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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is the government anti-workers, and not for permanent work till retirement?

What is this? Do we now have a new class of workers called part-time workers? Will they be able to join trade unions?  Or will this be used by employers to reduce the direct employement of full time permanent workers? Should not the government set a minimum percentage of part-time workers that an employer could have, together with strict conditions as to the situations in which they be permitted to employ part-time workers. 

A good government should always be concerned about the workers and their families, and ensure that employment is always long-termed and permanent until retirement age, and the employer is and must be the owner of the business/factory/plantations, i.e. the means of production - and not some middle man they now want to call 'contractor of labour' - That is also why the current proposed amendments of the Employment Act, now before Parliament, must be strongly opposed - we do not want the 'middle man', who usually is a small business/company that have no capacity in guaranteeing worker rights and satisfying worker claims. All too easily they 'wind-up' and disappear...

Fixed-term short contracts should also be opposed, as they provide almost no job security and is detrimental to the welfare and future welfare of the worker and their families. There is no certainty that one will have a job in the future...or how much even one will be earning. How does one plan for one's family's future? The older you get the more difficult it would be to get jobs ... Salary increments the longer you work may become a thing of the past. Most affected will be the unskilled...and even partially skilled workers...the lower -incomed worker.

 

New rules on part-time work


PUTRAJAYA: Only those working between 30% and 70% of the eight-hour stretch daily will be considered part-timers under new rules from next month, said Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.
 
He said if a full day’s work was considered to be eight hours, workers would have to put in between 2.5 hours and 5.6 hours each day to qualify as part-timers.

He said staff working below 30% of the eight-hour stretch would be categorised as casual workers while those putting in more than 70% were full-timers.

“However, we are allowing flexibility in the number of hours put in by part-timers for each day. Employers can decide if they want to calculate the number of hours on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis.

“For example, employers can choose to allow part-timers to work eight hours in one day but then put in less hours another day,” he told reporters here.

Dr Subramaniam said the new rules, which were expected to benefit 6.8 million latent workers, would allow part-timers to find regular employment.

He said it would also enable employers to regularly hire staff that they did not require on a full-time basis as well as give better protection to part-timers by outlining the compensation they were entitled to if they were involved in workplace accidents.

Asked if the new rules would cause some employers to choose to hire more part-timers, Dr Subramaniam said this would not be in the best interest of companies.

“This is because not all jobs can be handled by workers coming in for only a limited number of hours.

“Employers will also save little by doing this because they will have to pay wages and EPF and Socso contributions for part-timers on a pro-rated basis.

“Part-timers will be entitled to leave, including medical leave, for which the days are also to be calculated on a pro-rated basis,” he said. - Star, 30/9/2010, New rules on part-time work

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FINAL STATEMENT OF THE ASEAN PEOPLE’S FORUM VI


If one were to go to the ASEAN official website, one will find that it is in English - there is translations into any of the languages of the other ASEAN member countries. Look at the United Nation website, there are 6 different main languages, and many of their documents are also available in 100s of other world languages. Even in Malaysia, most official websites are available in Bahasa Melayu and also English. 

Well, if ASEAN wants the people to be part of the ASEAN community, then it certainly must make available ASEAN website in the different main languages of the people of ASEAN - Vietnamese, Burmese, Bahasa Melayu (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei), Tagalog, Thai, Cambodian, Mandarin., Laos, ..and all ASEAN documents must also be available in the other languages of the peoples of ASEAN.

Hopefully, the organisers of the ASEAN Peoples' Forum VI will embarrass ASEAN and it member states by taking the initiative to make their Final Statement as laid out below available in the different languages...

There were a lot of people attending the meeting in Hanoi - but I am sure many others were not represented. Who decides who gets invited and who does not? Those with funds can attend...but those with no funds cannot. Those who speak English is at an advantage compared to those who  do not, who may speak indigenous ASEAN languages fluently... Good effort nevertheless.. {See also earlier related post:Inviting the less critical NGOs defeats intention of consultation with ASEAN, governments.. ]


FINAL STATEMENT OF THE ASEAN PEOPLE’S FORUM VI 
We, more than 700 delegates representing people’s organizations from ASEAN countries gathered together at the 6th ASEAN People’s Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam, from 24-26 September 2010 under the theme “Solidarity and Action for a People-Oriented ASEAN” have discussed and concluded the following:

We reaffirm the fundamental principles of people-centered sustainable development, democratic governance, human rights, sovereignty of peoples, dignity and the best interests of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in the pursuit of economic, social, gender and ecological justice so as to bring peace and prosperity to the Southeast Asian region.
 
We support the specific objective laid out in the ASEAN Charter of building a people-oriented ASEAN Community.  We believe that this process should include:
 -        Political Security - ASEAN and its member countries should work collectively to promote effective mechanisms and agreements to maintain peace and security for conflict prevention and the non-violent settlement of disputes. ASEAN and its member countries should also work towards further democratization including free and fair elections,  and the promotion and protection of human rights based on international humanitarian and human rights laws and standards and  the enhancement of people’s collective rights and participation.

-        Economic Development - ASEAN’s economic integration and cooperation should focus on enhancing mutual assistance, and complementary growth based on the principles of solidarity, equity and environmental sustainability.  The ASEAN and its member countries should move away from the flawed neo-liberal economic paradigm and promote and advance alternative  democratic economic models to provide equitable, socially and ecologically sustainable development to benefit all its peoples, narrow the gaps of development within and among member countries and ensure economic sovereignty and the interests of the working people and marginalized communities. At the same time, the ASEAN and its member countries must recognize already existing practices of self-sufficiency and sustainable resource management of local communities, effectively protect environment and address the problem of global climate change and its impacts in the region.

-        Environment - The ASEAN region face urgent multiple environmental crises, including climate change, in large part due to the large-scale “development” projects within the region and the plunder, abuse and destruction of ecological resources that are associated with unsustainable and inequitable economic systems and policies. The ASEAN and its member governments should work together to comprehensively address these environmental crises and ensure that the sustainable use of ecological resources be integral to all economic policies. The ASEAN and its member governments should actively contribute to global solutions including ensuring that those primarily responsible – governments, corporations and institutions – are held accountable and fulfill their obligations for the restoration of environmental integrity and reparations to those who suffer the consequences of environmental crises.
 
-        Social Protection and Culture - Everyone in the ASEAN region should be protected and benefit equally and fairly from development and economic growth, especially children, women, migrants, youth, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, religious communities, workers, peasants, fisher folk, refugees, stateless persons and internally displaced peoples, the elderly, persons with disabilities, LGBTIQ (lesbians, bisexuals, gay, transgender, intra-sexual and queer), people living with HIV/AIDS and other impoverished, disadvantaged and marginalized communities. The ASEAN and its member countries must focus on poverty elimination, ensuring decent work, the development of public services including  quality health care, housing, and education for all with consideration for gender perspectives. ASEAN must also foster the development of a healthy, empowering, non-discriminatory and humane culture. Social and cultural development must promote equality and  people’s participation at every level.

-       People’s Participation - People’s participation is central to democracy and a basic right.  While appreciating the lofty goals set out in the ASEAN Charter around building a people-oriented community, we are disappointed and concerned that until date ASEAN has not made significant progress  in ensuring increased transparency and access to information and meaningful participation in ASEAN affairs. People’s organizations and civil society organizations and including those of children must be part of the discussion around economic models, social protection, respect for cultures, human rights, the environment and peace and conflict resolution. We call on the ASEAN to develop mechanisms for the meaningful engagement of people’s organizations in all ASEAN processes.

We resolve to work together through plans of joint action to:
 
o       Overcome social and cultural barriers,  inequalities and differences in order to promote better understanding, friendship, cooperation and people’s integration in the spirit of solidarity and culture of peace among peoples in ASEAN,

o       Learn from each other’s experiences and advance common struggles for peace, equitable and sustainable development, for people-centered democracy and human rights and for social justice and progress to actively contribute to the building of a people-oriented community of ASEAN,

o       Promote our shared principles.

We urge the governments of ASEAN to:

-        Give primacy to the protection and full realization of the rights of children, women, migrants, youth, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, religious communities, workers, peasants, fisher folk, refugees, stateless persons and internally displaced peoples, the elderly, persons with disabilities, LGBTIQ (lesbians, bisexuals, gay, transgender, intra-sexual and queer), people living with HIV/AIDS, victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and other impoverished, disadvantaged and marginalized communities as a key goal of the ASEAN integration process.

-       Adopt and implement a Fourth Strategic Pillar on the Environment in order to effectively address all environmental problems especially those caused by trans-boundary policies and projects, and urgently respond to the climate crisis

-        Heed  the recommendations of the People’s Forum and promote concrete policies and programs designed to advance human rights, economic and environmental justice and social security, and to do so through mechanisms promoting for people’s participation in the process of building ASEAN into a multi-dimensional community;

-        Form, at the soonest, an effective mechanism for dialogue, coordination and cooperation between people’s organizations and official channels in the region, including through ASEAN Secretariat itself.
 -        Accelerate the implementation of the functions of the newly-established AICHR and ACWC to operate effectively and in a way that is responsive to the needs of people in the region; and

-        Support the ASEAN people’s programs of action, measures aimed at developing communication, interaction and cooperation among ASEAN people’s organizations.

We call upon ASEAN and its member governments to undertake the following:

1. Poverty is a serious problem in Southeast Asia. It is the result of decades of war, structural inequalities, inappropriate and ineffective programs, and trade and development policies that benefit elites rather than the needs of poor communities. The ASEAN and its member governments should undertake basic economic and social reforms and cease liberalization, budget austerity measures and other policies that contribute to impoverishment. ASEAN member governments should also learn from countries in the region that have followed diverse models and made significant steps to eliminate poverty

2. Agriculture is way of life for the majority of people in the region. We call on the ASEAN and member governments to invest in a new model of sustainable agriculture that should include support for agrarian reform, small farmers, women, recognition of the traditional occupations of indigenous peoples and respect for the environment. Given the diverse nature of farmers in the region, ASEAN governments should promote and prioritize an investment model that includes financing for cooperatives, fair trade and scaling up best practices from the community level. We call on the ASEAN to establish a regional agriculture policy in line with the above,

3. Economic integration based on Free Trade Agreements has had serious effects on livelihoods of different sectors of the society including farmers, workers and women. The ASEAN and its member governments should promote alternative investment, trade, finance and development policies that put people first and strengthen domestic economies.  The review of all free trade agreements that have disproportionately benefited the rich and multi-national companies at the expense of poor and marginalized communities is an important step towards a new economic model based on people’s basic rights and interests. Such a process should be transparent and inclusive, involve the active participation of all stakeholders, especially poor and marginalized communities. It should take place at the national and regional levels.

4. The ASEAN and member governments should mobilize finance to eliminate poverty without exacerbating the debt burden and implement economic policies that build the domestic financial capacity of member countries. ASEAN member states should implement official audit of public debt. Debts found to be illegitimate should be repudiated to free up fiscal space for much needed social and development infrastructure. The Member states should refuse the attachment of conditions to loans and grants – including those imposed by the IMF, World Bank, ADB and other international financial institutions. ASEAN countries should implement macro-economic policies that will promote sustainable growth and people-centered development through open, transparent and participatory decision-making processes. The ASEAN should set up a mechanism to help member countries eliminate their debt burdens.

5.  Natural resources are public goods.  The ASEAN and its member governments should ensure:

-      That ecological resources of the region remain under the control of and be used for the equitable benefit of the peoples of Southeast Asia.

-       The extraction and the use of natural resources should be carried out in a transparent, accountable, ecologically sustainable and gender-fair manner, should genuinely contribute to poverty elimination, should not violate human rights nor harm lives and livelihoods

-        The protection of the rich biodiversity in the region without compromising the traditional livelihoods of local communities.
 
The ASEAN and its member states should  recognize the human right to water and that water is a part of the commons. It should ensure that all citizens have adequate and clean water needed to sustain life and that water services remain in public hands.  ASEAN and its member states should promote safe, clean and sustainable energy and address the challenges associated with the climate crisis.

6. The climate crisis is a grave threat to the ASEAN region. ASEAN countries should act as a bloc to demand that Annex 1 countries drastically reduce carbon emissions and provide condition-free non-debt creating financing for adaptation and sustainable development as part of reparations for climate debt owed to the Global South. Countries should also prepare for the ecological effects of climate change and ensure the participation of vulnerable communities in this project. Mitigation and adaptation strategies should not exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and inequalities.

7. ASEAN governments should guarantee the right to formal and informal education for all including early childhood education and bilingual education, especially for the disadvantaged people such as indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities women and girls,  persons with disabilities and those coming from remote and distant areas. In order to deliver on this commitment principle, governments must spend 6% of GNP on the improvement of access to quality and relevant education,  stop the privatization of education and other policies that risk rationing educational services based on who can afford to pay. Without delay, ASEAN must implement its 10 point Agenda to Reach the Unreached.

8.  ASEAN governments should ensure universal access to health services, including the fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health needs and addressing sexually-transmitted diseases.  Member countries of the ASEAN must respond to health problems, which are otherwise preventable but are still causing alarming mortality rates especially among  impoverished and vulnerable populations.  For example, more effective means must be undertaken to accelerate reduction in the maternal mortality ratio. For more effective  health-related interventions, the ASEAN should encourage member states to adopt clear, adequately funded, non-discriminatory and equitable policies and programs of implementation. Necessarily, the governments would have to ensure inputs especially from high-risk communities and be guided by data disaggregated for sex, ethnicity, age and other relevant parameters.

9. The ASEAN should promote cooperation among member states to urgently address the issue of HIV/AIDS in the region. Different interventions are needed to respond to different country situations, but  there is agreement on the need for prevention. Since HIV/AIDS recognizes no boundaries, action must be taken across countries to immediately start and/or sustain preventive and curative actions including providing access to affordable and quality medicines.  ASEAN must also urge all member states to enact laws that will eliminate all forms of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
 
10.  As articulated in the Charter, respect for human rights and democracy should be a key part of the ASEAN community. All countries should have national human rights institutions to independently monitor and improve the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The AICHR, ACWC and ACMW should be part of this process. In this regard the ACWC must be convened at the soonest possible time and towards this we urge the Philippine government to immediately select a representative through a transparent and inclusive process. Countries should also be encouraged to move towards systems of government that include checks and balances as well as free and fair elections to prevent abuses of power and human rights violations. The ASEAN should urge all member states to ratify and implement and enforce all international human rights  treaties and agreements. The ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights  must undergo consultations with the peoples of the ASEAN, conform with international human rights standards and be adopted by the ASEAN Ministerial meeting.

11. Children and young people make up the majority of the population of Southeast Asia. The ASEAN governments should fulfill their obligations under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and other human rights for all children within and across their borders regardless of national and legal status. We urge the governments of the ASEAN to coordinate efforts at national and regional levels top address cross-border issues such as trafficking, migration, emergencies, violence and armed conflicts and ensure the inclusion of children, especially marginalized children in processes that affect them.

12. ASEAN member states must allocate resources to ensure promotion and protection of all human rights of women in Southeast Asia, especially the marginalized groups, and end  discriminatory practices, policies and laws to advance substantive equality in Southeast Asia. Trafficking of persons and especially of women and children must be stopped in the ASEAN by adopting a legally binding instrument through a rights-based and victim-centered approach. The region must ensure meaningful and substantive participation and representation of women in all its processes and structures.

13.  The ASEAN and its member governments should ensure protection, promotion, and the realization of the rights of all workers including migrant workers.
Towards these, all ASEAN member countries should:

-       Adopt the ASEAN Social Charter and implement the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the rights of migrant workers (ADMW).

-      Amend labor laws regulating recruiting agencies.

-       Harmonize their labor laws in line with the ILO Fundamental principles and rights at work  (C.87 and 98 the right to organize), the ADMW, and relevant ILO conventions 97 and 143, on Temporary Work, Home Workers Convention and other related Conventions.

-       Push for the Convention on Domestic Workers.

-      Ensure that ASEAN Instruments on the protection and promotion of the rights of all migrant workers are legally binding, and hold accountable those in both private and public sectors who violate these laws; adopt a policy to liberalize labor migration so that ASEAN nationals can move with dignity, especially migrant workers.

-      Give adequate protection, fair wages and access to decent living and working conditions to all workers, including migrant workers, and workers in informal sectors


14. Artisanal and traditional fishers play a key role in managing coastal and inland water resources and provide a substantial portion of food in the ASEAN region, but their specific needs, concerns and rights are often ignored. The ASEAN must protect fisher people from unsustainable forms of commercial fishing, and the impact of large development projects such as the construction of the hydropower dams in the Mekong river and coastal industrialization projects.  The ASEAN must play a role in peacefully resolving border and trans-boundary conflicts in coastal zones, as referred to in the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas.

15. The ASEAN must recognize, respect and ensure the full realization of the collective rights of the indigenous peoples and marginalized ethnic minorities over their land territories and resources which include the implementation of the safeguard provision for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of affected communities in all projects and programs. The ASEAN should establish an independent working group and monitoring mechanism within AICHR promoting and ensuring the protection of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities rights, with their effective participation.

16. The rights of people with disabilities including the victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and unexploded ordinance and other marginalized communities should be prioritized and mainstreamed in the ASEAN community. The ASEAN and its members should ratify and/or implement all related UN treaties and protocols and instruments. Mechanisms should be put in place at the local, national and regional levels to ensure that their voices are heard, that their rights are recognized and protected across the region, that decisions are made with their active participation.

17. All ASEAN states should be encouraged to sign, ratify and implement the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. This would include implementing domestic legislation and policies such as respecting the principle of non-refoulement (no forcible repatriation), giving all refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons the same rights as citizens, and ensuring that they be provided with employment, universal birth registration, health care and education. The ASEAN should create a regional mechanism to support the rights of refugees and stateless people. The rights of refugees and stateless persons should be explicitly included in the mandate of the AICHR and safeguarded in the proposed ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights.

We welcome and appreciate the participation of ASEAN Secretariat in the Forum and express our sincere thanks to the Vietnamese organizing committee, the host government, and the Vietnamese people for the extended hospitality and facilitation of this ASEAN People’s Forum. We congratulate Hanoi on the celebration of its Millennium Anniversary.
--------- The End ------

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Will PKR give all candidates access to media - Suara Keadilan & PKR Website...

The requirement for merely a proposer and a seconder to be able to contest would have been so much better than the need to get 2 Division nomination to qualify to contest...Many, who may not be able to get 2 Divisions to nominate, will win the elections because their support lies with the ordinary members in many many Divisions. This would also reduce 'corruption' and allay fears that many Divisions feel about the consequences of nominating the 'wrong persons'. Sadly, there is little lobbying based on real issues...and positions...

PETALING JAYA: PKR is looking to emulate MCA by requiring only a seconder and proposer to qualify for party elections.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution said he would propose that the party do away with the minimum two nominations from divisions to qualify.

“MCA’s method is more practical.

“If we can make the amendments to the party constitution, we need not hold multiple meetings for nominations, division polling and central party polling.

“We can hold division and central polling on the same day, just like the state and parliamentary elections that are held concurrently.

“This will help address logistical shortcomings, especially for members living in remote areas in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said in an interview.

Saifuddin said he would propose amendments to the party constitution to scrap the ruling that nominations for central party positions be made during the division AGM. He is also proposing amendments pertaining to AGM notices.

“Now, notices of meetings must be sent individually to members.

“We want to amend it, to put the onus on the members to check the party website for the notices,’’ he said.- Star, 28/9/2010,Sec-gen proposes simpler election rules

It would also be more democratic if all PKR members were allowed to vote - not just those that qualify to attend Division level meetings.

Odd also that allegedly agents of candidates (and candidates) have not been allowed to watch the vote counting process - it should have been open and transparent.

One also wonders whether candidates have been given adequate and equal access to party media. Media, including alternative media seem to be giving a lot of space to Zaid Ibrahim, Azmin, Nurul Izzah.... but what about the other candidates vying for position of Deputy President like Tian Chua,...and other positions. Hopefully, we will not see candidates with lesser nominations pulling out of the race - they should still offer themselves as candidates and let the members choose. For the Deputy President's position, many ordinary members may prefer some person other than Zaid and Azmin - and they should be given the right to choose who they prefer despite the fact that the candidate has only received 2 Divisional nominations, the minimum to qualify to stand for elections.
Maybe, now after nominations, the PKR Website and/or the Suara Keadilan should allow candidates the opportunity to post a statement for members stating why the membership should vote for them. [Or will PKR behave just like the BN by denying candidates access to media...]


Monday, September 27, 2010

Jaya Supermarket Tragedy : Is the Selangor Government still using OSA to hide the truth?

It has been pointed out by Malaysiakini and others that really the current Selangor government have sufficient power under the existing Official Secrets Act (OSA), even before we get it repealed, to declassify documents/information that have been marked 'secret' by previous governments, and not mark any new documents 'secret' in the interest of accountability, transparency and freedom of information but alas, they still behave like BN ....

Was there a report by the MBPJ on the Jaya Supermarket Tragedy that saw the death of 7 workers....? I have not seen any .... and if any person is aware of it, post it here under comments...or e-mail me at easytocall@yahoo.com {For the record I searched the MBPJ website for the words 'Jaya Supermarket" - and there was nothing about the incident that caused 7 deaths...and then I looked at the Suara Keadilan, but they did not have any search function }

I recall a report in the Nut Graph in June 2009, which is pasted below:-


PETALING JAYA, 5 June 2009: The Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ) has failed to disclose documents of public interest relating to a development project in Section 19, Petaling Jaya, even after residents' repeated requests.
"First they told us the documents were classified. Now they say that these documents belong to the developers, and that they would need the developers' consent to disclose them," Section 19 resident Ow Yew Teik told The Nut Graph.

"This is ridiculous," Ow said, adding that the information was in the public's interest.

Ow, along with other residents living along the Section 19/30 and 19/27 residential roads, have been requesting development orders, building plans, and other documents related to a development project in their neighbourhood. They have been petitioning MBPJ for the documents since June 2008.

In a letter sent to news organisations, the Section 19 residents group outlined their questions about the development project:

1. why a portion of the land adjoining Jalan 19/30 had been re-gazetted for commercial use, when it was previously gazetted as residential;

2. when the development project, which sits between Jalan 19/30, SS2/72, and Ken 3 Condominiums, was approved; and

3. why the residents of Section 19 were not consulted on the project before approval was given.

"The MBPJ claims they have an approval list from us. But no one gave them consent. Show us proof that they consulted with us," Ow said in a phone interview.

According to Ow, there were many particulars that were questionable about the development project, including the height and close proximity of the buildings.

"What we want is the council to show us the development plans," Ow said. "In the event that everything is legal, we will shut up."

However, if the documents revealed that there were irregularities in the development project, Ow said it was up to the MBPJ to rectify matters.

Councillors acting

Ow revealed that at the last MBPJ full-board meeting held on 28 May 2009, all 24 MBPJ local councillors agreed that the documents should be made available to the public.

"I have written a number of letters to the MBPJ Town Planning Department, instructing them to reveal to residents these documents," local councillor Mak Khuin Weng said in an interview.

Mak, who writes for The Nut Graph, pointed out that the Section 19 case was "not normal".

"In the case of other developments, residents are normally given access to the development plans, and documents such as traffic impact assessments," Mak explained.

"I have given the department a deadline," Mak said, adding that he had hoped the documents would be released without any conditions by 2 June.

"These documents should be released. Failing which, we will have to take the matter up with the menteri besar's office."

However, according to Ow, Section 19 residents still have not received the documents as of 4 June 2009.

The Nut Graph's attempts at contacting MBPJ's town planning department and the legal department since 2 June have not yielded any official explanations.

MBPJ's reticence is in contrast with the Selangor government's commitment to freedom of information. On 19 May, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced that the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)-governed state would table a Freedom of Information Enactment (FOIE) bill by the end of 2009. - Nut Graph, 6/6/2009, MBPJ keeps mum on Section 19 project
 
Has things changed? MBPJ (and other local councils in Pakatan Rakyat's Selangor) has still has not disclosed their accounts for 2008, 2009 - Why are they hiding how much the MBPJ earned, and how did they spend it?

We demand transparency and accountability - no more secrets please...

I wonder whether the same contractors were still allowed to continue with the demolition exercise....and maybe even given other contracts in Selangor, etc... 


 

Jaya Supermarket Tragedy: 1 Director of 1 Company - what about the other Directors, CEOs, etc?

Yap Choon Wai, director of construction firm CW Yap Sdn Bhd, was charged at the Sessions Court here Monday with failing to ensure the safety of others in last year’s Jaya Supermarket collapse that killed seven....and last Wednesday, Directors Yap Choon Wai, of CW Yap Sdn Bhd, and Jason Hee Kok Hing, of Lian Hup Earth Work and Construction Sdn Bhd, appeared on behalf of their companies and pleaded not guilty to the offences.

What is happening?

* Well, last Wednesday they charged two companies...

* Now, they charged one director of one of the 2 companies - What about the other Directors, and the CEOs...
* And, they are charging them under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the question that we must ask is that why they are not also being charged under the Penal Code? What about the 'not having approval' bit - no charges about that? Where is the Petaling Jaya Local Council ...the Pakatan Rakyat State government ...maybe not bothered about the death of 'small' workers....and now focussed only on the PKR elections... 


PETALING JAYA: Yap Choon Wai, director of construction firm CW Yap Sdn Bhd, was charged at the Sessions Court here Monday with failing to ensure the safety of others in last year’s Jaya Supermarket collapse that killed seven.

The 54-year-old pleaded not guilty.

The iconic supermarket collapsed during demolition work and killed seven construction workers on May 28 last year.

Last Wednesday, two construction companies, including Yap’s, were charged in separate Sessions Courts with failing to ensure the safety of others.

Then, Yap and Jason Hee Kok Hing, of Lian Hup Earth Work and Construction Sdn Bhd, appeared on behalf of their companies and pleaded not guilty to the offences.

CW Yap Sdn Bhd was charged as an employer for failing to ensure that non-employees, namely four workers and three civilians, who could be affected by the company’s works, were not exposed to safety and health risks.

Lian Hup Earth Work and Construction Sdn Bhd was charged as an employer for failing to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all its employees on duty by failing to comply with the work safety system provided in demolition works for buildings.

Both companies allegedly committed the offences on May 28 last year at about 5pm at the site of the proposed project to demolish the office building and shopping complex at Jalan Semangat here.

The proposed project was also set to rebuild a seven-floor shopping complex building and a four-level basement car park at the site.

CW Yap Sdn Bhd and Lian Hup Earth Work and Construction Sdn Bhd were each charged under Section 17(1) and Section 15(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 which is punishable under Section 19 of the same Act.

Those convicted under this Section could be fined up to RM50,000 or jailed for a term not exceeding two years or both.

Both companies were represented by defence counsel Ooi Huey Min while Department of Occupational Safety and Health prosecuting officers Jaafar Leman and Hazlina Yon appeared for the prosecution.- Star, 27/9/2010, Jaya Supermarket collapse: Director Yap Choon Wai charged
See also earlier post that also has the report of the 2 companies charged a few days ago...Trial of Jaya Supermarket 'killers' of 7 workers have started - but when is the next date?

Well, they seem to be charged only under the  OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 1994, and even if guilty the maximum fine is RM50,000-00, and that really is nothing for these companies... and what justice is there for the 7 workers that were killed. Really this Act need to be amended to give the court powers to order that employers, who are found guilty, do also pay certain sum of compensation to the victims and/or their families. The relevant sections  ( or parts of...) under which they have been charged with is as follows. Note, that there is nothing that bars the victims (and/or their families/dependents) from commencing Civil Suits - and here a caring Local Council (like the PJ Local Council) or a caring Pakatan Rakyat State Government can come in to assist the families of these 7 victims who died unnecessarily in Petaling Jaya, Selangor get some justice.... OR really, just like BN, they too just do not care about poor workers...



15.  General duties of employers and self-employed persons to their employees. [Part IV, 
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 1994]
(1) It shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person to ensure, so far as is practicable, the safety, health and welfare to work of all his employees;

17.  General duties of employers and self-employed persons to persons other than their employees. [Part IV,OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 1994]
(1) It shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a manner as to ensure, so far as is practicable, that he and other persons, not being his employees, who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their safety or health.

(2) It shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person, in the prescribed circumstances and in the prescribed manner, to give to persons, not being his employees, who may be affected by the manner in which he conducts his undertaking, the prescribed information on such aspects of the manner in which he conducts his undertaking as might affect their safety or health.

19.  Penalty for an offence under section 15, 16, 17 or 18.[Part IV,OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 1994]
A person who contravenes the provisions of section 15,16,17 or 18 shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.


59.  Civil liability not affected by Parts IV, V and VI.[Part XII,OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 1994]
Nothing in Parts IV, V and VI and the relevant industry code of practice shall be construed as-
(a) conferring a right of action in any civil proceedings in respect of any contravention, whether by act or omission, of any provision of those Parts;
(b) conferring a defence to an action in any civil proceedings or as otherwise affecting a right of action in any civil proceedings; or
(c) affecting the extent, if any, to which a right of action arises or civil proceedings may be taken with respect to breaches of duties imposed by other legislations in regard to safety and health.
Now, they still can charge these persons under the Penal Code... under other laws...

288. Negligence with respect to pulling down or repairing buildings.
Whoever, in pulling down or repairing any building, knowingly or negligently omits to take such order with that building as is sufficient to guard against any probable danger to human life from the fall of that building, or of any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand ringgit, or with both.

304A. Causing death by negligence.
Whoever causes the death of any person, by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

And, what about that lack of approval.... are they not going to be charged with that?

The Local Council enforcement officers are so alert when we do not display parking slips...but it is odd that they could not see a big unapproved demolition exercise happening  just less than 1 KM from the MBPJ office... and this incident happened when the Pakatan Rakyat was the government of Selangor. [So much concern about the death of Teoh Beng Hock, but so little concern about the death of 7 poor workers - not even a Commission of Inquiry, not even the making sure that compensations were done, not even bothering to be interested that justice be done (were they even in court to ensure justice be done??)] 

I have been searching the net to be able to at least show that the Pakatan Rakyat was different from the BN - and that they cared more for justice and welfare of the poor especially the families of these workers that died in PJ, Selangor... but alas, I did not see anything. Did the MBPJ Council and/or the State Government even sent a rep to their funerals?...NOW- if any person have any information about things that the MBPJ, Pakatan Rakyat State Government, etc did concerning this issue, you could post it as a comment...so that all will know.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Inviting the less critical NGOs defeats intention of consultation with ASEAN, governments..

Now that governments, Regional bodies and the United Nations have begun consulting NGOs and civil society groups, some tigers of yesterday are starting to behave like pussy cats when it comes to engagements with governments and regional bodies. The concern was that if one is too critical, you will just stop getting invitations to these dialogue sessions, conferences with the government and regional body...

I do not believe that those who fight for justice and human rights should suddenly become 'diplomatic' to continue being in the good books of governments. By doing so, we may end up betraying the people and the causes of justice that we are trying to uphold without fear or favour. 

Governments and regional bodies also should not shut out those that are most critical - it violates the very purpose of these governmental consultations with NGOs, Civil Society Groups, Peoples' Organisations, etc... Government should welcome the honest critic for after all the intention is for the overall betterment of society ...

Well, there seem be allegations that ASEAN has shut out a critical NGO....but the ASEAN's response is that there was just no more space...Was there a 'blacklisting' of some groups? Was there a choosing of more 'friendly' groups to attend this ASEAN Peoples' Forum? Would future engagements be only with even 'more friendlier' groups? I hope not...

Maybe, coming up soon - we will see governments choosing and sending the list of 'suitable' NGOs, persons to be invited... Hopefully, we do not go down that road...

And if there is really 'blacklisting' or the invitation of friendly groups/persons only, would NGOs/Civil Society Groups/Peoples' Organisations/etc... just be thankful that they got invited, or will they strongly protest this trend and/or actions by governments/regional bodies by just ...maybe boycotting such meetings totally?? Things to reflect on...  


Hanoi - The official civil-society forum of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) opened Friday under a cloud after Vietnam blocked delegates from a group that had criticized its human rights record.

Vietnam, which is hosting the ASEAN People's Forum (APF) as the current chair of the organization, informed two representatives of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on Tuesday that they could not attend the gathering in Hanoi.

Several delegates from non-governmental organizations at the forum criticized the move.


"Clearly here Vietnam is abusing its power as the chair of ASEAN," said Debbie Stothard, a Malaysian who heads the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, as
Myanmar is also known.

FIDH, a network of some 150 international human rights groups, attended the previous two APF gatherings last year in Thailand. On September 13, a member organization of FIDH, the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights, issued a report critical of Hanoi's human rights record.


At Vietnam's request,
Thailand blocked the group's officers from travelling to Bangkok to launch the report. On Tuesday, FIDH received an email from the APF's organizers that it was "not welcome at the Forum by Vietnamese people's organizations."

The email said the "so-called 'Vietnam Committee for Human Rights', has been conducting all kinds of provocative activities in order to sabotage the state of Vietnam, and it is not at all a truly human rights defender group as it claims to be."


Tran Dac Loi, vice chairman of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, which hosts the forum, said the FIDH delegates had been refused because of insufficient space. "


This forum was estimated to have a maximum of 500 participants, but in fact we had more than 1,200 registrants," Loi said.


Loi said the remarks condemning the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights were solely the private viewpoint of Vietnamese civil society organizations taking part in the APF.

 All Vietnamese civil society organizations taking part in the APF are linked to "mass organizations" under the direction of the country's Communist Party.

Some delegates said concerns about being excluded from future ASEAN forums were having a chilling effect on what civil society groups felt they could say.

 "People are doing a lot of kowtowing, staying in their good books, to continue to be invited and not be put on a blacklist," said Charles Hector of the Malaysian labour group Workers' Hub for Change.

Vietnam has given scant publicity to the APF in the state-controlled media, and many independent Vietnamese civil society groups were unaware it was taking place.


The government has taken steps to ensure local coverage of the event avoids controversial issues. On Thursday, Vietnamese organizers instructed local journalists to avoid issues related to sovereignty in the South China Sea, a sensitive topic due to recent territorial conflicts with China.


The forum is scheduled to close on Sunday. Working groups will draft resolutions on issues including the environment, refugees, human rights, and labour law.- Earth Times, 24/9/2010,
Vietnam blocks critical human rights group from ASEAN forum

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trial of Jaya Supermarket 'killers' of 7 workers have started - but when is the next date?

Remember the 7 workers that were killed at the Jaya Supermarket during an 'unapproved' demolition of the building...well, finally it has been reported that 2 construction companies have been charged. But, my concern is with regard to the workers that died - were their families/dependents compensated for the unnecessary death...

Now, it is important for groups that are concerned about Human Rights, including the Bar Council, to pay special attention to this case. Maybe, watching  briefs need to held by lawyers representing the families/dependents of the deceased workers - and when the companies have been found guilty, maybe a civil suit should be commenced against these companies for the loss of lives of these workers.

Wonder whether the Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (the PJ Local Council) and the Selangor State government is holding a watching brief in this case to ensure that justice is done....

PETALING JAYA: Two construction companies were separately charged in the Sessions Court here Tuesday with failing to meet safety standards over the collapse of the Jaya Supermarket.

Directors Yap Choon Wai, of CW Yap Sdn Bhd, and Jason Hee Kok Hing, of Lian Hup Earth Work and Construction Sdn Bhd, appeared on behalf of their companies and pleaded not guilty to the offences.

The offences were allegedly committed on May 28 last year, around 5pm, at the former Jaya Supermarket site along Jalan Semangat here.

One of Petaling Jaya's oldest landmarks, the building in Section 14, had been vacant since early 2008 as there were plans to redevelop the site.

The structure collapsed before demolition works could start, killing seven workers. - Star, 21/9/2010, Two construction companies charged with Jaya Supermarket collapse

See earlier related posts:-

State Government cannot set up Selangor Royal Commissions of Inquiry - this is just an excuse, is it not?

Royal Commission of Inquiry for 7 workers who were killed in 'unapproved' demolition work of Jaya Supermarket building - Petaling Jaya, Selangor?? 

Jaya Supermarket Collapse: 7 Workers dead - Is there a 'cover-up'?

PJ Local Council's responsibility in the death of 7 Jaya Supermarket incident cannot be ignored...

Jaya Supermarlet Demolition tragedy :- Pictures reveal 'mistakes' that resulted in 7 dead workers

Worker Safety is not a BN priority - Occupational Safety and Health is no more important - 90% Transportation Companies...90% Estates..


Employers propose minimum wage of RM700-00 per month

What should the Minimum Wage be? Well, in a recent media report, the Minister mentioned that the poverty line was RM720 monthly, and that about 34% of workers in Malaysia earn less than that.


The Human Resources Ministry's study of 1.3 million Malaysian workers has found that a shocking 34 percent earn below the poverty line of RM720 monthly..
[See also earlier post:-34% of Malaysian Workers (not migrant workers) earning below poverty line]

When we do fix a Minimum Wage, it must apply across the board and there must be no discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, classes of workers,...

Today, the employers, in the form of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers have come out and proposed RM700 as the Minimum Wage - and, I believe that the UMNO-led BN government must no longer delay but implement immediately, at the very least at the policy level first to be followed by the enactment of the relevant legislation.[Of course, the Pakatan Rakyat State governments could act even further and set a Minimum Wage at the different states, but alas they too seem to be dragging their feet...and trying to give the impression that it is up to the Federal Government only, a behavior that we are becoming very familiar with....]

PETALING JAYA: The minimum wage level of RM700 for general workers should be used as the median benchmark, said the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

The association said it considered the amount as the acceptable minimum wage level based on a survey it did on the manufacturing sector in the period of April/ May this year.

“We propose RM700 as the median scale, which is adjusted according to differences in cost of living based on geographical location (rural-urban areas) and differences in economic sectors,” it said in a statement yesterday.

Yesterday, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam was reported as saying that a proposed minimum wage policy, which will be across the board for all sectors, may be implemented next year.

The minister is expected to table a paper on minimum wage to the Cabinet next month and had urged employers to support the proposed policy.

The FMM, in response, asked the Government to consider several factors prior to implementing the policy.
It said that employers should be given a two-year grace period to adjust to the policy and that the minimum wage should commensurate with productivity gains and skills offered.

“Wages should be for the job, not the person.

“The wage structure should also differ between economic sectors (such as manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and services) and the minimum wage quantum cannot be uniformed across the country but differentiated by geographical location,” FMM said.

It also urged the Government to have in a place a review mechanism to prevent indiscriminate increase in minimum wage.

“The review process should also involve relevant stakeholders, in­­cluding employers, union and the Government,” it said. - Star, 21/10/2010, Manufacturers propose RM700 for minimum wage

Rightly, the Minimum Wage must be RM720 or more, i.e. above the poverty line...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Most countries have Minimum Wage Laws, except Malaysia

Minimum wages - this is something that most countries already have in place. The object is for the State to stipulate a minimum wage that is fair and just sufficient for the worker to be able to have a reasonable life. The only consideration should be the welfare of the worker and their families/dependents, and nothing else. What we are talking about is minimum wages - not the actual wages that a worker should be getting. The purpose of stipulating a minimum wage is to ensure that workers are not exploited by their employers who want to pay an unjust low wage. 

Minimum wages should be different for different regions of Malaysia, and for the different kinds of work and sectors. India, another former British colonized nation, have had the minimum wage law since 1948 - Minimum Wage Act, 1948. There, the setting of the Minimum Wage is done by the State, and in 1996, the Indian Federal government as a matter of policy sets  a National Floor Level Minimum Wage (NFLMW).

It is 2010, and Malaysia still does not have a Minimum Wage law in place, and this is embarrassing.  

It should be an hourly or daily minimum wage that should be set. When it comes to piece rated, we should still pay them an hourly or daily rate just like what India does. 

For a start, as a matter of policy, the Federal Government should set maybe a  National Floor Level Minimum Wage (NFLMW), and thereafter the required Minimum Wage law should be enacted and passed. A time frame of 6 months should be given to ensure a comprehensive Minimum Wage rate is set based on the different regions, employment sectors, kind of work, etc. [Exclusions may be for certain types of very small businesses that employ 5 or less, that may(or may not) have a profit sharing scheme in place over and above the salary]. 

Minimum wages should be calculated having regard to an 8-hour working day, 5 days a week. 


Thailand has got legislation that provide for minimum wages, and different rates are set for different provinces with Bangkok  (206 Baht per day – approximately RM20-60) and the lowest is for the provinces of Payat, Pichit, Phrae and Mae Hong Son (151 Baht per day – approximately RM15-10). Different rates because consideration is also given to cost of living. As the cost of living increases, so does the rate. Thailand’s minimum wage law applies to all workers, local and/or migrant workers. 

Hong Kong – On 17/7/2010, minimum wage law has been passed. The law will require the task group to review the wage level once every two years. The first minimum wage level will be set in November. The current consensus ranges from the HK$24 (RM9.58) an hour backed by business interests to the HK$33 (RM12.78) as demanded by local unions. However, the law doesn't cover the nearly 280,000 mostly Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers who work as live-in help for Hong Kong families. They are currently promised a monthly minimum wage of 3,580 Hong Kong dollars (RM1,437.64). 

India – they have had  the Minimum Wage Act, 1948, Minimum wages are fixed by the State Governments, and for both non-agricultural sector workers and also agricultural sector workers. It is time based usually per day. When it comes to piece rated, section 17 of the Act states, “Where an employee is employed on piece work for which minimum time rate and not a minimum piece rate has been fixed under this Act the employer shall pay to such employee wages at not less than the minimum time rate. “ Besides regions, consideration is also given to the degree of difficulty of the work. For example, when it comes to excavation works, there are different rates depending whether it is soft soil, soft soil with rock or rock. There is also different rates for unskilled work, supervisory workers, clerical workers and highly skilled workers.  The act also provides for  regular review of rates, at least once every five years.

National Floor Level Minimum Wage – Since 1996, the Indian government as a matter of policy sets and National Floor Level Minimum Wage (NFLMW), and States are advised that their minimum wages should be above this. The NFLMW set in 2004 is Rs. 66 per day (about RM4.51) 

Philippines – their Labour Code, in Article 99 stipulates that, “…The minimum wage rates for agricultural and non-agricultural employees and workers in each and every region of the country shall be those prescribed by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards…” Daily minimum wage rates are set for the non-agricultural sector, agricultural sector (plantations) and agricultural sector (non-plantation) and it applies to employers that have 10 or more workers.  As an example for the national capital region, it is currently P404 (RM28.10), P367(RM25.53)  and P367(RM25.53)  respectively

Indonesia – there seem to be no Minimum Wage law but since 1990s, minimum wages have been set by the various different provinces. There are constant reviews, and in the 1990s only, the minimum wage tripled although real wages only doubled.  There is no national minimum wages. 

Other Countries :- The federal minimum wage per hour in the United States is $7.25 [RM23.16] ; in Britain, it's 5.80 pounds (RM28.75); in Canada, it ranges from 8 to 10.25 Canadian dollars (RM24.28 to RM30.99) depending on province; in New Zealand, it's 12.75 New Zealand dollars (RM28.75).


KUALA LUMPUR: Employers should back the government’s proposed minimum wage policy to ensure its smooth implementation hopefully by next year, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.
He said employers should not be worried or regard the policy as hampering business.

“Our intention is not to burden the employers. We are only going to set a minimum level in terms of salary, and it is up to the employers to pay whatever amount beyond that level to their employees,” he told reporters here.

On Saturday, Dr Subramaniam was quoted saying that the minimum wage model would be across the board for all sectors but it would vary regionally.

Despite the Governments assurance that the minimum wage policy would not adversely affect the industry, the Malaysian Employers Federation is sticking to its stand that the policy would hurt local businesses and workers as it tends to benefit low-skilled and low-income foreign workers.

MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan was quoted as saying that the way to push for higher-income levels was not by basing it on a minimum wage but by increasing employee productivity and performance.
Dr Subramaniam said his ministry was still gathering feedback from various quarters to ensure that the policy on minimum wage would be well consolidated.

The minister is expected to table a paper on minimum wage to the Cabinet by next month.

He said the minimum wage policy was necessary as the salary structure in many sectors had not changed drastically over the years despite rising prices of goods.

“Salaries must commensurate with the increase in the price of goods and the higher standard of living,” he said, adding that the cost of living had escalated over the years.

However, he stressed that the increase in salaries should be in tandem with increase in productivity. — Bernama - Star, 20/9/2010, Back minimum wage policy, Subra urges employers