Anger over alien invasion

BUYING vegetables from the popular roadside stalls in Kundasang has long been a must for travellers between the east and west coast of Sabah and for visitors to the nearby Mount Kinabalu National Park.

A noticeable difference of late, however, is the growing presence of foreigners. This has triggered complaints from local hawkers and farmers about the transients eating into their livelihood.

They materialise in the wee hours of the morning and by the time the sun rises they are gone, illegally trading vegetables in Kundasang, according to irate local farmers and hawkers.

The meeting point would be along the row of stalls along the main road that connects the east and west coast districts. They gather there from as early as 2am and would be gone by 6am, leaving a trail of rotten vegetables for the locals to clean up.

Kundasang Stall Operators Association chairman Mariana Taliban says the foreigners were depriving the locals of their livelihood.

"These foreigners come on the pretext of working for locals. Then they rent land, plant within their living quarters or in prohibited areas. Next thing you know, they are selling the vegetables.

"There are also locals working for foreigners, loading and unloading vegetables into lorries and pick-up trucks that line the roadside.

"How can locals compete with them? They don't pay taxes, rents or permits, they trade among themselves and at much lower prices," says Mariana, who had led the association of 300 members, mostly vegetable hawkers, the past four years.

There are locals who bear the blame as they rent stalls or even become partners with the foreigners, she says, adding that the association has taken steps to discourage them.

"As of June 1, we have posted a notice at the stalls warning locals against allowing foreigners to operate their stalls unless they are workers with valid permits.

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