Bangladeshi Migrant Labour in Singapore
For seven days a week and 365 days a year, Nazrul Islam, 40, worked as a contract cleaner in one of Singapore's many public housing estates. There were no rest days, and from 6 am in the morning he and three other Bangladeshis worked in the estate for 12 hours, clearing rubbish chutes and sweeping the floors and void decks of 29 blocks. Even after five years, the stench of the rubbish still makes him cringe. Nazrul is one of the hundreds of Bangladeshis who make their way to Singapore to work in factories, construction sites, or cleaners. No matter where they work, their purpose is the same -- to make a better life for themselves when they return. Not all who come here succeed. Many fail to earn enough to pay off the loans they made to come to Singapore because of dishonest contractors and cheating agents who charge exorbitant fees. Living conditions, although better than other countries, are still cramped and there have been contractors fined by the government for not providing hygienic and decent quarters. But no matter how unhappy they are, most workers do not complain for fear of being deported.
A Photo feature by Jessica Lim/Real Picture
A photojournalist and writer from Singapore who spent six months in Dhaka in 2005. This series was done after she returned and was part of a photo exhibition held during the final-year of her mass communications degree. She has since worked as a photographer for The Straits Times, the country's leading newspaper.