Kuala Lumpur streets deserted as migrant community withdraws amidst crackdown on illegal workers

The Malaysian authorities conducted a series of raids targeting undocumented migrants as well as other illegal activities for which a large void has been created in the streets of the capital city, including the Jalan Silang area.

In the past few weeks, several areas in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, have witnessed a concerning decrease in street activity. The reason behind this is the series of raids to crack down on illegal foreign labour. This has created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, resulting in many migrants to retreat from their normal routines. A few weeks back, the Jalan Silang area located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was brimming with many migrants from several different countries like Nepal, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, especially during the weekends and public holidays. Coming together at this location was a way to feel at home in a foreign country and to catch up with friends. In this place, migrants run their weekly errands.

However, the government of Malaysia, in collaboration with immigration authorities, has strengthened its efforts to address the issue of the rising number of illegal foreign workers in Malaysia. Several raids have been conducted in various parts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to get hold of businesses suspected of employing illegal migrants. This has resulted in a tangible decline in migrants on the streets, specifically in areas known for their diverse communities.

As per the statistics of the Malaysian Department, there were around 2.2 million documented migrant workers in Malaysia as of 2022. That is about 15 per cent of the total labour force in Malaysia. These statistics do not include the number of illegal migrants or undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia.

The Malaysian authorities conducted a series of raids targeting undocumented migrants as well as other illegal activities for which a large void has been created in the streets of the capital city, including the Jalan Silang area.

On December 21, law enforcement personnel – including the members of the General Operations Force (GOF) were involved in executing the operation in Jalang Silang. According to the reports, this operation resulted in more than 1000 migrants getting detained for several offences. Since then more such raids have been conducted, in different areas of Malaysia, such as Bricksfield, Petaling Street, and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC). The immigration department of Malaysia has also detained 300 undocumented migrants in Kota Bahru, Kelantan.