Taking a leaf from what is happening in Singapore, Penang too is planning foreign workers villages/dormitories in Bukit Tambun, Permatang Tinggi, Juru, Batu Maung and Bukit Minyak.
These ‘dorms’ – multi-storey buildings or towers – could house as many as 5,000-6,000 foreign workers at each site.
Although the dorms would be equipped with various amenities, what is worrying is the idea of accommodating foreign workers in specific locations, out of sight of local residents. This is pandering to local residents’ prejudice towards migrant workers in their neighbourhoods or apartment blocks.
What’s more, Bukit Tambun residents have even objected to the location of one such foreign workers dorm in that area!
There is even a reported plan for internal patrolling and a biometric system to monitor the workers’ movements at these dorms. What? Why are foreign workers going to be treated like this?
And a no alcohol ruling in the dorms means workers can’t even have a beer in their private space? Would we tolerate such rulings in our own homes?
Are these dorms going to be a voluntary option for workers accommodation? If such dorms are not a voluntary option, woudn’t this amount to segregation?
It seems that we need foreign workers, but we would rather keep them out of sight, segregated in
Feeling disturbed by such segregation, scientist and researcher Mary Chin has written a thought-provoking piece that has been published by Aliran. She says:
Outside paid hours, workers should be free to go wherever they like. Biometric-tagging to restrict and monitor their movement is completely unacceptable. Penangites should reject this at all costs. Such an idea dishonours ourselves first, before it gets to dishonour its prey.