In a follow-up story to that of November 4, the Straits Times reported Monday, November 7, 2011, that employers and recruitment agents are encouraging their foreign workers to apply for voluntary exclusion from the casinos before they arrive in Singapore, or as soon as they set foot here. Some employers are even making it a hiring requirement, the newspaper said.

These employers say foreign workers need to be ‘protected’ from the ills of gambling, since they do not have to pay the $100 casino entry levy which could otherwise act as a deterrent.

Critics, however, are concerned that these workers may be pressured into signing up for exclusion orders to keep their jobs.

This trend started about six months ago, since when, employers and recruitment agents told the newspaper, exclusion forms have been bundled together with work permit documents and made available on the Manpower Ministry website. Once a foreign worker touches down in Singapore, he is asked to sign an entire bundle of forms. This begs the question of whether he knows what he is signing.

While some employers and employment agents the reporter spoke to stressed that they would get the consent of the workers before helping them to apply for casino exclusion, others are not giving their workers any choice.

Mr Henry Sng, director at Henrich Building Construction, said all foreign workers seeking a job at his firm must sign the exclusion order.

‘I’m doing it to protect them,’ said Mr Sng, who employs workers from countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia. ‘Some workers ask me why I do it, but I ask them, why not? Every day you earn $25, you put one bet of $100… and you can lose it in one shot.’

Mr Kelvin Lim, managing director for LKP Projects, said he is also planning to make it a company policy for workers to apply for exclusion.

Dr Ho Nyok Yong, president of the Singapore Contractors Association, was quoted as saying: “‘Employers should take a paternalistic role towards the foreign workers. We should tell them that this is not a place to go… there are a lot of other places to go for entertainment.”

Jolovan Wham, executive director of HOME took issue with the attitude behind such blanket moves: “Why is there an assumption that all migrant workers will be gamblers? What is the extent of the problem such that we need to get them to sign it when they are still in their home countries?

“Even if it’s not compulsory, the firms can make the worker feel pressured to sign it. They are anxious to keep their job, they won’t want to cause displeasure to their employers, so they do it.”