New Straits Times
ILLEGALS SHOULDN’T MANAGE BUSINESSES
IT is a fact that many smalland medium-sized businesses in Kuala Lumpur and other cities are being run by foreigners, including illegal immigrants.
In Jalan Imbi, Bukit Bintang, for example, there is a stretch that is known as “Dhaka Lane”, where most of the businesses are operated by Bangladeshis. In some areas, the business premises are being monopolised by immigrants from other countries, especially Indonesia, Thailand, India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.
These foreigners are bold enough to operate their businesses openly, with some even employing immigrants from other countries. Many barber and laundry shops are being operated by foreign workers from India and, slowly, they are taking over businesses from their local bosses, who are mostly busy with other activities.
Do not be surprised if you find a restaurant owned by a Bangladeshi immigrant with cooks from Thailand, while the staff are from Indonesia. This is happening in Malaysia and it seems that we may encounter more of such businesses if the problem is not nipped in the bud.
Although I am not against foreigners and those with work permits, I am concerned about the presence of illegal immigrants in big numbers as they may expose us to diseases and pose a threat as some of them are believed to be involved in crimes.
There are reports on their low level of hygiene, while brutal fights and murder cases among them have allegedly occurred and been reported to the police in the past.
This should be a wake-up call to Malaysians to find a solution for 3D (dangerous, dirty and difficult) jobs, which are turned down by locals as the jobs are often deemed lowly or demeaning.
But, kudos to the Immigration Department for going all out to prevent this from spiralling out of control.
Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali was quoted as saying that in the past two months, the department had arrested 7,225 foreigners, including many who ran illicit businesses.
He said 161 Malaysian employers were picked up for harbouring illegal foreign workers, during Op Mega 2.0, where spot checks were made on 33,626 foreigners in 2,838 operations on business premises.
Besides that, action must also be taken against employers who allow their foreign workers to stray to other sectors and abuse their work passes. It was reported that these foreigners, who are earning wages from their legal employment, are eager to set up illegal businesses to reap better returns.
Based on the raids, among areas in the Klang Valley with drastic growth of foreign workers running illegal businesses are Jalan Silang, Lebuh Pudu, Petaling Street, the Selayang market, as well as computer and information technology malls.
Local authorities must take stern action to stop the abuse of business licences by locals, who lease them to foreigners.
There should be more joint operations with the Immigration Department and utility companies, such as Tenaga Nasional Bhd and the water supply department, to take action against the immigrants and premises owners.
The Companies Commission of Malaysia and Inland Revenue Board should be roped in as it is learnt that the foreigners do not pay taxes. Besides strict enforcement, the authorities must stress on prevention and education with the support from embassies, local communities, associations and those who rely on foreign workers.
We should not tolerate this as foreigners would slowly take over small- and medium-sized businesses from locals. They have the competitive advantage against local entrepreneurs since they are willing to take lower profits and sell all sorts of things and offer various services.
It will be a sad situation when, one day, local entrepreneurs are out of a job and have to beg for employment from these foreigners.