Advertisement

As El Nino persists, outdoor workers say fasting during one of hottest times of year just another day at work

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — The mid-day sun was right above Wagiran, a 39-year-old migrant worker, as he fixed a broken pavement at a park in Seksyen 14, Petaling Jaya.

As he flung broken concrete to the side of the walkway, he admitted that the temperature had been increasingly hot lately — right as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan started on Tuesday, when Muslims have to among others abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until dusk.

“Although it’s hard, we still have to do it. This is our work,” he said, referring to his job.

Hailing from Padang, Indonesia, he works nine hours a day, six days a week, under the sun. His working hours remain the same regardless of the weather, or whether he is fasting.

Meanwhile, Mahyudin, 64, who has worked alone as a street cobbler in Petaling Jaya for about six years, said that these dog days serve as no obstacle for him to make a living and he would not change his working hours just for that.

“It’s not hard, it’s easy. It’s just hot,” he said.

Construction worker Wagiran works on the first day Ramadan in Petaling Jaya on March 12, 2024. Hailing from Padang, Indonesia, he works nine hours a day, six days a week, under the sun. His working hours remain the same regardless of the weather, or whether he is fasting. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Construction worker Wagiran works on the first day Ramadan in Petaling Jaya on March 12, 2024. Hailing from Padang, Indonesia, he works nine hours a day, six days a week, under the sun. His working hours remain the same regardless of the weather, or whether he is fasting. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Construction worker Wagiran works on the first day Ramadan in Petaling Jaya on March 12, 2024. Hailing from Padang, Indonesia, he works nine hours a day, six days a week, under the sun. His working hours remain the same regardless of the weather, or whether he is fasting. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Although Mahyudin does not mend shoes directly under the sun, he is no stranger to the hot breeze along the streets and reflections of the scorching sun bouncing onto him by passing cars.

“When you’re poor, this is what you have to do,” the cobbler said, as he reattached the sole of a shoe.

Malaysia is currently on a hot spell as it experiences the phenomenon called El Nino since February until as long as June, which may well make this period the hottest in history.

El Nino is a naturally occurring weather phenomenon associated with a disruption of wind patterns that means warmer ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific.

El Nino, which occurs on average every two to seven years, typically lasts nine to 12 months and can provoke extreme weather phenomena such as wildfires, tropical cyclones and prolonged droughts.

In Malaysia, this usually results in drier-than-average rainfall conditions, as well as haze.

A shoemaker, Mahyudin, continues to work during the fasting month of Ramadan in Petaling Jaya, March 12, 2024. Although Mahyudin does not mend shoes directly under the sun, he is no stranger to the hot breeze along the streets and reflections of the scorching sun bouncing onto him by passing cars. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
A shoemaker, Mahyudin, continues to work during the fasting month of Ramadan in Petaling Jaya, March 12, 2024. Although Mahyudin does not mend shoes directly under the sun, he is no stranger to the hot breeze along the streets and reflections of the scorching sun bouncing onto him by passing cars. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

A shoemaker, Mahyudin, continues to work during the fasting month of Ramadan in Petaling Jaya, March 12, 2024. Although Mahyudin does not mend shoes directly under the sun, he is no stranger to the hot breeze along the streets and reflections of the scorching sun bouncing onto him by passing cars. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

In response, the Ministry of Education has already said that it will suspend all activities outside the classroom if conditions worsen, while the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security said it is ready to mitigate the impact on the agrofood sector especially on the paddy and rice sub-sector.

Raziman Ali, a 54-year-old food delivery rider of nine years, conceded that the heatwave during the fasting month is not much different to him compared to other days.

“As of now, there is no difference. Fasting or not, it is the same,” he said.

Speaking to Malay Mail, these three men who worked in the heat also disclosed that their eating habits stayed the same regardless of the heatwave and having to fast during the day.

“I eat as usual,” Raziman said.

He disclosed that his pre-dawn meals, also known as “sahur” were equivalent to his lunch, but he does not usually eat heavy meals when breaking fast as he occasionally works during those particular hours.

Foreign worker Sulaiman sweeps dried leaves on the first day of Ramadan in Petaling Jaya, March 12, 2024. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Foreign worker Sulaiman sweeps dried leaves on the first day of Ramadan in Petaling Jaya, March 12, 2024. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Foreign worker Sulaiman sweeps dried leaves on the first day of Ramadan in Petaling Jaya, March 12, 2024. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

“I’m not the type to eat during breaking fast, I’ll eat fruits, [drink] water, that’s enough,” the food delivery rider said.

The cobbler, whose work ends at 4pm, shared a similar routine.

“I drink water, go to the mosque, after prayers, I’ll eat,” he said referring to his breaking fast custom and added that although it is hot nowadays, he does not consume anything additional when the sun is down.

The Indonesian construction worker concurred, saying that his eating habits remained modest as well.

A simple home-cooked meal and an occasional treat from the Ramadan bazaar is enough for him, he said.

Last week, the World Meteorological Organisation said the El Nino weather pattern has begun to weaken but will continue to fuel above-average temperatures across the globe.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre also said that the peak of El Nino conditions have passed and will continue weakening this month and then likely to transition to neutral conditions between April and May,

Raziman Ali, a 54-year-old food delivery rider of nine years, said the heatwave during the fasting month is not much different compared to other days. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Raziman Ali, a 54-year-old food delivery rider of nine years, said the heatwave during the fasting month is not much different compared to other days. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Raziman Ali, a 54-year-old food delivery rider of nine years, said the heatwave during the fasting month is not much different compared to other days. — Picture by Miera Zulyana