must go back home,” it tells workers. This is absurdly short, especially when few employers have work permit quotas in hand. I wonder whether a typical low-wage Singapore citizen, after losing one job, can find another within two weeks. Is MOM genuine about allowing foreign workers to transfer or not?

In a July 2013 call for public views, MOM indicated that it was beginning to reconsider “Circumstances under which foreign workers could be allowed to change employers.” They may at last be cognisant of the inhuman problems their own policies cause and may be prepared to amend them. Yet, knowing the way bureaucracies work, it will be a while before any changes come into effect. It won’t benefit Pervez.

Option 2: Complain nearer the expiry of the work permit

If Pervez takes the second option and decides to continue in the job for a year before making a salary claim, he will have another set of problems. To make a claim that looks back over eleven or twelve months, he will need to have reasonable documentary evidence. The problem is that it is employers who control the evidence. Take Pervez’s case, for example:

  • His salary is paid in cash with no unalterable, forgery-proof written record;
  • He is not provided with a payslip showing detailed calculations;
  • His time card is hopelessly casual. His August time card did not even indicate the month of August on it. Later on, it can be disputed which month the card was for.  Moreover, the hours worked were hand-written and initialled by a fellow worker, not the supervisor or manager. I can imagine a scenario when, after Pervez has lodged a formal complaint at MOM, the employer disowns the time card and says it had not authorised this record of the hours worked. It will be easy for the employer to allege that Pervez never showed up for work on several days or that the record overstated his overtime hours.

Transient Workers Count Too has argued for years that allowing such abuse-prone employment practices to continue keeps workers at a severe disadvantage.  The organisation has repeatedly argued for rules that require all employers to provide detailed itemised payslips, and to pay salaries through a bank. That way, employees can check how their pay has been calculated, with a third-party (bank) record of how much they were actually paid.

It seems that the ministry is finally paying heed. The same consultation call posed the question of “whether written employment terms and electronic payment of workers’ salaries should be made mandatory, so as to avoid disputes with employers about such terms and to ensure timely salary payments.” Even so, the requirement for an itemised pay slip is missing. Without it, how does a worker know whether the amount is correct?

“Impartial NGOs”

Don’t for any moment imagine that ministries are open to much feedback or suggestions, even if MOM appears to be creeping towards the solutions that Transient Workers Count Too has been banging on for years.

Misplaced focus

The parliamentary question and answer goes on at length about international co-operation to stamp out human trafficking. There is the implicit assumption that trafficking mainly has women and children as victims.

As Pervez’s case shows, we ought to pay closer attention to all the trafficking-like behaviour that goes on right under our noses, involving labour extracted from foreign workers with a degree of compulsion. In terms of the number of victims, quasi-trafficking for labour dwarfs trafficking for the sex and drug trades. We have perhaps 700,000 male migrant workers here. Even if one in ten find themselves in situations like Pervez’s, that’s 70,000 victims.

Iswaran reeled off four P’s: Prevention of the crime, Prosecution of perpetrators, Protection of victims, and Partnerships with foreign agencies. Take a look at Pervez’s case again. Any sign of even a single P?

One might argue that until Pervez lodges a formal complaint, how would MOM even know about his case and do something about it? Fair enough, but consider this: The reason Pervez holds back from lodging a complaint now is because the system would penalise him for doing so. There is simply no whistle-blower protection mechanism. If he complains at the end of his working year, it might get dismissed because he might have no evidence in hand.

So, the question should be this: Who has been responsible for creating this monstrous state of affairs that allows trafficking-like behaviour to flourish with impunity?

A recent statement in Parliament (link to video) may give the game away. After Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran spoke about how Singapore was co-operating internationally to combat human trafficking, Christopher De Souza (PAP, Holland-Bukit Timah) gently lobbed a question, asking “Would the ministry be open to more co-operation with impartial NGOs”? (4 min 03 secs)

Why did he tack on the modifier “impartial”?

S Iswaran, in his reply, noted that De Souza used the term (5 min 47 secs), but did nothing to disassociate himself from it and all the ugly connotations it came with.

What on earth is an impartial non-government organisation? There is no such genuine article. All NGOs have a mission; each is very partial to its mission — the very raison d’être of its existence. So what did De Souza and Iswaran mean?

But we Singaporeans do know what they mean, don’t we? It means pseudo NGOs that don’t criticise the government, but only offer cheerleading, bootlicking and the gentlest of “helpful” suggestions — behind closed doors, so as not to embarrass the ruling party. Independent trade unions for example would be intolerably partial NGOs. Government-run NTUC — ah, those folks are “impartial”, even though a cabinet minister sits atop it. Civil society speaking up for the underdogs would be insufferably partial; apologists from government-run think-tanks — now, they are “impartial”.

Such is the deformed language of our government.

This suggests that the government has no sincere intention to engage with real NGOs. Even in an age of social media and rising aspirations for greater democratic engagement, all they want is shadow-play.

Why are foreign workers like Pervez treated so badly?  Why are case resolution procedures so shabbily ineffective? Why are some employers still depressing wages by their duplicity and trafficking-like behaviour? Because the government refuses to listen to and learn from those who know.

35 Responses to “Human trafficking and shadow boxing”

  1. 1 Sgcynic 22 September 2013 at 01:20

    They recently highlighted their “impartial” NGO under Yeo Guat Kwang who used to head another impartial NGO Case, now headed by another impartial ex-PAP MP Lim Biow Chuan. This NGO gives me the impression that it is simply riding on the hard work of others and now claims credit for it. Shame!

    • 2 yawningbread 22 September 2013 at 09:47

      One likely reason why this govt is so fond of pseudo-NGOs is so that they can conduct their public relations (towards both domestic and international audiences) by saying that they are a consultative govt that engages with “civil society”. Nowhere will they admit that they choose to consult only with like-minded people whom they themselves have appointed, or that they actively exclude anyone with challenging ideas.

      • 3 The 24 September 2013 at 14:11

        More than that. It is their modus operandi to create parallel entities that they can control to give the impression that there is competition and diversity of views and entities.

        Monopoly of public transport? Create SMRT and Comfort/Delgro (both GLCs) to give a semblance of competition.

        No political opposition? Create NMPs and NCMPs to hoodwink the public that there is diversity of views.

        No labour unions? Create NTUC to pretend that we have unions (never mind the fact that the union leaders are also politicians from the ruling party.)

        No consultation with the people on important issues? Publish the white paper of the 6,9m population, and then have a con (er, I mean con as in consultation) job of having a Nat Con (that doesn’t sound nice – so let’s conveniently change it to Our Singapore Conversation).

  2. 4 Doya 22 September 2013 at 01:27

    And we have a head of the Government in the name of LHL, whose conscience and moral authority to lead is seriously in question, pretending to be in the same league, sitting next to a Nobel laureate for Peace, an icon, whose sacrifices in fighting for democratic Myanmar are legendary.

    What shame, what audacity.

  3. 5 Ang 22 September 2013 at 02:04

    Why not expose the irresponsible employers? But not exposing, they will continue with their misdeeds.

    • 6 yawningbread 22 September 2013 at 09:44

      It can be done, but only (a) if the worker has provided enough evidence, and (b) if doing so does not hurt the worker’s best interests. In Pervez’ case, (b) applies.

    • 7 Anon BDsW 22 September 2013 at 11:49

      Expose them and they’ll just start a new company and carry-on. The original company will “take one for the team”. Private limited company, so no problem. I believe this is industry SOP.

      For people who think it is OK to profit from the misery of others, I think they have a fundamental defect in character. Only God can help them.

      Their fellowmen can only help the victims.

  4. 8 jpatokal 22 September 2013 at 06:16

    Great if infuriating article as usual. But the answer to your “Why?” is pretty obvious: the current status quo suits the employers, who get cheap docile labour, the agents, who get juicy kickbacks, and the ministry, who get their pound of flesh (levies) and can avoid the hassle of actually investigating any abuses simply by making it practically impossible to file a case. It’s only the worker who loses, but he has no power and can’t even vote.

    • 9 Vote PAP 22 September 2013 at 13:08

      Quite true. It is a win-win situation for the government and the employers. Why would they care? And for the 60%, it doesn’t affect them. So they will still continue to vote for PAP come 2016. What can you do about it except complain.

      • 10 Automaton 22 September 2013 at 18:44

        I would go one step further: from this layman’s perspective, the stronger protections Alex is pushing for would result in higher cost of living (and hence weaker purchasing power) for the general populace. High construction costs leads to higher property values, higher rental costs, higher retail prices etc. I suspect many would think the same way (I’d be happy to be proven wrong).

        If yawningbread’s hypothesis on “Singaporeans” being “uneducated” and thus not being civic minded holds true, that would explain why most people and the gov won’t care.

      • 11 yawningbread 22 September 2013 at 23:50

        Well, if Singaporeans really want cheap, cheaper and cheapest above everything else, why stop at low wages? Why not reintroduce slavery?

      • 12 Automaton 23 September 2013 at 01:37

        yawning: not sure if serious… int’l relations disaster (sanctions? even war??) aside…

        No one is calling for slavery. All I’m saying is the issue is easy for the majority to ignore when the solution will impact the majority’s pockets negatively. Inaction is easier than action. Thus I question the political will to change the status quo, not just within gov but as a society (everyone living in singapore who doesn’t fall under the construction and domestic foreign worker category).

      • 13 simon 23 September 2013 at 08:42

        They are importing slaves from Myanmar. Read the rules. Boss is always right. Cannot wash your clothes together with your boss clothes. Say sorry when being scolded. Cheaper than Filipino.

      • 14 Harish 23 September 2013 at 21:20

        Automaton, you are wrong – it doesn’t work that way.

        The bosses cream the profits. The government makes the levies. But for you and I, construction costs have very little to do with we pay at the end of the day – just ask the HDB.

        The truth is: paying workers more simply means that less workers being employed to do the same amount of work – increased labour productivity. The contractors know how to make it happen. Machinery is one thing. But there is so much more, such as organisational structures, training and work processes.

        Change is not too difficult. It just needs us to put in place the right carrots and sticks. And uplifting the downtrodden; don’t you want to be a do-gooder?

      • 15 yawningbread 23 September 2013 at 22:32

        You wrote: “The contractors know how to make it happen. Machinery is one thing. But there is so much more, such as organisational structures, training and work processes.”

        Speaking of training, I just compiled a report for TWC2 about how MOM’s efforts to raise productivity in the construction sector through requiring that only workers with at least some basic skills are brought into Singapore, are being defeated by contractors. It’s a longish report. Read it here:

      • 16 Harish 24 September 2013 at 23:16

        Thanks for the link, Alex. Wow that’s some detailed investigations.

        It’s so sad. Thousands of young people seeking opportunities to make a better life by upgrading themselves. And some Singaporean entities seeking to exploit their eagerness at every nook and cranny possible.

        I guess it provides a window into the true nature of an influential section of Singapore society – influential, as somehow it seems that our government is hesitant to oppose their ways.

        Perhaps a name and shame campaign of developers/developments in SG would make things better? I mean like condos are meant to be luxuries: Anyone up for “Lush Villas, TOP: XX/XX/XX”? – Discounts made possible through the trafficking-like exploitation of its constructors.

      • 17 Automaton 26 September 2013 at 23:00

        Harish, with across the board increases to labor costs, what’s to stop these bosses from protecting their margins by passing the increased costs onto the buyer?

        According to this entry originally by Leong Sze Hian on TOC: , back in 2009, construction costs accounted for around 40% of a Punggol flat’s BTO price. HDB is making a killing, but 40% isn’t “very little” either.

        “The truth is: paying workers more simply means that less workers being employed to do the same amount of work”

        In some cases yes, but depending on the situation it could also mean the same number of workers being paid more to do the same amount of work – and higher construction costs.

        While I’m not against increasing improving the productivity of construction workers per se, that shouldn’t be an end goal in itself, which is what you seem to be implying. If the argument was “increasing productivity of construction workers would result in cheaper flats”, a lot more people would be interested, but you don’t seem to be making that argument.

        Even if the MOM program detailed in the twc2 report worked as planned (a more productive construction workforce), I’m not sure how it would benefit Singaporeans. And as it stands, I’d much rather MOM stop spending money implementing this certification system (that is being exploited by a few) and use the savings to reduce the levies. Might as well go back to single tier levy for construction too.

      • 18 Harish 29 September 2013 at 15:21

        Hi Automaton,

        Thank you for your reply and for your link to Mr Leong’s article.

        I too believe, as per Mr Leong’s analysis, that construction costs are only about 40% of the prices of HDB BTO flats.

        Labour costs of workers however, are very much lower:

        Typical wages of general workers are $18/day (8am-7pm) – before deductions. I believe, with overtime, additional wages for foremen and supervisors, effective wages paid would be in the range of $20 to $30/day (will be glad if anyone could advise better).

        Doing a simple sensitivity analysis (see note below for assumptions):

        – Labour $20/day: 4% of BTO flat price (10% of construction costs)
        – Labour $25/day: 5% of BTO flat price (12.5% of construction costs)
        – Labour $30/day: 6% of BTO flat price (15% of construction costs)

        – Labour $40/day: 8% of BTO flat price (20% of construction costs)
        – Labour $50/day: 10% of BTO flat price (25% of construction costs)
        – Labour $60/day: 12% of BTO flat price (30% of construction costs)

        – Comparative cost of levies @ $10-$15/day: 2-3% of BTO flat price (5-7.5% of construction costs)

        Note: Labour costs are assuming

        – a $200 million dollar project – say 15 blocks (15-storey) with 2 carparks
        – 500 workers (typical peak worker count for project of this size)
        – for 750 days (about 2 years)

        Reiterating, labour costs make up a very small percentage of the price of a HDB BTO flat – in the mid single digits. You can extrapolate for resale and private properties.

        The truth is trafficking-like employment practices isn’t going to bring down housing prices by a single cent.

        Instead, as in my previous post:

        – The bosses cream the profits [because there are so many workers]
        – The government makes the levies [again, because there are so many workers, but a poorer bargain I should say – which is why I believe the bosses are somehow very influential]
        – But for you and I, construction [or more so – labour] costs have very little to do with we pay at the end of the day

  5. 19 A. Sim 22 September 2013 at 13:11

    There should be system to protect employees which the government can come with, and should be across the board, local or foreign,

    This system must be legislated preferably under the purview of MOM.

    It can be called for eg. Work Choice Protection or Fair Work Place Legislation or whatever they want to call it, and should cover the ethics of both employer and employee, and should cover the following:

    Full documentation as quality record.
    Unfair Dismissal law – covering, abuse, bullying, discrimination (sex and race)
    Arbitration by MOM.

    Under the unfair dismissal law, employees will be protected from unconscionable termination if their rights are not compromised, if they have to bring the matter to MOM.

    This system is very effective in Australia. For example, if someone is terminated due to non-performance or subordination, there should be sufficient evidence and documented accordingly. 3 strikes and you are out policy. End of dispute.

    Say if this policy is in place, Pervez can go straight to MOM without fear of any ramifications. He is underpaid, he has the right to request for redress. And if this cannot be resolved, assistance and clarification by MOM maybe necessary. Because if this policy is in place, Pervaz cannot be terminated as it will be against the policy and the company will have to spend more time and resources to address the matter, which most companies will no want to do, when it involves monetary penalties and compensation.

    • 20 Saycheese 23 September 2013 at 17:05

      Which is precisely what MOM will not do in its desire to help employers.

      BTW our government is pro union – it even appoints the union chief as Minister so that he could be paid millions $$$ to avoid corruption.

  6. 21 ;Annonymous 22 September 2013 at 16:27

    The shadows are everywhere but where is the boxing? Just another example of the great man’s legacy praised to the skies by aspiring pall-bearers.”I appoint you and you appoint me” was a good idea, copied from the Catholic church, he said. It is so egregious. Suppose that the Minister in charge of sports declared that he had consulted all the sports organisations before making a particular decision. You then check who are in charge of those associations. Lo and behold, every one of them either have a Minister or a PAP MP in charge or as advisor. It is time to dismantle this circus.

  7. 22 ape@kinjioleaf 22 September 2013 at 23:10

    Playing a bit of devil’s advocate here.

    While electronic/written payslips, time chits etc can be use as documented proofs to avoid any disputes, not all employers has the time and resources.

    Case in point is an ’employer’ ape knows. Not very well educated. His company is a handful of workers, covering contractor jobs for running electrical cables. He’s boss, engineer, safety officer, manager… all rolled into one. He’s objective is to get the job, complete it, get the pay and pay his workers. Sometimes he has to be the draft man and submit drawings or permits etc on behalf of the main contractor. He won’t have the ability to carefully prepare time chits, pay slips etc.
    Only his honesty and hard work help him maintain the motely crew he has. All his workers know what they’ll be getting into – no fixed monthly salary. This is a case of SME trying to make ends meet.
    With tougher regulations, honest hardworking employers like him will be not be able to produce payslips/time chits.

    Alex, I’m not sure if TWC2 do profile employers. Perhaps cases that you mentioned or come across have employers that have no excuses for not providing proper payslips or are these employers in similar situation like my friend?

    • 23 yawningbread 23 September 2013 at 09:43

      It’s easy to argue that issuing payslips and giving copies of time sheets is “more work” for the employer. The fact however, is that it is not. The employer has anyway got to compute salaries at the end of each month; how else can he do it except with time sheets in hand and some simple calculations? All it takes is to give the worker a copy of these details which should anyway exist.

      That being the case, the question becomes: Why do employers NOT give employees these details which already exist?

      Sounds like bad faith to me. Sounds like trying to hide something.

    • 25 oute 23 September 2013 at 17:02

      We are not the first world government yet, and neither are we the developed nation status lah.

      It is on the mind of the government lah, and when international organsiation comes along, we show them the infrastructure..the buildings but not the menial workers lah..

  8. 26 recruit ong 23 September 2013 at 12:44

    after reading all the replies i only got this to say…
    the butt of the problem is the PAP. if democracy & sporeans’ civil rights are already trampled upon by the pap garment, how can the plight of these migrant workers be any better?
    1st they go for the ones who are the weakest, and if u do not speak up for them, next they will come for u, and it goes on.

  9. 27 What Trust? 23 September 2013 at 14:15

    Honestly are we a third world country where payslips are considered technological advances. No one is asking for electronic payslips, linked to punchcard machines and GIRO payments. A friend of mine, runs a simple SME as described ape@kinjioleaf. Every months he uses a standard receipt book, which I believe is available easily, checks his records and them writes out the carbon copied receipt indicating basic salary and number of OT hours. Both the boss and worket sign off when cash salary is collected. Simple but yet fair and transparent. It’s a simple question as to whether MOM wants to do it or not.

    • 28 ape@kinjioleaf 23 September 2013 at 19:24

      It’s easy to do that but tedious to keep track of OT hours or even normal working hours. What you mentioned is what my friend did. However, the actual work and hours however are less consistent. Sometimes his workers get more than the hours spent, sometimes less.

      I’m not against proper documentation, neither is this friend of mine. But what is more important here is that his employees are paid fair wages and not simply about churning paperwork to prove some authority that they are paid fairly.

      A creative accountant can give you all the proper documentation the government needs but are their employees any happier?

  10. 29 TS 23 September 2013 at 14:44

    I think not able to do payroll properly is BS. I outsource my payroll to a service provider. S$6 per employee per month. They do everything for me and email me a file to upload every month. And I just do one online transaction to pay my employees by bank transfer.

    It is very simple and painless. We are in 21st century, no?

  11. 30 Chanel 23 September 2013 at 16:05

    I guess MOM is dragging its feet on instituting decent safeguards for foreign workers because the ministry doesn’t want to be inundated with valid complaints for the thousands of workers that are not treated fairly by their employers.

  12. 31 tatankakatsuo 23 September 2013 at 19:44

    Does approaching the MOM with such a case plausible? MOM is a laughing stock. Would posting this blog in MOM’s FB wake them up to their gross incompetency?

  13. 32 Alan 23 September 2013 at 19:48

    Obviously the only reason why Hassan’s boss is not giving him a breakdown of his salary computations is that he has every intention to cheat him of his rightful wages and he would not be able to cheat him without being caught if he had to do the proper way with a copy of the wages breakdown attached.

    And when we have a National Labour Act that does not extend the same kind of legal rights to protect foreign construction workers and maids from unscrupulous employers, do you think our Govt is really serious when they talk about integrity ? It seems as if our Govt is only interested in collecting the foreign workers’ levies but when it comes to protecting them, they are only paying lip service, aren’t they ?

  14. 33 Junnies Jun Yang 24 September 2013 at 02:18

    This is a great example of why a free media is so important. Without it, issues that hurt the government’s image are ignored or swept aside.

    Abusive employers are symptoms of a corporatised, economy-obsessed country with faint regard to fairness, compassion, and simple human decency – epitomised and paraded for all to see during the Haze crisis. They do it because they can get away with it.

    Singapore is corrupt, make no mistake about it. Its a corruption of the heart and soul and i can’t see the government or Lee Hsien Loong giving a damn about it.

  15. 34 Sgcynic 25 September 2013 at 14:41

    Another abuse, with “blessing” by MOM.

    Instead of using the employer, just sue MOM?

  16. 35 KAM 26 September 2013 at 04:34

    Shame them shame them shame them….and then?
    What is the real bite next step?

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