Dear The Real Singapore,
Let this be a precautionary tale of how big companies abuse their power and position to exploit cheap foreign labour, and silence those that speak up for them.
Gulam was just another foreign labourer working in Singapore, trying to make a better life for himself and his family back home. You would never even have heard about his plight if not for the work of Jolovan Wham of HOME. If Jolovan had not stepped in, Gulam would have been forcefully repatriated by his employer Bintai Kindenko Pte Ltd.
Gulam’s Case Against Bintai Kindenko Pte Ltd
Below is a quick summary of the facts that surround his case.
Bintai Kindenko Pte Ltd’s Pressure Tactics
As there are sensitivities concerning the company’s response to the accusations of their abhorrent human resource procedures, the details of their pressure tactics cannot be delved into. Educated readers will probably understand.
To avoid any misrepresentation or accusations of the sort, below is Jolovan Wham’s clarifications:
Some Background on Bintai Kindenko Pte Ltd’s President and CEO
Is it a simple he says vs he says dispute or is there more than meets the eye. To understand what is at the root of this issue, you have to at a closer look at the company in question, particularly its President and CEO, Chua Swee Ann.
Back in 2005, Chua Swee Ann, a lowly senior manager, was charged with receiving $1,500 from an employment agency for each of the 48 workers recruited on behalf of the construction contractor Kurihara Kogyo. Chua justified his actions by stating that the payments are a "market practice"
[Source: Exec took $42,000 in bribes, Straits Times, 22 June 2005].
In less than two years, Chua Swee Ann moved on and took over Bintai Kindenko as president and CEO in 2007. In 2011, Chua was a recipient of the prestigious, “Outstanding Entrepreneur Award 2011” [www.apea.sg/chua-swee-ann]
Can we trust companies like Bintai Kindenko Pte Ltd?
As President and CEO of Bintai Kindenko Pte Ltd, Chua speaks of a core value, ‘integrity’. Empty words as far as we should be concerned.
For example, a self-identified construction industry insider wrote to the Straits Times in 2008 to explain that kickbacks are “rampant” in the construction industry with "all payments...made in cash, so that there will be no money trail",
In Oct 2011, Kenneth Lim Ong Long, director of the construction company Highsan Lim Enterprise, pleaded guilty to ten charges of accepting kickbacks. Lim allegedly collected $6,000 per head from 30 Chinese construction workers in exchange for hiring them.
With rampant corrupt practices within the construction industry, and with the Singapore Governments push to ramp up construction of HDBs, MRT lines, Roads…etc, how many more foreign workers are going to be exploited? When this push is fuelled by higher productivity – a buzzword for doing more with less – and as foreigner quotas reduce, the chances, or ‘opportunities’ to engage in shady industrial practices will only increase.