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MOM's Response to TWC2 article “Noodles, bean curd and the slippery space between countries"

In the article, “Noodles, bean curd and the slippery space between countries”, TWC2 cited the case of Mr Geng Jun, alleging that MOM had chosen not to investigate his case as MOM “developed a habit of making investigation entirely discretionary and optional”. Such allegations are untrue and irresponsible. MOM takes all complaints about foreign worker well-being seriously.

Claim 1: Mr Geng Jun was misled about his job scope as a noodle maker and was asked to make bean curd instead

Fact: Mr Geng Jun was aware of his job scope and terms of employment before he accepted the employment.  During his job interview, Mr Geng Jun’s employer explained that his job scope included making both noodles and bean curd.  This was corroborated by another employee who was present. The other foreign workers doing similar work in the factory also confirmed that they were informed on the need to make both noodles and bean curd prior to employment. The job scope of making both noodles and beancurd was also communicated to the Employment Agency (EA) who placed Mr Geng Jun, and the EA’s Chinese counterpart.  Mr Geng Jun accepted the employment on this basis.

Mr Geng Jun started employment on 12 Aug 2019, but walked out of his job the next day, claiming that he expected to only make noodles and not bean curd.  We note that this was not the first time Mr Geng Jun left his employment shortly after starting work. His most recent previous employment lasted just slightly more than a month and there was another occasion where he left his job within a week of starting work.

Claim 2: MOM did not investigate into Mr Geng Jun’s case. MOM was only willing to investigate Mr Geng Jun’s EA for overcharging if he was prepared to stay on for the duration of the investigation.

Fact: MOM did initiate an investigation into Mr Geng Jun’s complaint of being overcharged by his Singapore EA. 

Mr Geng Jun wanted MOM to assist him in recovering fees of approximately $3,100 that he transferred to an unidentifiable person’s PRC bank account. His friend had provided him the contact of this person when he asked for help to find a job. Mr Geng Jun did not know the identity of the person, nor had he ever met the person. He insisted that the unidentifiable person who received his fees of $3,100 was a Singapore agent. However, the Singapore EA was able to show proof that they liaised with a Chinese counterpart on Mr Geng Jun’s employment and the agreed fee charged by the Singapore EA was $1,300. This amount was indicated on both the receipt issued to Mr Geng Jun and his In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter. Mr Geng Jun did not dispute this amount.

Notwithstanding the above, MOM assisted Mr Geng Jun to obtain a refund of $1,300 from the Singapore EA to help him with his circumstances.  This was even though he was not entitled to a refund, as he was fully aware of his job requirements and chose to leave the job a day after starting work.

As Mr Geng Jun did not want to stay in Singapore, he returned home. MOM informed him that he would be informed of the outcome of investigation into his complaint.

MOM has dedicated communication channels for NGOs to clarify case facts. TWC2 is aware of these channels. It is disappointing that they did not come to MOM for fact checks and chose to publish this inaccurate account instead.