Why are illegal businesses by foreign immigrants allowed to thrive?

Letter to editor

THE widespread involvement of illegal immigrants in wet markets and other businesses once operated by locals is itself a tell-tale sign of a far bigger issue that need to be addressed at all costs.

For a start, this is evidence that the enforcement by local councils has deteriorated to such a level that everyone appears to be closing an eye on the illegal businesses that continue to mushroom in the local municipality.

It is unbelievable that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), for example, was unaware of the vast number of illegal businesses in the city centre. A visit to just Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and the wholesale wet market near Selayang will show that illegal businesses are operating out in the open without the fear of enforcement.

Everyone – from the lowest level to the top brass officers at DBKL (City Hall), including the mayor – is responsible for the proliferation of these illegal businesses.

Time for clean-up

The clean-up must be done not only on these illegal business operators but also on the enforcement chiefs who fail in their duties.

An ultimatum has to be given to all local councils to ensure that there are no more illegal immigrants allowed to operate their businesses in broad daylight.

If no actions are found taken against the illegal businesses, the enforcement chiefs along with their mayor or council presidents should be made responsible. Once the ultimatum is issued, we shall see if the mayors and enforcement chiefs would be clamouring all over to evict these illegal businesses.

The problem is that despite complaints after complaints from the public all these years, both the Federal and state governments have turned a deaf ear.

Meanwhile, local governments appear to be oblivious to these illegal businesses. The obvious reason is that the illegals are the easiest preys for the corrupt practices of some enforcement officers.

While we congratulate the police for what its Federal Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Seri Shuhaili Mohd Zain admitted in public, so far nobody from the local government has admitted there is corruption.

Yet, one can ask any local traders and chances are 10 out of 10 of them will confirm that local council enforcement officers are on the take. This is the public perception that has been going on for decades.

Early this year, one netizen and social commentator Imraz Ikhbal had highlighted that a certain DBKL officer was on the take, collecting angpow from mandarin orange traders. However, till today, DBKL has yet to tell the public what actions were taken against the officer.

The local councils cannot blame the public for the perception that there is corruption involved if illegal businesses are allowed to operate. After all, the illegal immigrants are easy prey for extortion.

It is, therefore, time for the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate the local government thoroughly. It is not difficult to nab those who are on the take especially after the amnesty period is over.

Black economy

Illegal immigrants operating illegal businesses are not only disrupting the businesses of genuine traders who need to earn a living. They contribute to what is known as the black economy – that part of the country’s economic activities which go unrecorded.

Apart from paying rental of the shops, the utilities bills and maybe a few hundred ringgit a month “to grease” the palms of the enforcement officers, they do not have to bother with renewal of all sorts of licenses, pay taxes and other business compliances.

Genuine traders, on the other hand, have to go through the hassle of applying for all sorts of licenses; in the case of food operators, they have to even send their workers to be trained on food handling.

Inspection by the health officers will also mean that they have to maintain their outlets in tip top condition. All this is cost to the business; if they do not survive, there will be fewer competitors and prices of goods will go up.

At the end of the day, who will suffer if not the ordinary rakyat? – Oct 13, 2023

Lim Keh Kheng
Kuala Lumpur

 The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: DBKL Facebook

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