George Yeo says townships for foreign workers being considered

The Ministry of National Development is “seriously considering how to create townships for foreign workers which are sustainable and self-contained”.

Foreign Minister George Yeo said this to reporters at a community event on Sunday.

Foreign workers come under the spot light, after an announcement of plans to turn the former Serangoon Gardens Technical School in Burghley Drive into a hostel for 1,000 foreign workers. This created an uproar in the middle-class Serangoon Gardens estate, with some residents signing a petition against the change.

Mr Yeo, who is an MP for Aljunied GRC where the estate is located, said that he welcomed the debate over the proposed dormitory.

He said that on the one hand, there are legitimate concerns about whether a large community of foreign workers living next door can cause problems, while on the other, Singaporeans must open their hearts to them because they contribute to Singapore’s economy.

Mr Yeo added that fellow Aljunied GRC MP Mrs Lim Hwee Hua is writing a letter to the Minister of National Development airing residents’ concerns.

Mr Yeo said: “We have to find a balance and we have to create better facilities for foreign workers so that they can get cheaper access to food, to shops, they can have their own places for recreation and so on.

“These, I believe, are ideas which MND (Ministry of National Development) is seriously considering, how to create townships for foreign workers which are sustainable and self-contained.”

Mr Yeo said a good masterplan is needed to determine how many foreigners Singapore can accommodate so it is “comfortable for both sides”.

He said he has visited friends in Little India who are no longer able to use their void decks on Sundays because they are filled with foreign workers.

Mr Yeo said: “We hope we can find ways and means to accommodate foreign workers in a friendly, sensible way while at the same time preserving certain comfortable spaces for Singaporeans.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 7 Sep 2008

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