National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has asked Singaporean voters to give him 2 more years to address the severely overcrowded and unhygienic conditions at existing foreign worker dormitories:
“11 purpose-built dormitories will be built in the next two years and are meant for close to 60,000 workers… About 60,000 bed spaces for migrant workers will be ready by the end of the year, with another 100,000 to be ready in the next few years.”
The General Election is however due next year in April.
The ruling party government had for decades ignored the living conditions of foreign workers in local dormitories, where even a senior party leader Dr Tommy Koh described as “third world”.
Minister Lawrence Wong however said the Singapore government will bear the cost of construction for the new dormitories. The PAP minister refused to reveal how much it will cost taxpayers, but 11 dormitories is expected to cost at least S$300 million.
The PAP minister then suggested that he might lease out these dormitories to for-profit private entities:
“It could be done on a build, own and lease model, where the Government builds and leases the asset. The leasing and operations of the dorms are done through a separate entity, doesn’t have to be the Government; it could be a private entity, it could be an NGO, or VWO.”
Most owners of existing dormitories are PAP members. The dormitories owners recently received S$100 million from the government to “cover the operating costs of additional measures”. Cronyism and corruption is legal in Singapore dictatorship as long as the ruling party is involved.