Major Singaporean business families set up charity for welfare of migrant workers

Singapore, Nov 30: The families of late business tycoons Khoo Teck Puat and Ng Teng Fong have donated 20 million Singapore dollars (USD 14.62 million) to fund a medical centre in Singapore’s industrial district of Penjuru for the welfare of migrant workers, who are an integral part of the country’s workforce.
Besides setting up the medical centre at Penjuru Recreation Centre, the donation will also be used to start ‘MigrantWell’, a fund to strengthen healthcare support for migrant workers.
The charity will partner with community agencies to identify care gaps, such as in dental and mental health, and develop guidelines on how the welfare fund should be used to address these issues.
On Monday, the estates of the two late businessmen signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Foundation, Ministry of Manpower and St Andrew’s Mission Hospital (SAMH) to finalise the health initiative.
The SBF Foundation said it aims to raise another 15 million Singapore dollars from its members to add to the welfare fund.
The health initiative came into existence after the families of Khoo Teck Puat and Ng Teng Fong approached the SBF with concern for migrant workers, amidst the COVID-19 outbreak last year.
The crowded dormitories were among the biggest coronavirus clusters in the island nation.
Migrant workers have contributed immensely to the growth of Singapore, and are an integral part of Singapore’s workforce, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said at the signing of the MoU.
“They (foreign workers) contribute to industries like construction, marine shipyard and process sectors and help build our homes, common spaces and economy. Over the years, we have been making a concerted effort to protect their health and safety in a sustainable manner,” he said.
“This philanthropy-led public-private-people partnership epitomises a whole-of-society effort in uplifting the well-being of migrant workers. This effort also complements the government’s role in shaping a new primary healthcare system for migrant workers,” said Tan.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the important role migrant workers play in our business ecosystem. As an essential part of our workforce, businesses can do their part to take care of the well-being of migrant workers,” said SBF Chairman Lim Ming Yan.
SBF Foundation chairman Hsieh Fu Hua added, “People are at the heart of any organisation and also whatever we do. As business organisations, we can contribute to alleviate social issues of those in our employ and of the community at large. In this spirit, Project MigrantWell is SBF Foundation’s latest initiative to encourage a compassionate business community.”
Hsieh noted issues faced by workers, such as a lack of affordable healthcare, limited support from employers, anxiety over losing their jobs, and poor health awareness.
“Despite the good support by the Government and multiple initiatives by NGOs so far, there is still more to do,” he said.
Khoo Teck Puat was a banker and hotel owner, estimated to be one of the wealthiest men in Singapore at one point.
Ng Teng Fong was a Singaporean real estate tycoon with a major presence in Hong Kong. In 1997, Forbes Magazine listed him and his son as one of the 30 richest men in the world. (PTI)