Foreign factory workers put their feet up


Time for themselves: A Bangladeshi watering a papaya plant in the yard of the house he shares with other foreign workers as they wait out the MCO enforcement period. — LO TERN CHERN/The Star

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Foreign workers in Taman Nagasari here are enjoying their days idling around as most of the factories where they work have suspended operations due to the movement control order (MCO).

With nowhere to go, many of them are staying indoors during this two-week MCO-enforced break.

Some were spotted lying on the couch looking at their handphones while others just lingered around at the premises their companies have rented for them.

A Bangladeshi worker, who only wished to be known as Azad, 32, said he had been working in Malaysia for 12 years but this was the first time he was on such a “long” leave.

“Of course, it’s fun to just laze around. It’s Monday and there is no work; even better, no boss.

“I woke up at 10am today,” he chuckled when asked about his routine since the MCO took effect last Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Azad said he and his friends could get bored and would not mind getting back to work.

“Shopping malls are closed, we cannot go out and chill at cafes, and there are police roadblocks everywhere,” he said, adding that he lives in the house with nine other people.

His neighbour Bharat, 25, from Nepal, returned from a market nearby with a bag of vegetables.

“We used to get food from the factory cafeteria but now we have to cook our own meals. This is a tough time for everyone and my manager has ordered us to not go anywhere, just stay home and wait.

“I hope my company is not impacted by the closure or we will also be affected as there hasn’t been any news if we will be paid,” he said.

However, not all the foreign workers can resist the temptation of going outdoors as a few were seen taking strolls in their neighbourhood.

A local resident who identified himself only as Chong, 62, said the number of foreign workers in the housing area surpassed the number of locals, and raised safety concerns.

“I worry for everyone as each house is crammed with between 10 and 20 foreigners,” he added.

Under the MCO, most people are ordered to stay home, though some are allowed restricted movement.

The practice of social distancing and avoiding crowded places help minimise transmission and reduce the probability of spreading the infectious disease.

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