BUKIT MERTAJAM: For residents of the Terubok flats here, the presence of the Rohingya among them can be rather unsettling at times.
“Sometimes, they act as if they are the citizens here and we are the outsiders instead, ” lamented resident association president Mohamed Ibrahim Syed Ibrahim.
If locals pointed out a wrongdoing committed by a Rohingya, the latter would not take heed, he said.
“They will point out that they are UNHCR cardholders and neither we nor the authorities can do anything about it, ” he claimed.
Mohamed Ibrahim alleged that residents were worried because fights among the Rohingya had been occurring regularly.
“When they fight, they will wave parang and knives around. It’s scary if you witness it, ” he added.
There are 96 Rohingya from 27 families living in the Terubok flats.
Mohamed Ibrahim raised this matter to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin, who was on a fact-finding mission here and listened to the locals’ views about the Rohingya refugees living among them.
Another resident, M. Kumar, said the presence of the Rohingya also posed several economic challenges to the locals.
“They will undercut local contractors and take jobs for a much lesser pay, ” he claimed, adding that local youths had to move elsewhere to find work.
At Taman Sutera, Surash Kumar, who is a tuition centre owner, alleged that several Rohingya in the area were drug pushers and addicts.
“We have closed the places which had become their ‘port’ (gathering place), but they will find a new place for their activities, ” he said.
Freelance funeral service provider Mak Chee Wah said his concern with the refugees was their poor hygiene.
“They have a habit of littering, which has caused our flats to become dirty, ” he added.
Mak also complained about their rowdiness, adding that they would talk or argue loudly, even late at night.
He observed that the number of Rohingya staying in his area had increased since he moved in about 10 years ago.
To this, Hamzah assured Malaysians, especially the residents here, that their well-being remained the government’s priority in deciding policies.
Priority would also be given to their safety and comfort while
the authorities dealt with the Rohingya refugees staying here, he added.
He pointed out that there was no enforcement by the UNHCR to check on the validity of the cards issued to the refugees.
“We cannot track them down because the UNHCR does not provide us with their details, ” he said, adding that foreigners here must abide by Malaysian laws.
Hamzah said among the areas to be given focus were Seberang Jaya, where he visited two apartments after residents expressed worry over the large numbers of foreigners there.
“Their (foreigners) growing population has taken control of the area, causing the locals to lose their voice.
“We are not here to find faults but solutions to their problems, ” he told reporters here yesterday.