Singapore readies ‘floating hotels’ for workers as coronavirus spreads

A tugboat pulls the Bibby Renaissance floating hotel meant to house healthy migrant worker in Singapore, April 11, 2020. (Courtesy of Sea Farmers at Ubin via Reuters)
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Updated 13 April 2020

Singapore readies ‘floating hotels’ for workers as coronavirus spreads

  • Meals will be prepared off-site and delivered to the cabins to minimize intermingling
  • Singapore reported 233 new coronavirus cases on Sunday taking its total to 2,532

SINGAPORE: Singapore is preparing to house hundreds of foreign workers in accommodation vessels typically used for offshore and marine industry staff as it races to find alternatives to dormitories where the novel coronavirus has been spreading rapidly.
Tens of thousands of migrant workers, many from South Asia, live in cramped dormitories across Singapore, which have become the biggest source of coronavirus infections in recent days.
Authorities are moving some of the healthy residents of those facilities to other sites including military camps, an exhibition center, vacant public housing blocks and the accommodation vessels, which they have called “floating hotels.”
“Each facility can hold a few hundred occupants and can be suitably organized to achieve safe distancing,” Minister of Transport Khaw Boon Wan said in a Facebook post on Sunday after he visited one of the vessels.
They are docked in a restricted area in a port terminal, Khaw said.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said it was working with terminal operator PSA Singapore, Keppel Corp’s rig-building unit, floating accommodation barge provider Bibby Maritime Ltd. and serviced apartment operator The Ascott Ltd. to bring in and manage two floating accommodations.
Khaw released photographs of a basic, clean cabin with three beds covered in blue linen, and said the residents would be able to use a deck for an hour of exercise every day.
Meals will be prepared off-site and delivered to the cabins to minimize intermingling. A medical facility is also being set up nearby on land.
Singapore reported 233 new coronavirus cases on Sunday taking its total to 2,532, eight of whom have died.


Malaysia’s king rejects PM Muhyiddin’s request for emergency rule

Updated 25 October 2020

Malaysia’s king rejects PM Muhyiddin’s request for emergency rule

  • Critics say Muhyiddin Yassin’s request for emergency rule is an attempt by the premier to stay in power amid a leadership challenge

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected on Sunday a proposal by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for him to declare a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis, saying that he did not see the need.
Critics say Muhyiddin’s request for emergency rule, which would include suspending parliament, is an attempt by the premier to stay in power amid a leadership challenge.
Malaysia is seeing a resurgence in virus infections and on Saturday reported its biggest daily jump in cases with 1,228 new cases.
The palace said Muhyiddin made the request for emergency rule to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but that the government has been handling the crisis well.
“Al-Sultan Abdullah is of the opinion that there is no need at the moment for His Majesty to declare an emergency in the country or in any part of the country of Malaysia,” the palace said in a statement.
“His Majesty is confident in the ability of the government under the leadership of the Prime Minister to continue to implement policies and enforcement efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The king’s decision came after a meeting with other senior royals in the country.
The constitution gives the king the right to decide if an emergency should be declared, based on threats to security, economy or public order.
Muhyiddin has been in a precarious position since he took office in March with a two-seat majority. Uncertainties deepened after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said last month he had the parliamentary majority to form a new government.