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What do safer transport options for workers have to do with the cost of a BTO flat?

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In Your Opinion

Synopsis: Every second Monday of the month, The Straits Times takes a hard look at Singapore's social issues of the day with guests. Podcaster: Lynda 
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Why more evidence is needed to break down the cost of transitioning migrant workers away from being ferried on lorries.

Synopsis: Every second and fourth Monday of the month, The Straits Times takes a hard look at social issues of the day with guests.

Migrant workers have been transported in the backs of lorries here for decades, with an ongoing debate about whether the practice should be banned. Yet, despite the platitudes and petitions signed, employers and the authorities have stopped short of doing so, citing knock-on effects on society.

Besides delays to various construction projects, higher costs for businesses and consequently all Singaporeans, are often cited as a justification for why a ban should not be imposed.

But are Singaporeans really unwilling to fork out more money to ensure that the lives of migrant workers are better protected? Especially when more are stepping up now to call for an end to the unsafe practice? 

In this episode, ST journalists Ang Qing and Aqil Hamzah examine the age-old debate with their guests - labour economist and associate professor Walter Theseira, who heads the master of management in urban transportation programme at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, and Suraendher Kumarr, an activist with workers’ rights group Workers Make Possible.

They discuss a survey recently commissioned by The Straits Times and conducted by market research firm Milieu Insight, on how young people in Singapore feel about the practice of ferrying workers on lorries and how much they are willing to pay to stop it.

The survey of 1,000 residents aged 16 to 35, found that while most young people here think that migrant workers should be transported safely to work, more than half surveyed are unwilling to pay more to ban the practice of ferrying migrant workers on lorries.

Highlights (click/tap above):

2:05 Why are businesses reluctant to adopt alternative transport methods?

4:51 Who should bear the brunt of any increase in costs if other forms of transport besides lorries are used?

7:45 What are the challenges businesses face in making such a decision?

16:34 Young people in Singapore appear more concerned about whether current infrastructure can support migrant workers taking public transport

22:29 Why organisations wrote letters to the government in July 2023, calling for a ban on migrant workers being transported on the backs of lorries

34:27 Policy, not just individual action, needed to enact change

Produced by: Ang Qing (, Aqil Hamzah (, Ernest Luis, Fa’izah Sani & Amirul Karim

Edited by: Amirul Karim

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In Your Opinion

Synopsis: Every second Monday of the month, The Straits Times takes a hard look at Singapore's socia 
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