Yaacob Ibrahim apologises for Facebook remark on foreign workers gathering near Kallang MRT
SINGAPORE — Former Cabinet Minister Yaacob Ibrahim on Tuesday (April 7) apologised for his remark in a Facebook post that has drawn ire from netizens for being “insensitive”.
SINGAPORE — Former Cabinet Minister Yaacob Ibrahim on Tuesday (April 7) apologised for his remark in a Facebook post that has drawn ire from online users for being “insensitive”.
The post, which was put up on Sunday by the Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency, was about the inconveniences that residents in his area had experienced due to foreign domestic workers and foreign workers congregating until late on Sunday, at an open space next to Kallang MRT Station.
Dr Yaacob, who put up the post along with a picture of the empty area, wrote: “But it takes a virus to empty the space.”
Over the last few days, a significant number of foreign workers have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and a number of workers' dormitories have been gazetted as isolation areas as a result.
Speaking to TODAY on Tuesday afternoon, Dr Yaacob said: “I apologise for that line, it was never intended in any way (to discriminate).”
Dr Yaacob had edited the initial post by removing the line "but it takes a virus to empty the space" and added a clarification note.
He said he had done so to make clear that he agreed that “foreign workers need spaces to interact and meet their friends” but this should be done in a way that is “win-win” for all.
The congregation of foreign workers on Sundays in this area had created “many disamenities” such as littering and noise that have affected residents.
“There have been many complaints for over a year and we have tried to manage it,” he said.
“My position has been how to find the right balance between those who use that space on Sunday and my residents, that’s all. We have never shooed them away… We have never asked them to leave but asked them, 'Please don’t litter the place and please lower your volume'.”
When asked why he eventually removed the post, Dr Yaacob, who stepped down as Communications and Information Minister in 2018, said that it was because some people were still unclear about his intended message.
“I took it down because I think there are a lot of people who misunderstood my position,” he said.
“I don’t want to create any further confusion, and I felt it was best that I took it down.”
Before the post was taken down, a number of comments were left on his post.
“It’s really sad how you and your residents long for the space to be empty, when all the foreign workers are doing is to rest and gather with their friends,” one comment read.
Another comment read: “Such an insensitive post, much shame. A simple routine check and kind conversation to tell them to stay indoors would do.”
Related topicsCovid-19 coronavirus foreign domestic workers Migrant Workers Yaacob Ibrahim Kallang MRT Station
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