Speech by Minister at Launch of the Purpose-Built Dormitory at Tukang Innovation Lane
Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower , Tukang Innovation Lane
1 A very good afternoon to all of you. I would like to thank everyone for joining us today at the launch of the new Purpose-Built Dormitory at Tukang Innovation Lane for migrant workers.
MOM to build and own two new PBDs
2 This is one of two new Purpose-Built Dormitories, or PBDs that the Ministry of Manpower will be building and owning. With the second PBD in Sengkang West, both PBDs will provide a total of 9,600 beds and are expected to be completed between 2025 and 2028.
3 Our vision is for these PBDs to be living environments which are conducive for the health and well-being of our migrant workers. The PBDs will be built to the improved standards for new dormitories, in order to strengthen public health resilience and liveability. These include having more spacious rooms with occupancy caps and en-suite toilets,improved ventilation as well as modularised dormitory space and segmented communal facilities.
4 In addition, MOM will also introduce enhanced design features to pilot new ways to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases and enhance liveability. For example, the PBDs will have higher ceiling heights for improved ventilation and greater comfort for our residents, as well as en-suite laundry facilities to reduce intermingling in common areas. Residents will also enjoy larger recreation spaces such as gyms, multi-purpose spaces and sports courts; which can also be repurposed as medical or isolation facilities during future disease outbreaks. The PBDs will also have larger commercial amenities, such as outdoor refreshment areas, for residents to mingle with their friends staying within the same PBDs and the surrounding areas.
5 Beyond the physical infrastructure or “hardware”, the heart or “software” of communal living lies in its people. Physical infrastructure alone cannot transform the communal living environment for our migrant workers. It is therefore important to also develop the software at the PBDs to support enhanced migrant worker housing as well as well-being practices. For example, we will explore multi-purpose technological solutions that can integrate virtual training programmes for migrant workers, video conferencing functions for convenient communications within the residential community, and one-stop access to services within the PBDs. We will also look at ways to encourage health-seeking behaviours amongst residents to facilitate quicker upstream intervention and support.
6 To foster a sense of community amongst residents, we intend to work closely with our migrant worker residents and community partners, such as Non-Governmental Organisations, to co-develop recreational programmes and other meaningful activities. Ultimately, we hope that this will create a living environment where residents can rest, where they can recharge comfortably after a hard day’s work, and forge strong bonds with their fellow dormitory residents – a place that can be their home away from home.
New Corporate entity - NEST Singapore Limited
7 To facilitate these plans, MOM will set up a new corporate entity, “NEST Singapore Limited”, to operate the two new PBDs, in partnership with the private sector. The entity’s guiding principles are reflected in its name, NEST, or N-E-S-T, which stands for Nurture, Engage, Support and Transform. Our efforts to strengthen the resilience of the migrant worker ecosystem must start with nurturing a community of support, by bringing together partners across people, private and public sectors to serve the migrant worker community. To do so, engagement will be a key pillar of NEST’s work, so that NEST can be better position to understand the needs of migrant worker residents and the challenges faced by operators, and build on the collective experience of the sector. Only in this way, can we support the transformation of our migrant worker ecosystem, and sustain them, as well as uplift their living and recreational environment.
8 Some of you may be wondering why MOM has decided to participate in the dormitory industry, a space traditionally operated by the private sector, through building as well as managing two new PBDs.
9 First, this will provide us with the opportunity to drive innovation and transform practices in migrant worker housing. The PBDs will allow NEST to pilot new ideas to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases or future pandemics and enhance liveability, through infrastructure design features, and innovative dormitory living and management practices. These practices include emerging technologies and new operating models for dormitory management and living. To explore these possibilities, NEST will work closely with other private sector partners in the dormitory industry and across other industries such as healthcare, technology and hospitality. Innovation can also come in the form of transforming the “heartware” of dormitory living to foster a greater sense of home and community among residents. One heartwarming example is the “Dad in Dorms” group, a mutual support and interest group set up by the operator of Tee Up Dormitory, where fellow fathers living apart from their families can get together, share advice and support one another!
10 The two new PBDs can be innovation living labs, where NEST can work together with the private sector to take the spirit of these ideas and pilot more of such initiatives. MOM and NEST can assess the operational feasibility, resident’ receptiveness, market viability and effectiveness of these proofs of concept. If successful, we can then showcase these ideas and good practices and encourage their adoption in the wider dormitory sector. In this manner, we also hope to encourage the sector to proactively experiment with innovation possibilities within their dormitories, as well as rethink and review existing “hardware” and “software” practices amongst their resident communities.
11 The second reason is to grow our capabilities in dormitory management. Today, MOM works closely with dormitory operators and migrant workers through the ACE Group.Over the past two years, ACE has worked closely with dormitory operators to organise festive events and recreational activities within the dormitories. This experience has been useful in allowing us to better understand and get to empathise better our migrant workers’ living and working practices, and how operators manage dormitories. The insights that we glean will support MOM’s efforts to transform dormitory living and management, and allow MOM to better support the dormitory landscape and to be better prepared for any future crisis. The set-up of NEST is to directly operate the two new PBDs with the private sector and this will take us one step further. NEST’s experience in dormitory operations and the various innovative ideas and practices that it would be piloting will better inform MOM’s policies and regulations for migrant worker housing, and this will help us with the design of new initiatives. ACE Group’s continued close partnership with dormitory operators will provide us with a feedback loop to understand how our policies and initiatives impact positively our migrant workers on the ground.
12 Today’s launch of the PBD at Tukang Innovation Lane and the set-up of NEST demonstrates MOM’s commitment to press on with our efforts to fortify, to improve the resilience and to sustain the liveability of dormitories. It complements other ongoing efforts, such as the raising of dormitory standards, and expansion of coverage of the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act to license 1,600 dormitories under a single regulatory and enforcement framework.
13 We cannot do this alone. Transforming the resilience and liveability of migrant worker housing will require partners from the people, private and public sectors coming together.
For example, MOM is working very closely with the Dormitory Association Singapore Limited to develop higher capabilities within the dormitory industry, and to encourage the adoption of best practices and standards across the industry. But collectively, it is our sincere belief that we can do and achieve much more. So we invite you to take active steps with us, share your ideas on how we can do better, and work with us to co-create more innovative and more meaningful initiatives that we can take into the future.
14 Thank you.
15 Allow me to say a few words in Mandarin.
21 人力部将与私人企业界合作，成立一个新的企业实体，共同运营这两个新专用宿舍。它的名称 – 乐巢有限公司也反映公司地指导原则。公司的愿景是打造一个安乐并充满关坏的客工社群。公司会致力于让利益相关者更好地了解客工的需求和运营商面临的挑战，从而推动支持客工生态系统的转型. 我们邀请相关伙伴继续与我们合作, 并分享如何能为在我国做出宝贵贡献的客工提供更良好的居住环境的想法。