By Sonia Pillai
“Family just cry,” says Mahbub, 26, of their helplessness after learning of his injury. “Now everything cannot. My cousin, my uncle, my friend borrow (he means ‘lent’) me money, I cannot give back.” He had borrowed $8,000 to pay his agent for this job.
It’s been two whole years since.
A fall off a roof three storeys high on 26 March 2012 left Prodhan Mahbub Alom unable to continue working. Despite four operations and the passage of time, his arm is not the way it was, and he still suffers pain there, in his chest and back. “I want my hand properly good,” he says, showing me his wrist, which he tells me has a metal piece inside.
Why has Mahbub been waiting in our country for this long? What is he waiting for?
“I want my MC money,” he says. “I want my hand properly good. [When] my hand okay and money come, I can go home.”
The law says that injured workers should receive two thirds of their monthly salary each month as “temporary incapacity compensation” — colloquially known as “MC money” — for as long as they are on medical leave, up to a maximum of twelve months. According to Mahbub, struggling to remember because it’s been so long, “One year over, no MC money. I no count.” He vaguely remembers that he received some money only during the first five months after the accident. This fact appalls me.
I ask Mahbub how he gets by. “My friend give me money makan (eat),” he says. He also comes to TWC2’s soup kitchen for free meals.
“I don’t know how I [will] go back [home],” he adds.
He is supposed to go for occupational therapy, but with the employer not paying for further treatment, this too seems to be a problem. “My company exercise money (for occupational therapy) no give,” he says. “I want properly treatment.”
He shows me his arm again. “Something I cannot carry. I also cannot moving. I cannot full bend.” He also has back pain. As for his chest, it hurts “six to seven times a month.”
And “when hungry, my heart pain.”
Transient Workers Count Too went online to check the status of his work injury claim in MOM’s computer on 29 March 2014. It said,
We have not received your medical report, which is needed for us to assess the claim. You may wish to check with the hospital or clinic on the status of the medical report.
On top of his money problems, there may be a bureaucratic mess-up as well. However, a few days after our check, he tells TWC2 that he now has an April 2014 “assessment date” at Changi General Hospital, which should rectify whatever was previously missing.