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Migrant worker fired over 'loan shark' harassment faces deportation after being unable to find job

Hightech88

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https://www.channelnewsasia.com/sin...arassment-deportation-unable-find-job-4369221

Migrant worker fired over 'loan shark' harassment faces deportation after being unable to find job​

Migrant worker fired over 'loan shark' harassment faces deportation after being unable to find job

A picture of Mr Uddin Md Sharif, 46 year-old Bangladeshi worker in Singapore. (File photo: Facebook/Md Sharif Uddin)
Listen to this article 29 May 2024 06:13AM


SINGAPORE: A migrant worker who was terminated by his employer in March after being harassed by purported "loan sharks", although he denied ever borrowing any money, is now required to leave Singapore by the end of the month.

The Bangladeshi worker, Mr Uddin Md Sharif, 46, told TODAY he was informed by the police on May 23 that they had "exhausted all available leads".

In response to TODAY's queries, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) confirmed that "extensive investigations" were conducted to identify the alleged person who had harassed Mr Sharif, his former and potential employers.

The police have not found any evidence that Mr Sharif had borrowed from unlicensed moneylenders.
The joint statement also outlined the support given to him during his stay.

Speaking to TODAY on Monday (May 27), Mr Sharif said that he had pleaded to the police and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to let him stay here for a month in order for him to find a job.

He said that ICA, during a meeting with him on May 24, had given him three days to leave the country but extended the period to seven days after his pleas. He will have to depart Singapore by May 31.

Mr Sharif’s case had been under investigation after he filed a police report in March over the harassment he faced, which included debtor’s notes addressed to Mr Sharif at his ex-employer’s daughter’s home.

The incident prompted his ex-employer, Hiap Seng Piling Construction, to raise the issue with the authorities.

While Mr Sharif denied ever taking any loan, the company terminated his employment and said in the letter it was done “under police and MOM officer advice”.

The police and MOM clarified at the time that this was not the case, in response to TODAY’s queries last month. The authorities had also said then that they had reached out to Mr Sharif “to address his concerns and offer our assistance”.

After his termination, the authorities allowed Mr Sharif to stay in Singapore on a Special Pass, which expired on May 24, to assist with investigations.

MOM 'did not advise' employer to fire migrant worker harassed by loan sharks; he can remain in Singapore amid police probe

WHAT HAPPENED SINCE THE TERMINATION​

In a video uploaded to social media on Saturday, Mr Sharif said that he was allowed to apply for a job under the Temporary Jobs Scheme (TJS) by MOM.
According to the MOM website, a migrant worker required to stay in Singapore to assist in investigations can apply for a job under the scheme, although this would be subject to the ministry’s approval.

Mr Sharif, known for his writing and his efforts to raise awareness about the challenges faced by migrant workers over the past 16 years here, also claimed in the video that he was given the “commitment” from the authorities that he could stay in Singapore to look for a new job once the investigations are over.

But after meeting the police on Friday morning at the ICA headquarters, Mr Sharif was told that he had to leave in three days.
“I asked to stay for one more month to look for a job. But they said they cannot (allow that) now that the investigations are over,” he told TODAY.

“Three days is too short. It would be easier to find a job if I’m still in Singapore because I can contact employers and attend interviews.”
He said that he has had difficulties securing a suitable job since the termination.
MOM had given him a list of seven agencies he could approach for jobs. While some offered jobs outside his industry, one agency, in a reply to him seen by TODAY, specifically told him that it was unable to help as the firm “only accept TJS worker holders, not police case” (sic).
Mr Sharif is concerned that if he returns home, it would be doubly difficult for him to find a job here again, as he fears that his work pass application might be rejected.
He was subsequently granted a slightly longer stay until May 31.
In the video uploaded online, Mr Sharif said that he urgently needs a job as he has to support his wife, who requires multiple surgeries for various health conditions, such as hernia and gallstone removal.
“I have run out of funds and will not be able to support my family unless I find work soon,” he said in the video. He also has an eight-month-old child back home.

Related:​


The Big Read: Burdened with family expectations and lured by temptations, some foreign domestic workers get snared in debt trap

SUPPORT FROM WORKERS’ RIGHTS GROUP​

Workers' rights group Workers Make Possible, which started a petition in April to stop him from being deported, and non-government organisation Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) have tried to help Mr Sharif.
A spokesperson for the group, Ms Kokila Annamalai, said they have worked with other groups to appeal to MOM to grant him a longer extension, but it has been rejected.
“We will continue to work towards him returning to Singapore with a new job, or if he chooses to stay in Bangladesh, we will see what his immediate and longer-term needs are and how best to support him with rebuilding his life there,” she said.
HOME executive director Stephanie Chok said that it had appealed to MOM on May 24 to give Mr Sharif a grace period to find another job here but the ministry replied on Monday, maintaining its position.
Ms Chok said that migrant workers who are victims should be given a fair chance and adequate time to seek re-employment.
“(Mr) Sharif's situation shows the 'deportability' of migrant workers, even when they are victims,” she said.
“As HOME has previously encountered migrant workers who find themselves unable to process their work permit applications once they return to their country, we hope that (Mr) Sharif will not be blacklisted or face any other administrative hurdles in obtaining a successful work pass application.”

WHAT MOM AND POLICE SAY​

In a joint statement on Tuesday to TODAY's queries, the authorities confirmed that police investigations into the harassment case have concluded.
"Extensive investigations were conducted, including detailed interviews and forensic examinations of evidence to establish the identity and motive of the alleged harasser, who had not only harassed Mr Sharif, but his former and potential employers as well," said the authorities.
"The police have not found any evidence to suggest that Mr Sharif had borrowed from unlicensed moneylenders and have exhausted all leads to identify the alleged harasser."
The authorities noted that Mr Sharif's former employer had covered his accommodation and meals expenses.
He was also allowed to seek employment under the TJS, said the authorities.
"Mr Sharif was informed of this and an email was also sent to him to confirm his eligibility to work," the statement added.
The authorities said that MOM and the Migrant Workers' Centre had reached out to him to check on his well-being and linked him up with employment agencies to support his job search.
"Mr Sharif had expressed his preference to be a safety coordinator in the construction industry, but he was unable to secure such offers; we also understand that he had declined job offers for non-construction roles."
On the departure timeline, the authorities confirmed that Mr Sharif's Special Pass expired on May 24 and was initially extended to May 27.
"This is aligned with the usual approach taken in such cases," said the authorities.
"Mr Sharif then requested additional time beyond May 27 to make the arrangements. The authorities acceded to his request for a further extension of his Special Pass to May 31, 2024 given the circumstances of his case."
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cat

Stupidman
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Mr Sharif’s case had been under investigation after he filed a police report in March over the harassment he faced, which included debtor’s notes addressed to Mr Sharif at his ex-employer’s daughter’s home.
Bangla staying with employer's daughter? Satki Bangla
 

GUDANGARAM

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Mr Sharif, known for his writing and his efforts to raise awareness about the challenges faced by migrant workers over the past 16 years here, also claimed in the video that he was given the “commitment” from the authorities that he could stay in Singapore to look for a new job once the investigations are over.
 

GUDANGARAM

Alfrescian
Loyal
Mr Sharif, known for his writing and his efforts to raise awareness about the challenges faced by migrant workers over the past 16 years here, also claimed in the video that he was given the “commitment” from the authorities that he could stay in Singapore to look for a new job once the investigations are over.
So smart. He should do this job in Bangladesh
 
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