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Foreign workers’ hostels: Reporting breach of rules is not xenophobia

The foreign workers hostel in Batu Maung, Penang - Photograph: thesundaily.com

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The residents of Batu Maung are not gripped with xenophobia but genuinely concerned about the disregard of rules in the construction of foreign workers’ hostels, writes Ravinder Singh.

The writer of “Everyone under the same roof” is obviously not a resident of Batu Maung and therefore perceives the concerns of the residents of this town regarding foreign workers’ hostels as xenophobia.

Someone who is not directly affected by any “development” project can sit back and conjure theories, reasons and justifications. This is to be expected as experience is the best teacher.

When clear disregard of rules are seen and questions raised about these, it is not xenophobia!

About 9,000 adults are going to be housed in a confined area that does not even have an open space for games. Is this not a matter of concern as they will encroach into open spaces in nearby housing areas. This is already happening as the workers living in houses and apartments in this area are using facilities meant for local residents.

When three blocks are to be built on a site meant for two so that 9,000 workers can be housed instead of 6,000, that is not xenophobia.

The Batu Maung state assembly member and Penang executive council member had clearly told media and residents on 19 December 2019 in front of the entrance to the hostels that the fire access around the two eight-storey blocks had been converted into a parking area for 57 buses. This was done to get approval for the third block. This is a breach of the Fire Services Act and a question of safety. Questioning this is not a case of xenophobia!

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Most factories operate two 12-hour shifts, from 7am to 7pm and from 7pm to 7am. We are told 108 buses will be required to take half the hostel residents (4,500) to and fro from the factories each shift. So the first bus will have to leave the hostels at 3am/3pm for the last bus to reach the factory before 7am/7pm. Will the workers get enough rest? This is about workers’ welfare, not xenophobia.

The 108 buses moving in and out of Solok Beringin, a short 40-foot dead-end road that serves several factories, will create chaos when negotiating between other vehicles, especially heavy vehicles. The chaos will spill over into Jalan Permatang Damar Laut , a four-lane highway linking the second bridge to the airport.

The residents of Batu Maung are not gripped with xenophobia but genuinely concerned about the disregard of rules.

Source: The Sun Daily

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