Yet Another Fake News – Ex-nurse tells all about Migrant Workers at Singapore Expo

Screengrab from a video of migrant workers at the Changi Exhibition Hall isolation facility

While many Singaporeans join in various Social Media stunts such as clapping and singing for frontline workers such as our health care workers who are really busy in the frontline, there is another group of people who are just as busy during this COVID-19 circuit breaker period. They are none other than our Fake News mongers.

One “ex-nurse” tell-all has been seen circulating on various Social Media platforms as well as on various Whatsapp and Telegram groups. If you haven’t seen it, here it is.

“Good morning, share friend’s msg on FWs’ behaviour n attitudes.

My friend is an ex-nurse, she was called back to help at expo to take care of the migrant workers; she told me they r disgustingly unhygienic and all of them gather together in one room socialising and not in their own individual rooms, to be away from each other. The whole idea is so they continue to be sick, they don’t want to get well; cause get well means the chances of them being sent home is very high cause companies can’t keep up with paying salaries and they are not working.

My friend helps 3 days a week she says she doesn’t even get paid and doesn’t dare to drink water cause it takes a lot to remove the safety gear to go pee. The migrant workers all suffer from all sorts of illness like diabetes to high blood pressure. They don’t even know they have these illness until they were checked during the virus test; so their food is designed by dieticians to accommodate to not heighten their underlying illnesses. We are too kind already; they don’t want to get well, mingle with each other, don’t listen to the doctors and nurses and the army boys helping out. This is disgusting to treat these frontline workers cause they sacrifice to help. The have comfortable stay, free food, free WIFI and medical care who wants *to get well?!* “

The managing agent of the facility – Mandarin Oriental Singapore – as well as Singapore’s favourite Facebook account, none other than Mdm Ho Ching, have since stepped up to debunk this piece of news.

In short, the footage from the video are not taken at Singapore Expo, and it was actually an old footage taken more than a week ago and the current situation has already improved significantly!

Since the beginning when foreign workers’ living conditions were thrown into the spotlight, many have continued to show concern about their current living conditions at various facilities. While some of these concerns are real and it is heartwarming to see that we care more than just for ourselves, there are many out there who are using this opportunity to stir negative sentiments.

I believe that we are looking at something bigger here.

Remember the Little India riot? I remember that Singaporeans were upset with our foreign worker friends. Saying rather negative things that I’d choose not to revisit… The current issue that we are facing has the potential of going down the same road if not well-managed!

While we should never discount our migrant brothers’ contribution to our nation, we need to rethink the way we are hiring foreign workers. We are aware of their importance but is hiring foreign workers as a cheaper alternative the only solution?

We might relate foreign workers to those who are working in the construction industry but is it actually more than just that. Employers in other industries should look into the potential of redesigning jobs to hire more Singaporeans. Employers can also invest more money into “manpower-lean” technology instead of just looking at using foreign workers as a short term cost-saving solution. Not to forget, if employers continue to use foreign workers as a cheaper alternative, this will also result in an income ceiling for local rank and file workers too.

“Eh, I can hire people from another country so much cheaper leh. You want the job or not? You can take the same pay?”

Currently, one-third of our workforce is actually made up of foreign workers and actually kept this way by the government through various guidelines. We can only imagine the kind of social unrest it can bring to the country if the balance is being thrown off. 50% foreign workers – say what?

This kind of fake narratives by some unnamed ex-nurse is the last thing we need now. Now is the time to stay united and stand in solidarity. Well, we can’t do much about people out there who will take every possible chance to stir negative sentiments, to spread unrest for their own agenda. It’s up to the rest of us then, to be discerning when it comes to news consumption! Betcha this won’t be the last of it.

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