Published: 27 November 2022
Reverend Ezekiel Tan,
President for Hope Initiative Alliance,
Mr Tung Yui Fai,
Chief for Assurance, Care, and Engagement Group,
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Louis Loke,
Deputy Commander for Woodlands Division,
Partners and volunteers,
1. It is a pleasure to be able to join all of you at the Migrant Worker’s Community Carnival Day, to raise awareness amongst migrant workers about crime prevention. This is very important. And this is a very meaningful initiative. I want to thank all of you for inviting me to be part of this event.
Scams are a Growing Concern
2. How many of you here have received scam messages before, or know of friends who have been scammed before? Perhaps most, if not all of you, have received the messages, and your friends may have been scammed before.
3. I want to share that we are noticing a rising trend of scams, which is driving up Singapore’s overall crime levels. Scams made up more than half of the total number of crimes in 2021. There were close to 24,000 scam cases reported, an increase of over 50% from 2020. We ought to be concerned, and take care, be vigilant, so that people do not take what belongs to us.
4. We are also concerned with how scams are affecting you, our migrant workers. In Singapore, we care for you, we want you to have what you earn because it’s yours.
(a) In 2021, 15.5% of scam victims were work permit holders.
(b) Migrant workers lost close to $25 million to scams, which is more than five times higher than in 2019. This is a lot, so you must take this seriously, to protect yourself.
5. These increasing trends are a concern, that make it increasingly urgent that we protect ourselves against potential scams.
Building Awareness About Crime Prevention and Safety
6. Fighting scams, and other forms of crime, is a community effort. Therefore, other than Police’s enforcement efforts, we are also focusing our efforts on educating the public about crime prevention and safety.
7. Our key message is that vigilance and self-protection are important. This applies to everyone, including all of you here today, as anyone can fall prey to scams. For example, do exercise caution when you receive calls with the “+65” prefix, as these originate overseas and are quite likely to be spoofed calls from scammers.
8. I am very happy to know that there is a strong attendance at today’s carnival – I see so many of you here. Events such as this carnival are a useful way for us to learn about crime prevention tips.
9. I encourage everyone here today to engage the Police officers present, to find out more about the different types of crimes, learn tips on keeping safe, and ways you can seek help.
Community Support for Migrant Workers’ Safety and Welfare
10. Along with our individual responsibility, community support also plays an important role in improving the safety and welfare of migrant workers.
11. Today’s carnival is a good example of this. Key to the event’s success is the strong partnership amongst the government, private, and people sector organisations, whom I am very happy to see coming together, to help take care of you. We are all very fortunate to have this ecosystem where everyone looks out for one another. I am heartened by the organisers’ initiative and the strong support from stakeholders and volunteers. For instance, I met DBS Bank staff just now. They are present here today to share the benefits of promptly banking in your salary for safety purposes. Doosh, a barbershop – whom I also met earlier – has gathered a community of volunteer barbers to offer free haircuts. These are good initiatives that help you take care of yourselves, and shows the heart of the community.
12. Aside from today’s carnival, there are also a host of other ongoing initiatives that support migrant workers’ welfare. For example:
(a) Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach, or AGWO, a key partner of this event, organises weekly engagements such as chai corner chats and sports activities, as well as festive carnivals. AGWO also offers free training sessions known as Soft Skill Enhancement Programmes, which provide guest workers with literacy, financial, computing and coding skills.
(b) To cultivate a reading culture, Kranji District of the ACE Group has also started Library @ Kranji Recreation Centre, with over 700 books in various languages and genres.
13. Under the Migrant Worker Forward initiative, officers from the Woodlands Police Division regularly engage with the community through roadshows and trainings, to promote crime prevention and anti-drug knowledge. The Division, in collaboration with the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Central Narcotics Bureau, also supports the Migrant Worker Ambassadors Programme, which equips migrant workers with knowledge on crime prevention, fire safety, and drugs awareness through training.
14. To conclude, to protect ourselves from falling victim to crime, it is important to remain vigilant, and know where to seek help. I encourage you to visit the many booths at this carnival to learn more, and I hope that you will also take the opportunity to enjoy yourselves.
15. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers for working very hard, as well as the stakeholders and volunteers for organising and supporting this event. I am very humbled and very honoured to attend this event. Thank you for inviting me here.