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Construction company and their directors fined a total of $257,000 for housing offences and unauthorised conversion of private residential properties into workers’ dormitory

  Published: 23 April 2019

In the State Courts today, 48-year-old Shi Baoyi (Shi) and 55-year-old Chen Ming (Chen), directors of construction companies Genocean Enterprises Pte Ltd and Genocean Construction Pte Ltd, were sentenced under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), for housing foreign workers (FWs) in overcrowded conditions. They were fined $70,000 and $48,000 respectively. In addition, Shi was fined a further $52,000 under the EFMA for providing inaccurate information in the Online Foreign Worker Address Service system and false information to the Controller of Work Passes. The company had also been barred from hiring foreign workers.

In addition, Shi, Chen, and Genocean Enterprises Pte Ltd, were sentenced under the Planning Act for converting private residential properties (PRPs) into a workers’ dormitory without planning permission. They were fined $15,000, $12,000, and $60,000 respectively.

Case Details

Investigations by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) revealed that Genocean Enterprises Pte Ltd had rented two adjoining PRPs at Lorong 14 Geylang in January 2015 on a 12-month tenancy agreement. Inspections conducted found that bed spaces were added to accommodate FWs in the PRPs. A total of 66 FWs were eventually found to be housed in the premises, resulting in the PRPs being severely overcrowded with crammed and unsanitary living conditions. Furthermore, from July to August 2016, Shi had consented for his company to house another 15 FWs in another overcrowded PRP located at Geylang Road. The poor living conditions of the PRPs affected the well-being of the FWs. (See Annex A [PDF, 158kb] for photos.)

The two PRPs exceeded the occupancy cap of eight unrelated persons1, and were converted into workers’ dormitories without planning permission from URA. Investigations also revealed that Shi, Chen, and Genocean Enterprises had converted a third PRP at Lorong Kismis into an unauthorised workers’ dormitory from June to July 2015.

In addition, Shi submitted false address information to the Controller of Work Passes between August and September 2016 for 12 FWs. He also failed to update the addresses of another 40 FWs between March and April 2015.

The breakdown of MOM’s and URA’s charges for Shi, Chen, and Genocean Enterprises Pte Ltd is listed in Annex B [PDF, 120kb].

MOM and URA Closely Monitoring Foreign Worker Housing Situation in PRPs

Commenting on the case, Ms Jeanette Har, Director of Well-Being Department at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, said, “MOM will continue to take stern action against irresponsible employers who disregard workers’ safety and well-being by housing them in overcrowded and unacceptable living conditions. Together with other agencies, MOM will intensify our inspections on PRPs and send a strong signal that employers must look after the welfare of their workers.”

In another recent case, two companies – Broadley Dormitory Management Pte. Ltd. and Broadley Electrical Pte. Ltd. were convicted on 25 February 2019 under the EFMA for housing foreign workers in dormitories with overcrowded, poor and unsafe living conditions. They were fined $300,000 and $60,000 respectively.

Mr Timothy Lee, Director of URA’s Development Control Department, added, “Converting private residential properties into illegal dormitory accommodation not only affects the well-being of the occupants, but has an adverse impact on neighbours and the surrounding community. URA will not hesitate to take action against any party who blatantly disregard regulations, and will continue to work with partner agencies to conduct joint inspections on suspected illegal workers’ dormitories.”

Advisory to Employers of Foreign Workers

Employers must provide foreign workers with safe and proper accommodation that meets the statutory requirements. Those who fail to do so face a fine up to $10,000, or imprisoned for up to 12 months or both, for each charge. Members of the public who have information on poor foreign worker housing conditions can report to MOM via the MOM website (www.mom.gov.sg) under “Contact us” or call 6438 5122. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Under the Planning Act, private residential properties are subject to an occupancy cap of six unrelated persons. Property owners should exercise due diligence to check that their premises are not put to unauthorised uses, such as dormitory accommodation. Under the Planning Act, offenders can be fined up to $200,000, or jailed up to one year, or both.


1 The occupancy cap was eight persons at the time of the offences. It was revised to six persons in May 2017.

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