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Construction company fined over $352,000 for housing foreign workers in overcrowded living conditions

  1. A construction company, Keong Hong Construction Pte. Ltd. (“Keong Hong”), was convicted and fined $352,500 in the State Courts on 24 May 2018, for housing its foreign workers in overcrowded living conditions at a Construction Temporary Quarters (“CTQ”) located at Sembawang Crescent. Keong Hong was also found guilty of abetting 17 other employers in housing their foreign workers in the same quarters.
  2. Keong Hong faced a total of 207 charges as reflected below:
    • 57 charges under Section 22(1)(a) of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (“EFMA”); and
    • 150 charges under Section 22(1)(a) read with Section 23(1) EFMA for abetting other employers to breach work pass conditions1 in relation to foreign workers’ accommodation.
  3. Keong Hong pleaded guilty to a total of 47 charges, with the remaining 160 charges taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. MOM had also barred the company from employing foreign workers.

    Case Details
  4. Keong Hong was the operator of the CTQ which had an approved occupancy load of 182 foreign workers. On 8 March 2017, officers from the Housing Inspectorate at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) inspected the CTQ and found 207 foreign workers residing there.
  5. Investigations revealed that the foreign workers resided in 31 makeshift rooms constructed from zinc sheets and plywood, which did not meet fire safety regulations. The overcrowded conditions exacerbated the poor ventilation and inadequate lighting in the CTQ. The living space was cramp; areas for sleeping were simultaneously used for drying of laundry and improper storage of food. In addition, sanitation facilities were insufficient. Toilets were lacking and there was only one communal bath for more than 200 foreign workers (Annex).
  6. The living conditions compromised the safety and well-being of the workers. Following the inspection, the dormitory operator was ordered by MOM to rectify the poor living conditions and comply with the occupancy limit. The excess foreign workers were promptly relocated to other approved accommodation.

    Improvement in Foreign Worker Housing but Enforcement Remains Necessary
  7. Commenting on the case, Ms Jeanette Har, Director of Well-Being Department at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, said, “Although we have seen an improvement in the foreign worker housing landscape, there continues to be employers and operators who have little regard for workers’ safety and well-being. MOM will take stern action against those who fall short of their legal responsibilities towards their foreign workers.”
  8. Employers who contravene any work pass conditions are guilty of an offence under the EFMA. On top of the penalties imposed by the Courts, MOM will also bar employers from hiring foreign workers.

    Report Poor Foreign Worker Housing Conditions
  9. Foreign workers who have issues with their housing conditions should first bring the matter to the attention of their employers. If their employers fail to make improvements to the living conditions, foreign workers should not hesitate to seek advice and assistance from the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) at 6536 2692 or report the matter to MOM at 6438 5122.
  10. Members of the public can also play a part by informing the authorities of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA, or refer foreign workers in distress to MOM at 6438 5122 or e-mail All information will be kept strictly confidential.


  1. Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations, employers are required to provide accommodation for their foreign workers which comply with the various statutory requirements. Employers who contravene any of the conditions of the work pass will be guilty of an offence under Section 22(1)(a) of the EFMA.