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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Malaysia: Rights Reforms Abandoned Stop Suppressing Speech, Harassing Groups, Targeting Politicians

For Immediate Release

Malaysia: Rights Reforms Abandoned
Stop Suppressing Speech, Harassing Groups, Targeting Politicians

(New York, January 29, 2015) – Prime Minister Najib Razak abandoned his pledge to revoke Malaysia’s repressive sedition law and oversaw a wave of arrests of opposition politicians and social activists, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2015. The authorities continued their politically motivated prosecution of parliamentary opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy.

In the 656-page world report, its 25th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth urges governments to recognize that human rights offer an effective moral guide in turbulent times, and that violating rights can spark or aggravate serious security challenges. The short-term gains of undermining core values of freedom and non-discrimination are rarely worth the long-term price.

“Prime Minister Najib’s shameful reversal of his pledge to end sedition shows his willingness to put politics over human rights,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Malaysia’s human rights are in a downward spiral because the government evidently believes that continued rule depends on suppressing speech, harassing opposition groups, and targeting prominent figures with legal action.”

During 2014, Malaysian authorities arrested dozens of people under the Sedition Act for making remarks critical of the government, its political leaders, the ruling party, and Malaysia’s sultans. At least 20 people were charged, including four senior opposition members of parliament. The crackdown generated public opposition from the Malaysia Bar Council and other organizations, and a lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of the sedition act.

Najib, who in 2012 had promised to repeal the Sedition Act, announced on November 27, 2014, that the law would instead be revised and strengthened to penalize those who violate the sanctity of Islam and other religions or call for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia.

The Malaysian authorities also continued their politically motivated prosecutions to cripple the political opposition. In March, an appeals court overturned a 2012 not guilty verdict against parliamentary opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges and sentenced him to a five-year prison term in a rushed judicial proceeding. Should the Federal Court uphold his conviction, he faces imprisonment and loss of his seat in parliament. The government’s repeated prosecutions of Anwar under the sodomy law (penal code article 377), invoked only seven times since 1938, highlights the dangers this discriminatory law poses so long as it remains on the books.

The Royal Malaysian Police continued to abuse rights of detainees in police custody with impunity. There were at least 10 new cases of custodial deaths in 2014, and police used excessive force during apprehension of suspects. However, police stymied proposals for an effective and independent external oversight such as an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

Malaysia’s image as a moderate Muslim country was tarnished by new government restrictions on freedom of expression and association in 2014. The government-controlled Registrar of Societies tightened its restrictive oversight on civil society groups seen as critical of the government, refused newspaper licenses to critical outlets, and prosecuted an activist on film censorship charges.

The government continued to vilify lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. However, in November 2014, in an unprecedented action, the Negeri Sembilan appeals court unanimously ruled that a Sharia law ordinance prohibiting cross-dressing was unconstitutional. Senior national and state government officials criticized the decision as “anti-Islamic,” with a senior minister calling for Muslims to defend Islamic teachings “by any method.”

“The Malaysian government appears to be resting its global reputation on its new term at the UN Security Council rather than addressing the country’s serious rights problems,” Robertson said. “The government will need to reverse course on rights in 2015 if it wants to truly bolster its international standing.”

To read Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2015 chapter on Malaysia, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Malaysia, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-347-463-3531 (mobile); or adamsb@hrw.org
In Bangkok, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or robertp@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @Reaproy
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); or siftonj@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @johnsifton
In New York, Mickey Spiegel (English): +1-212-216-1229; or spiegem@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @MickeySpiegel



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Is the MTUC President asking workers to abandon their legitimate claims? Why did he also not call on employers not to dismiss workers?

Mohd Khalid [President of Malaysian Trades Union Congress, Mohd Khalid Atan] said the workers must work hard and be productivity this year and at the same time not to burden the employers with overtime and other claims.
Is the President of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) asking workers to abandon their rightful claims against employers? Is he asking workers to work hard and be productive? - he sounds just like an employer's rep or the Prime Minister... Well, that is the impression one gets when one reads the Bernama report ... What really was the full statement that the MTUC President make to the media - When one goes to the MTUC website - we do not see the statement there, which would have been really good if it was. We could then have compared what was reported with what Khalid Atan really said in his statement to the press.
Now, based on just what was reported...I comment...

As the premier worker/trade union leader in Malaysia, he should certainly have come out supporting and reiterating the call of MEF that employers to not dismiss employees..
He should also ask the government to speed up all the outstanding wrongful dismissal cases in Malaysia - now it takes years and years. Wrongful dismissal must be expedited - dealt with speedily in not less than 3-6 months, and employers that wrongfully dismiss workers must be penalized severely. In fact, workers who have taken wrongful dismissal cases should continue to be paid their basic wage by the employer at the very least until the case is finally resolved by the courts (This is apparently what happens in Indonesia). This continuing to receive wages will certainly help workers during difficult times...
In Malaysia, it is TOO EASY for the employer to dismiss workers - so what we need are serious deterrents. That law that limits 'compensation in lieu of reinstatement' to not more than 24 months should be repealed - and if the courts determine that the employer has wrongfully dismissed a worker, then the worker must be reinstated without loss of benefits - and, if the employer is incapable of doing this for some very very good reason, the worker maybe should be paid compensation in lieu of reinstated, which should be no less than all wages/benefits/bonuses from the date of wrongful dismissal until the date of judgment - in fact it should be two times that sum if we really want to DETER employers from wrongfully dismissing workers.

The MTUC President should have said that if employers had stopped opposing the formation or recognition of Trade Unions, then Trade Unions of workers would have been able to play a significant role during such 'bad times'. 
Unions could have sat down and negotiated with employers during such difficult times... Maybe, he could call on all workers to join unions, or form new ones so that they can be better prepared to sit down and negotiate with employers during possible 'difficult' times - all things are possible if workers are unionized. Workers through their Unions may even agree to temporary pay cuts ...or even temporary delay of payment of part of their wages...etc. 
But alas, nowadays even after a successful secret ballot, employers are opposing the recognition of trade unions. In fact, employers like MAS and RENESAS should withdraw their judicial review applications - and recognize the said Unions. During difficult times, Trade Unions can certainly help a lot. 
Employers should stop opposing the formation of Unions - and should speedily recognize trade unions. Unions are needed during 'troubled times' - and will benefit employers as much as employees. Employers cannot sit down and negotiate with each and every worker - but if there was a Union, it would have been so much easier. Solutions favourable to workers and employers could always be worked out...
Well, Khalid Atan may have told the media all of the above....but alas the lack of a statement in the MTUC website or on his own Blog, etc - we cannot presume what he said or did not say... in front of us, all we have is the media report...

In fact, I do believe that Khalid said it all but alas the reporter or the editor may have chosen not to report it all... OR...may be not? 

 

MEF Asks Employers Not To Dismiss Workers On Expected Slowdown In Economic Growth 
26 January 2015

By Yuri Azhar Mazlan

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 (Bernama) — The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has asked employers not to dismiss their employees following the expected slowdown in economic growth this year.

Its executive director, Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, said the employers, however, should reduce the companies’ costs.

“If necessary, reduce the working hours and days or limit overtime,” he told Bernama here today.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in a recent interview by a local television station, said the country was not facing an economic crisis, only a slowdown in growth.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said he did not foresee any retrenchments, fewer jobs or income drops for workers.
Meanwhile, president of Malaysian Trades Union Congress, Mohd Khalid Atan, said Malaysians must not be choosy or change jobs following the slowdown in economic growth.

“Don’t take the risks to change jobs because most companies are expected to report poor results this year,” he said.

Mohd Khalid said the workers must work hard and be productivity this year and at the same time not to burden the employers with overtime and other claims.

He advised the employers to hire local workers compared to the foreigners.

“What’s happening now is that the employers preferred the foreign workers with the excuse that the salaries will be lower. By right this is not supposed to happen,” he said.

Source: Bernama

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

If Minimum Wage is less than RM1,500, then this government really do not care about the poorest of workers?


MINIMUM WAGE - well, the Malaysian government has already acknowledged that households earning less than RM3,000 need financial assistance from the government. Logically, if both husband and wife are working, minimum wages should not be less than RM1,500. Then, the government need not step in and help anymore - To have a minimum wage lesser than RM1,500 is absurd - because still we will need to use people's money to subsidize the poor worker's household. Really, it should be the Employers who should be paying a more just wage of moure than RM1,500.

Do not forget, that all workers still have to make statutory deductions to EPF and SOCSO - hence, even with RM1,500, the take-home pay will be less. 

It was this government that worked to keep wages low - and to help people they tried to keep the cost of living low. There were subsidies that kept the prices of basic items that people needed to live at a low and affordable price. But subsidies are disappearing - and cost of basic items are rising.

There was 'price-control' laws in place before that kept prices fixed and low - but look at the list now, and you will see that most of the previously 'price-controlled' items are no more in the list today. How many really remain? Well, the government still do come in to do 'price control' of certain items - but alas, in some supermarkets and shops, you can get these temporary price control items at prices much lower than the 'price control' rates. 

Now, come April, there will be GST - well,I believe that even though there may really be no increase in cost of production and marketing of goods - there will be an increase in prices - hence a higher cost of living.

Now, cost of living varies according to location - and as such, really this government should maybe emulate countries like India which takes this factor into consideration in determining the minimum wage. 

Of course, some of of the 'smaller' employers like small retail shops and businesses may have difficulties - but maybe for these some 'profit sharing arrangement' could be formulated so that workers will be protected. Maybe 50% of the profits should be used to pay workers... No need to help the medium enterprises - only the micro enterprises. 

It is shocking that employer association is protesting the rise of the minimum wages - how much really of their annual profits are going to worker wages...? Be reasonable...be human...we are talking about the livelihood of the poorest of workers... and really, a reasonable wage should be at least RM1,500 in this modern times especially in Klang Valley and the bigger towns...
 


Published: Tuesday January 20, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday January 20, 2015 MYT 7:54:15 AM

At odds over new minimum wage

PETALING JAYA: A year after the implementation of a national minimum wage, things are heating up again with a proposal to review the RM900 ceiling upwards.
 
The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), which opposed the previous ceiling, wants the minimum wage to stay put at RM900, but trade unions are clamouring for it to be raised to and standardised at RM1,200. 

This is following the completed review of the policy by the National Wages Consultative Council which submitted its recommendations to the Human Resources Ministry recently. 

Sources close to the council revealed that there were differences in opinion among the stakeholders involved, but they had “agreed to disagree”.

“MEF wants the current minimum wage to remain. 

However, the MTUC (the Malaysian Trades Union Congress) wants the minimum wage to be raised to RM1,200 and for it to be standardised across the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak.” 

The source said the Government had proposed RM1,000 as the revised minimum wage. 

“The council has submitted its feedback to the ministry for deliberation.

“We hope the Government will come up with a fair decision to all,” said a source to The Star. 

Another source said that the final decision would be announced by Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot soon, adding that it could be as early as next month.

Richard was reported to have said recently that details of the revised minimum wage policy would be announced once the Cabinet gave its approval with him saying that “there will be a little change” involved.

The minimum wage policy, which was enforced in January last year, requires employers with six or more workers to pay their employees a minimum wage of RM900 monthly in peninsular Malaysia and RM800 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

MTUC recently called on the Government to increase salaries by at least 6% citing the minimum wage as insufficient to deal with rising costs.

When contacted, MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said it was the federation’s view that the current figure of RM900 should stay as it was deemed reasonable at this time.

“Increasing the minimum wage should be avoided due to the current sluggish economic situation and the drop in fuel prices, along with its ripple effects,” he said.

Shamsuddin said employers were still trying to “adjust” to the existing minimum wage. - Star, 20/1/2015, At odds over new minimum wage

Friday, January 16, 2015

Death in police custody "...due to police not giving or allowing medicine related to his problem," the coroner said.

231 cases of death in custody from 2000 until May 2013 - 97 Malays, 49 Chinese, 51 Indians.

"The death of the deceased is due to a hypertensive heart disease and this is due to police not giving or allowing medicine related to his problem," the coroner said.
 
Court: Cops acted unlawfully in Chandran's death

In a landmark ruling today, a coroner's court in Kuala Lumpur found the police to have acted unlawfully in not giving medicine and medical attention to detainee P Chandran.

Sessions court judge Ahmad Bache, who sat as the coroner, said Chandran died in the police lock-up before 7.48am on Sept 10, 2012, but the police only noticed and reported it 12 hours later.

"The death of the deceased is due to a hypertensive heart disease and this is due to police not giving or allowing medicine related to his problem," the coroner said.

Chandran, who is from Simpang Renggam, was remanded at the Dang Wangi police station lock-up for four days before his death.


 
During that period, he was not allowed to take medication that his family members tried to give him.

The 47-year-old was arrested following a police report lodged by an Indonesian woman who said her baby was abducted.

The woman had agreed to give the baby to Chandran's brother-in-law, who is a Muslim, after her birth hospital fees were paid by the adopting party.

Chandran’s case marks the first time that a sessions court judge in Kuala Lumpur has acted as a coroner, a role previously limited to magistrate.

This follows a practice directive by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria that inquests by a coroner should handled by sessions court judges and not by magistrates. - Malaysiakini, 16/1/2015, Court: Cops acted unlawfully in Chandran's death





Police responsible for custody death of lorry driver, says coroner


A coroner's court today ruled that police were responsible for the death in custody of lorry driver P. Chandran through their omission to provide him with timely medical assistance.

Sessions judge Ahmad Bache, who sat as coroner, said in his verdict that police officers from Cheras and Dang Wangi district police headquarters had committed unlawful omission by not giving Chandran his medication and sending him to hospital.

Ahmad said the police were aware that Chandran was under medication as this had been recorded by a magistrate when a remand order was issued against him.

He said that closed-circuit television (CCTV) images showed the 47-year-old likely succumbed to hypertensive heart disease at 7.48am but police had reported his death only 12 hours later. "A policeman gave evidence that the deceased died at 7pm (on September 10, 2012) but the CCTV footage showed he was not moving at 7.48am," he said.

Police reported Chandran's death at 8pm that day.

Chandran, who was from Simpang Renggam, Johor was arrested on September 6, 2012 following a police report lodged by an Indonesian woman who said her newborn baby had been abducted and held for ransom.

Further investigations revealed that the woman had agreed to give the baby to Chandran's brother-in-law, who is a Muslim and had no children.

The baby was supposed to be adopted after the completion of documentation.

However, she changed her mind and lodged a police report. Police arrested four people, including Chandran and the would-be adoptive parents.

Chandran, a father of six, was held at the Dang Wangi police station lock-up for four days before his death and during that period, he was not allowed to take the medication that his family members tried to give him.

"The death of the deceased is due to a hypertensive heart disease and this is due to police not giving or allowing medicine related to his problem," the coroner said.

Pathologist Dr Nurul Kharmila Abdullah also gave evidence that the death could have been avoided if he was given the medication and sent to hospital on time.

Ahmad said there were injuries on the Chandran’s head and body but was uncertain how they were inflicted.

"But two witnesses went on record to state that Chandran did not have any injuries prior to his detention," he said.

Ahmad said the police must be held accountable for the death even if the injuries  were inflicted by policemen or inmates.

This is the first time in recent memory that a coroner has pointed to a party responsible for a death in custody following the landmark Court of Appeal ruling last year which substituted the open verdict of a coroner with that of an unlawful act of person/s unknown against Teoh Beng Hock.

In that case, the aide to a DAP state assemblyman was found dead outside the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office, hours after being questioned.

A three-man bench also ruled that only a lower standard of proof, which is the balance of probabilities, was required in an inquest to find out the cause of death.

While Datuk Mohamad Arif Md Yusof and Datuk Mah Weng Kwai held that coroners could arrive at an open verdict, Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer said the Criminal Procedure Code provided no room for such conclusions.

However, the judges were unanimous that the coroner in Teoh's case was wrong in his finding, as there was overwhelming evidence against the MACC officers.

They also ruled out suicide.

Teoh, who had been held for questioning, was found dead on the 5th floor annexe corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, which houses the MACC office, on July 16, 2009.

Meanwhile lawyer M. Visvanathan who appeared for Chandran's family told The Malaysian Insider today that the coroner's verdict was sufficient for the police to investigate the persons responsible for the crime.

"The public will be closely following what the police and public prosecutor will do from now on," he said.
 
 
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/police-responsible-for-custody-death-of-lorry-driver-says-coroner#sthash.pfA25eqV.dpuf

Thursday, January 15, 2015

With about 2.9 million documented migrants, MyEG will collect over RM100 million annually?

Well, Malaysia has now outsourced the work of the annual permit renewal to ONE private company, MyEG Services Bhd, as of 5th January 2015. All these renewals will now have to be done online. And for this service, a fee will have to paid to the said company - RM38 per worker per renewal. This is over and above all the payments being made for permit renewal to the government.

Previously, employers went to Immigration Departments to do this renewal of the annual permits. Some employers used agents to do this work - just like the 'runners' or 'agents' many of us use for the renewal of road tax.

So, if the government wanted to make the process simpler - i.e. by making employers apply for these renewals online, should it not have been done by the Immigration Department? Of course, the Immigration Department may have outsourced the application processing to third parties - but we will all still be dealing with the Immigration Department. Banks have outsourced check processing and online banking, but alas the customers still deal with the bank. Hence, this handing over to a private company is odd... and raises many questions.
'...Riot[Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem] said the dumping of foreign workers in Malaysia is worrying as they are some 5.8 million of whom only 2.9 million are legal workers...' - Bernama, 2/9/2014,Malaysian Workers Should Not Be Choosy Over Jobs - Riot 
Well, RM38 per worker for annual renewal, and Malaysia has about 2.9 million documented migrants, which means that MyEG Services Bhd will collect annually RM110.2 million as their service charges, and this is a lot of money, and it is almost guaranteed income. 
 
Is there anything wrong? Was there an open tender before this big money earning project was given to this private company? Who are the major shareholders of MyEG Services Bhd? Does the Malaysian government own this company, or at least a significant majority - for if yes, then the money(profits) will be flowing back to the government and to the people of Malaysia? 
 
Directors of MyEG website, we can get this information
 
 
Executive Director - Dato' Dr Norraesah Binti Haji Mohamad, former UMNO Supreme Council Memberfrom 2000 to 2013, former Senator... She holds 4,060,000 ordinary shares directly in the Company.
 
Executive Director -Dato' Raja Haji Munir Shah Bin Raja Mustapha - '...In 1997, he was elected to head the Tanjong UMNO Youth Division and subsequently appointed as the State UMNO Youth Information Chief until his tenure ended in 2004. He was appointed as a City Councilor in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2004. During his tenure as a Councilor in Penang Island Municipal Council ("MPPP"), he served as Chairman and Commitiee Member in various standing commitiees overseeing legislatives and policy matiers within the jurisdiction of MPPP which covers the island of Penang.In 2008, he was elected as Deputy Head of the UMNO Tanjung Division, a position he held until early 2014....' - He holds 409,900 ordinary shares directly in the Company and 186,657,998 ordinary shares indirectly in the Company.
 
Managing Director - Wong Thean Soon...He holds 44,226,006 ordinary shares directly in the Company and 196,657,998 ordinary shares indirectly in the Company. 
 
There are several other non-executive Directors - visit the website and get more information of the Directors

There seem to be no current civil servants listed as Directors. No one from the Ministry. So, is it a government owned company?  
 
Look for more information - all written above is just based on the information that I managed to get from the internet. There may have been a call for tender - but I am unaware of this. 
 
It may be time that information such as majority shareholders in companies should also be clearly listed in websites. Also good if financial accounts are also listed. Information about workforce too will be good. 
 
Some of the said news reports are as follows:- We see that the employers and/or employer association seem to be unhappy. FOMCA has an opinion....but alas, we could not find any viewpoint of workers or their unions, or even MTUC on this matter. For the migrant worker, there seem to be little or no impact - after all the renewal of permits have always been the obligation of employers. It just seem to be a move from over-the-counter renewals to online renewals. ODD IS THAT THIS WORK HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO A PRIVATE COMPANY WHO NOW WILL BE CHARGING EXTRA(RM38 PER WORKER PER RENEWAL) FOR THEIR SERVICES. I believe that this work should have remained with the government - the Immigration Department or better still and rightly to the Human Resource Ministry. The Human Resource Ministry would have also been able to also simultaneously monitor whether there have been any worker and trade union rights violations. Yes, it should be the Human Resource Ministry that looks into all aspects of labour - even permit renewal.
 
Migrant workers come to Malaysia usually for a period of 3 - 5 years - why are these work permits not granted for the entire duration - rather than year by year. Annual renewals allow employers the possibility of 'not renewing' and hence violating the contract/agreement between the migrant worker and the employer. 
 
When there is non-renewal, Malaysia sadly is just too interested in getting the migrant worker to leave the country immediately - not investigating into the matter and determining whether the employer has been guilty of 'wrongful dismissal' of the worker, or even whether the affected worker has any outstanding claims against the employer. More reason why it should the Human Resource Ministry who should be in charge of worker annual permit renewal...


MyEG explains foreign worker permit renewals

PETALING JAYA: The Immigration Department has expanded the scope of implementation of the online system for foreign workers PL(KS) permit renewal through MyEG Services Bhd starting Jan 5, 2015 to include verifying and analysing the database of foreign workers. 

The primary objectives of this system are to identify the legal foreign workers in the country and the employers who knowingly or unknowingly employ illegal foreign workers, as well as to provide a more convenient and efficient way to transact.

"MyEG's role is not only to renew the permits but to compile, verify, maintain, update and analyse the database of legal foreign workers, illegal foreign workers, authorised employers of foreign workers, employers who unknowingly have foreign workers registered under their name and employers of illegal foreign workers," MyEG said in a statement. 

MyEG will capture digital biometrics of the employers and employer's representatives. Analytics will be conducted on the above data to generate intelligence on trends causing the proliferation of illegal foreign workers as well as employers who have a disproportionate number of foreign workers absconding. 

In addition, MyEG will also operate a crowd-source platform to gather intelligence on employers who employ illegal foreign workers.

MyEG has the responsibility to ensure valid insurance is in place before processing the transaction as MyEG will be liable for any non-compliance. 

"Insurance Guarantee, Foreign Workers Compensation Scheme & Foreign Workers Hospitalisation & Surgical Scheme may be purchased through any insurance agent including MyEG. MyEG will bear the cost of deportation of illegal foreign workers detained."

The RM38 fee is for the above scope of responsibility as well as to deliver the renewed permits to the home or offices of our users with biometric verification.

Foreign workers PL(KS) permit renewals can be done three months before expiry. Hence employers are encouraged to renew earlier to avoid late renewal that may lead to permit expiry penalty. The current renewal process online does not require any interviews to be done.

Payment for this service can be made using credit card, online banking or cheque/bank draft. - The Sun Daily,  12/1/2015, MyEG explains foreign worker permit renewals

MyEG appointment not good for business

NORMAN HIU/ theSun.
KUALA LUMPUR: The implementation of the mandatory online renewal of foreign workers work permits (PLKS) and the appointment of MY EG Services Bhd (MyEG) as the sole provider for the service is a bad precedence and against the Competition Act 2010, said The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).

"The business community is extremely concerned that the government is setting up a bad precedence by compelling all employers into having to deal with a sole private entity on a mandatory basis, and having to pay exorbitant service charges, without the option of an alternative system," its secretary-general Datuk Low Kian Chuan pix told reporters at a press conference yesterday.

He said the Competition Act, which was enacted by the government, prohibits anti-competition agreements and the abuse of a dominant position in the market.

"The spirit of the Competition Act is to provide a level playing field for all players in the market. The current PLKS situation makes MyEG more than dominant, it is in fact a monopoly," he added.

ACCCIM also noted that other government electronic services provided by MyEG such as MyKad replacement, renewal of driving license and payment of summons, are not mandatory and over-the-counter options are still available to the public. 

Low said most of the service charges imposed by MyEG on the government's electronic services are also priced at a nominal rate while the RM38 service charge per foreign worker for the renewal of the foreign workers permit is "extremely exorbitant".

"With the estimated number of 2.5 million legal foreign workers in Malaysia, MyEG would be collecting a total of RM95 million of service fees per year. This amount, on an annual basis, is far in excess of what is required to set up and operate an online system, even if it is to include collecting the database of foreign workers (which should already exist in the Ministry of Home Affairs' records given that each worker is individually approved by the authorities), or to undertake biometric verification," he said.

He added that the service charge for online renewal should be at a nominal rate to attract employers to use the online system.

The RM38 is on top of the RM125 processing fee per worker payable to the ministry for the renewal of foreign workers work permit. The processing fee was increased in October last year, from RM50 per worker previously.

According to Low, this adds on to the rising cost of labour due to the spike in costs arising from the imposition of several policies and regulations by the authorities such as the minimum wage policy, increase in foreign workers' levy and imposition of hospitalisation insurance.

Although business communities welcome the online renewal system, Low said it should not be made mandatory.

"The counter service and online service must co-exist together to provide employers with the requisite options depending on the circumstances of the applicants, as well as to have a backup system in the event one of the systems were to crash for whatever reasons, or when system upgrades necessitate a shutdown," he said.

ACCCIM has proposed for the re-opening of public counter service as an alternate option and a revision of the online service charge. It is expected to submit a memorandum of understanding to the ministry today.

MyEG's share price fell 2.62% to close at RM2.60 yesterday, with a total of 8.17 million shares traded. - The Sun Daily, 13/1/2015, MyEG appointment not good for business

MEF: Immigration not listening to our grouses

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) will submit a letter to the Immigration Department to find out the rationale behind the new online system for Foreign Workers Permit (PLKS) through MyEG.

MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the immigration department should have allowed employers to try out the system and gauge its effectiveness before implementing it.

“We are not against the implementation of the system but rather how the authorities handled it including the employers who show up at the department,” he told theSun, adding that the federation has been flooded with hundreds of calls daily since the system was introduced on Jan 5.

A check by theSun at the immigration counters at Putrajaya and Damansara showed that employers were still showing up there. 

The counters for manual PLKS applications and renewals were closed but MyEG staff were seen teaching employers how to use the online system.

Shamsuddin said since meeting immigration department top officers is not going to be easy, it is better that we submit a letter on our views regarding the system.

He said employers are very unhappy that they have to pay RM38 for each online transaction or application.

“It’s not cheap. It’s a lot of money as employers handle a lot of applications,” he said of the levy.

Several employers met at the immigration office in Damansara said if the authorities do not listen to their grievances, they would have to file official complaints with the relevant authorities.

“It looks like no one is interested with our complaints. We tried approaching the immigration officers but they just tell us to learn how to use the online system,” said a company director who wished to be identified only as Ismail.

On the three days needed for the online applications to be processed, he felt it was too long.

Another employer lamented that he had to scan his workers’ insurance cover notes and attached them to the applications. “It’s so complicating. Imagine how tough it is for those who are not IT-savvy.”

Several attempts by theSun to reach Immigration Director-General Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim since Monday were unsuccessful.

An immigration officer at the Damansara office said the employers’ grievances were being looked into.
Meanwhile, Sungai Petani MP Datuk Johari Abdul did not agreed with immigration department’s explanation that the online system was introduced to ease congestion.

He said the department had expedited the processing of applications manually using the latest technologies.

“It’s just a matter of management,” he said, adding that one wonders why the online system was outsourced. - The Sun Daily, 5/1/2015, MEF: Immigration not listening to our grouses

Fomca hits out at immigration dept over online service dispute

PETALING JAYA: The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) has hit out against the immigration department's move to continue registering foreign workers using the new online system for Foreign Workers Permit Renewal (PLKS) through My E. G. Services Bhd (MyEG).
Its deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said the process should be flexible in terms of providing the consumers a choice in registering at the counters at various points until the they are comfortable using the online application.
"This system should be done gradually to allow consumers the choice by registering manually or through the new alternative platform provided. This is because some of them are not Internet savvy and may find it difficult during the adjustment period," he told theSun.
He also agreed to a statement issued by the Home Ministry which stated that by using the renewal process online it would mean agents will cease to exist in taking advantage of the situation.
However, Mohd Yusof stressed it would still give an opportunity for a third party in seizing their chance to "facilitate" those who are still unaware of the new system which was launched on Jan 5 besides helping those who are not IT savvy or know the system well.
"More reason why it should be implemented gradually rather than force consumers to use it now," he said.
He added that there are also areas which does not have Internet connection which will pose a problem to consumers.
The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) had also voiced their concerns recently and told theSun that it will submit a letter to the Immigration Department to seek an explanation as to the rationalisation of its implementation of the system. - The Sun Daily, 11/1/2015, Fomca hits out at immigration dept over online service dispute

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Flood - Government Calamity Dedicated Radio Needed Now....

Being affected by the flooding in Pahang, one of the things lacking was the availability of INFORMATION - this could have been provided by the government by having a dedicated radio channel during floods.

What kind of information should be provided?

* Information about roads that are about to be cut off by the floods, or are only accessible to light or heavy vehicles. We need to know this information, and if cut off, whether there are alternative roads that could be utilized. We would need specifics, i.e. which kilometer, where (including also on the normal roads and even in towns affected). I was traveling back from Muadzam Shah back to my home in Temerloh on 27th, and it would have been so much help to know which roads were accessible and which were not, and what were my options to get back home.

* Flood victims also need to know what is the flood condition in their area - which roads were cut off or about to be cut off, and where are the flood relief centres that they can go to for assistance.

* We also need to know whether water is rising or subsiding. Weather forecasts - rains, etc...that is specific to districts - not States especially for the large states like Pahang.

Now, in my area during the flood, there was no electricity, and there was no access to Astro or even the internet for almost seven(7) days. Hence, the only way one could get information was through the radio - but alas, in modern Malaysia, many would not have access to battery operated radios - but many do. Without electricity, mobile phones and even smart phones die and there is no way to re-charge it. Hence, more important than TV, during floods and such calamities, radio is the means to access information - that is why RTM should have had a dedicated FM Radio channel providing these necessary information. 

What we need is specifics - not general information which was alright for the rest of Malaysians unaffected by the floods. We do not need to be listening to the 'good things' that politicians and political parties are doing - this is certainly not the time for politicking - that can come later.

It would also be a good practice to provide people still affected by floods with radios and batteries. Good also to provide means of charging phones/smartphones. 

Now, many people affected by floods will not leave their homes and go to flood relief centers. Those who live in double storey homes, will just move to the upper floors and some to just to community centres and neighbours home not affected by the flood. 

WHY? It is not uncommon for 'bad elements' to commit theft during floods and calamities. Even as we stayed on the upper floor with about 12 other affected neighbours, one night there was an attempt to steal motorbikes - the thieves came with a truck to cart off these bikes. Fortunately, someone heard some sound - and the people rushed out through about 3 feet of water and managed to stop the thieves. This is why in many flood affected homes, people stay on or nearby to look after their homes and belongings - not so much to protect it just from the floods - but also from thieves. Police - what police - we never saw the police come around to our flooded village. In fact, nearby there was break-ins at the petrol station, 7-11 and many shops. One wonders where the police and the security forces were? 

In fact, even when we travelled back from Muadzam Shah to Temerloh on 27th using the old road, and having to pass at least 4 areas where the flood waters were on the roads, I saw no police, RELA, army or any other government officials - Signs that there was flooding ahead also was absent. Information was not there - and the radio was not providing much help - brief snippets of hourly news provided general information only... {At one passing where the flood waters had covered the road, and the water was swift, what we saw was ordinary good people standing on and beside the road to prevent any possibility of cars being swept away...]

We have floods in Malaysia annually, although not as bad as this one - and certainly this government should have been better coordinated and effective.

There is still flooding - and all the information required is available - all that the government, maybe vide the Minister of Communication and Multimedia, need to do is to get a dedicated radio channel going that will be churning out relevant information about the floods 24 hours - no need for songs, expression of support or 'how great this politician or pollitical party or NGO is' kind of information - just relevant detailed facts and information that is required by victims and pottential victims in affected areas. Just keep repeating the broadcast over and over ... State by State - District by District - Town by Town... It is an emergency channel. 

Remember that it is not just the victims that need this - but also the concerned family and friends all over Malaysia....     


Flood and Workers - Time for Paid CALAMITY LEAVE and other entitlements

Workers affected by the flood should not be forced to turn up to work. Their homes may have been flooded, or maybe their access from home to their workplace may be affected by flood. This should include 'almost affected by flood', i.e. in situations where the flood water is rising and will almost affect their homes - workers would need time to be able to transfer their belongings to safer places, and make arrangements to relocate their families from impending danger. Likewise, when flood waters have receded, workers will need time to clean up their homes and resettle their families in their homes, all of which are hard work and is time consuming.

But at present, even the Employment Act 1955 does not provide for paid leave during such calamities and emergencies. However, some unions have managed to include such leaves in their collective bargaining agreement - but alas less than 5% of workers in the private sector in Malaysia are unionized. Hence, it is essential for laws to provide this right to ALL workers in Malaysia. We should call this 'CALAMITY LEAVE' - and it should be paid leave, and it should cover floods and other natural disasters, maybe also including fire.

Many countries have this worker right provided for in law. In Netherlands, the employee is entitled to a maximum of two days paid additional leave per year in the event of a calamity. In Philipines, Two (2) days paid leave for employees who were affected by flood, fire and typhoon whereby there is a requirement that it must be supported by a Government proclamation.

Likewise, in Malaysia we need to have provisions for  CALAMITY LEAVE (or such Emergency Leave), and the length of this leave should be reasonably at least 4 days at full pay, and a further 7 days at half pay with any additional periods as 'no pay leave' if the worker have no more annual leave to utilize. The Human Resource Department may be tasked to verify workers' claim by providing required certificate to employers(and workers) if so needed. 

Many workers are paid only for the days that they work. In some cases, the workers are really working the same number of days as monthly waged workers - In Temerloh, workers that man local council booths selling parking tickets who work Monday to Friday are being paid according to the number of days they work - which is absurd, and they should really be treated as monthly waged workers. Now, these workers also need to be protected and entitled to paid CALAMITY LEAVE. In fact, all such daily waged employees who really should be monthly waged workers - fully entitled to their rest days, should be eliminated and made mode waged workers. 

Also noting that floods and such calamities cause much loss to workers and their families, maybe there is a need for a social protection scheme that could be put in place to help such workers in their time of need. This could be incorporated as a worker entitlement under SOCSO(PERKESO) and also the Workman's Compensation Act.

Workers affected by calamities, which may also in some cases mean loss of jobs by reason of their workplaces being damaged or affected by flood or calamities also need assistance - time for Malaysia, like Thailand, to have unemployment benefits.