KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Having been banned by the Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Anuar Musa from entering and trading at the Selayang market, migrant traders have set up shop on the outskirts of the market, operating within earshot of other local wholesale business owners.
Several local and foreign vendors there told Malay Mail that the migrant traders are selling only to their fellow community. But a check by Malay Mail found that locals have no qualms buying from them as well.
During Malay Mail’s survey of the area, one migrant worker approached us to enquire what we wanted. He was standing outside a small shop with a red trolley in his hand while his two colleagues were seated behind several boxes of honey melons, jackfruit and watermelons, seemingly waiting to take orders from buyers.
The migrant worker, who wished to be known as Sameer, told Malay Mail he could get us whatever we needed.
“All you need to do, boss, is give me a list of items you need and you can come pick it up tomorrow morning, earlier the better,” he said, hinting at the weeding-out operation by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) against them.
Sameer said their prices are not that much lower than what is being offered in the market, responding to accusations by local traders plying their sanctioned trade inside.
However, he said the foreign traders are in a more desperate situation compared to the locals, seeing as they do not have a place to work, resulting in an inability to feed themselves and their families.
Sameer had been working at the Selayang market for nine years before the ban on foreigners kicked in.
Asked how they were able to get the products customers needed while not having the legal documents to operate, he said: “We have connections boss. We know the producers so we can get access to produce if you need.
“You won’t need to worry about the quality as they are high grade and sometimes the price can be negotiated.”
Earlier, Malay Mail reported local traders saying that foreigners are still able to ply their trade as they have established their own network, which not even DBKL can easily snuff out.
Sameer said the foreign traders open business at 5am and orders will come in from locals and foreigners alike, and he would continue serving the customers until the authorities come for them.
“No one’s looking out for us and now we can’t go inside the market so we’re struggling here. But it’s not all smooth sailing as when City Hall people come we have to close shop,” he added.
Malay Mail reported recently that vendors at the Selayang market had complained about low volume of sales, lack of clear SOPs, resulting in loss of customers and lackadaisical enforcement efforts by the authorities.
They said even though the migrants were removed from the market, they were operating outdoors where access to them is easier — no security checks apart from a road block manned by police — with no temperature checks required and a wide, open space to collect a large number of items.
Whereas in the market, temperature checks are mandatory, with patrons having to find parking space, haggle on prices and at times being refused entry by the guards on the premises.
While most would think customers of the migrant traders are mainly foreigners, Malay Mail noticed several locals who purchased items from these foreigners.
Most of them were women who came alone while others looked like bulk purchasers.
Another migrant worker, believed to be a Myanmar national, approached Malay Mail at one point to enquire what we needed.
When asked about pricing, he said: “Don’t worry about all that, be smart when you negotiate the price and I’m sure you can get close to what you want.
“You can come to us for long-term supply too, we have a large variety of produce, some you don’t see today but it depends on the season.
“And you need not worry about who we sell to,” he said when asked if they only sold to foreigners. “We sell to anyone who is in need and has money to pay.”
Malay Mail noticed a lot of pineapple, watermelons, honey dew, green bananas, mangosteens, papayas, jackfruit, star fruit as well as mangoes among other fruits for sale.
Following the recent crackdown on undocumented migrant, Annuar insisted he wants to see an end to foreigners working in wholesale markets, especially following intense public backlash against the community.
Annuar had told the business owners to hire locals when they reopened. As of this week, there are more than 1,000 locals working in the Selayang market.
Yesterday, Annuar also said his ministry is encouraging youths to work in the Selayang market with a minimum month salary of RM2,400 on offer.
Migrant workers earn half of that at best, just shy of the national minimum wage of RM1,200.