It's past midnight and I should be sleeping. It has been a 14-hour long day for my team at the office and site. I can't sleep. I can't stop thinking about what happened to a site supervisor in my team. Ainul, a 34 year old lanky 6-footer who came to Singapore to work as a construction supervisor, a position shunned by many Singaporeans. It all started last Saturday. While carrying out upgrading works in one of those flats, workers under Ainul's supervision inadvertently damaged some wall tiles. The owner was understandably upset. However, despite assurance from Ainul that the the damaged tiles will be replaced, he continued to shower profanities at Ainul and at one point, even threatened him with hostile gestures. Audio recording was made throughout Ainul's ordeal.
I was informed of this incident on Tuesday and listening to the recording made my blood boil. However, I had to call this owner to apologise and inform him that the damaged tiles were replaced. He did not accept my apology and the replacement tiles and soon insults started to fly. Temperature rose and his hostility was met by (as the misses would call) Kit's rage. I told him if he were to ever abuse or threaten any of the team members under my care, I will immediately stop the works in his flat and instruct my team members to stop communicating with him. I hung up.
Come Thursday morning..... Ainul received a call. The owner had demanded him to complete the works on the same day. Since the works were scheduled to be completed by middle of next week, Ainul could not accede to his demands. Profanities followed and the owner proudly proclaimed that he is a Singaporean. Ainul came running into my office, almost in tears. I was on the phone and signalled him to wait. When I was done with the call and found out what happened to Ainul, I wanted to kick myself for not responding to Ainul when he was calling out for help. I brought him to the police post to make a report. We were told that the police is unable to initiate an investigation. A magistrate's report must be filed first and the court will decide if the case should be handed over to the police for investigation. Ainul could not get the redress he rightfully deserves and this is all happening on the eve of Hari Raya. He continued to toll through the day without food and drink and was ready to work overtime. I handed him some cash at 6pm and "ordered" him to stop working and join his mates for the festival.
I appeal to all Singaporeans. Spend this coming weekend to reflect. The resentment towards foreigners have blinded us, including me at times. Does it make sense to resent the pair of hands that built the flats we stay in, built the schools your kids attend, built the shopping centres we hide in from the soaring heat?
Ainul, Selamat Hari Raya.