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Published 21 February 2023
3-min Read

Meet a dedicated group of migrant workers who are partnering with the SPF to share crime prevention tips with their communities!

By: Domnic Dass

They Are Migrant Workers and Anti-Crime Ambassadors 1
MWC volunteers in their distinctive orange Ambassador T-shirts at Rochor NPC. PHOTOS: Roger Yue III

Migrant workers in Singapore can become victims of crime due to a lack of knowledge about common crimes that affect their communities. That’s why the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) has worked hand in hand with Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) to better support migrant workers! 

The MWC helps migrant workers in need through outreach activities, community engagement, advocacy and public education. In 2019, the MWC set up the Migrant Worker Ambassador (MWA) engagement programme to educate migrant worker communities on crime advisories and fake news. Let’s learn more about how MWAs are working with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) to safeguard migrant workers from crime!

They Are Migrant Workers and Anti-Crime Ambassadors 2
SSgt Hidayat leads the MWA engagement programme at Rochor NPC.

A Sunday Well-Spent 

 

Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Muhammad Hidayat Bin Hussain Ja’afar is a Community Policing Unit (CPU) officer at Rochor NPC. He leads the MWA engagement programme and, at least once a month on Sundays, he meets his MWAs partners, most of whom are volunteering to serve on their off day.


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“Even though it’s their off day, the volunteers are willing to join us in reaching out to their communities. Their passion drives the MWA initiative.” – SSgt Hidayat

They Are Migrant Workers and Anti-Crime Ambassadors 3
MWAs attending a briefing in Rochor NPC.

One recent Sunday evening, 18 MWAs had gathered as usual on the steps of Rochor NPC, exchanging greeting and embracing one another. Rather than spend their off day resting, they’re keen to give back through the MWA engagement programme. 

Once settled inside a meeting room, they gave their full attention to SSgt Hidayat, who briefed them on the latest crime trends and specific topics (such as scams) that the MWAs will be sharing about. This evening, the MWAs will walk about in Little India in two teams with CPU officers from Rochor NPC and MWC staff.

“The dialogues are conducted by the MWAs in English and their native languages, to better engage with their respective communities,” explains SSgt Hidayat. “Our goal is to help migrant workers understand crime prevention messages in their native languages, so that they can share them with others.”

Bright Smiles, Brighter Passion

 After the briefing, the two teams went to their patrol sectors, weaving through the bustling crowd. They confidently approached groups of migrant workers to share crime prevention messages while also acting as a listening ear for those who may be facing problems.

They Are Migrant Workers and Anti-Crime Ambassadors 4
Mr Samin (at right) engaging with fellow members of the Bengali community.

For assistant engineer Hassan Sm Samin, serving as an MWA has been fulfilling. “I first volunteered after the MWC and the SPF’s outreach efforts at our dormitory,” he explains. “Besides getting to learn the latest crime trends, I feel happy helping fellow Bangladeshis workers protect themselves from crime.”

They Are Migrant Workers and Anti-Crime Ambassadors 5
Another enthusiastic MWA is Mr Phyo Aung Wai from Myanmar.

A short walk away was his fellow MWA Mr Phyo Aung Wai, a technician from Myanmar. When the SPF first reached out for volunteers to share crime prevention messages, he knew what he had to do. “It was the right thing to join the programme,” he recalls.

They Are Migrant Workers and Anti-Crime Ambassadors 6
Mr Phyo aiding a migrant worker to install the ScamShield app on his phone. As an MWA, Mr Phyo also gives out cards containing emergency contact numbers that migrant workers can call when they need assistance.

Although he was initially shy when it came to approaching his fellow workers to offer support, Mr Phyo says that the programme has helped him to step out of his comfort zone. “I want to teach other workers to stay safe by helping them better understand local laws and crime prevention tips,” he says.

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Mr Ayappan (left) engages in Tamil with fellow migrant workers.

The conversations are friendly and often take just a few minutes, with the MWAs listening attentively and handing out cards with emergency contact numbers. According to operations executive Mr Suppaiya Ayappan, it’s very satisfying to spend his off day in a meaningful manner. 

“Many of the Indian workers that we engage are new to Singapore and may not understand the laws here,” he explains. “Sharing crime prevention tips in Tamil helps them learn how to stay safe, especially from crimes like scams.”

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All together now: Mr Ayappan (fifth from left) with fellow MWAs and MWC staff after a successful engagement session.

“We’re Here to Help” 

According to SSgt Hidayat, the MWA programme has been well-received by migrant workers: “We now have about 29 MWAs representing many different countries, and we can see that more and more volunteers are coming forward to help their communities.” 

Besides the MWA engagement sessions on Sunday at Little India, the SPF has also leveraged on technology to further reach out to migrant workers. Workers can receive crime prevention advisories through WhatsApp, which they may then share with others. 

“This helps us raise awareness about certain subjects very quickly,” shares SSgt Hidayat. “Most importantly, the MWA programme allows migrant workers to develop a greater sense of good will and trust towards the Police, and helps them to understand that we’re here to help.”

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