You can go and jump for all I care - MOM official said to workers

From: "truth"
Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 07:07:30 GMT
Local: Thurs, May 28 2009 3:07 pm
Subject: Inhumane MOM officials

truth comment: the luxurious lives of the pap leegime and
those around them including those in the civil service have
turn these people into sub-humans, devoid of human feelings
and compassion. 50 years of pap rule give us this deplorable


26 May 2009
Dear ST Forum,

I refer to the report 'Jailed for 10 weeks' (ST, 25 May 2009), in which a
Chinese national was jailed for attempting suicide at the Ministry of
Manpower (MOM).
While not condoning rash and dangerous acts, it remains critical to
interrogate the circumstances that drive individuals to such drastic
As a citizen concerned about the wellbeing of workers, I have spoken to
many China workers embroiled in work-related disputes. A common thread in
many accounts is the apathy they encounter from MOM staff and the multiple
barriers to procedural justice.
On one occasion, a construction worker from Jiangxi recounted how, after
countless attempts to seek assistance for unclaimed wages, he commented (in
frustration) that he may as well just jump because it seems pointless. The
MOM officer said: "You can go and take a jump for all I care." The worker
asked, "Just to be clear, you are saying you do not care at all about our
affairs?" The MOM officer replied: "Yes, you can say that."

Another worker, a farmer from China who speaks no English, went to the MOM
with a severe injury, which his employer did not report. He was given a
scrap of paper with a URL scribbled on it, with no other explanation. The
worker was thoroughly confused and asked me if it was the address of a
I have also heard stories where MOM officers have mocked, ignored and
talked down to workers. I have personally witnessed an MOM officer yell at
workers for daring to seek assistance from 'outsiders', and the same officer
refusing to allow workers to speak during settlement meetings.
A worker driven to attempt suicide is most likely an individual who is
desperate rather than criminal-minded. While risky acts that endanger public
safety must be deterred, it seems misguided to punish Mr. Zhao without
giving due recognition to the underlying factors that drive one to such
From my experience of speaking to China workers in distress, bureaucratic
indifference compounds the frustration for debt-laden workers under immense
pressure to resolve disputes swiftly, often living in poor conditions and
with dwindling financial resources. My guess is that much more than a jail
sentence, empathy, professionalism and sincere efforts to ensure procedural
justice will go much further in ensuring worker justice and public order.

Ms Stephanie Chok Juin Mei

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