Vegetable plots that surround much of Kundasang. — NST picture by Malai Rosmah Tuah
KUNDASANG 2011/06/09: The influx of illegal foreigners, who farm and sell the produce here, is threatening the livelihood of the local farmers and hawkers.
A community leader said the area, which is popular for its highland vegetables, had been seeing a steady flow of foreigners renting the lands from the locals and selling the produce at a lower price than those offered by local farmers.
Kundasang Development and Security Committee chairman Mien Bangaloi said they had lodged complaints with the local authorities, but to no avail.
By law, foreigners are only allowed to work at the vegetable farms as labourers, or employed by the hawkers as assistants, but they are not allowed to trade.
"They sell at cheaper prices because they don't have to pay taxes, rentals, permits, licences or even bills, unlike local farmers or hawkers. The foreigners run their operations in the early hours to avoid the authorities or even the local traders," said Mien, who headed the committee overseeing 18 villages within Kundasang under the district of Ranau.
He also blamed some locals who cooperated with the foreigners by renting out their land.
Mien said some locals would rent their lands for as low as RM50 per month for an area of about 0.4 ha.
"For that size of land, we can produce RM10,000 to RM15,000 worth of vegetables, per season, of about four months.
"Their numbers are growing in remote locations such as Mesilau and Monteki, where I think there are hundreds of foreigners without valid documents."
Mien claimed the committee had complained to the Immigration Department, the District Office and the police, but the foreigners are still around.
"I have heard of the authorities conducting operations, but every time they launch it, not many are caught."