PETALING JAYA: Local scrap metal collectors have called on the authorities to take action against illegal ones before the situation gets out of control.
One of them, who only wished to be known as Segaran, said his income had been cut by half since foreigners – mainly Bangladeshi and Rohingya – started getting into the trade several years ago.
“To outdo local collectors, they set out very early in the morning, getting between RM100 and RM400 daily,” he said.
Segaran claimed that these foreigners ride their motorcycles without a licence, road tax or insurance and the authorities have been turning a blind eye.
Asked where they get the transportation, he answered locals were modifying their old motorcycles and installing sidecars to be rented to the foreigners.
“There are also Malaysian scrap metal dealers who supply the machines on the condition that all collections must be sold only to them,” he added.
Segaran claimed that there are at least 200 foreigners involved in the business within the Klang Valley.
“This job is the only source of income for many locals, but now, the foreigners have taken over it,” he said.
Another scrap metal collector, who wanted to be known only as Rajan, said the lack of enforcement has led to the mushrooming of foreigners in the sector.
“Occasionally, there are operations, but when everything is over, these foreigners return to business as usual.
“I have to admit that the foreigners work very hard, but what they are doing is depriving locals of a living.
“Due to this, many locals are forced to take up odd jobs for survival,” he said, adding that for every kilo, copper has the highest value of between RM28 and RM30, followed by aluminium waste (RM7-RM8), scrap metal (RM1-RM1.50) as well as paper and cardboard (RM0.60).
Datuk P. Sundramoorthy of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research said refugees, who are not allowed to work, need an income to survive.
“But this should not be taken at the expense of low-income Malaysians who rely on such jobs to feed their families,” he said.
The criminologist said on humanitarian grounds, the Malaysian government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should work together to find ways to help the refugees.
“They could send the refugees to plantations where there is ample work.
“The agricultural industry is often short of workers,” he suggested.