PUCHONG: Members of the Rohingya community who fled Myanmar due to the hardship they suffered there are facing a similar fate here as well.
Many continue to struggle to make ends meet, besides enduring discrimination from the locals, some of whom allegedly extort money from them for entering “their land”.
306 Rohingyas from 36 families in Bandar Puteri Puchong are among those who find that life continues to be an uphill battle even here.
Without fixed jobs, the estimated income of each Rohingya family is about RM900-RM1,500 per month. When pressured by the locals, members of the community pool together their earnings and pay up for sitting on land which they are told does not belong to them.
Mohd Ismail Mohd Khairul Bashar, who is chairman of the Rohingya Education Garden in Bandar Puteri Puchong, told FMT that many were financially unstable as they had to pay for rent, food and school supplies for their children.
They were also frequently harassed by some locals in their neighbourhood who force them to comply with whatever was demanded of them.
“We are accused of entering ‘their land’ while searching for any scrap metal that we can sell to nearby factories to get money.
“They only do that to Rohingyas staying in the neighbourhood. If we refuse to pay them, they beat us up,” he said.
Ismail said it was a relief that the children were not harassed, only the adults, and that he felt a responsibility to stand up for them.
Muhammad Abdul Malik, another Rohingya in the neighbourhood, said he was forced to pay money whenever he sold things in areas where some locals claimed to have authority over.
“We will pay because we fear them,” he said, adding that he had been harassed many times.
“We cannot do anything as we are not from here, so we will just pay them whatever they ask.”
The Rohingya community in Bandar Puteri Puchong is often blamed for incidents that happen in the neighbourhood, but Malik said they were resigned to it as they wanted to avoid making a fuss or attracting unnecessary attention.
“If the neighbourhood is dirty, we are likely to be the main target even though it is not our fault.
“We found out that one of our motorcycles was burnt in a fire at night. Up till now, we still don’t know who did it.”
They have no fancy celebrations planned for this coming Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
They told FMT that they would offer their Raya prayers at the nearest mosque and eat chapati, which is their staple food, in the morning, with their family members and friends.
They will also try to send some money back to their families in Rakhine, Myanmar.
Nurul Azwa contributed to this article.