- Published on Thursday, 24 October 2013 08:00
“THERE are about 2,116,998 migrant workers in the country that are tracked and registered by the Home Ministry,” revealed Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun, after attending a Parliamentary session.
The statistic is enough to provide a glaring picture as to just how substantial is the number of migrant workers that are currently in our country.
Last week, Malaysian Digest was an eyewitness to the vast number of migrant workers present in the surrounding area of Kompleks Kota Raya and Petaling Street, and found these workers had caused a mood of displeasure and insecurity among the locals.
Fong agreed that their numbers are ever-increasing.
“Not just in the area of Kota Raya, but it extends towards Jalan Brunei (which is in the vicinity of Bukit Bintang MP’s office),”said Fong.
According to the Bukit Bintang MP, the reasons why migrant workers are particularly attracted to these areas are quite obvious.
“This is an area that has many thrift shops, money changers and major bus stations, which makes it a strategic gathering spot,” he explains.
He also said that Bangladeshis come to Malaysia because there are plenty of opportunities and sectors for employment.
Furthermore, according to him, Bangladeshis take up the sort of jobs many locals aren’t or wouldn’t normally be interested, such as being a cleaner, working in farms, factories and restaurants.
Fong is very concerned about his constituency when he hears complaints from local traders and business owners in the area, and the complaints are usually about the decline in the area’s cleanliness.
“(The migrants) don’t dispose of their waste properly,” said Fong, stressing that the government and local authorities should have monitored the situation closely and take steps to restrict the influx of migrants into this country.
He added that as Bukit Bintang MP, he has concrete plans to take action considering that the problems posed by migrant workers in his area had gone on for too long.
“The authorities and the government must take serious action and the 6P Amnesty Program must be carried out consistently,” advised the MP.
About the implementation of the iKad (an enhanced security identity card for legal labourers), Fong said he supported the idea but it remains to be seen whether the card will be efficient and effective.
Although politicians have a cautious view of migrant workers, academicians look at the situation from a different point of view altogether.
Dr Rosnah Ahmad, a lecturer at the Legal Faculty at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) thinks that migrant workers are necessary for the economy.
“Economic prosperity and political stability are the factors that attracted these workers to come to Malaysia, but at the same time, we are dependent on them, especially in the services, construction, agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
“While they are compensated for their hard work, we get to reap the benefits (of productivity), therefore not all of them are causing trouble to us. We just need to acknowledge their contribution and control their influx,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, Sakib, 30, a Bangladeshi who is working at a restaurant in Bukit Bintang is happy that he can come and work here.
“I have lived a hard life back (in Bangladesh)...to have the opportunity to come to Malaysia makes me happy even when it was difficult to secure a job in the beginning.
“But there are plenty of jobs here compared to my country. Every month I will send some money back to my hometown,” said Sakib who has worked in the country close to 3 years.
He is also conscious of the fact that he is a foreigner and has to observe the ways of the people in Malaysia for fear that he does anything against the law.
“I come here to work; it is highly unlikely that I would want to cause trouble because I hold a legitimate work permit.
“But I have to come to realise that the government of Malaysia has its own methods of dealing with us (migrant workers) and I respect that,” he said when we met him at Bukit Bintang.
But with the increasing influx of foreign migrant workers, should we just stand by and watch when our jobs are snatched away by them?
We should not be choosy when it comes to finding employment.
At the same time, more frequent patrol and checks done on migrant workers in public places like Bukit Bintang and Kompleks Kota Raya has to be ramped up.
Apart from this, we hope the implementation of the iKad next month, which will be distributed in stages to 646,000 migrant workers in the country, will become a good start in the move to overcome and control the flood of illegal labourers in Malaysia.