by Patricia Siswandjo on

For many, one’s lunch hour is a treasured time for eating and unwinding.

But on Feb 20, one foreign worker who was taking an afternoon nap after lunch at a void deck was rudely confronted by an elderly resident for doing so.

Joey Chin was also tucking into his meal at the same void deck at Kaki Bukit, Jalan Tenega, when he witnessed and partially filmed the disgruntled resident scolding the foreign worker.

In a Facebook post, Joey wrote: “Such [inhumane behaviour] utterly disgusted me.”

According to Joey, the foreign worker was lying at the corner of the void deck, and wasn’t blocking anyone’s path.

Yet, the elderly uncle who was walking by shouted: “Who are you? Why are you sleeping down here? You are not allowed to sleep here! This is my house! Here is not for sleeping! What are you doing here?!”

Joey added that the uncle went “on and on”, and “the worker had no chance in rebutting”.

In his accompanying video, the uncle can be heard blustering: “If you stay here ah, I call the police. I don’t call police, you lucky ah, understand? You come here and work, know the law – Singapore law, okay?”

Unable to take the injustice, Joey stopped his recording and confronted the uncle.

“He was taken aback,” said Joey. “He thought I would ‘support’ his [stance]. He left immediately after, not being able to rebut my words.”

“I was so mad at him for shouting and scolding the poor worker.”

Joey also said in his post that in the early 2000s, foreign workers using void decks as a place to have a rest was a hot button topic. But now, things should be different, he thought, as “most, if not, all Singaporeans would have been used to and accepted to this scene”.

Indeed, when one netizen complained about “very unsightly” Bangladeshis and Filipinas in Kallang, his post drew flak from hundreds of netizens, who commented that migrant workers have a right to enjoy their day off, and deserve a time of recreation as much as anyone else.

Joey ended his post by urging Singaporeans to share it.

“Not to shame [the uncle], but to put across the message that at any circumstances when you see foreign workers lying around to rest, no one should act as if they have authority and start confronting & shouting at them!”

These isolated cases of intolerance may still occur, but let’s try and remember that our foreign workers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, too.

They should not be regarded as lesser beings, just because they’re of a different nationality, or their jobs are not glamorous. If anything, they deserve to be shown kindness and compassion because it isn’t easy leaving your family behind to come to a foreign country to earn a living.

And thankfully for this particular foreign worker, someone like Joey was in the area to stand up for him.