Appreciating our migrant workers

Sheena Wong 

According to the World Bank’s estimate, Malaysia is home to 2.2 million registered migrant workers, making us among the ten largest migrant-receiving countries in the East Asia and Pacific region. While most of them serve the plantation sites and factories, the construction sector is the third-highest dependent sector that relies on migrant labour. Within Gamuda, the bulk of our construction workers, security guards, operation and maintenance, cleaners and emergency response team, are migrants.

We have nearly 530 security guards and officers under Bestari Guard Force Security Sdn Bhd. Half of this workforce is from Nepal, as our Home Ministry only allows the hiring of Nepalese for the local security force. 

Similarly, our migrant workers based in Kota Permai Golf and Country Club (KPGCC) comprising caddies, golf course maintenance, housekeeping and kitchen, make up about 52% of its total workforce. The majority of them are from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal. 

Some of us might know Buddha Lama, a long-time security guard based at Menara Gamuda with a signature welcome smile. 

Buddha appreciates the added welfare and empathy that his employer has consistently extended throughout his tenure. He recounts a touching point in his life when the company offered monetary aid to rebuild his and his colleague’s homes when the 2015 Nepal earthquake destroyed their homeland.

Buddha and his brother, Kanchha Ram Lama, who is also a security guard at their work station in Menara Gamuda. 

Security guards, Mekh Bahadur Chhetri and Dipak Basnet are some of the familiar faces we see at Basement Level 4, Menara Gamuda.

Another shining example is Emia Nawarita Karina Bangun, an Indonesian in her ninth year of service with KPGCC.

Migrant workers can sometimes feel isolated and devalued as “foreigners” but at KPGCC, Emia felt that her contributions are valued and appreciated by her colleagues. In fact, she has been recognised as one of the best golf caddies in the clubhouse.

(Left) Emia, an Indonesian golf caddy at KPGCC. She is among the runner-up for Best Caddie of the Year, by the Asian Golf Award for two subsequent years (2018 and 2019).  

(Right) Nazmul Sarder, a Bangladeshi golf course maintenance and landscape worker at KPGCC. 

As most migrant workers come from less than privileged circumstances, it is up to their Malaysian counterparts to ensure a safe space and environment to work in. We value their contributions, and more so in these turbulent times.

Video by Rahyu Waris and Joyce Shamini