An interview with Dr Ramatullah (Hamid Razak Rahmatullah), an Associate Consultant and ex-Chief Resident in the specialty of Orthopaedic Surgery with the Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) was very important as it helped in enlarging my understanding the depths behind the treatment of the migrant workers s. While all of his answers were in great detail, especially regarding the health benefits and drawbacks of the migrant workers s, a point that stood out was his opinion on the government working for the migrant workers s:
“[Dr Rahmatullah]: Policy-wise, there’s definitely differences how a foreign workers is treated versus a citizen, for example, and I think at a policy level, at a national level, you must understand that this is not just peculiar to Singapore but it is the same in many other countries as well. So as dogma we cannot be hypocritical, and call out our government for treating our foreign workers differently.”
Dr Rahmatullah has a very contrasting opinion to Braema. Where Braema feels the government is not doing enough for the migrant workers, Dr Rahmatullah feels they are doing as much as they can. He makes it clear that the Singaporean government has been taking measures to provide the migrant workers with sufficient protection and that it is to the best of their ability, considering their status in society. His point of view in my opinion, makes as much sense as Braema’s perspective, as a community we should not have such a high-myopic view or harbour such high standards and expectations. His statement on the role of the government led to the next questions, “Are we paying them too low a wage for the work that they do? If we are paying a low wage how are we then helping them with other aspects of their living conditions?” The feedback from Braema and Dr Rahmatullah did not really go against my opinion but it gave me a new pathway to think about – is the government doing enough for the migrant workers and is providing basic necessities enough to make them feel accepted?
From this interview, I feel like I understood that being treated differently is a given, and it is really a global phenomenon where a government is expected to treat their citizens well first and then think about the rest of the population. It is unjust to expect a country to treat everyone equally as there is no country that is so generous.
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