SEREMBAN: The Chinese community, which comprises 18.5% of voters in Rantau, want more economic activities and job opportunities for locals.
A resident who only wanted to be known as Wong said although small the town was very robust in the 70s.
“We used to see lots of people on the main road. Now it is a sleepy town,” he said, when met at a food stall in Kuala Sawah, around 6km away from Rantau town.
Due to the lack of opportunities, he said, the young had no choice but to leave to look for jobs.
“There is not much development. Those days many were rubber tappers or involved in the tin-mining industry. The main activities here today are related to palm oil. Not many choices for youngsters,” he said.However the 62 year-old oil palm owner couldn’t offer suggestions on what could be done to revive the small town.
“I have no idea what to do here, if you ask me. Maybe the government can come up with good ideas,” he said.
A food stall owner, who only wanted to be known as Foong, said no one would want to leave their hometown and family if they could make a decent living or job here.
“I have many friends and relatives working in Singapore. They include my daughter, sister, her husband and my niece.
“Salaries are higher in Singapore but I heard it is hectic and more stressful working there,” she said.
She added if there were more development or economic activities, locals would not have to leave the town to look for better jobs.
Foong said locals here mainly choose to go Singapore rather than Kuala Lumpur as the cost of living in KL is high.
“My son used to work in Kuala Lumpur selling computers. His salary was RM2,000. After paying rental, food and transport, he didn’t have much left for savings. So I asked him to come back to help me operate this food stall,” she said.
But she said not all youngsters are as lucky.
She claimed that a retail chain wanted to open a branch here in Kuala Sawah but they could not find a decent shop.
“The shophouses on this main road here are all homes,” Foong said, referring to a row opposite her stall.
Her son, Looi Kar Wai, 23, also said most of his friends were in Singapore and he would only meet them occasionally, when they returned on weekends.
Looi, however, said he enjoyed his life here as he has more time to hit the gym, could save money and spend time with family.
Lim Wei Ling, a hawker at food court located on the main road of Rantau town, said there has not been much changes in the town over the past few years.
“I have been operating this stall for 20 years. Not much changes here. Maybe there are more cars. The shops here are old. Previously, the state government wanted to develop a Bintang Walk here but I don’t see anything,” said the 42-year-old.“That is why you don’t see a lot of youngsters here. Only older people or school children,” said Lim, who sells pan mee at her stall.
There is nothing much besides a few shops selling fruits or groceries, two petrol stations and a mechanic, she said.
There are 20,926 registered voters in Rantau. The majority 55% or 11,615 voters are Malay and 26% or 5,441 voters are Indian.
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