Living environment unhealthy, says Suhakam

THE conditions under which about 5,000 foreign workers are being housed in shoplots in Taman Aman Perdana, Meru in Klang, has been described as inhumane.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner James Nayagam, who visited the area following a StarMetro report, expressed shock over their poor living conditions.

He said the workers had been deprived of dignity as they were forced to live in an unhealthy environment.

James said the shoplots that housed the workers were not suitable.

He said the workers were forced to sleep in beds without mattresses.

‘‘They are being placed in narrow store rooms.

‘‘The rooms are dark and stuffy with poor ventilation and lack washroom facilities,’’ he said, adding that most of the premises had only one toilet to cater to between 60 and 80 workers.

The unhygienic living conditions, James said, could lead to the workers contracting airborne diseases such as tuberculosis.

On June 4, StarMetro highlighted that shoplots at the commercial centre had been turned into hostels.

It was reported that the foreign workers were occupying almost the entire ground and upper floors of about 150 shoplots there.

Two people have to share a bed. A worker, who only wished to be known as Jamal, said that he and his friend took turns to sleep on the bed as they work 12-hour shifts, said the report.

James said their living quarters also posed a fire risk as they cooked their meals there.

He said there were up to 10 stoves and gas cylinders per “hostel”.

‘‘Some of the stoves are placed in between beds. There are no fire extinguishers or sprinklers,’’ he said, describing the premises as fire traps.

He added that he was told the employers charged each worker a minimum RM30 a month for accommodation.

James said it was the employers’ responsibility to provide workers with proper accommodation.

‘‘The employers have violated the work permit regulations by neglecting the welfare of their workers.

‘‘The Labour Department has failed to ensure the employers comply with regulations by providing proper housing for foreign workers,’’ he said.

James, who met Aman Perdana Residents Association chairman A. Maniam, also took Klang Municipal Council to task for failing to take action against owners who allowed their shoplots to be turned into hostels.

James said even some ground floor units had been converted into hostels.

‘‘It is unlawful to allow people to stay in these premises,’’ he added.

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