Opening Address at Dormitory Awards Dinner 2017
Minister Of State For Manpower, Mr Teo Ser Luck, Suntec Singapore Exhibition And Convention Centre
Mr Yeo Guat Kwang
Chairman, Migrant Workers’ Centre
Mr Steven Lee
President, Dormitory Association of Singapore
Ladies and gentlemen
- I am happy to join you this evening for the inaugural Dormitory Awards Dinner. We are here today to recognise the contributions of exemplary factory-converted dormitory operators like yourself, towards good foreign worker housing conditions and welfare.
- First of all, I would like to thank the Migrant Workers’ Centre and the Dormitory Association of Singapore for being part of the judging panel to recognise exemplary dormitories, and the dormitory operators who participated in the Awards. I am heartened to see from the applications received, that there are dormitory operators who adopt good dormitory management practices to ensure the welfare of their foreign worker residents is of a good standard.
Dormitory Awards for Factory-Converted Dormitories (FCDs)
- I would also like to congratulate tonight’s Award recipients. They have quite diverse profiles, with different dormitory sizes and number of residents. This shows that a dormitory operator, regardless of dormitory size and number of residents, can provide good housing conditions and effectively engage its residents.
- So what do the Award recipients have in common? One, they go the extra mile, beyond regulatory requirements, to cater to the housing needs of their residents. Jackly Engineering and Utracon Corporation recognised that their residents spent most of their time outside of work in the sleeping quarters, and installed additional facilities such as air-conditioners and air-coolers to improve the ventilation and comfort in the area. Others ensured that their residents have access to warm and hygienic food, after a hard day at work. Straits Construction provide food warmers to store the catered food, which are often delivered before their residents come back from work. Quek & Quek Civil Engineering set aside space to have a clean and spacious kitchen for their residents to cook; a feature not commonly seen in factory-converted dormitories.
- Two, they have open and frequent communication with their residents, and take steps to address their feedback. On top of the usual feedback channels such as meet-the-resident sessions, Active Fire Protection Systems is implementing a mobile application to make it easy for their residents to attach photos and provide feedback. Hai Leck Holdings installed a shelter at the outdoor clothes hanging area, to address residents’ feedback about their clothes getting drenched by rain.
- Three, they invest time and resources to meet the recreational and personal needs of their residents. UTOC Engineering has a dedicated team that looks into the needs of its residents, guided by the dormitory motto of “Harmonious Living”. Quek & Quek Civil Engineering sends residents for upgrading courses, and provides support for those facing personal difficulties. These operators also organise celebrations during major holidays, such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa as well as Deepavali to spread the festive joy among their residents of all nationalities. Some go beyond these to engage their residents. For example, Active Fire Protection Systems organises an annual company photo shoot to instil a sense of pride and belonging among its residents. Anderco has a company family day, where more than 200 of its staff and residents come together for team-bonding activities.
- I visited one of the Award recipients – Super Galvanising, two weeks ago. I was impressed with the standard of the dormitory. The operator has managed the dormitory in a systematic way, put in a set of rules for residents to maintain the upkeep of the living conditions, and provide a range of amenities for residents that make their stay comfortable. I spoke to the residents staying there. They had nothing but only praise for the well-managed dormitory. I am really heartened to see these residents settling down well, and they are happy and contented with their stay at the dormitory. It is a good example of a dormitory operator who puts the well-being of their residents as the top priority, and I wish to commend them for that.
- The Award recipients have made their dormitories a home away from home for their residents. Many of them took the initiative to put in place facilities such as Wi-Fi and personal lockers for their residents, even before these new conditions took effect at the start of the year.
- We hope that the Awards will motivate more dormitory operators to adopt industry-wide good practices to raise overall housing standards. Small touches to improve the housing standards go a long way to improve the well-being of our foreign workers, who deserve a good rest after a long day at work. A dormitory that provides them with a good living environment will ensure they get that good rest, so that they can work safely and productively. We will take into consideration the housing standards of the dormitory, when assessing the application for renewal made by the operator.
“Home Away From Home” Photo Competition for Foreign Workers
- In conjunction with the Dormitory Awards, MOM organised a “Home Away from Home” photo competition, where foreign workers share their personal stories about staying in factory-converted dormitories, through photos and testimonies.
- We received stories covering many different aspects of life outside of work, for these foreign workers. More than half of the stories were submitted in the workers’ native languages. The stories had one thing in common. The foreign workers see their dormitories as their second home, and enjoy meaningful interactions and activities outside of work, with fellow workers and dormitory staff. Allow me to quote some of the stories we received. Mr Sattappan from India said, “I am very happy with my friends here. I will not forget this place in my lifetime.” Another fellow worker, Mr Rubel from Bangladesh said, “Our dormitory has very good environment, always kept clean. Everyday our dormitory is cleaned. Room environment is very good.” These stories show that the residents truly appreciate the efforts of their dormitory operators in providing them with a good living environment.
- You would have seen the exhibition showcasing the ten shortlisted entries for the photo competition, before you entered the seminar room. I understand that the winning entries will be announced later. I wish to congratulate beforehand, the winning foreign workers and their dormitory operators.
- Once again, I would like to thank the dormitory operators who participated in the Awards, and the foreign workers who shared their stories for the “Home Away From Home” photo competition. I also seek your continual support to upkeep good housing conditions, for your foreign workers who made invaluable contributions to our society. I wish you a pleasant evening ahead.