Minah Kilang, the Malaysian oriental factory girls

Minah Kilang, try Minah is a vernacular terms to address a rough rebellious young women, and Kilang means factory in Malay language, or factory girls are the specific terms how people in Malaysia identify women who works in a factory, as a factory operators. Inevitably, their roles in the Malaysian industries are strongly influencing Malaysian industry development, but yet their image and they way Minah Kilang has been perceived is far from society acknowledgment. They are shown and portrayed as the misfits, potential second wives or mistress, uneducated, rebellious and seldom regarded as women who bring shames to the family. Very little discussion about their hardship survival, trauma, fitting in the societies, self-determination and struggle with families responsibilities as a working women. I found it interesting to explore this areas, the fact that until now the impressions and image of Minah Kilang is still at the very beginning when it started. Not so much shifting in terms of its image given. The fact that they spend long hours standing, (most of them spend more then 8 hours a day) and try to do overtimes because that is the only way they could extend their incomes, are not been given much attentions. How about the fact that they also work mainly for their families who is counting on their income to help the family’s member continue schooling and make a better living.

The earliest research done about Minah Kilang can be trace in 1979, from Grossman field work research in Malaysia. Later on, other scholar such as Fuentes and Enrenreich, A.Ong continue adding values and insight work on factory girls in Southeast Asia. However, not much work focussing on the Malaysia Minah Kilang. “Naturally, women’s entry into the workforce has dramatic effects in countries where their lives have always been centered around the family and home production. On the one hand, factory work does offer women some autonomy, earning power and freedom from parental control. In Malaysia, says Grossman “They come for the money of course, but also for the freedom. They talk about of freedom to go out late at night, to have boyfriend, to wear blue jeans, high-heeled shoes and makeup… They revel in their escape from the watchful eyes of fathers and brothers.” To be continue..: Nurul