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Singapore FinTech Association faces backlash for endorsing joint statement against lorry ban for foreign workers transportation

Ms Tasha Enright of *SCAPE SG called on the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) to explain their position against the lorry ban for foreign worker transport.

Former member of SFA, Zheng Huifen voiced shock and sadness on LinkedIn, resigning in protest of the association’s statement endorsement.



SINGAPORE: On 1 Aug, a coalition of 25 business groups issued a joint statement where they cited “real, practical, and operational complexities” to excuse the elimination of transporting workers on the backs of lorries for safety reasons.

The statement highlighted the potential impacts of regulatory changes, such as a ban on transporting workers via lorries, on sectors that have traditionally relied on this practice. The possibility of project delays and its adverse effects on workers’ livelihoods were underscored.

The business groups pointed out the various factors including “geographic constraints, limited infrastructure, and economic realities that certain regions and industries face” that have necessitated the use of lorries to transport workers.

The statement warned of possible societal consequences such as increased traffic, commuter congestion, and infrastructure delays as workers transition to other modes of transportation, including public transport.

After the statement was published, the business associations and the fintech body drew significant flak online, Singaporeans expressed their disappointment over the business groups rejecting the idea of banning the transportation of workers via lorries.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s prominent figures, including Tommy Koh, Singapore’s Ambassador-at-large stated that the business groups are relying on fear-driven tactics to advance their stance, and candidly highlighted that the core motive for their resistance is money.

“It will increase their costs of doing business if they are required to transport their foreign workers in vehicles with seats and seat belts,” Prof Koh said in a Facebook post on last Wednesday (2 Aug).

The backlash against Singapore FinTech Association for endorsing business group’s joint statement

The backlash on social media continues. A widely circulated post by Tasha Enright, a Board Member of the non-profit organization *SCAPE SG, called upon the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) to provide an explanation for their stance against banning lorries for foreign worker transportation.

“kindly explain why you have taken a position against banning lorries to transport foreign workers due to a total disregard for their safety and lives – a labour issue you have no skin in the game for – when you have no clear connection to the policy except that an exco member runs a lorry-related financing and supply business?”

A former member of the association, Zheng Huifen, expressed her shock and sadness about the association’s endorsement of the statement on the LinkedIn networking platform.

She announced her resignation from the association as a protest against their decision.

Zheng stated that she would only consider renewing her membership if the association retracted its signature or provided a valid justification for its stance.

LinkedIn user condemns decision to allow ferrying of migrant workers via lorries, deeming it a “1st world with a third world policy”

In response to Ms Tasha’s post, LinkedIn users strongly criticized the Singapore FinTech Association’s (SFA) decision, conveying their disappointment and urging the association to provide clarity on their position.

One user aptly pointed out the contradiction, likening the situation to a “1st world with a third world policy” regarding the transportation of foreign workers. This observation highlighted the incongruity between Singapore’s developed status and the seemingly outdated approach to worker transportation.

Singapore FinTech Association’s response to backlash

Possibly in response to the intense criticism, the Singapore FinTech Association addressed the matter last Friday (4 Aug). They acknowledged that worker safety is a complex issue and emphasized the need for a long-term solution achieved through collaborative efforts between the public and business sectors.

However, the association’s spokesperson refrained from addressing key questions. These questions included the process leading to the statement’s signing, whether members were consulted, and whether any members had vested interests in the matter.

The association’s stated objective on its website is to foster engagement in the financial technology ecosystem through events, membership programs, and knowledge sharing. With more than 800 corporate members and over 1,000 industry professionals in its network, the association plays a significant role in the fintech sector.

In response to further inquiry by CNA, Ms Zheng who is also a lawyer, reiterated her strong disagreement with the practice of transporting people on lorries.

She characterized this practice as dehumanizing and discriminatory, treating individuals as mere tools without consideration for their safety or dignity. She expressed her inability to remain a member of an association that actively supports such activities.

“Even more so when I don’t see how the fintech sector is directly affected by a proposed ban of this practice, which seems to show that the (Singapore FinTech Association) is not in compliance with its mandate of representing Singapore’s fintech sector.”

National discourse emerges regarding the safety of workers transported by lorries

Recent concerns regarding the safety of workers transported by lorries have sparked a national debate in Singapore, leading to multiple statements issued by government and civil society organizations.

Public scrutiny on this issue intensified following two lorry accidents in July, which resulted in 37 individuals, including migrant workers, being injured.

The accidents ignited a renewed call to halt the practice of transporting workers in lorries, with 100 groups and individuals endorsing two petitions over the last two weeks.

Over 40 organizations and individuals, including migrant worker welfare groups, jointly addressed PM Lee, Mr Chee, and Dr Khor, condemning the government’s response as theatrics and handwringing, devoid of necessary seriousness and urgency.

In another show of dissent, a coalition of 57 local civil society organizations and community groups issued a joint statement on 26 July.

They criticized the government’s approach as comprising of “feeble steps” and distractions. They underscored the inherent risks and dignity-compromising conditions of transporting people in lorries, vehicles not designed for human transport.

The 57-group coalition called for a portion of the foreign worker levy, amounting to at least S$1.1 billion dollars in 2020, to be allocated towards assisting smaller companies transitioning to safer transport alternatives.

They accused the government of disregarding the acute pain experienced by injured workers and grieving families thousands of miles away due to the current practices.


The 25 business groups that issued the joint statement: “Commitment in Protecting the Lives and Livelihood of Our Workers” on 1 August:

  • Association of Small & Medium Enterprises
  • Association of Singapore Marine Industries
  • Association of Process Industry
  • Commercial Divers Association Singapore
  • Singapore Association of Ship Suppliers
  • Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • Singapore Contractors Association Limited
  • Singapore Fintech Association
  • Singapore Food Manufacturer’s Association
  • Singapore Logistics Association
  • Singapore National Employers’ Federation
  • Specialists Trade Alliance of Singapore
  • Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Association
  • Fire Protection Association Singapore
  • Micro Builders Association, Singapore
  • Roofing Association Singapore
  • Security Systems Association of Singapore
  • Singapore Building Materials Suppliers’ Association
  • Singapore Electrical Contractors and Licensed Electrical Workers Association
  • Singapore Electrical Trades Association
  • Singapore Furniture Industries Council
  • Singapore Glass Association
  • Singapore Lift & Escalator Contractors and Manufacturers Association
  • Singapore Plumbing Society
  • Singapore Sanitary Ware Importers and Exporters Association


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