If you take a drive to an eatery joint, for example the famous Jalan Ipoh’s ‘dim sum’ row of restaurants, you would find that they are run by foreign workers.
They are trained by local restaurant owners to prepare the dishes, cook them and to an extent, given the trust to collect bills from restaurant patrons.
Even some of the hawker centres now are managed by foreign workers – from taking down orders, to cooking.
Basically, they run the “show” while these restaurant owners delegate tasks as they are seated behind the cashier counter.
That is how it is with foreign workers in Malaysia, and one of the reasons to it could be that Malaysians have a ‘high and mighty’ mindset, deeming that the job is only worthy for a foreign worker.
Because the foreign workforce hardly complains, they are preferred over the local workforce – besides the fact that they have also proven to be good at their jobs.
This is where Malaysians begin to feel that the foreign workers are threatening the local blue-collar job market, but at the same time none would want to apply for a job to fold dumplings at a hawker stall, wash dishes or wash the floors of a restaurant where operations usually end at 3am in the mornings.
The usual dissatisfaction voiced would be that these jobs do not pay enough, or that they just cannot rough it out, never mind the fact that the locals may be unemployed.
While Malaysians are busy shopping for the “right” job, Nepali workers in Malaysia managed to send home RM5 billion (132.75 billion rupees) in the first 11 months of the last fiscal year.
According to the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), Nepal received the highest amount of remittance from Malaysia where the amount represents 22% of the total remittance received by the country.
At present, there are 700,000 Nepalese who are employed in Malaysia where a majority work in factories and plantations while others work in small restaurants, hotels and hospitals.
While critics continue to question the presence of the Nepali workers, according to statistics, nine Nepali workers die every week in Malaysia but yet the country stays as the most popular work destination for Nepalese.
It not only proves that these Nepalese value their jobs, but would risk even their lives to send home a portion of what they make.
According to embassy records, it showed that nearly 3,000 Nepali workers have died in Malaysia in the past 12 years, 166 of them in the five months between July and November last year alone.
Most of them died from Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome (SUDS), while a few of them believed to have suffer from diseases like tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, which are rare in were Malaysia.
Says a source who works in a local private hospital, the best of their housekeeping workers are Nepalese.
“They give their all at work compared to other nationalities that we get as replacements when the Nepali workers are sent back due to health complications.
“It is very sad whenever they are sent back against their will, but their agents are not bothered to fight for them to keep the job simply because it is an easy way out to just send them home.
“Most of the cases we have dealt with were suspected of contracting TB. We suspect that the diseases are passed on by their housemates.
“I’m sure you know the living conditions of foreign workers in our country, how the agents try to fit as many of them in one house,” the source says.
Aegile Fernandez of the labour rights group, Tenaganita had also previously said that the US TIP (Trafficking In Person) reports of recent years showed how the condition of migrant workers in Malaysia is absolutely the worst in the world.
Exploitation, breach of contracts, below minimum wages, almost inexistent medical benefits has not deterred the Nepali workers from returning to Malaysia because of the employment that they do not have back home.
Malaysians could very well make these Nepali workers’ attitude as a lesson to learn from, instead of whining.
Soo Wern Jun