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MOM’s Response to TWC2 article: The Thing That Most Irks Him? “MOM Take My Passport”

In the article “The Thing That Most Irks Him? “MOM Take My Passport”, TWC2 cited the case of Rana Mohammad Masud to criticise MOM’s treatment of foreign workers who stay on in Singapore to assist with investigations.

These criticisms are unsubstantiated.

Here are our clarifications:

MOM continually engages Special Pass Holders to ensure their well-being while they are assisting with investigations

Foreign workers assisting with MOM investigations will be issued with a Special Pass. MOM offers Special Pass Holders (SPHs) upkeep assistance and employment facilitation via the Temporary Jobs Scheme (TJS). All SPHs are engaged by MOM to understand their job preferences before they are placed in TJS jobs with the help of a panel of Employment Agencies (EAs) appointed by MOM.

TJS jobs are renewable every six months. SPHs could easily seek renewal of the TJS employment or look for new TJS jobs, if they remain keen to work. MOM will facilitate further TJS employment through the TJS EAs.
MOM engages SPHs on a regular basis to provide timely support and advice to those who require employment and/or upkeep assistance.
If TWC2 had checked the facts, they would have learnt that MOM engaged Rana on four occasions between Dec 17 and Sep 18, and facilitated his employment with three different companies during this period.
Non-culpable SPHs, such as Rana, may also apply for jobs with a two-year work permit under the Direct Employment Scheme (DES). TWC2’s allegations about MOM’s regulations disallowing Rana from applying for a stable job is thus untrue. In fact, MOM officers had told Rana about both the TJS and DES, and encouraged him to apply for jobs under these schemes.

During investigations, MOM safe-keeps SPHs’ passports but will facilitate travelling for unforeseen circumstances.

MOM safe-keeps passports to avoid a situation where foreign workers, who are important prosecution witnesses, leave Singapore without informing MOM. These workers are important to investigations, as they often have evidence against errant employers and companies who have taken advantage of foreign workers like themselves. In situations where the SPH needs to return home to tend to personal/family matters, MOM will make the appropriate arrangements, including coming back to Singapore. This is made known to all SPHs.

TWC2 did not fact-check their story with Rana

Following this article, MOM met Rana to confirm that he was not facing any issues. Rana told us through a Bengali interpreter, that he had briefly narrated his story to TWC2 while having a free meal at their premises. Rana did not know that his story was going to be published, neither did TWC2 fact-check with Rana before publishing his story.

Rana also told MOM that he disagreed with how TWC2 had portrayed as his words. He knew that he could apply for a two-year work permit but was not successful in finding a suitable employer. Undeterred, he decided to work on the TJS. He knew that his TJS employment term was renewable and disagreed with TWC2’s statement that he felt MOM’s regulations restricted him from getting a stable job.

Rana did not feel that his personal liberties were taken away as he was given the opportunity to work and had freedom of movement. He understood that MOM was safe-keeping his passport as part of the investigation process.

There is no such thing as a free meal

It is clear that TWC2 had, unbeknownst to Rana, taken advantage of Rana’s openness in sharing his background while he was having the free meal. It is also evident that TWC2 narrated Rana’s account inaccurately and framed his story in an irresponsible manner to suit their needs.

Furthermore, TWC2 did not surface Rana’s case to MOM via the Case Referral nor Case Conference channels. The Case Referral channel is a dedicated email account that MOM set up for NGOs to highlight foreign workers who need help, while the Case Conference platform is a regular meeting between MOM and NGOs to exchange views or bring up cases that require MOM’s attention. TWC2 is aware of, and have been using, these channels. They however, chose not to raise Rana’s case through these established channels, and decided to publish this inaccurate account instead. This type of advocacy is devoid of any integrity.