PETTY traders at Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur can hire foreigners only to help them when they set up and close their stalls, said the Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association.
Its chairman, Datuk Ang Say Tee, said the traders must ensure that foreigners have valid work permits and do not handle the business at the stalls.
He added that the association had appealed to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for over a year to allow the traders to hire foreign help.
“I had discussed the issue with DBKL Licensing and Petty Traders Management Department one month ago.
“We are glad that they allow foreign helpers with valid working permit to help during the period of setting up and closing of the stall.
“It comes with the condition that they wear a tag approved by the association and DBKL,” he said at a press conference in Petaling Street yesterday.
Ang, however, hoped DBKL would review its policy and allow traders to hire foreign help.
Traders who were present at the press conference also appealed to DBKL to allow them to hire foreign helpers as it was difficult to find Malaysians who want to do the job.
Most of the traders were also senior citizens who need help to transport goods and lift heavy objects.
Watch seller David Goh, 55, found it difficult to set up his stall everyday as age was catching up on him.
“It takes me three hours to set up and close the stall everyday. If I have a helper, I can do it faster. “Previously, I managed to hire a local helper but he left after three days due to the unbearable heat and workload. I could not find a local helper since then.
“Now that I am operating the stall alone, I cannot take a break.
“I also need to concentrate on repairing watches, I cannot look after all the things in my stall all the time,” he said, urging DBKL to review the policy of not allowing them to hire foreign help.
Both the petty traders and the association also criticise DBKL’s move to revoke 56 traders’ licences in January for hiring foreigners.
Ang said half of them were innocent.
DBKL had taken photographs of foreigners at their stalls but traders claimed that the foreigners were not their workers and that they were either customers or those operating a nearby stall.
“I must admit that there are some who hire foreigners illegally to help out at the stall.
“We managed to appeal to DBKL to have their licence returned,” he said.
Traders who were caught hiring foreigners will need to sign an agreement and submit it to DBKL and pay RM300 to get their licence renewed.
Ang expected the licences to be renewed in a week’s time after submission.
One of the victim who only wanted to be known as Cheng said he did not have a foreign worker ever since he started operating in Petaling Street 30 years ago.
“The foreigners being photographed at my stalls are actually those who sell VCD in front of my stall.
“Sometimes, they would put their stuff near my stall and come to my stall to take their items.
“It is okay to take visual evidence but DBKL should investigate thoroughly before issuing a letter to revoke my licence,” he said.
On a related matter, Ang said the fee for the petty traders’ licence would be increased by 30%.
“We had a meeting with four other traders’ association and this is the rate we agree upon. This will start next year,” he said.
DBKL was not reachable for comments on these matters at press time.