Inhumanity in Sri DamansaraImagine this i f you can: 140 Bangladeshi workers are living, locked up, in a two-room, 1,000 sq ft apartment — usually a size that is home to a Malaysian family of four or less.
Their hostel (at least that’s what it is called) is a third-floor shophouse unit in Bandar Sri Damansara.
A visit to the “workers’ hostel” operated by Gateway Saujana Corporation Bhd at Jalan Cempaka SD/12/1, Persiaran Cempaka, revealed a horror house.
Even from the doorway, the heat and body odour generated by the 140 was palpable. Clearly, the windows were hardly enough to allow sufficient air circulation.
They share one toilet in the twobedroom unit. There are no beds; they are forced to sleep on the bare floor huddled up against each other.
“The situation has become worse since the gates were locked yesterday,” said Mohd Ashraffudin, 32, speaking in broken Bahasa Malaysia. “Previously, some of us could sleep on the staircaseoutside the unit. Now, we are forced to simply cram together or take turns sleeping.”
Food is also a problem. A woman would stop by every two days to supply rice and provisions. “We have to cook the food ourselves and, depending on the amount given, we sometimes have only one meal a day,” he added.
“I can’t even go out to pray since yesterday as the gate is locked,” complained Taffisurin, 27, who has been there for two months. “This is not the way to treat us as we have rights as well.”
While the Malay Mail photographer was taking pictures, a couple and a few other men arrived. They shouted furiously, pushed us and demanded that we leave immediately.
Escorting us out of the building, the angry group closed the ground floor entrance where six burly men then stood guard.
Complaints Bureau to visit workersAfter being alerted to this foreign workers' plight, representatives from the Public Complaints Bureau under the Prime Minister's Department will be visiting this horrific "workers' hostel" in Bandar Sri Damansara at 10am today.
The group will be led by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator T. Murugiah, who also heads the bureau.
Meanwhile , Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said the Manpower Department would take legal action against the company for violating several conditions in the hiring of foreign workers.
He said the company, Gateway Saujana Corporation Sdn Bhd, was alleged to have not paid the salary of 74 workers from Bangladesh and also for failing to report to the authority on its recruitment of foreign workers.
"The work permits of some of the foreign workers expire tomorrow (today)," he said in a statement.
Officers from the Manpower Department and Immigration Department, who went to see the workers at their lodging, found that they were not paid their salaries, he added.
Human rights groups from within the country and abroad have long accused Malaysia of mistreating millions of foreign workers living here.
However, Foreign Affairs Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa yesterday said in Geneva that foreign workers are accorded the same rights as locals.
Going back not an optionFebruary 13, 2009 Categories: News
Despite living in atrocious conditions, the 140 Bangladeshis kept “captive” in the “workers’ hostel” in Bandar Sri Damansara are reluctant to be repatriated to their home country.
“Each one of us had either borrowed a lot of money, sold our valuables or even sold houses to raise enough funds to work here in Malaysia,” said Mohd Ashraffudin, 32.
“Going back now will only make things worse for us and our families.”
He explained that many had raised between RM20,000 and RM50,000 to pay the middlemen who had promised them lucrative jobs here.
However, upon arrival, there were none of the promised jobs, said Mohd Ashraffudin, who had been living in a shophouse the past five months. He said some individuals there had been in Malaysia for as long as one year.
“As soon as I reached Malaysia three months ago, I was placed here and I did not have the opportunity to learn the language,” said Ashref, 21, who spoke through his friend who managed to speak a bit of Bahasa Malaysia.
It is learnt that all those forced to live in this “workers’ hostel” had no permanent jobs. Ever so often, some would be sent to work at a construction site for a few weeks, and would be returned to the unit once the stint was over.
Worse, some would not even see their wages and, as all their passports and work permits were held by the employment agency, these Bangladeshis are unable to seek employment elsewhere.
“We just want jobs and earn a living so that we can go back home and help our poor families,” said Mohd Ashraffudin.