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Friday May 30, 2008

Discrimination and graft the reasons for illegal factories

DISCRIMINATION against local industry players and corrupt practices have been cited as the main causes for the existence of illegal factories in Selangor.

According to Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Foundry and Engineering Industries Association (SFEIA) president Fan See Hai, the local industry players were often snubbed by the authorities, who seemed to show preference to the foreign businessmen and investors.

Listening hard: Ean Yong and Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh chairing the meeting with the association.

Fan said this during a dialogue with Selangor State New Village Development and Illegal Factory Task Force Committee chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah in Shah Alam on Tuesday.

“As Malaysians, we face a lot of hassle even before we can start our businesses while the foreign investors have everything made so easy for them whether it is in making land applications, constructing factories or starting operations,” Fan said.

He said the process of setting up a legal factory by a local businessman, for example, could take as long as three years for approval to be granted.

“Unless the factory owner has lots of time and money to spend, the setting up of the factory would have been doomed before it could even start operations,” Fan said.

Fan: We face a lot of hassle even before we can start our business.

“On top of that, we face a lot of pressure from the authorities, especially the local governments, because we have to pay all sorts of ‘extra charges’ for all kind of applications,” he said.

Fan said his association had 330 members, mostly among small and medium scale industries operators, but 45% of them were operating without permits or business licences while others occupied land without industrial status.

He said that the total number of unlicensed factories in the state was much more than the figure on the association's list.

According to Fan, illegal factory problems have existed since the independence of the country.

Fan said the association hoped the new Pakatan Rakyat state government would bring changes and ensure fairer treatment for local business operators, as they did not want to operate without licences due to the legal risks involved.

He said the problems they faced included constant pressure from enforcement officers and difficulty in getting loans from banks.

Ean Yong, meanwhile, pledged that the state government would look into the plight of the local business operators and review ineffective policies and practices.

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