Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Our migrant workers and us

Many of them work hard despite the harassment they face and are only looking to earn an honest living and send money home, not unlike Malaysians who go overseas.

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One thing that pops up in the local news these days (besides news about Covid) is news about the migrant workers in Malaysia. We see news of officers from the immigration department going around looking for undocumented workers.

This is just the latest in a series of happenings that has carried on for years and years. In the comments section we can see that some Malaysians think good riddance, they are dirty, they are not educated and they are of a lower class.

I’ve heard many stories from different people about migrant workers. They take care of our children and our elderly parents at home; they clean our houses and cook our meals for us; they work 12-hour shifts in malls; they are our doctors in our hospitals and our teachers in universities; they work hard at construction sites; they ride around in bicycles as security guards.

I’ve heard stories of policemen who stop them while they ride in taxis or walk along on the road; how they always make sure they have a few hundred dollars with them because if they have too little, the police will give them a harder time; how they think this is not so bad because at least they can send a little money to their families back home; how agents take advantage of them and run off with their money and passports when they try to get legal papers to stay; how employers keep their passports and won’t apply to renew their visas.

I’ve also had opportunities to work with migrant workers. I feel bad and ashamed when my fellow Malaysians talk rudely to them and look down on them just because they’re on the other side of the counter and they look and sound foreign.

I don’t agree with people coming illegally into any country but from my experience, the people I see hope and wish to be here legally. They want to earn honest money in a country that provides more opportunities than their own so they can send money back to their families (not unlike my Malaysian friends who seek greener pastures overseas).

I feel we are letting them down with our broken and corrupt system. We take advantage of them. We look down on them. I wish we wouldn’t.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.

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