Recommended by the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Little India riot in its report released on Monday, 30 June 2014: the possibility of making services and amenities available to workers outside of areas prone to congregation i.e. Little India, thereby reducing possibilities of problematic events altogether.
The COI stance, as reported in TODAY (4 July 2014), is to “reduce the size and density of these crowds by having more locations where the services and amenities that workers need are available”. Suggestions included bringing in dormitory-based provision shops and improving dormitory amenities, converting these spaces into congregational ones.
Non-governmental organisations and academics alike have shown distaste for such solutions, pointing out that such segregation only widens the distance between locals and workers, thereby reinforcing stereotypes.
Besides, focus should be made on the insufficient dormitories housing these workers first. Jolovan Wham of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) added that “there is no point talking about having more amenities when the more urgent priority is building dormitories that can meet their basic needs”.
TWC2’s own executive committee member, Debbie Fordyce, has also reinforced the workers’ need for social spots “where they find familiar food, entertainment, newspapers, remittance facilities and friends”.
“The importance of community among workers in Singapore, far from home and family, longing for familiar faces and news from friends and family should not be overlooked,” she added.
Dismally, Members of Parliament (MPs) are in support of segregating foreign workers, thereby reducing their visibility. “If there are too many foreign workers in any one particular place, it will be a concern to most people,” said MP Lim Biow Chuan.