Sunday, May 4, 2008

Malaysia's Multi National Labours

So we had just celebrated Labour Day a couple of days ago.

I'm pretty sure those active in trade unionism would had participated in some sort of workers' rally(ies) to mark Labour Day listening to fiery speeches by the Union leaders.

I for one have never attended to any of these workers' rallies throughout my working life eventhough I have been in the labour force for some 24 years now. For some reason, I have always been out of the loop where celebration of Labour Day is concerned.

That being so, Labour Day has always been just another public holiday, nothing significant, nothing special.

This year, though it has nothing to do with Labour day, but simply to take advantage of the mid-week public holiday, my neighbourhood's friends organised a "Dialogue with the YBs" event and I have got roped in to help out organising it. Tasked with the assignment to write a report on the event, I have done that as posted in my earlier posting.

One of the issue brought up by a fellow neighbour at the dialogue with the YBs was on the flooding of foreign immigrants (read as foreign labours).

The notion given was that the public is alarmed with the large number of foreign immigrants in the country, a situation very much unprecedented say about 30 years ago.

His concern is very much true as the immigrants have bit by bit make their presence felt as they are now everywhere, no matter where you are or wherever you look at.

At your home,they serve you as your maid; at the petrol station, they help filling up the fuel tank; at public amenities places, they maintain the cleanliness; at illegal hawking areas (like at the Masjid Jamek LRT Station), they hawks; in the LRT coaches, they commutes together; along the pavement at the shops, they operate cobbling services and at the the food stalls, the Myamnar children begs. In reality, they are everywhere and at some areas around Kuala Lumpur, certain strechs of roads are now practically their (i.e. foreigners') quarters. Areas like Medan Pasar, where there is even a "Bank" exclusively serving those from the Indian sub-continent as well as Jalan Silang where rows of shops are practically in existence because of them. Signages in Bengalise and Nepalise are standard features at these areas.

In short Malaysia has really become truly Asia, not solely because of the multi ethnics locals but the large community of foreign labours from Indonesia, Vietnam, China, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar (where the children seems to be more visible than the adults) and to a certain extend from the African countries and the Philippines.

While other countries in the world seem to be in control of the foreign labours brought into their respective countries systematically, not many of us believe that the Malaysian government is doing a good enough job managing the influx of the foreign labours here. In fact, many of us tend to believe that all these influx are simply due to "close an eye" syndrome of the authorities (if not due to blatant corrupt practices).

As pointed out by my fellow neighbour at the dialogue session, Malaysia is the only place on earth that allows foreigners to enter the contry with a "0" visa and this by itself provides opportunities for the foreigners to stay after finding some "suitable" jobs here after landing on our shores.

I don't really know how true the claim of this "0" visa thing but seeing them around in big numbers really makes me worry of the nation's future.

Jasni AJ

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