Wah So Many! – 600 foreign worker dwellings in Geylang inspected in past 6 months: Lim Swee Say

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That many huh…..?

SINGAPORE: Agencies have inspected more than 600 units known to be housing foreign workers in Geylang in the past six months, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Monday (May 11) in a written reply to Parliament.

He added that errant owners or operators of overcrowded properties, as well as negligent employers uncovered as a result of the inspections are being taken to task.

Mr Lim was responding to a question by Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef on whether there is a plan with multi-agency input to review and improve the conditions of foreign worker dwellings at Lorongs 1 to 42 of Geylang.

This comes after two foreign workers were killed in a fire in a private residential unit in Lorong 6, Geylang in April. Four foreign workers died in another apartment fire in Lorong 4, Geylang four months earlier as well.

Mr Lim said private residential properties, including those in Geylang, are covered by existing rules that regulate the rental of properties to both locals and foreigners, to safeguard the well-being of tenants and reduce overcrowding in neighbourhoods.

“These rules include standards pertaining to maximum occupancy, fire safety as well as illegal subletting and conversion of premises. The Government takes a serious view of persons who breach these rules,” said Mr Lim.

He added that under the Planning Act, those who house more than eight tenants in private residential properties can be fined up to S$200,000, while under the Fire Safety Act, owners who make unauthorised changes that compromises fire safety at their premises – such as illegal partitions – may be fined up to S$200,000, jailed up to two years, or both.

“Correspondingly, the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) requires employers to ensure that their workers are housed in conditions that comply with the relevant agencies’ rules. Employers who neglect this would have violated Work Pass conditions and are subject to a maximum penalty of S$10,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment per offence and may be banned from hiring foreign workers,” said Mr Lim

He noted that special attention is paid to higher risk areas such as Geylang, and public officers can enter premises under specific circumstances to conduct inspections.

“MOM, SCDF, SPF and URA regularly conduct joint enforcement; and this can be stepped up when necessary,” Mr Lim said.

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