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Bridget Tan, 'tireless champion' of migrant workers' rights and founder of Home, dies aged 73

SINGAPORE — Bridget Tan, the founder of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), died on Monday (April 18) aged 73.

Bridget Tan, 'tireless champion' of migrant workers' rights and founder of Home, dies aged 73
A photograph of the late Bridget Tan posted on the Facebook page of Home, the organisation she founded in 2004.
  • Bridget Tan, founder of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) died on Monday, aged 73
  • Tan suffered a stroke in 2014 and had been living in Batam, Indonesia while continuing her advocacy work
  • She was praised as an "untiring advocate and champion" of migrant workers

SINGAPORE — Bridget Tan, the founder of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), died on Monday (April 18) aged 73.

Announcing the news in a Facebook post on Monday night, the migrant workers advocacy group said that Tan, who founded Home in 2004, had suffered a stroke in February 2014 and spent her last few years in Batam, Indonesia where she recuperated while working with non-profit groups there.

"We are deeply saddened by the news, and our prayers are with her family," said the non-governmental organisation in the post.

In its post, Home described Tan as "an untiring advocate and champion of the rights of migrant workers".

"She played a key role in establishing Home's current activities, which includes our shelter for abused domestic workers, skills training programmes, and our legal and employment advice services for all migrant workers," said Home.

She played a key role in establishing Home's current activities, which includes our shelter for abused domestic workers, skills training programmes, and our legal and employment advice services for all migrant workers.
The Home organisation founded by Tan in a statement on her death

Describing her as a "pioneer" in the field, Home said that such services were almost non-existent when it was established in 2004.

Tan played an active role in contributing to public discussion on the welfare and rights of migrants to change mindsets and policies.

She was also active on international and regional advocacy platforms, said Home.

"Bridget was a true friend and ally of the migrants; she always provided a listening ear and extended a helping hand to many in need," its statement added.

Prior to setting up Home, Tan had worked in the field of human resources and was the chairperson of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

In its post, Home said that Tan has been an inspiration to many and that her legacy will live on in the advocacy group.  

It added that it will announce details of the wake once they have been confirmed. 

In a Facebook post, civil rights activist Jolovan Wham said Tan was "one of the giants in civil society" with a "deep commitment to social justice".

"She was a fierce advocate, and never minced her words," he added.

Mr Wham had helped to set up Home in 2004, and served as its executive director from 2006 to 2016.

Speaking to TODAY on Monday, Mr Wham said that Tan was "very energetic and dynamic".

"The strength of her conviction was something I had never seen in anyone then. This was what made her inspiring," he added.

Recounting their time setting up the organisation, Mr Wham said that Tan was actively involved and "got her hands dirty".

"From running the shelter, talking to workers, accompanying them to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), operating the office and cleaning the toilets," he said.

In a Facebook tribute to Tan, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, the Speaker of Parliament, recounted how he had gotten to know Tan while working with her on migrant workers matters while he was at MOM. 

Mr Tan was Manpower Minister from May 2014 to May 2015. He had also served as senior minister of state in the same ministry a year before. 

He recalled how he had met Tan often for discussions, focus groups, consultations. He also visited her at her place where she reached out to street walkers, he added. 

"She cares passionately for our migrant workers and champion their concerns and actively look out for their well-being.

"She is a tireless campaigner for them and I am grateful for her work, her love and dedication," said Mr Tan in his post.

He added that he recalled visiting Tan in hospital several years ago after she suffered a stroke.

While she did not seem that she would survive at that time, she did, said Mr Tan.

"Alas, the time has come now for her to depart. Rest in peace Bridget. We will miss you," said Mr Tan.

Related topics

Home Bridget Tan Migrant Workers death advocate

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