GEORGE TOWN: A PKR assemblyman said he was appalled by those who said that the free bus service provided by the Penang government was a waste as it was “mostly used by foreigners”.
Lee Khai Loon (PKR-Machang Bubok) said foreign workers were an important part of Penang’s economy and ought to be treated with respect by locals.
He said while there had been a number of criminal cases involving foreigners, they should not all be tarred with the same brush.
“These foreign workers are doing the jobs we do not want — the 3D jobs, difficult, dirty and dangerous. Also, we often treat foreigners who have dark skin worse than those who have light skin.
“We should not be xenophobic as we get into a more globalised world,” Lee said at the state assembly today.
Weighing in, Satees Muniandy (DAP-Bagan Dalam) said while he supports Lee’s call, he would rather have law-abiding foreign workers in the state.
Satees said as a former municipal councillor, he had seen many illegal foreigners setting up businesses without much care.
He said Bukit Mertajam had become a “Bangladeshi town”, with most businesses owned illegally by the migrant workers.
“Foreigners are more than welcome to work with us, but I feel they should follow the law. And the government must also determine the industries they can work in, so as not to deprive locals of job opportunities. I feel the immigration is not doing enough,” he said.
Outside the chambers, state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh (DAP-Sungai Puyu) told FMT that as of Aug 2, there were 93,142 legally employed foreigners in the state.
He said of that number, Nepalese were the most at 31,554, followed by Bangladeshis at 19,161 and Indonesians at 17,694.