A group of 36 Indian migrant workers who claim to have ‘been deceived’ by the Immigration Department today appealed to the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to assist them in getting valid work permits.
Fourteen of the workers representing the group handed over a memorandum to commissioner Harun Hashim at the Suhakam office this morning.
They were accompanied by their lawyers Charles Hector and Roland Engan as well as the director of Central Generative Sdn Bhd, Mohd Ali Abdul Wahid.
Their memorandum stated that their rights as workers had been violated by ‘the delay and dishonesty of the Immigration Department’ which they alleged issued them with expired work permits.
“We appeal to Suhakam to help us get our permits, noting that we have already paid the necessary levy and that what we are asking for is something that has already been ordered by the Kuala Lumpur High Court,” the workers’ spokesman Rajakannu Boopathy said.
He added that the delay by the Immigration department had deprived the group of their right to work legally in the country and had also resulted in several of the workers being arrested by police and detained at illegal immigrant detention camps.Temporary work permitHarun informed the workers that he will hand over the memorandum to the other Suhakam commissioners before deciding on a course of action.
“I can’t decide on this issue on my own. This (memorandum) will go before the commission and we will conduct an initial enquiry to establish whether there should be a public enquiry,” Harun said.
A copy of the memorandum was also handed over to the Bar Council this afternoon.
The workers’ ordeal began 20 months ago when they initiated a lawsuit against their former employer, Gopis Construction Sdn Bhd, whom they alleged failed to pay them their wages.
They then applied to the Immigration Department for permission to work on their own or alternatively be transferred to another employer.
On Dec 6 last year, the High Court ordered the Immigration Department to issue temporary work permits to the workers to enable them to work legally for a construction company, Central Generative Sdn Bhd.Contempt proceedingsThe workers claim that the Director-General of Immigration issued permits on April 19, but 13 of the permits had lapsed in January and February this year while the rest lapsed on July 8.
The workers are now seeking leave to commence contempt proceedings against the former Director-General of Immigration Aseh Che Mat and five other Immigration Department officers for failing to comply with the High Court order.
Their application was filed at the High Court last week and will be heard on July 25.
According to Charles Hector, existing laws in the country only allow migrant workers to complain against their employers for violation of their rights but do no provide a mechanism for the worker to continue to work and earn legally in Malaysia.
“It is thus unfeasible for them to commence legal action,” he said adding there was also no clear law and penalties against employers who violated migrant workers’ rights.
“For example, an employer must provide the Immigration Department with a contract of employment as a condition for the issuance of the work permit (the expatriate identification pass), but when the employer fails to pay wages according to that contract, the department does not penalise the employer.
“There is no enforcement against employers. In fact, these workers’ former employer, despite all his violations, is not blacklisted and continues to be given permits to recruit migrant workers,” Hector said.Required skillsCentral Generative director Mohd Ali told malaysiakini that his company was incurring high costs due to the Immigration department’s delay in issuing the worker’s permits.
He said that the workers’ levy fees amounting to more that RM40,000 was being borne by the company as the workers had entered a two-year contract with the company on Dec 6 last year, after the High Court order.
“We can’t just leave these workers alone now after having invested so much in them. Furthermore, we have a lot of job opportunities and we need these workers who have the skills required.
“But we are suffering together with them because they can’t work without the permits,” Mohd Ali said.- Malaysiakini, 16/7/2001, Immigration Dept cheated us, foreign workers tell Suhakam
Thursday, August 09, 2001
Saturday, March 17, 2001
The 55th AGM of the Malaysian Bar held at the Renaissance Hotel,
1. The Malaysian Bar has during its past Annual General Meetings and/or Extraordinary General Meetings passed many resolutions of great importance, amongst others
a) The call for the recognition of the rights to ONE PHONE CALL to all suspects arrested by the police in Malaysia;
b) The call for the recognition of the right of access to lawyer upon arrest;
c) The call that Magistrates, Sessions Court Judges and Senior Assistant Registrars be
made more independent, by amongst others removing them from being under the Judicial and Legal Services Commission;
c) The removal of the seven-year ruling in the Legal Profession Act 1976, that now prevents lawyers below seven years standing from even nominating and standing for elections in the Bar Council and/or the State Bar Committees, and also sitting as equal members of the various committees of the Bar Council and the State Bar Committees.
2. After these resolutions are considered and passed, unfortunately other than receiving minimum and edited coverage in media, it is noted that nothing seems to be done to publicise the said resolutions and/or take steps to give full effect to these resolutions of the Malaysian Bar.
3. There has also been a lack of reporting by the Bar Council, both past and present, as to the steps taken to give effect to these resolutions of past.
4. There is also a lack of documentation of these resolutions, hence leading to a lack of dissemination of the position and stance of the Malaysian Bar with regard to various issues of concern – the effect being that newer members of the Bar are left “blind” about the position of the Bar on these important issues of concern. The history, tradition and positions of the Bar should be proactively handed down to the newer members of the Bar.
5. The Malaysian Bar should be proactive in publicising all resolutions in full, especially those of national importance, in the mass media and if need by advertising. As part of the campaign, the Bar Council should also go to the people and disseminate these resolutions, if need be in the different popular languages of the nation.
6. The Malaysian Bar should also be proactive in forwarding relevant resolutions to all members of the legislative, judiciary and executive and not merely forwarding the same to certain individuals in their capacity of being the heads of these institutions. If need be, the Bar Council should also prepare and forward draft Bills, as was done for contempt, in an effort to realise the resolutions of the Malaysian Bar.
7. The members of the Malaysian Bar number about 10,000 and if tasks are distributed amongst a greater number, then it will be more effective. At present, it is most disappointing to note that many of the members of the Bar Council have assumed leadership roles in many different committees and sub-committees, and this practice should be stopped as we have more than enough resources in our Bar. A Bar Councillor at most should only head one committee, if at all – he can always be an ex-officio.
IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED:-
A. That the Bar Council immediately act on all past resolutions of the Malaysian Bar, whichever is still applicable and relevant by giving a detailed report as to what has been done since the said Resolutions were passed, and publishing the said report through a special report or through its newsletter within three (3) months;
B. That the Bar Council immediately take steps to realise or give effect to all the Resolutions of the Malaysian Bar, especially the doing away with the seven-year ruling, the abolishment of Detention Without Trial Laws, the recognition of the right to One Phone Call and access to a lawyer for all persons arrested, amongst others by the setting up of special task forces or rapid action teams for each and every resolution, who shall be empowered to come up with plans, implement these plans and do all that is necessary to give full effect to the resolutions of the Malaysian Bar, whereby the setting up of these task forces should be done within two (2) months; and
C. That the Bar Council immediately take steps to compile and publish all past resolutions of the Malaysian Bar, and thereafter distribute the same to all present and future members of the Bar.
Proposer: En. Charles Hector
Seconder: En. Amin Hafiz
The Motion was unanimously passed.