Step up raids without fear or favour, law enforcers told


KUCHING: Malaysian Trades Union Congress (Sarawak Division) has called on the authorities, especially the police and Immigration Department to step up raids without fear or favour and to fully enforce the law.

In a statement signed by its secretary Andrew Lo yesterday, MTUC Sarawak Division was concerned over reports that the management of more than 500 restaurants and coffee shops in Miri were putting pressure on the authorities, through mayor Lawrence Lai, to halt the ongoing operations to weed out illegal foreign workers.

“We must eradicate the scourge of illegal foreign workers once and for all. The authorities must not ‘kow-tow’ to rich businesses and vested interest groups,” the statement said.

It added that the association’s claim that the raids had caused its members to suffer huge losses, with half of the outlets having to cease operation temporarily because they had no workers left, proved that they had been employing illegal immigrants all this while.

“The authorities must arrest the owners of these outlets for employing and harbouring illegal foreign workers. It is a serious offence.

“It has caused huge economic losses to the country in terms of domestic consumption, denying employment opportunities to the locals, not to mention the security and safety risk to the country, with an estimated one million illegal foreign workers. Mind you, we are on the US watch list for human trafficking.”

The statement also reminded Lai that it was his duty to assist the authorities to enforce laws and regulations, not to influence or put pressure on the authorities from carrying out their duties.

“MTUC rejects claim by Mayor Lawrence Lai that the raids will disrupt the tourism industry. We must not allow an illegal practice just to attract tourists. Quite frankly, if tourists come to Miri just to have their food at outlets that employ illegals, they should not be welcomed.”

MTUC Sarawak Division said Lai’s claim that the restaurants and coffee shops were forced to hire foreign workers from Indonesia and the Philippines as no locals wanted to work in these places and that locals said that the pay was too low, ‘runs counter’ to the government’s minimum wage policy.

“The association claims that they paid over RM8,000 in levy to the government, agent fees, air fares, accommodation and food just to bring one foreign worker for a two-year contract, equivalent to RM333 a month. Local workers are more than prepared to work if the RM333 are paid to them on top of the minimum wage of RM800.”

The statement also called on the local people and tourists to boycott those places that hire illegals. “After all, these outlets are no cheaper than those who employed legal workers.”

“MTUC also received many complaints of price increase in eateries. A cup of Milo is priced as much as RM2.80. When the price of sugar went up by 20 sen a kilogramme, a cup of coffee went up by 40 sen.

“Do you need two kg of sugar to make a cup of coffee? No wonder, the number of diabetics in Malaysia is exceedingly high relative to the overall population. And how do you justify the increase in the price of Kopi O Kosong which has no sugar?

“The eateries also said the increase in the price of subsidised cooking gas justifies the price increase. However, subsidised gas is for home users only, not for eateries.”

With that argument, MTUC Sarawak Division called on the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism to investigate the matter, and that they must urgently develop and strengthen consumer movement in the country to check the might of businesses to increase prices arbitrarily.

“It must be noted that in many countries, price increases have led to extreme social unrest. Let’s not go down that road.”