Anger over alien invasion

'Those who fail to adhere to this could lose their 'privilege' of trading at the stalls. There are others who could use the space to earn an honest living," Mariana says.

Another stall operator, who identifies herself only as Janisah, says the foreigners would leave a trail of rubbish for them to clean up every morning.

"I rent this stall from a villager for RM300 per month. I clean up every time I close shop and do another round when I open up in the morning. Is this fair?"

Kundasang Development and Security Committee chairman Mien Bangaloi says vegetables produced by foreigners could tarnish the image of legitimate farmers who plant according to strict guidelines provided by the agricultural authorities.

"Local farmers undergo courses by government agencies to ensure the vegetables planted are of good quality and safe for consumption," says the community leader who heads 18 villages within the Kundasang area.

"There have been times when vegetables from Kundasang had tarnished its reputation because of excessive use of pesticides. That was definitely not us," says Mien who also plants vegetables for a living.

"Buyers from other places, from as far as Sarawak or Brunei, would have no way of knowing where their supply comes from. That is worrying."

Indonesian Yohanes Rantiuman, 45, who arrived here eight years ago to work for a local company planting highland vegetables, says he could not imagine earning a living illegally.

"It is wrong. I don't want to risk being caught by the authorities because I have three children back home. With the money I earn here, I am able to put them in good schools and, hopefully, they will do better than me in the future."

Yohanes said he knew of others who were in the area illegally and said they do not lead "comfortable" lives for fear of being caught by the authorities.

 

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