Migrant rights activists highlight ethical issues in Straits Times story

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“If the workers have asked not be be identified, how can the Straits Times justify publishing their photos and addresses?” added sociologist Nicholas Harrigan.

“The article portrays the workers as largely 'choosing' to live in the bin centers in order to save money. The obvious question the article fails to ask is: What type of existing living and working conditions would mean that workers think that living in a bin center is the 'best' option for them? What does this say about the living conditions provided by employers as an alternative to the bin centers? What does this say about the low rates of pay which the workers must be being paid if they can't even afford to pay one or two hundred dollars to live in employer provided accommodation? The 'choices' these workers are making are highly constrained choices, often imposed by low pay, difficult working conditions, and inadequate alternative living arrangements,” Harrigan told TOC.

Period4 Aug 2015

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  • TitleMigrant rights activists highlight ethical issues in Straits Times story
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletThe Online Citizen
    Media typeWeb
    Duration/Length/SizeArticle
    CountrySingapore
    Date4/08/15
    DescriptionActivists and researchers working on issues related to migrant workers and their rights have expressed concern over a feature article in The Straits Times about Bangladeshi cleaners in public housing estates living in bin centres.

    The Straits Times published “Life in the dumps” written by Aw Cheng Wei (with additional reporting by Toh Yong Chuan) on 18 July, revealing that a number of Bangladeshi workers the reporters had come across appeared to be living in the bin centres on HDB estates.

    Although the workers declined to give the journalists their names for fear of reprisals, the paper ended up publishing photographs of the men in the bin centres, causing them to be clearly identifiable. The Straits Times also published the addresses of some of these bin centres.

    “The reporter had indicated in the story the men had already expressed anxiety about losing their jobs and did not want to be identified, thus the men were cognizant of possible negative consequences and had already communicated this to the reporter,” labour rights researcher Stephanie Chok told TOC.

    “If the workers have asked not be be identified, how can the Straits Times justify publishing their photos and addresses?” added sociologist Nicholas Harrigan.
    Producer/AuthorKirsten Han
    URLhttps://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/08/04/migrant-rights-activists-highlight-ethical-issues-in-straits-times-story/
    PersonsNicholas Harrigan