A young man was sweeping the small yard outside the outbuilding that housed the restrooms; he was the janitor and handyman, he said, but he was wary when I tried to strike up a conversation.
Despite these concerns, the government last month announced a plan to bring in 1. Print Edition Subscribe Topics:.
The unemployment rate for was 3 per cent. While most of the imported labourers do menial work shunned in Malaysia, South-east Asia's third- biggest economy, their large presence at the same time causes unease among local residents.
He was from Bangladesh, he told me, and had been in Malaysia for three years. Many Malaysians were surprised by the government's earlier insistence on bringing in an average ofworkers from Bangladesh a year for three years, at a time when the country's economy is slowing, Malaysia's economy grew by 5 per cent last year, down from 6 per cent inwith expectations of slower growth this year as the country's two key exports of petroleum and palm oil have been hit by lower commodity prices.
The issue is serious enough for the ethnic Indian political party, the Malaysian Indian Congress MIChas begun distributing pamphlets in rural communities around the country, warning Malaysian Indian girls about the dangers of marrying foreign guest workers, particularly Bangladeshis.
While Indonesians have worked in Malaysia for a long time, it is the influx of a large number of Bangladeshi workers in the last two years which has given rise to a bitter public debate about foreign workers in the country.
As I found in my rather stilted conversation with Yunus, a lack of trust and a huge gulf still divide foreign workers from Malaysians. They want instead for the government to give legal status to undocumented workers already here.
They accuse the Malaysian media of drumming up anti-foreign worker hysteria by blaming an increase in the crime rate to them. The federal government issued a directive, freezing work permits for foreign workers.
They also plan to use the Tamil radio and television services to spread the message. She points out that many other countries in the region now needs foreign workers to sustain their high growth rates, but migrants are not given proper housing and health facilities, plus they are exploited by recruitment agencies and employers.