Dormitory operator KT Mesdorm Pte Ltd (“KT Mesdorm”) was convicted in the State Courts on 31 May 2016 for intentionally aiding three companies to breach a work pass condition by housing their respective foreign workers in overcrowded accommodation at the Blue Stars Dormitory which it operates. In so doing, KT Mesdorm had contravened the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
The dormitory operator pleaded guilty to all 30 charges tendered in Court and was fined $300,000. This is the first dormitory operator prosecuted and convicted in Court.
Housing workers way beyond the approved limit
Blue Stars Dormitory is a purpose-built dormitory operated by KT Mesdorm. It is permitted to house up to 4,500 workers, based on written permission given by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). During a joint inspection at Blue Stars Dormitory by officers from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on 30 July 2015, 5,098 bed spaces were found and 5,042 foreign workers were found residing at the dormitory. These were way above the approved occupancy limit of 4,500.
By intentionally taking in more residents than permitted, KT Mesdorm had caused the infrastructure and amenities in the dormitory to be over-taxed, resulting in overcrowded, unsanitary and unhygienic living conditions1. The health and well-being of the workers residing in the dormitory were severely compromised.
The companies which had tenancy agreements with KT Mesdorm were not aware that the dormitory had exceeded its approved occupancy limit.
Following the inspections, KT Mesdorm has taken steps to rectify the overcrowding issue and improve the living conditions in the dormitory.
Dormitory operators play their part
Commenting on the case, Ms Jeanette Har, Director, Well-Being Department of MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, said, “The dormitory housed 500 foreign workers more than the allowed limit. This is a serious breach as overcrowding compromises fire safety and conditions of living. Employers who house their workers in purpose-built dormitories expect dormitory operators to adhere to all regulatory requirements. We will continue to step up housing inspections and take stern action where appropriate."
Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations, employers are required to provide accommodation that complies with the various statutory requirements for foreign workers. Dormitory operators who provide unapproved accommodation and thereby aid employers to breach the Regulations are themselves in violation of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). Offenders face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months for each offence.
Members of the public who know of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA should report the matter to MOM at 6438 5122 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be kept strictly confidential.