Skip to main content


MOM statement in response to media queries on the non-renewal of Mr Zakir Hossain’s work permit

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) takes into account various factors to assess an applicant’s suitability to work in Singapore and for work passes to be renewed. Non-residents do not have an automatic right to work in Singapore.

Mr Zakir’s work pass was determined by the Controller of Work Passes to be ineligible for renewal. Mr Zakir appealed for reconsideration while his employer did not appeal. The appeal was considered and we informed Mr Zakir that it was unsuccessful.

By Mr Zakir’s own account, Singapore has allowed him to work here for a very long time – 19 years. Through his time in Singapore, he has written often about migrant workers here. We renewed his work pass many times despite his activism and writings. We draw the line, however, when public posts are misleading, false or deliberately provocative.

For example, in a post on 16 Oct 2021 (under the profile of “Amrakajona Zakir”), Mr Zakir called migrant workers in Singapore “work slaves”, and our dormitories “work camps”. He also alleged that soldiers and armoured vehicles had surrounded a dormitory, Westlite Tukang.

This was a false characterisation. Because of the situation at that time in the dormitory, Police personnel were on standby nearby as a precautionary measure. They never surrounded the dormitory or engaged workers there. Rather, MOM officers and dormitory personnel engaged the workers to address their concerns. There were no soldiers, let alone armoured vehicles, around. Though Mr Zakir had signed off his post as from the “workers of Westlite Tukang”, he himself had never lived there.

Mr Zakir’s false statements could have incited migrant workers at Westlite Tukang and elswhere, inflamed their emotions and possibly caused incidents of public disorder. Fortunately, the real residents of Westlite Tukang saw that MOM, the employer and the dorm operation were serious about addressing their problems and calmed down.

The Ministry of Manpower, together with other Government agencies in the Government, has taken considerable pains to safeguard the wellbeing of our migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We reduced the risk of transmission among migrant workers, made effective vaccinations available to all of them at the same time as Singaporeans, provided them comprehensive and timely healthcare support, and ensured they were paid even during the Circuit Breaker period when they could not work. As a result of our efforts and the cooperation of our migrant workers, we have kept COVID-19 mortality numbers among migrant workers residing in dormitories low – only two deaths in 2020 before vaccinations were available, and none after.

The ability of a foreigner to work in Singapore is not an entitlement. Mr Zakir has been permitted to work in Singapore for a long time, though he was a long-time activist. His work pass has since expired. He cannot prolong his stay when he no longer has a job in Singapore. He has over-stayed his welcome.