TNM Crew Room Renovation


There is a major renovation work in progress at Tanah Merah Crew Room. It started end of June and will end in mid August. It’s causing so much disruptions and inconvenience. The chaotic mess coupled with the noise and dust really make this place inhospitable. I pity the CMT and those train officers taking their driving break there.

Actually, there is no place to rest at all. We are displaced and in a way have temporarily become refugees. We had to borrow the much smaller rest room used by the station staff. But it’s expected. Can’t be help.

The last renovation was quite some time ago. I have seen at least three major renovations in our crew room. With each renovation, the space of our crew room is further expanded by breaking walls and joining up the adjacent rooms to accommodate our growing manpower strength. There are more and more staff joining our ranks.

First, a team of Blangladeshi demolition team moved in to remove every item in the crew room ie cupboards, shelves, water cooler, water heater, chairs, tables, tv, hi-fi etc to the common corridors or any little space they could find.



The demolition team also hacked and whacked the floor and walls removing all the old tiles and fixtures.

Next, some Malaysian skilled craftsmen began working on the floor. They are now laying tiles on the floor and the walls. In the meantime, the Bangladeshi workers are giving the place a new coat of paint. It’s tedious work cuz furniture, notice boards and other fixtures needed to be moved about for the painting works.



Relaxing just outside the crew room entrance.

Since Day01, the renovation site is being supervised by a young and wongable soft spoken nubile Fillipino lady in their late 20s. Standing at about 1.5m, she is always there directing and supervising the weather beaten workers in their work. Every detail is manually recorded in sequence by her in the logbook.


I’ve spoken to that lady. She was rather shy and reticent about herself. I only know that she graduated from Manila University with a degree in Architecture. She worked in the Phillipines for a while before coming over here. She has been here for only one month. She is quite new here and this is her first major project working for a renovation and construction company.

When I asked her about her pay, she was only willing to tell me that it’s about three times what she earned back home. Assuming that she is paid $3,000 here, she would only have got $1,000 back home. Since she is quite friendly, many of us would like to chit chat with her to amuse ourselves while taking a driving break. At least, it’s not so boring since there is no tv or hi-fi to entertain us. Langgar!

This renovation project would not have been possible without all those foreign workers. From my observation, all the workers so far are foreigners. We are so dependent them. We ought to be grateful to those foreign workers. Wonder no more why we are seeing more and more of them coming to our shores to work cuz in the words of that Filipino lady, the pay here is three times more than what they get back home.

This tiny piece of rock is a gold mine to peoples from around the world where they make their fortune here and retire comfortably back home. Our country is a gold mine to others. Is it also a gold mine to us natives?

Nonetheless, we are looking forward to a more spacious, cosy and comfortable crew room. As in previous renovation cases, we would usually throw a party to celebrate just like what we do for our house warming when we shift to a new place. In the meantime, we are still temporarily refugees in our own crew point.


Lady site supervisor.

TNM Crew Room before this renovation.

“The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the official policies, practices or opinions of SMRT or any organisation with which I may be affiliated.”


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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12 Responses to TNM Crew Room Renovation

  1. the singaporean from Perth says:

    Soft spoken Pinay. That’s really new.

    We celebrate cheap foreign workers. Now there are foreign site supervisors, very soon foreigner project managers will dominate the market. One day, there will be foreigner project directors all round.(I’ve already seen PRCs working from a worker 10 years ago to being a boss and hiring more PRCs and just one or two Singaporeans in their companies) We are too overconfident in ourselves, thinking we can control the situation.

    Not a bad thing, not a bad thing. We could really be cheaper, better and faster. Besides these, living condition, social practice even laws that we were accustomed to will change drastically. Don’t expect foreigner bosses to love you that much, even our own Singaporean bosses hate us.

    Change is good. Embrace change. Be prepared. The ones who could not accept changes would be made irrelevant.

  2. Why should we be ‘grateful’ to these foreign workers? Its purely a business transaction.

    What we should be ashamed, is not to allow Singaporeans to have a shot a the job, at a reasonable pay.

    Is the fillipino lady’s skills so unique and rare that no poly student cannot do?

  3. ape@kinjioleaf says:

    I doubt her pay is $3000. Probably less. $3k is high base on your description of her scope unless there’s a lot of other works that you don’t see.

    • $3,000 is my own estimation. She refused to tell me her pay. But she did say it’s 3 times more than what she got back home. She is also in-charged of handling materials and complying with the draft plan. You know those diagrams and drawings on big sheets of paper for the renovation works.

  4. xyz says:

    I think those workers should be more grateful to Singapore, than we should be to them. Imagine if there is no first-world developed Singapore with easy immigration import rules. Where will they go to earn 5X-10X their salaries? US? UK? Canada? Australia? Europe? How many of them can even qualify for work immigration to those countries?

    Without Singapore being so free and easy with foreigners, those foreigners lives will be just like Singaporeans today — stuck in own country with depressed wages, and not easy getting into another developed country with much higher-paying jobs.

    And no way for that Pinoy lady to get $3K for site supervisor, even if she got Manila degree. Somemore this is her first time outside of Philippines and first time working on major A&A project. Her salary at most is $2K —- most probably it is $1.8K.

    Pinoy grads even in manila are just getting $500 starting pay. Provided they can even get jobs in the first place. Unemployment among fresh pinoy uni grads are like 40%.

    Companies here are simply taking advantage of the system to hire cheap workers. And govt is happy to provide this system to feed the companies.

  5. AttCch says:

    Why do we need so much cheap labour? Why do we compete on low cost instead of value proposition? Why are we languishing in productivity stagnation?

    For a country with such a small population, why are we targeting to be a “hub of hubs”? From medical, legal, aviation, life sciences to IP, tourism, education, maritime. You name, we have a stake in it? Jack of all trades. Does our government have a vision? Are we strategising to carve a niche in identified key areas or are we simply investing in all manner of industry and hope to hit jackpot? Isn’t this why we are importing so many foreign labour? Are we making best use of our limited talent and manpower? Do we pay millions for supposedly the best minds to simply cast the net wide and hope for a catch? Where is the vision and the leadership? They seem to be more tied up fixing the many systemic and policy failures that have surfaced. We need to have a national dialogue, a clear vision and direction for the people to work for, not simply to slog and get by under an ever increasingly stressed home and work environment.

  6. agongkia says:

    By having renovation so often,it can only prove that it is poor management,poor vision and poor planning.Either they are creating jobs for FWs or simply they are doing it for a purpose known to themselves which I feel could be the case but would not reveal here.
    I dun know whether joker and daft are alike.Very blur leh.Why are we guessing the salary of the FTs instead of asking whether she is married,attached or available.I am only concern whether she will get pay cut for reading newspaper instead of supervising while on duty becos 2.50 pm is suppose to be working hour.

    • Lol! You are so observant. I told her I wanted to take her picture. She then used the paper to cover up lah. She is still available. Are you keen?

    • explorer says:

      If you can give her at least $2K cash per month, sure she will want you, whether attached or not. It’s all about economics, climbing up the social ladder in life.
      If you target those more atas one, like those working in raffles place, then be prepared for fork out $5K each month.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wat’s wongable?
    Does it mean her surname
    or name is changeable to Wong
    or Mrs Wong?

  8. T3 says:

    Do you believe that she will be seizing all of your offers? I think I know that site supervisor. She has her own beliefs in her life which no one can afford to buy. She is nice by the way, if I’m not mistaken she already have a BOY FRIEND back home anyway.:)

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