Don’t blame us for spreading Covid-19 in Selayang, migrant workers plead

A foreign worker shops for supplies at a sundry shop at the Taman Wilayah low-cost flats near the Kuala Lumpur wholesale market April 21, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
A foreign worker shops for supplies at a sundry shop at the Taman Wilayah low-cost flats near the Kuala Lumpur wholesale market April 21, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Migrants working at the Selayang wholesale market have expressed their disappointment at being blamed for the spate of Covid-19 cases in the area, amid vitriol by locals on social media, especially against the Rohingya community.

Speaking to Malay Mail during its recent visit to the area currently under the enhanced movement control order (EMCO), a Myanmar national migrant worker said this was unfair to the entire migrant community that comprise various nationalities.

“Until now I don’t think they have found who first contracted the coronavirus and brought it to the wholesale market.

“They cannot blame everything on migrant workers just because the majority of cases were detected among migrant workers,” the Myanmar national told Malay Mail.

The Myanmar national insisted that workers at the wholesale market had no time for social activities due to their long working hours.

“Daily routine for some start at 11pm preparing for market operation at 1am the next day, they will work right up to 7am.

“Some work double shifts, which mean they will rest for a while, and continue to work the day shift until 7pm. After that, head home, eat and sleep and the routine continues daily.

“Do you think migrant workers have time to go out?” said the Myanmar national who requested anonymity.

A Myanmar national who spoke to Malay Mail insisted that workers at the wholesale market had no time for social activities due to their long working hours. — Picture by Hari Anggara
A Myanmar national who spoke to Malay Mail insisted that workers at the wholesale market had no time for social activities due to their long working hours. — Picture by Hari Anggara

The person said anyone could have brought the disease to the area, noting that it could just as easily be a random patron or supplier visiting the market.

Covid-19 is also extremely contagious and could easily have been spread by an infected person who was not aware that he or she had it, the person added.

“The migrant worker community should not be taking all the blame,” said the Myanmar national.

Yesterday, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced nine more cases within the areas surrounding the Kuala Lumpur wholesale market.

The EMCO was previously imposed on residential areas surrounding the Selayang wholesale market where most migrant workers reside, after the first Covid-19 death was reported there.

Another Myanmar migrant worker also rejected the portrayal of Selayang as where most of his compatriots reside.

He argued that it was far from where most Burmese were concentrated.

“There are more in locations like Ampang and Cheras. Selayang is only home to the fourth largest Myanmar community.

“We are not the only ones here, if you want to talk about migrant worker population. There are also Bangladeshis, Indonesians and even Pakistanis.

“We go where there is work because it does not make sense for migrant workers to travel so far to go to work when they are already struggling to earn a day’s meal,” said the Myanmar national who also requested anonymity.

Speaking to Malay Mail, a Malaysian resident who lives in the nearby Taman Wilayah low-cost flats said he was worried that his area could also end up under the EMCO if the migrant workers failed to obey the restrictions.

Electrician Sanjay Raj speaks to Malay Mail at the Taman Wilayah low-cost flats in Kuala Lumpur April 21, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Electrician Sanjay Raj speaks to Malay Mail at the Taman Wilayah low-cost flats in Kuala Lumpur April 21, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

An electrician named Sanjay Raj said he skipped work the next day after the EMCO was announced, worried that his housing area would also be barricaded since it is located near the wholesale market.

“We are actually quite near to them and that’s why when they announced the lockdown, many ran here to live with their friends.

“We don’t mind the migrant workers, but all we ask is that they obey MCO rules and remain in their homes.

“Right now, the migrant workers seem to ignore rules placed under the MCO. No social distancing in shops and they are still hanging out with their friends at the bus stop and what not,” said Sanjay when met at a sundry shop.

The EMCO enforced last week affected the Selayang wholesale market and the Pasar Borong Harian Selayang or the former Selayang wholesale market, with both ordered shut to make way for sanitisation and screening efforts.


 

Related Articles