In Limbo

They came in search of a better future, to single-mindedly chase that proverbial migrant’s dream in Singapore. Some lucky men return from this sojourn barely unscathed, others, with only huge debts to service. South Asian low skilled migrant workers typically pay around $8,000 to agents back home, to secure them a job in Singapore. Land sold, gold pawned, money borrowed just to chase this Singapore dream.

Yet, this dream has not only become elusive or illusory, but has turned into an unmitigated nightmare for many. Many who unwittingly fall prey to unscrupulous agents, workplace injuries and salary disputes, only to see their work permit cancelled and given a Special Pass in place.

This special pass legalizes their stay in Singapore even after their work permits have been cancelled. While they have to remain in Singapore to assist with investigations of alleged wrongdoing by their employers, they are not permitted to find alternative employment. Some turn to adhoc undocumented work to support themselves through this tough times.

While waiting for justice to be served, which could take up to a year, this group of Special Pass holders find themselves stuck in limbo.

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