Monday January 30, 2012
Foreign workers giving local traders stiff competition
Stories by ELAN PERUMAL and STUART MICHAEL
Photos by SHAARI CHE MAT and ELAN PERUMAL
MEMBERS of the local business fraternity have been losing sleep thanks to enterprising foreign workers who have started operating businesses illegally in many areas.
In some areas, the foreigners who either hold work permits or are illegal immigrants have outnumbered the locals and taken over their businesses.
StarMetro conducted random checks at several areas in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur and found that the situation had gone from bad to worse in some areas.
In some areas the foreigners were very bold, operating in groups or under “colonies” where there is a large number of foreign workers.
It is more rampant in parts of Klang, Shah Alam, Selayang, Rawang, Batu Caves and Kuala Lumpur.
Many of them are from Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Most of them operate sundry shops and convenience stores while some sell foodstuff, vegetables, furniture and liquor.
Some of them also operate car wash businesses.
Local traders have complained that the situation is bad for their businesses.
The presence of these foreign workers in large numbers has not gone down well with the residents in these areas too.
A resident from Taman Menangan in Meru, who declined to be named, said these foreigners had formed a colony in the area and he was concerned over the non-action of the authorities.
The resident said he wondered how they were allowed to operate businesses from houses, stalls and makeshift structures on roadsides.
“My mother was selling some packet snacks and she was reprimanded by the Klang Municipal Council enforcement officers.
“They warned her against using the house for any form of business activities. However, these foreigners are allowed to operate businesses all over the place in the housing estate,” he said.
Rusli Ahmad, 45, of Taman Kenangan in Meru said the housing estate was flooded with foreigners who operated various type of businesses.
He said they operated from houses, makeshift stalls and at roadsides.
“It has become a trend for the foreigners to rent several houses in a row so that they can form a colony.
“It is frightening to realise their dominat presence in our neighbourhood,” he said, adding that the foreigners also operated many businesses along the roadside in Taman Terantai, which is linked to Taman Kenangan.
Foreigners, especially Indonesians, are also found operating food outlets and sundry shops in Kampung Bukit Naga in Shah Alam.
Residents in the area have voiced their dissatisfaction and urged the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) to act against the illegal businesses.
A resident who declined to be named said the area was flooded with Indonesians from Aceh.
“They have sundry shops, food outlets and even markets,” he said.
A sundry shop operator who is from Aceh said he had been operating in the area for several years now.
He said his customers were mostly locals and they had no problem visiting his shop.
“I have become part of the community here and there are many Indonesians doing businesses here,” he said.
StarMetro also discovered that a number of Myanmar nationals were seen selling fruits and vegetables at the Selayang market.
There is also a liquor shop operated by foreigners near Jalan Wellman in Rawang town near the KTM Komuter station.
It was learnt that foreigners were also operating a furniture shop in Jalan Rawang-Batu Arang and car wash centres in Bandar Baru Selayang and Bandar Country Homes in Rawang.
Malaysian Indian Entrepreneurs and Professionals deputy president Gunarajah R. George said it was sad that traditional businesses operated by the locals like barber shops, car wash centres, florist, fruit and vegetable outlets were now operated by foreigners.
“The locals are being robbed as goods sold or services rendered by foreigners are much cheaper because their overheads are less compared with local businessman’s.
“Many of these foreign traders just place a cloth or a table and sell their stuff without worrying about paying rental, assessment and licences.
“They will flee when they sense the presence of enforcement officers and this is a typical scenario at the Selayang market,’’ he said, adding there was a lack of enforcement by authorities againts businesses run by foreigners.
Gunarajah, who is also a Selayang Municipal Council councillor, said If this situation was allowed to continue the locals would be gradually deprived of business opportunities.
Kuala Lumpur Malay Chamber of Commerce Association president Datuk Syed Amin Al-Jeffri said Malaysians were to be blamed for creating a vacuum for the foreginers to operate businesses meant for the locals.
“We cannot entirely blame the foreigners for taking advantage of the situation. Malaysians should be more responsible in keeping Malaysia’s tradition and its businesses among Malaysians.
“We Malaysians are becoming lazy and taking the easy way out by renting out our business premises to foreigners,” he said
For example, Syed Amin said, the businesses in the bustling market in Jalan Chow Kit and its surrounding areas were mostly run by Indonesians.
He said businesses that were meant for bumiputras should not be given away to others.
“I feel those who do not want to continue with their business should give up their licences and let other Malaysians take up the opportunity instead of passing it to foreigners,’’ he said.