Saturday, May 29, 2010

Men At Work

The start of the big clean-up . The roof was being hosed down. 'Raindrops' were falling on my head!!!

Workers have been coming and going in my house of late. Like any house through the years, it needs repair or the necessary 'bodyworks' to keep it looking prime! Well, my house finally needed it.

This group of men come from Indonesia, Bangladesh and India with the odd locals. Talking to them, they have come to seek fortunes as promised or hearsay from their counterparts. Life is still tough for them though 'rosier' than home.They come by the thousands upon thousands. I reckon foreign worker agencies have active businesses going to cope with the sheer numbers that want to flock to Malaysia.

The numbers indicate our high dependence on foreign labour. This is of concern to the government. The target for foreign labour was about 1.8 million. Figures have crept up from 0.5 million (1984) to about 2.2million ( 2007-2008 ). The majority are employed in the manufacturing sector. It is known that lack of tenacity among the locals accounts for more foreign labour to be used. Moreover, locals want higher salaries which the employers find ways to avoid. Worse still, some resort to illegal labour.

This team of men are well-seasoned employees who are here legally. Sacrifices are aplenty. I don't think they have turned their backs on their families at all. It's about uprooting themselves to seek greener pastures to alleviate the dire situations back home. The tools are in them to plod on.

At the ready - a bucket to stand on. 'Beam me up, Scotty'??

A bird's eye view - how nice! But on hot days like these, it's sweltering.

Stroke after stroke of the roller brush

From my bedroom windows - heaps of cut plants

It's the septic tank that needed attention. The cover had broken and there was levelling of the sides with cement.

A job not for the faint -hearted - up the ladder and then up the tall pine tree. The branches of the old pine trees had to be loped as they overshadowed the neighbour's plants across the fence.

Trees grow at an amazing rate in our clime with such abundance of sun and rain. The erythrina glauca needed pruning. I hope to see the sunbirds more at eye -level!

The red ginger plants and heliconias - a big replanting exercise.

My favourite spot- the raphis excelsa needed thinning to allow more light into the terrace.

New pillar lights for a brighter lighting.

The old garbage site is of no use - so seal it!!

A great worker, experienced and hard working. He is known as 'kepala' ( 'head' in Malay) and has been in this trade for the past 40 years or so. I've watched him and he never slacks and keeps his own momentum while at work. Believes in an honest day's work.


  1. Busy, busy, busy. House renovation is hard but fun for the owner.

    We normally fail to look at a construction worker especially a foreign worker as an individual that has a life story that brings him to foreign shore.

    Your picture and description of the "kepala" showed a glimpse of the man behind worker.

  2. Wow! Lots of activity here ! How exciting! You have to admire people who work that hard. It's amazing what they are accomplishing.

  3. 'Moreover, locals want higher salaries which the employers find ways to avoid.'
    This is global issue.
    We have nurses from Philippines in Finland and construction workers from Estonia, Latvia...
    Most of the bus drivers are immigrants...
    What a world we live in!!!

    Your house looks beautiful!
    Next time I come to Malaysia I know who to contact and have a cup of coffee with - in her beautiful house! :)


  4. These people are a hardworking lot, doing all the dirty, dangerous and back breaking jobs. You do have a big, lush tropical garden.

  5. Hi
    Ocean Girl,the diy culture is pretty hard to attain 'coz labour is cheap. diy shops are not truly diy too.

    Bossy Betty, welcome to my blog. yes it's a lot of buzz around here.

    BLOGitse, yes, the world is shrinking - people are on the move to seek greener pastures. Do let me know when you're in Malaysia. will be pleased to see you.

    Autumn Belle,your comments on foreign labour are true. Do visit my garden one day (please email me) and I hope you'll like it in the real!

  6. I guess it is the same over here. It is the foreigners that do those jobs that our people shun.

  7. You have a beautiful home! And when I see the picture of the raphis excelsa I can understand why it is your favourite spot!

  8. you really a detail person, thanks for sharing this lovely photos, I like all these photos!

  9. Nice to see your house
    and your view Wow!!
    looks very beautiful and green ;)
    and what a renovation!!!
    But sometimes a house need it also

  10. Hi
    alicesg, yes, it's true for households have maids, live-in or part time too. am one of them.

    Laura in Paris, thanks! it's homely and comfortable. I enjoy my garden and will miss the greenery when the day comes to downsize.

    Sonia(Nasi Lemak Lover),thanks so much!

    Anya, just a peek,really. My house is simple and comfortable. What a difference a fresh coat of paint can do:)

  11. Good day!
    Beautiful house!
    Beatiful green place!

  12. Wow, major cleanup and renovation!

  13. Hi
    Amin, thank you ! Green is also my favourite colour:))

    Pete, yay!it was time to do it!

  14. keats - you have a nice and big house , full with greenery .
    It's true that we had we have a problem of over dependance to foreign labour which is not healthy as it's depriving the local of JOBS.It's not that the local don't want to do it but the pay is too low .

  15. Looks like a huge job to trim all those trees and paint the house. I enjoyed your pictures, it is interesting to watch people at work.

  16. Nice to see your beautiful home.

    Happy Tuesday, Keats.

  17. Not the 'Men At Work'♫ from DownUnder big job..tQ.

  18. A new roof over your head is always a good thing. I am tired just watching all the work.

  19. You have a wonderful home and it's great that it's going to be all tidy now.

  20. HI
    xplorer, thank you! You've got a point but i have to see more hard working locals. they want an easy job. for the same pay, they'd rather be peons etc.

    Diane AZ, thank you for visiting. yes, if we have time to stand and watch! so much to learn from just observing.

    Amin, thanks!

    Veronica Lee, give me a call when you're near by. we can catch up:))

    Bananaz, how do you sing that? Quick, teach me!

    Pam, neighbours are giving compliments about the new colour:)

  21. Keats, I can just about imagine Robbie leaping all around the poor terrified workers, bouncing up and down and barking: "Play! Play! Play!" Or did you guys have to confine Robbie somewhere?

    Houses, like people, like to have a good wash and a fresh set of clothes too! I love how your house and garden looks now.

    I hope the Ministry of Human Resource and Home Ministry make a decision in favour of granting temporary work permits to recognised refugees soon. After all, the refugees are already here. Denying them work permits simply means that they will be exposed to even more abuse from employers and law enforcers. It doesn't do anything to prevent crime, or protect locals, or secure the job market for locals -- they are all doing jobs that the locals will not do!

  22. Hi
    ~Covert_Operations'78~,Robbie behaved except he had to be chained or else he'd have gone scott free in the neighbourhood! People think he's fierce 'coz he's big but he just wants pats:))

    Your work with refugees enlightens us of their predicament.Is it b'coz refugees are classified under a different category from those who come under foreign labour ?

  23. WOW! There is a lot going on at your house right now.

  24. Best wishes for a beautifully renovated house. :)

  25. I really missed being on your blog. Wow, that seems like a lot of work to do. You have a beautiful home. Unfortunately, some people really have a hard time. I'm sure that no one would leave family, if it was not to make a better living. Great post and insights. Have a wonderful weekend, my dear.

  26. Hi
    Southpaw, thanks for coming by. They say, work is never done ! - there's always something to do, big or small.

    Indrani,thanks! we like the colour we've chosen.

    Rosidah Abidin, glad you're back. Missed you too and great to know you're more rested now. You're right - family is so precious and tons of sacrifices have to be made.

  27. It is going to be great when all that work is complete. My husband insists on doing it all himself so our house is always in some disarray at all times.

  28. Hi
    Rosey, diy always takes time as the owners are even more particular. but contractors here play up sometimes and the inevitable delays happen. we're rather spoilt here as labour is affordable and we want the easy way out too!!

  29. Your house looks huge from those pictures. ^_^

    I can never imagine myself on the roof doing cleanup, I have a bad balance and might just fall off.

    Kudos to these hardworking foreign lads, hope that someday they will reap the seeds of what they sow, have some great savings when they go back to their home country.

  30. Hi
    Shingo T, I think the sloping roof gives the illusion of being huge!
    I always advise my maids to save and help them keep a bank account and spend prudently. That's the main reason to work in a different country. It's heartening to know my maid even offered to help her neighbour when the latter wrote to her about her plight. Previously, she (my maid) was the one who had no money.


Great to have you popping in!