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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

BAR COUNCIL PRESS RELEASE: Inmates on death row

Reference is made to the report in the New Straits Times today (28/6/06) that several persons on death row have been awaiting execution for many years, in some cases for more than a decade, or even two.

The Bar Council’s position is that capital punishment should be abolished.

No legal system in the world is foolproof or error-free. No matter how procedurally fair the system is, how stringent the rules of evidence may be, how much reliance is placed on advanced and scientific investigation methods, or how many opportunities of appeal are afforded; one cannot rule out the possibility of error. Experience all over the world shows that this possibility is a real and not a theoretical one. Perfection and absolute correctness are neither expected of, nor attainable by, any legal system.

Experience further shows that from time to time the errors made, when subsequently discovered, are promptly remedied. For example, it is reported that in the last 33 years, 125 prisoners who were convicted and sentenced to death in the USA have been subsequently released after evidence had emerged (thankfully before their executions) that they did not commit the crimes. This opportunity to right a wrong will, however, not be available if the death sentence on the person has been carried out; in which event we as a society are collectively responsible for having sent an innocent man or woman to the gallows.

This is one of the reasons why capital punishment is unacceptable, especially in our justice system that has as one of its pillars the belief that it is better for 9 guilty men to walk free than for 1 innocent man to be wrongly convicted; what more if that innocent man is to be put to death.

It is also a myth, unsupported by empirical evidence, that capital punishment operates as a more effective deterrent on crime than, say, life imprisonment.

Death penalty is a cruel and extreme form of punishment. Keeping a person on death row waiting indefinitely or for a long period of time adds to its cruelty. The uncertain and indefinite waiting and fearing for the final moment constitutes inhumane psychological torture, the nature of which those who have not suffered the experience will not even begin to comprehend. It is made worse by the fact that they are kept in solitary confinement most of the time; which means that they have to face the suffering all alone.

We are given to understand that one reason why inmates are kept in limbo for long periods of time is that the clemency process must be exhausted before a death sentence can be carried out. There is long delay in this process, because the Pardons Board convenes infrequently. This issue needs urgent attention, as long as capital punishment remains in our statute books.

The Bar Council renews its call for the abolition of capital punishment, and for a moratorium pending its abolition.

We are aware that a considerable portion of Malaysian society feels that the death penalty should remain, arguing that many (and some will say most) of these inmates have indeed committed heinous crimes, have gone through the legal process, and have been found guilty. In short, the impulsive reaction is that “they deserve it” and “they have to pay for the crimes they committed”.

There is no argument that guilty persons ought to receive punishment. But that is not the same as saying that they therefore ought to die. Even in the case of a convicted murderer, the death penalty is a reflection of the notion that “an eye for an eye” provides the best form of justice, a concept that we no longer embrace nor practise today.

This is not forgetting that from time to time there will be those who are in fact wrongly convicted, no matter how carefully the system operates. Is putting innocent men and women (or even if just one of them) to death, an acceptable feature in our system of justice, because society wishes to punish the guilty ones by employing this most extreme and irredeemable process?

We are glad that Suhakam is looking into the issues concerning capital punishment, and we hope that change will soon come. The Bar Council will be most happy to work with Suhakam on the same.

Dated 28 June 2006

Yeo Yang Poh
Chairman
Bar Council

NST: Long wait to die


Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 08:11
©New Straits Times
By Tony Emmanuel

KUALA LUMPUR: They are Malaysia's forgotten convicts - prisoners who have spent more than two decades on Death Row awaiting their tryst with death.

Among this group is a man who has been awaiting execution for 22 years, since the age of 26.

The authorities are tight-lipped on why these men have yet to be executed, but the New Straits Times understands that a combination of administrative hitches and delays in handing down written court judgements have kept these criminals in solitary confinement for years.

Usually, those sentenced to death spend up to 10 years exhausting the appeals and clemency process. But when a team from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) visited Death Row in Kajang Prison to investigate the death of Alex Wong, there were several prisoners who had been awaiting execution for nearly two decades.

Suhakam is concerned whether these death row prisoners — convicted of murder, drug trafficking and firearm possession offences — are receiving two distinct punishments: the death sentence and years of living in solitary confinement.

It also wants to know whether executing someone after prolonged periods on death row violates the Constitution and the principles of justice.

There has been a debate in the United States and England on the length of time convicts spend on Death Row. In 1993, a British court found that it was inhuman and degrading to hang anyone who has spent more than five years on death row. It argued that such prisoners should have their sentences commuted to life in prison.

In the US, some death row inmates have spent more than 20 years awaiting execution and several prisoners were executed when they were in their 80s.

The Suhakam study also covers those being held in remand for long periods and those held at the pleasure of the Rulers.

Suhakam Commissioners are expected to seek the help of the Bar Council in compiling their report.


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Waiting for date with the hangman

In 1993, a British court found that it was inhuman and degrading to hang anyone who had spent more than five years on Death Row. In Malaysia, one man has been on Death Row for 22 long years...

KUALA LUMPUR: One was sent to the gallows for firearms possession, another for multiple murders and the remaining three for drug trafficking.

In all, the five have spent a combined 70 years in jail. They are among those on death row who have been waiting a long time for their date with the hangman.

One of the drug traffickers was arrested in 1978. He was convicted and sentenced to death 14 years later. He remains in Kajang Prison.

The last time he was out of jail Tun Hussein Onn was Malaysia’s third prime minister and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman was still known as Batu Road.

Another long time resident on Death Row is an individual convicted for firearms possession. He has spent the past 16 years behind bars.

The prisoner convicted of multiple murders has spent almost 10 years on death row. He is now seeking legal advice on options available to him.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No Longer “Katak Di Bawah Tempurung”


When faced with relevant questions and criticisms, it is sad that “progressive” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has come out asked former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to be a “jantan” and resign. Sometimes, it sad that our leaders misunderstand that they are merely “wakil rakyat”. When a rakyat ask a question, answer them. Don’t ask them to resign. Don’t ask them to leave Malaysia. Don’t answer his queries with insults and public persecutions.

Today, there is so many questions that have surfaced and we, the Malaysian people, are still waiting for some answers. In a recent Sun report, someone asked the former premier 22 questions, which I believe our present PM must give us the answers. Here, I just want to ask a further 8 questions and I hope that our PM will answer – for after all is this not a legitimate avenue to raise questions to our government?

Question 1: - Identify who the “government-linked companies”(GLC) are? Tell us who owns the shares in these GLCs? How many shares do the present Prime Minister’s children, their spouses and/or his relatives own in these companies?

Question 2:- What are the privatized projects and government contracts that have been given to companies that members of the family of the Prime Minister, his Deputy Najib, his Ministers have interests in?

Question 3:- What are the privatized projects and government contracts that have been given to companies that our former Prime Minister’s and the former Deputy Prime Minister’s family have interests in?

Question 4:- We know that approved permits are required not just for the importation of foreign cars but for also other products. What is the list of items that require these approved permits? How many companies that members of the family of the Prime Minister, his Deputy Najib and/or his Ministers have interests in have obtained these approved permits?

Question 5:- Why was the RM4.4 million over dollars paid to the US company as highlighted in Malaysiakini (26/6/2006)?

Question 6:- Is the government setting up an independent Royal Commission to inquire into the “Project-M”, which allegedly resulted in hundreds of thousand foreigners becoming Malaysians. This is a very serious matter as it goes to the very root of the social contract entered into between the different race groups when Malaysia achieved independence, and also the agreement between the States, especially Sabah and Sarawak, when they joined the Federation.

Question 7:- What is the government going to do about MP Jasin? Is the ACA and/or the police investigating what the said MP Jasin have in fact admitted to doing. His actions looks rather similar to the corruption charges levied against our former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim. No one is above the law, and it becomes all the more important that our Member of Parliament and/or Ministers are subjected to same treatment by the law enforcement bodies and the Attorney General – and if nothing is done then the message that is going down to the rakyat is that it is alright to do these ‘bad’ things. Is this the message what Mr Clean, our Prime Minister, wants to communicate to the rakyat.

Question 8:- What has happened to the relatives of our present Prime Minister who were identified being part of Iraq’s oil for food scandal. Was there any investigation done here in Malaysia? Or was it a scandal overseas but not an offence here in Malaysia. We were happy to know that Pak Lah was not involved but what has happened to those Malaysians who were actually involved.

There are so many more questions that the rakyat wants answers to, and for far too long the government has gotten away without being accountable and transparent to the rakyat.

It is interesting to note whenever there is a splits in UMNO, the leading party of the Barisan Nasional, the rakyat is suddenly made aware of questionable things that the government and its leaders did in the past. It happened when Tengku Razaleigh was ousted from UMNO and Semangat 46 was formed. It happened when Anwar Ibrahim was ousted from UMNO. It is happening again now when our former premier has suddenly begun asking questions about what is happening in the present government. This time, it is even better as we also are getting news of the questionable actions that were done during Mahathir premiership.

There must be more transparency and accountability in the government, and some of the things that could be done towards this end are as follows:-

The Parliament should ensure that all Hansard records of Parliamentary proceedings are published immediately, not later than one day after, on the Parlimen Malaysia website. In fact, this website must be made user-friendly so that people can quickly know what were the questions/matters discussed and go immediately to that relevant page.

The written questions by the MPs and the answers by the respective Ministers and/or persons should also be available on the Parliament website.

In fact Draft Bills must also be available on the Parliamen websites, so that we rakyat will know what is being tabled and be able to have our say or tell our “wakil rakyat” how to respond to that particular Bill.

There must a record of all the Agreements, Memorandum of Understanding, Free Trade Agreements and Treaties that the government has signed, ratified and/or entered into. The full text of all these must be available on the government and/or the relevant Ministry websites.

Now, Malaysia is considering signing a Free Trade Agreement with the United States of America – but we cannot find the draft of this agreement anywhere on the government websites – why is this? We no more will be satisfied with just an assurance of the Minister concerned that Malaysia will only agree to what is good to Malaysians. The rakyat wants to have a say – we want to be able to provide our input and be consulted in all agreements, MOUs and Treaties that will ultimately affect all Malaysians.

Malaysian people will no longer be treated as “budak kecil”(small kids) and be allowed to remain in ignorance like “katak di bawah tempurung” (frogs under a coconut shell).

The government’s tricks of giving us a lot of movies, soap operas and football games (English Premier Leagues, etc) will no longer keep the rakyat distracted and unconcerned about the real issues – being the state of the nation itself.

For too long have the rakyat has been apathetic and trusting on our leaders and the Barisan Nasional government to do the necessary and ensure our well-being BUT alas we awake now to discover that our government has not been “clean, efficient and trustworthy” and we now suffer the consequence of the many failings of our leaders.

Our fuel prices went up 40 cents to about RM1.92. Electricity tariffs have increased 12%. Prices of food and all other basis necessities will surely also rise. We find Malaysia, embarrassingly, being one of the countries with the biggest gap between the rich and the poor. We found out last year that about 30 percent of our national schools do not even have electricity and toilet facilities. We discover that about 30 percent of our graduates do not have jobs. We find out that the government has spending about RM82 million to re-train graduates – is not our university education and training sufficient. We find out that more persons will be losing their jobs – the latest being about thousands in MAS. The list, I am sure will go on and on …

Malaysians in 2006 are no longer going to be hood-winked by the government of the day, and it is hoped that our PM and the government will show us, the Malaysian people, the respect we deserve and be accountable and transparent – and give us answers rather than continue to evade issues.

Remember always that we are the rakyat, and all of you are merely “wakil rakyats” (peoples’ representative). If you continue to treat the rakyat as you have done, we may have to look for new wakil rakyats in the coming elections.

Charles Hector
27th June 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

STOP TRYING TO DISTRACT US FROM THE REAL ISSUES

GIVE THE “RAKYAT” COMPLETE ANSWERS AND STOP TRYING TO DISTRACT US FROM THE REAL ISSUES

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as the head of the Government, should just give us the “rakyat’ complete and clear answers to the questions being raised about what the government did or did not do. It matters not who is the ‘rakyat’(citizen) who raised the questions, be it a former premier or some simple fisherman. It is extremely disappointing that we are still not getting any real answers but only attempts to distract us from the real issues.

We are being distracted as usual as Malaysian politicians avoid answering by attempting to turn it into some “tiff between Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Dr Mahathir Mohamad” or turning around pointing fingers of accusations at the questioner about matters that happened during the tenure of that former premier. We do not need our DPM and/or his present cabinet members or other personalities expressing support for the present PM, or the Seremban UMNO division head asking that “deference [be shown] to Mahathir as an eminent former leader who contributed immensely to this nation.” All these merely distract us from the real issues when Malaysians are still waiting patiently for a frank and open disclosure of the truth.

Some who did not have the guts to raise the questions and/or criticism to Mahathir, when he was the “boss” of the government are suddenly coming out now ‘bravely’ asking Mahathir questioning and lambasting him for the decisions/policies during his premiership. In fact, in a Sun(20/6/2006) entitled “Gunasegaram's 22 questions for Dr M”, one recent report also listed about 22 questions that were directed to the former premier. Recently, in the Malaysiakini there was yet another shocking disclosure “about a secret plan - codenamed Project Mahathir - to pad the electoral rolls with foreigners who were fraudulently given identity cards.”

Who should be answering all these questions? Surely it is not some ex-premier. The answers must be given by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the present government. Let us not forget that it is the same BN government who was in power then and today, and our present premier as most of his present cabinet were also members of the cabinet when Mahathir was prime minister. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the present Barisan National governnment cannot now avoid responsibility for the sins, failings, wrongdoings and corruptions of the past.

So, let us stop all these attempts of “distraction” and get down giving the “rakyat” real and complete answers about all the matters that have arisen of late. Be accountable and transparent Mr Prime Minister.

Charles Hector
22 June 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

WHAT HAS THE BAR DONE ABOUT LAWYER UTHAYAKUMAR’S ARREST AND DETENTION?

On 7/6/2006, 50 lawyers marched in protest to Bukit Aman over the arrest of Balasubramaniam, a lawyer harassed, arrested and detained when he was there at the Petaling Jaya District police station carrying out his duties as a lawyer for his client. To date, the others that we know who have suffered similar predicament include Cheah Kah Peng (6 years ago), P. Uthayakumar and Leonard Teoh...and in all these instances lawyers came out in protest.

The Chairman of the Bar and his delegation to the IGP also did raise concerns about the treatment of other lawyers arrested by the police.

After this meeting with the IGP, out came our leaders with smiles - happy to report that the IGP has identified a liaison officer so that in the future when a similar event happens to any lawyer - the Bar Chairman/Bar Council can immediately get to the IGP through this liaison officer - and not have to wait for weeks to raise this concern and protest with the IGP over the police behaviour when it comes to lawyers - especially lawyers carrying out their duties as a lawyer. The name and contact details of the said liaison person were given to the Bar Council...

One day later, when lawyer P. Uthayakumar was there representing his clients he was arrested when he asked for a court order from the DBKL and police officers who were there to demolish the temple of his clients. Uthayakumar was arrested and detained. He was in fact bodily carried away after he was arrested. The pictures of the way the police behaved during the arrest of this lawyer came out in Malaysiakini.

The fact of this arrest and detention of a lawyer was communicated immediately to the Bar Council Chairman(and the Bar Council) and the KLBC Chairperson(as Uthaya was a member of the KL Bar).

We had the liaison officer's contact details and all that the Bar Council needed to do was to pick up the phone and call up then and there and lodge their protest over this incident.

The Bar Chairman and/or the Bar Council should have come out immediately expressing his/its anger, protest and deep concern about the actions of the police and their treatment of a lawyer - more importantly since it happened the day after the meeting with the IGP.

Was the phone call made immediately as Uthaya was arrested and taken to the police station - detained for almost 8 hours or more? Was the phone call made after that? I think NOT - and so what is the use of the Bar Chairman and the Bar Council having this number of the liaison officer that enables the Bar Council direct and prompt access to the IGP to lodge an immediate statement of at least concern, if not protest.

The Bar surely did not come out and make a public statement about the Uthaya incident in the media (at least I have not seen it).

The KLBC also did not react - I believe there was not even a mention of concern in the e-newsletter (I may be wrong). There was also nothing expressed about the Bar's stance in the Bar website.

What then is the use of the Bar Council, the KLBC and those who sit there as "leaders" of lawyers when they repeatedly fail to come out TIMEOUSLY in defence of lawyers - especially lawyers out there harrassed, arrested and detained by the police and/or other enforcement officers.

There was hope when the Selangor and KL Bar Committee went to see the CPO of Selangor after the Bala incident. There was hope when about 25 lawyers including the Vice President turned up in Parliament over this matter. There was hope when the Chairman sent out his letter calling for "active support" that saw about 50 lawyers responding by being physically present at Bukit Aman when the Bar Council met with the IGP.

But then, was this all merely a reaction after it was reported widely in the media that 40 ordinary lawyers carrying a memorandum of protest signed by 113 other ordinary lawyers had gone and protested at the PJ District Police Station and handed over the protest memo over the Bala incident when the Bar leadership procrastinated in making a TIMEOUS response.

Was it all just a reaction in fear of the adverse reactions of members of the Bar to the failings of the present leaders of lawyers at the next AGM or EGM of the Bar? Was it all a just a "show" for fear of loss of votes this coming Bar Council elections?
I hope that I am totally wrong about this and this "repeated" failings of the Bar Council and the State Bar Committees is just me being ignorant of the fact that they did in fact lodge some strong protest and had indeed used that "liaison" officer.

The perception of the majority of lawyers is that this bunch of leaders of lawyers just do not care especially when it is just one small lawyer somewhere - I believe that had it been some "big-name" "highly respected" "acceptable" lawyer of a certain class background and good social skills, the Bar leaders would have come out promptly and strongly.

There must never be any discrimination amongst lawyers and how the Bar reacts to lawyers in a predicament. It matters not the race, the religion, the mannerism, the social standing, the gender, the socio economic background.... - the Bar must come out with equal gusto each and every time a lawyer is being persecuted especially when he was carrying out his duty as a lawyer... or when anyone is on the "face of it' is being subjected to police excessiveness.

"Let me investigate it first" or "Let us get all the facts before we respond" are not acceptable reasons - our protest or "deep concern" must be voiced out.

In any event, whenever anything like this happens, we side the lawyer first and we also always call for an "independent investigation" by the authorities. We act on the word of the lawyer - on what was reported in the media - on a police report of the lawyer - on a statement (or corroboration) by a lawyer - we ACT then - not several weeks and months later.

Remember, if the police do treat lawyers in this manner - what more the ordinary member of the public. It is, and has always been our duty to uphold the cause of justice without fear or favour....and this must be done NOW TODAY...not tomorrow.

We are all keeping our fingers crossed hoping that the elected leaders of lawyers do something about the P. Uthayakumar incident.

We also hope that our leaders just do not drop the matter of Bala and Rajasingam - just because the IGP said investigations are done and the matter has been referred to the AG for further action. We must now pursue the matter with the AG to ensure that this just does not get "swept under the carpet" as it happens quite so often in Malaysia. There must be follow-up...active follow-up - we will not let this go.

Charles Hector

20 June 2006

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

50 LAWYERS TURN UP IN BUKIT AMAN FOR MEETING WITH IGP

- Protest the harassment and the wrongful treatment of lawyers and other persons by the police -

About 50 lawyers turned up on Wednesday(7/6/2006) in response to the Bar President’s call for active support. They turned up at Bukit Aman (the police headquarters) to protest the harassment and the wrongful treatment of lawyers and other persons by the police.

The lawyers began gathering at the Straits Trading Building (at the Dagang Court entrance), opposite the Dataran Merdeka, from about 9-15 am. At about 9.40am they proceeded to march towards Bukit Aman (the police headquarters) carrying
banners which read “Hormati Hak Peguam” (Respect the Rights of Lawyers) and “In solidarity with the Bar”. Being refused entrance to the Bukit Aman entrance, the lawyers assembled in protest at the entrance, until about 11-30am when the President and the Bar Council delegation came out after their meeting with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and his senior officers.

On 18th April, lawyer S.Balasubramaniam, was at this PJ Police Headquarters in order to render legal assistance to his clients who had been detained by police. Despite repeated requests, the police refused to give him relevant information
about, amongst others, the reason for the arrests and the status of his clients. Balasubramaniam was thereafter physically pushed and then unlawfully arrested by a plainclothes policeman. After being arrested and detained without reasons being given for his arrest, he was then released after about 3 hours. On 19th April, he subsequently lodged a police report (PJ/004538/06) with regard this mistreatment by the police.

At about 12.00pm on the 27/4/2006, about 40 lawyers gathered at the PJ Police Headquarters to hand over a memorandum of protest which was supported by 113 lawyers to the Officer in Charge of the Petaling Jaya Police District( OCPD).

On 2nd May, the Selangor Bar and Kuala Lumpur Bar representatives met up with the Chief Police Officer of Selangor to express their protest.

On 10th of May 2006, about 25 lawyers turned up in Parliament in support of an emergency motion put in by member of the Bar and Member of Parliament for Ipoh Barat, Mr M. Kulasegaran over the harassment, arrest and detention of lawyer S. Balasubramaniam. The motion also referred to incidents involving other lawyers like P. Uthayakumar, Leonard Teoh, Zainur Zakaria and Cheah Kah Peng.

Kula’s motion also highlighted the plight of yet another Kuala Lumpur lawyer Rajasingam, who was arrested on 1/3/2006, for allegedly using his handphone whilst driving. Rajasingam said that he was handcuffed and then beaten by police. He was then charged under the Road Transport Act for refusing to give in to their unreasonable demand that he produce a urine sample. After being charged in court and released on bail, he was immediately re-arrested allegedly for intimidating the police.

Vide Malaysian Bar Council Circular No. 21/2006 dated 30/5/2006 entitled “Meeting with the IGP”, the President reminded lawyers that “…many members [had] voiced their strong concern on this issue and gave their personal commitment to show full support for members of the Bar who encounter such problems…” He said that he hoped “…that as many of you [members of the Bar] as possible will be able to match your commitment with your active support for the coming meeting…” with the IGP on 7/6/2006.

It was good to see that about 50 lawyers did respond to this call, and turned up demonstrating their personal commitment to come forward in support of lawyers who had been harassed and mistreated by the police.

Today, the IGP informed the Bar President that police investigations have been completed and the police have submitted their investigation report to the Attorney General for further action. We can now only hope that the AG would act fast and take action against those police officers who are in the wrong. No one is above the law.

Police responses to allegations of abuse and misconduct of police personnel generally has been in defence the said police officer/s and police action – and it is sad that these statements are many a time made by the IGP and/or senior police officers even before any independent and thorough investigations are carried out with regard the alleged wrong-doings of the police. Denial was the initial response to the Anwar black eye incident. Denial and justification was the police response to the allegations of excessive force by the police that resulted in 2 persons being seriously injured in a peaceful anti-fuel hike protest in Kuala Lumpur on 28/5/2006. This is another reason why we must have the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), as recommended by the 2 Royal Commissions set up as soon as possible. Police just cannot investigate independently allegations against police.

The Bar President also reported that the IGP had identified a liason officer so that in the future meetings with the Bar and the IGP on matters of concern could be held expeditiosly, and not after the lapse of more than 1 ½ months after the President of the Bar requested for a meeting as was in this case concerning the Balasubramaniam incident.

There were only 50 lawyers who turned up but it would have been more if it not the morning on a working day in mid-week as many lawyers could not be present as they had to be in court for hearings and trials. The 50 who turned up must be applauded for their commitment, and this will surely go a long way in reinforcing the confidence of other members of the Bar that they too will receive the support of the legal fraternity if they are also subjected to such mistreatment by the police or other persons especially when they are performing their duties as a lawyer.

Members of the bar and the public must and should bring to the attention of the Bar Council any or all incidents when the police over-stepped their duties and/or violated the rights of the arrested/detained person and/or their lawyers. A protocol, which would be used nationwide, is also being developed by the Bar and the police to ensure that police do furnish a lawyer with the necessary information about his arrested client and also immediate access to the arrested client.

Upholding the cause of justice without fear or favour is never just limited to actions in court but is includes lawyer’s action at police stations, prisons and other places. The protest of 27/4/2006, the show of support in Parliament on 10/5/2006 and the event in Bukit Aman on 7/6/2006 are just some of the many means in which we can and must uphold the cause of justice without fear or favour.


Charles Hector
7/6/2006



Workers did not have ICs (Star)




Workers did not have ICs

PUTRAJAYA: All 114 foreign workers picked up and detained in a recent Rela operation in Rawang did not have their identity cards with them, said Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad.

He said that without the documents, they would be deemed illegal immigrants.

“These cards have been issued to denote the legal status of these workers and to allow Rela members to easily verify their details,” he said after the monthly assembly at his ministry here yesterday.

“In most cases, the cards are kept by the employers.

“I would like to remind employers that they are only supposed to hold the passports of their foreign workers, not the identity cards.

“Not giving their foreign workers their identity cards will only inconvenience them.”

Mohd Radzi said that in the case of the raid in Rawang, all 114 foreigners detained did not have any document on them.

“Now we will wait for their employers to show up with the necessary documents,” he said.

He was commenting on complaints by several companies and factories in Rawang that their foreign workers were rounded up during a Rela operation despite them having the necessary work documents.

They also claimed that their workers were carrying identification cards issued by the Immigration Department.

Rela director-general Datuk Zaidon Asmuni denied allegations by certain parties that his officers had been “harassing” the foreign workers because they were paid RM25 for each person rounded up.

“That’s not true at all. We are a voluntary group and the work we do to help the Immigration Department or the police in their tasks is provided completely free of charge.

“The members are only given drinks before starting each operation and the money comes from the allocation given to Rela to conduct these raids,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat said the performance of its related agencies had improved over the years.

“We used to rank number two in terms of complaints received.

“Now, we are number nine. However, we still have a lot to improve on,” he said.