Some foreign workers move into dorm at Serangoon Gardens

The first group of foreign workers moved into a converted dormitory at Serangoon Gardens estate on Friday. The issue first made headlines last year, with nearby residents worried about safety and privacy issues.

A wire fence around the dorm is all that separates the former school from a tennis centre and the rest of the Burghley Drive private estate. But many residents in the area on Saturday did not seem to notice the foreign workers’ presence.

When plans for the foreign workers’ dormitory were first made known last year, it caused a huge ruckus in the neighbourhood. Some were worried about safety and privacy, while others cited concerns over traffic congestion in the mornings.

To help address residents’ concerns, authorities have built a separate entrance to the compound, away from the private estate, and will plant tall shrubs along the fence.

However, some are still sore about the way authorities handled the matter initially.

Goh Bock Seng, a resident, said: “Singaporeans are used to living in a community. If the workers are educated and they know (how) to behave themselves, I think it’s fine. We’ve finally accepted the fact, but we just want to say that we should have been consulted first.”

Another resident, Fang Shihan, said: “For me, personally, I would like to get to know them better since we’re going to be living in close proximity. Maybe we could have tours inside to see how they live, what they do, instead of having this little alien town that we don’t understand.”

Some residents said other issues may crop up after all 600 workers have settled in. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Hwee Hua, who is also the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, agrees with that view.

“When the dorm is up and running, a lot really depends on whether things are as planned or there are new issues. But I doubt there would be issues that would surprise us,” said Mrs Lim.

The dormitory will house male and female workers from the manufacturing and services sectors. Authorities will assess the situation before deciding whether to increase the number of occupants.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 5 Dec 2009

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