“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha” –Indian Army, Field Marshall, Sam Manekshaw.
The Nepalese Army or better known as the Gurkhas has been a trademark of excellence for their loyalty and supreme reliability as guardians and protectors all around the world.
Their ranks of supremacy stays on par with likes of the African Masai, the Irish Vikings and the mighty Romans in the history of mankind.
The Gurkhas are much associated with the spirit of “khukuri”, a forward -curving Nepalese knife as their ethical emblem of service and defense.
Their war cry was and is to this very day: Jaya Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali (Glory to Great Kali, Gorkhas approach)
The Gurkhas have achieved feats of victory and success under various banners of army regiments around the world especially within the Bristish Army Gurkhas, the Indian Army Gurkhas, the Nepalese Army Gurhkas and the regionally known Singapore and Brunei Gurkha contingents.
Ethnically, Chhetris and Thakuris were the real Gurkhas who then raise the military of Chhetris, Thakuris, Magars and Gurungs to unite Nepal against the British invasions. But these days Gurkhas mostly belong to the Chhetri, Magar, Rai, Limbu, Gurung and Tamang.
All Gurkhas, regardless of ethnic origin, speak Nepali in addition to their group language, also known as Khas Kura or Khas Bhasa, an Nepal’s national language.
The Nepalese & Gurkhas – Malaysian Overview
After the Federation Of Malaya became independent from the United Kingdom in August 1957, many Gurkhas became soldiers in the Malayan Armed Forces, especially in the Royal Ranger Regiment. Others became security guards, mainly in major cities in Malaysia.
The number of Nepalese workers going to Malaysia has increased in the recent years due to the recovery from global recession and the removal of levy.
Nepalese foreign employment agencies think that Malaysia might revise its decision to absorb labour from Nepal. As far as Malaysia is concerned, Nepal is the second largest labour supplying country after Indonesia. Most Nepalis work in small restaurants, hotels, factories and industries.
Recently, the Malaysian government has decided to stop hiring Nepalese workers, reasoning that they want to give priority to their own increasing number of unemployed countrymen.
In Malaysia, Nepalese workers have formed 73 organisations related to political parties.
Malaysia is also famous among the returnees as well because 30 percent working currently in Malaysia have re-visited there for work and 20 percent are those have gone to the country after coming back from Gulf countries.
It is estimated that there are about 0.2 million foreign illegal workers in Malaysia with about 50,000 from Nepal alone.
In March 2010, Malaysian authorities have arrested over 500 Nepalis working and staying illegally along with illegal workers from other countries from various factories and industries they were working.
Many Nepalese workers in Malaysia have been cheated by their Nepalese recruiters and some have been exploited by their Malaysian employers. Most of them were deceived by their recruiters in Kathmandu, who had promised hundreds of dollars a month in salary, benefits and easy work.
After they arrived in Malaysia they earned less than half the amount stated in their contracts. The plight of Nepalese workers abroad is not new and many recruiters and employers in Malaysia continue to get away with exploitation because the workers have nowhere to turn.
Ironically, it seems the Malaysian government is more concerned about the welfare of Nepalese workers than the Nepalese government.
The Nepalese & The Malaysian Security Industry
Its estimated that a total of 667 security companies operates in Malaysia, with a total of 130,000 workers
Nepalese nationals make up about 11,000 security guards in the country, having been recruited since 2003.
More than 200 security companies nationwide were given the green light to hire Nepalese after considering the background of Nepalese nationals who served during British rule and also the views of the security companies.
“They demonstrated a good image, loyalty, management, discipline and compliance during their service (under British rule),” Ex-Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop
Initially only Nepalese nationals residing in Malaysia could be employed, but the government relaxed the regulations in 2009 to allow them to be recruited from their country provided that they had served in the military.
The Industry Dilemma & The Nepalese Solution
With the security industry being the biggest as far as employment of the Nepalese workforce is concerned, the issue of legality of employment, minimum wage structure and multi level monitoring mechanism are still seen to have been haunting the security management companies in Malaysia.
And who are the boss of these companies, of whom, only they can get the security guard licences. How much do they charge their clients, of whom they can get the contract without proper tendering process. Who are the players in the weapons and ammo industries. The issue is not just foreigners, it includes croynism, nepotism, unfair trade practice, mismanagement and ultimately corruption. The people in the chain of supply are the real players and beneficiaries, are the Nepalese a mere pawn?
These are some of the issues looming in the heads of taxpaying Malaysian’s in general.
On the positive note, we must be careful not to be xenophobic. Immigrants are a superb driver of national economic growth, from which Malaysia as a whole has benefitted in abundance. However, it has also made us lazy. You wouldn’t go to any European, North American, Australasian country and expect to see Maids and security guards in the vast numbers we have here. This comfort comes at a cost, including a downward pull on wages, which (in theory) keeps products cheaper which makes the economy more internationally competitive. To advance to Advanced Nation status we should learn to live without cheap labour, and securing our own buildings and cleaning our own apartments, stopping the whinging would be the next best step. Also the Nepalese are employed as they are deemed to be less corrupt than locals, salaries up to RM1500 a month are acceptable but the conditions of 84 hour weeks with no holidays is what would get most of us applying else where.
Whether Malaysians look at this dilemma as another job opportunity outsourced to foreigners with no disrespect to Nepalese who generally makes better guards than most, guess maybe Malaysian companies should start looking onto how to incorporate locals into their industry rather than taking the easy or cheap way out by employing foreigners.
We already have 2 million plus legal immigrants (with probably another 2 million illegal immigrants), we should be seriously looking at how to reduce dependency on foreign workers.
But end of the day, the quality of service counts.
The trait of the supreme tradition of a race, the history of unchallenged characteristic and the undeniable loyalty in service makes the Nepalese a class above the rest in being the solution for the security management entities in Malaysia. Click at: Gurkha Guards to read more.