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Friday, November 26, 2010

ALIRAN: Tharmendran’s detention deeply disturbing

Aliran media statement
http://aliran.com

Tharmendran’s detention deeply disturbing


The detention of former Air Force sergeant N Tharmendran by eight air force personnel outside the Shah Alam High Court is deeply disturbing.

The Court had fixed 17 December for a decision on Tharmendran’s application to strike out the charge for the theft of two fighter jet engines. Tharmendran had been charged with allegedly stealing the engines in 2007 at the RMAF base in Subang.

Tharmendran’s lawyers are clearly worried with justification about his safety as they claim he had been hurt before while in custody. His lawyer insists that Tharmendran is a civilian as he is no longer in service and therefore the air force had no right to arrest him. The air force, for its part, considers him a deserter for failing to report for work after posting bail on 6 September this year.

But according to his lawyer N Surendran, Tharmendran’s contract with the air force had expired on 28 May and had not been renewed. Neither had he received any wages since then. “This is a clear violation in the administration of justice…,” he said.

It is appalling that the air force personnel could haul away Tharmendran in full view of several police personnel who were at the court compound.

Aliran regards what happened to Tharmendran as an interference with the due process of justice and calls for his immediate release. The air force personnel responsible for his detention must also be hauled up and made accountable for their actions. Tharmendran’s previous allegations of ill-treatment must also be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to book.
 
Aliran executive committee
25 November 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Some still blindly support the ISA....

If they had a different opinion, they could easily have had their say when the session is open to the participants to have their say.... but they did not have the patience or the courtesy to do, choosing rather to disrupt the forum against the Internal Security Act(ISA)

Who put them up to this? Would they have been happy if others have walked in and similarly disrupted a forum that they had organized?

Why do these persons what ISA - detention without trial laws to stay? It will be entertaining to listen to their reasons... 

Anti-ISA meet disrupted

GEORGE TOWN: About 40 pro-Internal Security Act (ISA) demonstrators disrupted an anti-ISA forum which was held in the open here.

The protestors gathered at around 11am yesterday and gatecrashed the event 45 minutes later.

They muscled their way onto the stage at Komtar Walk despite attempts by the organisers to bar them from moving forward.

The group, led by Komtar Merchants Association deputy president Mohamed Ghani Abd Jiman, shouted at the organisers.

Being vocal: An angry pro-ISA protester talking onstage at the anti-ISA group forum at Komtar Walk in Georgetown, yesterday. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI / The Star.

Some of them wore T-shirts with the words “Yes to ISA” printed on the back.

On stage at that time were former ISA detainees Mohamad Sabu, Lim Choo Leong, Hishamuddin Rais and V. Ganabatirau.

Ghani said the ISA was needed to safeguard the country’s security.

“ISA is not for the citizens but for traitors of the country.

“There are 27 million Malaysians but not more than 20 people in the Kamunting (detention camp),” he said.

The group then dispersed gradually amid the watchful eyes of plainclothes police personnel.
Penang Umno Youth chief Norman Zahalan, who was present, said he was there as an observer and claimed that the protest was not organised by the party.

The forum, which started at 10am, was organised by several non-governmental organisations who are part of the Repeal of the ISA Penang movement.

State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob said the organisers did not apply for a police permit to hold the event.

Labour law amendments — Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud (Malaysiakini)

The Malaysian Insider
November 02, 2010
 
NOV 2 — The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has long been concerned about existing employment laws, amendments to labour laws and government policies which of late seem to favour employers more and more.

The Malaysian government has been planning new amendments to the Labour Laws, i.e. Employment Act 1955, Industrial Relations Act 1967, and the Trade Unions Act 1959, since early this year. The first of these amendments that has come before Parliament is D.R.25/2010 (Employment (Amendment) Bill 2010).

Alas, much needed amendments to our employment laws to remedy current injustices have again not been included in D.R.25/2010 (Employment (Amendment) Bill 2010). In fact, the amendments proposed in this Bill, did not even go through the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), a tri-partite body representing the government, workers and employers.

The correct procedure is to bring whatever amendments the government intends to make to labour laws to the NLAC first, before they are tabled before Parliament. Hence, MTUC is certainly outraged by this bypassing of the NLAC.

Before I proceed to look at some of the government-proposed labour law amendments, I would like to talk about some of the labour law amendments that the MTUC believes we need to better protect workers’ rights and to reduce violations by employers.

a) No penalty, no deterrence

At present when an employer violates a worker’s legal rights with regard to wages, overtime payments, rest days, paid public holidays, paid annual leave, paid sick leave or hospitalisation leave, maternity leave, etc, at the end of the of the day, if the employer is found to be guilty, he is required to pay the worker only what he should have paid at the very first instance. There is no additional penalty imposed on the employer for breaking the law, and hence there is no deterrence.

In fact, many bad employers will just continue to deprive workers their legally recognised worker rights, knowing that even if their workers do complain to the authorities, at the end of the day all they are required to pay is just what they should have paid in the very first place. There must be a penalty imposed, say maybe, a sum of not less than RM10,000 and not more than RM50,000 for each violation. Such an amendment would certainly be a deterrence to employers violating workers’ rights. Maybe, all or part of this additional penalty should be paid to the affected worker.

b) Terminated/discriminated if workers claim rights

When a worker lodges a complaint at the Labour Department, many employers act against the workers, either by terminating them or by discriminating against them. Yet there is no provision in the Employment Act 1955 that deters this kind of retaliation by employers on workers who are just exercising their legal rights. It is worse for migrant workers, because their very legal existence in Malaysia is based on the work pass obtained on application by their employer, which also comes to an end upon termination. Hence they are denied the chance to seek a remedy or to continue to fight for their rights in Malaysia. The physical presence of the worker in the Labour Office, Labour Courts and Industrial Courts is needed for their claims to be heard and determined. We need an amendment in the Employment Act, i.e. an inclusion of a section similar to those found now in sections 5 and 59 of the Industrial Relations Act 1967, which prevent termination/discrimination against workers who claim their rights as provided for in the Employment Act and other labour laws.

c) Maximum probation period must be defined

Employers sometimes do not take the necessary steps to confirm employment. Hence, even when a worker has served for several years, the employer might still claim that the employee is still on probation. Note that the remedy available to a probationer is less than that available to a confirmed worker. There must therefore be a law that limits the time that a worker can be on probation, and reasonably this should not be more that three months. After that, the employer has the option to terminate; continued employment beyond three months should be taken as confirmed employment.

d) TU membership must exist beyond wrongful termination

According to section 26(1A) of the Trade Unions Act, trade union membership ends when the worker is terminated. This means that when the worker most needs the assistance of the union, especially in cases of wrongful termination, the current law denies him TU support.

26 (1A) now states that “No person shall join, or be a member of, or be accepted or retained as a member by, any trade union if he is not employed or engaged in any establishment, trade, occupation or industry in respect of which the trade union is registered.”

There are many other necessary amendments, which are pro-justice. I have just given you a little sample of required amendments to ensure that justice is done.

Govt proposed new amendments, 2010 

Since early 2010, the government has been talking about new amendments to the labour laws – the Employment Act 1955, the Industrial Relations Act 1967 and the Trade Unions Act 1959
The MTUC came up with a position paper dated 21 April 2010, which not only responded to the government’s proposal but also offered new amendments needed. We were not given the actual wordings of the provisions, just a general idea of what it would entail.

To date, we have received only the D.R.25/2010 (Employment (Amendment) Bill 2010). But we expect Bills soon to amend the Industrial Relations Act 1967 and the Trade Unions Act 1959.

Here, I shall deal with just two major points
1. “contractor for labour”
2. The proposed extinguishing of the right to claim wrongful termination for certain classes of workers. Every worker wrongfully terminated should have the inalienable right to remedy of reinstatement and damages.

‘Contractor for labour’

Here, the intention is to make ‘contractors of labour’ employers of workers, and this is what we oppose.
The amendments define and state that a ‘contractor for labour’ means a person who contracts with a principal, contractor or sub-contractor to supply the labour required for the execution of the whole or any part of any work which a contractor or sub-contractor has contracted to carry out for a principal or contractor, as the case may be.

At the onset, it must be pointed out that, with the introduction of the Employment Act (EA) in 1955, the then British Administration effectively abolished indentured labour, bonded labour, the ‘kanggani’ system and the like in Malaya, effectively abolishing the middleman or the ‘contractor for labour’ as employers. The EA at the same time established two very important principles of law which are sacrosanct.

They are: a) security of tenure – ensuring permanence of job; and b) proprietary right to the job – where the termination of a worker shall be with just cause and excuse and by due process.

These new amendments do not adhere to the basic tenets of the original EA. The inclusion of these clauses would reduce the worker under the “contractor for labour” to a new sub-class of workers.

Additionally, the amendment to define ‘contractor for labour’ as employer is also against the Decent Work Agenda, as it:
• does not provide opportunities for work that is productive;
• does not deliver a fair income;
• does not provide security in the workplace and social protection for families;
• offers no prospects for personal development and social integration;
• instead, the proposed amendments contribute towards the creation of a new sub-class of workers.

The amendment also directly contradicts the Prime Minister’s goal of achieving a high-income-earning country for a labour supplier is allowed to siphon off as ‘commission’ (or whatever other term we prefer to use) part of the already low wages earned by the workers from the principal employer on every pay-day — for as long as the worker is ‘supplied’ by the ‘contractor for labour’!.

Hence, the inclusion of ‘contractor for labour’ in the EA will slowly and surely suppress the wages of all classes of workers, be they white or blue collar workers.

It must also be pointed out that the existing provisions in Parts VI, VII, XIIB, XIII, XIV and XV in the current EA provides for workers under contractors and sub-contractors, agents (please refer to definition of employer), any person or any establishment where any commerce, trade, profession or business of any description is carried on [please refer to 63A) (1)] and therefore there is no need to introduce such an amendment including the proposed 33A.

Unlike the principal employer or the contractor who carries out work, the ‘contractor for labour’ or labour supplier:
• does not own the means nor the factors of production or services and has no knowledge on how to carry-out work;
• does not possess capital nor technology nor are they innovators and definitely are not wealth generators;
• are actually parasites living off the blood and sweat of the workers they ‘possess’.

Indeed, if ‘contractors for labour’ are considered as employers, the MTUC foresees a nation of workers subjected to the whims and fancies of labour contractors. In all likelihood, the days of permanent employment under principal employers might come to an end and we will be going back to the dark days of indentured and bonded labour as was the case before Merdeka.

Also, labour suppliers as employers will legitimise human trafficking involving both locally and foreign workers. Workers under the ‘possession’ of labour suppliers are probably the least known form of slavery today.

Right to claim justice when unjustly or wrongfully terminated

The proposed amendments by the government we believe will also deprive certain classes of workers the right to claim justice when they are unjustly/wrongfully terminated because:
• employees with less than one year of service (probationers) are excluded from seeking reinstatement via Section 20 of the IRA;
• employees earning a basic salary of RM10,000 or more are excluded from seeking reinstatement via Section 20 of the IRA; and
• employees with fixed term contracts are excluded from seeking reinstatement via Section 20 of the IRA if termination is as per contract terms.

The past amendment of the Second Schedule of the Employment Act only takes into account the interests of employers and discriminates against employees, especially those earning low wages. Apart from limiting back-wages to 24 months, the courts are now mandated to take into account post-termination gainful employment and contributory conduct.

However, the amendments did not mandate the court to impose any punitive damages in cases where in all fairness there must be another provision for the Court to take into account the pain and suffering of the poor worker when he was dismissed. Now there are no provisions for punitive damages in cases where employers acted wantonly in dismissing their employees.

The MTUC is of the opinion that damages and remedy must be left to the discretion of the Courts. Just because of one or two cases of highly paid directors/general managers being awarded huge sums by the Industrial Court — this does not justify amending the law to discriminate against poor workers. Note that most workers are lowly paid. I draw attention to the Human Resources Ministry’s study of 1.3 million Malaysian workers which indicated that a shocking 34 per cent earn below the poverty line of RM720 monthly. (Malaysiakini, 5 August 2010)

Again, when employers have been found to have wrongfully terminated their workers, they must also be penalised by having to pay a penalty for their wrong-doing — their breaking of the labour laws of Malaysia.
Of concern also is the real access to justice to a wrongfully terminated migrant worker, whereby the process of a matter coming to the Industrial Court and being heard and disposed of can take years, and the migrant worker, without the ability to live and work legally in Malaysia, will almost never get justice. The whole process must be speeded up, and for the migrant worker, they must also be given the right to work and earn whilst waiting for the industrial court and/or labour court matters to be completed.

There is also the need for the setting up of Industrial Courts in all major towns in Malaysia, maybe at least where there exist a High Court.

With regard to Labour Court/Industrial Court matters that end up in the High Court and/or higher courts, there must also be a provision that there be no order as to costs for really the worker cannot afford to pursue his rights further at this level if there is a risk that he be forced to pay costs. Hence, employers with deeper pockets will always win as poor workers will no longer be able to fight at these ‘expensive’ arenas of justice. 
Maybe, there is also a need for ‘court assigned counsel’ for workers when matters go on to High Courts and above, where the fees for these assigned counsel shall be paid by the government or some human resource/labour fund.

Remember, our interest is upholding the cause of justice for all. Let not cost or the fear of having to pay more money in fighting for justice be barriers that deny the poor worker justice. — aliran.com

* Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud is president of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress. (MTUC). He delivered this speech at a public forum ‘Labour Law Amendments? – What does it mean to you?’, organised by the Bar Council in Kuala Lumpur on 21 August 2010.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

Friday, November 19, 2010

UPDATE: JVC Unjustly Discriminates Against Burmese Migrant Women Workers Case

I have just received a reply from JVC Manufacturing Malaysia Sdn Bhd, whose contents has been copied and is pasted here. This letter is in response to the Media Statement entitled "JVC Unjustly Discriminates Against Burmese Migrant- Women Workers Who Claim Worker Rights" which has been endorsed by 90 groups. A copy of the said joint media statement was sent to JVC. 

JVC

JVC MANUFACTURING MALAYSIA SDN. BHD.(172773H)                  
Tel No.: 03-55416688(VIDEODIV)
(Formerly known as JVC Video Malaysia Sdn. SM.) .                                                 03-55413377 (AUDIODIV)
Lot No.1, Persiaran Jubli Perak, Jalan 22/1, Seksyen 22, 

40300 Shah Alam,                                                                                              Fax No.: 03-55422168 (VIDEO DIV)
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.                                                                                  03-55416698 (AUDIO DI’))
Postal Address:P.O. ,Box 7111,40702 Shah Alam,

Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.

19.November.2010


Messrs. Charles Hector & Pranom Somwong
Lot 3585A, Kampung Lubuk Layang
Batu 3, Jalan Metakab
28000 Temerloh
PAHANG, Malaysia
 

Dear Sirs,
 

The President of JVC Kenwood is in receipt of your letter dated 31st October 2010, concerning the standards of human and workers rights at JVC Manufacturing Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (JMM).

JMM has investigated the contents of your letter and please be informed that we have already appraised the said important matters. We are committed to cooperate with all parties concerned to rectify any problems and ensure that improper occurrences are avoided in the future. In this regard, a joint resolution has been reached after discussions with the concerned Myanmar workers, their employment agency Fast Link Trans Sdn. Bhd., the Malaysian Trade Union Congress, the Electrical Industry Workers Union and JMM.

For verification on the above, please feel free to communicate with Mr Peter Kandaiah, Sr.Industrial Relations Officer, MTUC (mtuc.kaƤkimail.com) or Mr. Maniyam Poovan, Gnereal
Secretary, Electrical Industry Workers Union (eiwu@streamyx.com).

We appreciate your concern about the human rights of workers, particularly’ in Malaysia. Please be assured that all of the companies in the JVC Kenwood Group, including JMM, are committed to honouring the employment rights of all of our workers, whether they are local or foreign, or whether they are hired directly or through dispatching agencies.

Sincerely,
Mr Yoshihiro Tamaki
Managing Director
JVC Manufacturing Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.

We would be verifying the matters alleged by JVC in their letter, and will try our best to keep you all informed about the latest developments in this case.


Media Statement – 21/10/2010 (90)

JVC Unjustly Discriminates Against Burmese Migrant
Women Workers Who Claim Worker Rights

We, the undersigned 79 civil society organizations and groups, would like to express our serious concern that JVC has indicated that they will not re-new the employment contracts of Pa Pa Aye and 15 other Burmese women migrant workers, who lodged a claim at the Labour Department claiming worker rights that the JVC company had violated, amongst them the wrongful deduction of their wages to recover levy that employers have to pay when they employ foreign workers. The other 7 workers, who complained, whose contract was renewed in August, will also be terminated and repatriated. The information contained in this statement has been provided by the affected workers.

JVC has its factory at Lot. No.1, Persiaran Jubli Perak, Jalan 22/1, Section 22, Shah Alam, 40702 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, and they manufactures cameras, video cameras and audio equipment components, amongst others.

On 21/7/2010, Pa Pa Aye and 22 other women migrant workers lodged a complaint at the Subang Jaya Labour Office in Malaysia. Amongst their demands were for the return of monies wrongly deducted from their wages for levy the employer had to pay to the Malaysian government for employing migrant workers, other unlawful deductions like transfer fees, saving funds, etc amounting to about RM3,500-00, and for the return of the Passports which are still wrongly being held by  the employer . They were also claiming for the balance of the wages that they were entitled. According to the workers, the employer was to pay them much more about RM50 per day but they were only paid the sum of RM23.

On 6/8/2010, after night shift when the women workers were being transported back to their homes, their bus took a different route, and suddenly stopped where the agent was waiting. The agent then called one of the Burmese women migrant workers who had complaint to the Labour Department and asked her to leave the bus and follow him. The workers suspected that the agent was trying to get the worker sent back to Burma, and they stood together and prevented the agent from taking the worker. The workers then lodged a police report about this incident. There have also been other cases of harassment, whereby in one incident 3 men entered the women’s hostel and threatened them.

The workers, through their representatives, which included an officer from the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) also complained about this incident to JVC, and JVC gave the assurance that this will not happen again and they guaranteed that all workers could continue to work in JVC.

On 12/8/2010, the agent tried to force the workers to sign a new contract, but all workers refused to sign it. The pressure on the workers to sign the new contract took place at the factory compound. Later on the same day the JVC’s Human Resource Manager, one Mr. Mazlan, and the HR Assistant Manager, one Ms. Ida, also tried to pressure the workers to sign the new contracts. The new contract was written in English only (just like their old contract). The workers to date do not have a copy of their old contract, as they were never given a copy. The new contract allegedly stated that their daily salary will be reduced to RM21, which is RM2 less than what the workers have been getting until now.

On 25/8/2010, the Burmese workers informed us that JVC had summarily dismissed 30 Sri Lanka women migrant workers in retaliation for their demand that JVC pay them their promised monthly salary of RM750. After the dismissal JVC and the agent, Fast Link Trans, began forceful repatriation of the workers. On 28/8/2010, 8 Sri Lankan workers were allegedly sent home. These workers apparently never received the amount owing them and/or any compensation for premature termination of their contract.

On 8/9/2010, JVC’s Human Resources Officer, in the presence of the Labour Officer and the agent’s representative from a company known as Fast Link Trans, tried to return to the Burmese workers the amount they said was the levy that had been wrongfully deducted from the wages and asked the workers to sign a document which was in English. The workers refused as the amount offered was far less than the sum deducted, and  they did not want to sign any document which was in a language they did not know.
The company also refused to give a copy of the document to enable them to get an independent person who spoke Burmese to translate its contents to them.

On 28/9/2010, the agent informed the workers that when their current annual contract expires, their contracts will not be renewed and they will all be sent back to Burma. The contracts of 15 of these workers’ contract will expire in October, and the rest by the end of the year. Pa Pa Aye’s own contract expires in early November. The contracts of 7 others which expired in August have already been renewed. Later, on about 7/10/2010, the agent informed the workers that all 23 of them will be terminated and sent back to Burma. The process of forced repatriation of the Burmese workers has already begun with one worker being sent back to Burma on 9/10/2010.

It must be stated that according to the workers, when they came to Malaysia to work with JVC the agreement was that they will be employed for a period of at least 3 years, but when they arrived and started working, they were made to sign 1-year contracts with the verbal assurance that it will be renewed every year for at least a total of 3 years. The threat of early termination and deportation is also wrong and discriminatory as JVC has continued to renew contracts of others who had started work around the same time as these Burmese migrant workers.

Any early termination, and/or non renewal of the 1-year employment contracts by JVC can reasonably be seen as a retaliation of the company against workers who have elected to claim their rights as workers. Their case at the Labour Department is pending, and a termination and repatriation back to Burma will mean that the workers will not be able to continue to pursue their claim in the Labour Department/Court as the presence of the worker in the hearing of their claims against the employer is compulsory, and their absence will mean that their case will just be struck off,

We, the undersigned groups, call upon JVC to respect worker rights and their right to access to justice and not cause these 23 Burmese workers to be terminated and deported.

We  urge that JVC to respect the law and the legal process initiated by the lodging of the complaint by the workers at the Labour Department, and to respect and abide with the outcome of the hearing at the Labour Court. Workers should not be terminated and/or discriminated against by reason of the fact that they choose to demand for their rights or better rights as workers. For those who have already been repatriated back to their country of origin, including those workers from Sri Lanka, JVC must compensate them for their expenses in coming to Malaysia to work, and for the early termination of their employment.

We call on JVC to act justly and not to terminate these workers, and to renew their contract so that they can pursue their claims until completion. JVC should also adhere to their earlier promise that these workers will be employed for a period of at least 3 years, for migrant workers do expend a lot of money (850-1,000 USD) when they do come to Malaysia to work and any early termination and breach of rights will only leave these workers in a worse situation as they may not be even to settle the debts they incurred in coming here to Malaysia to work.

We call on Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) to inquire into this complaint concerning the violation of worker rights by JVC.

We also call on the Malaysian government and the Human Resource Minister to ensure that no workers are terminated and/or discriminated against by reason of the fact that they have stood up to claim their rights as workers.

The Malaysian government should also ensure that no migrant worker is terminated and/or repatriated back to their country of origins until the employer has fully settled all outstanding worker claims and/or payments. If migrant workers are terminated, the Malaysian government must ensure that these workers are allowed to stay and work legally in Malaysia until all outstanding claims and legal processes are settled. If special passes and visas are required to ensure workers ability to stay and work legally, it must be given gratis without requiring the workers to pay anything. Worker cases must be expedited, and independent translators should be available at all Labour Departments and courts.

Labour rights must take precedent over immigration law. Do not deport until worker claims are determined and settled by Labour Department and/or courts.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the following 90 organizations

ALIRAN,  
Asia  Pacific Forum on Women ,Law and Development ( APWLD)
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Asian Migrants Center (AMC)
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
Bangladesh Burma Border
BAYAN USA
BUGKOS
Building and Wood Workers International Asia Pacific Regional Office
Burma Campaign, Malaysia
Burmese Women's Union (BWU)
Coalition To Abolish Modern-Day Slavery In Asia
Committee for Asian Women (CAW)
Communication Workers Union P&T Branch Victoria
Community Development Services (CDS), Sri Lanka
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM-ASIA)
Cordillera Alliance Hong Kong 
Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma
FICAP – Aichi
Filipino Migrants Center – FMC
Filipino Migrant Workers Union Chapter Rd Chapter 
Forum for Democracy in Burma
GABRIELA – Japan
Gabriela-Taiwan
Grassroots Human Rights Education & Development (GHRE-FED), Thailand
HOME, Singapore
Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
IHI Action Group (Iwi Have Influence), New Zealand
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
Institute for National and Democracy Studies (INDIES)
Kachin Women's Association, Thailand
KAFIN – Nagoya
KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid (LHRLA), Pakistan
League of Filipino Seniors (LFS)
Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
MADPET - Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture
Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
MAP Foundation, Thailand
May 1st Coalition, Co-Coordinator, USA
Mekong Migration Network ( MMN)
Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand
Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) 
Migramte Australia
Migrante-Denmark chapter
MIGRANTE Europe (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
Migranteng Ilonggo sa Taiwan
Migrante International
Migrante international - Hsinchuang chapter
Migrante International - Taiwan chapter
Migrante Melbourne
Migrante-Middle East and Migrante-Saudi Arabia chapter
MIGRANTE – Nagoya
Migrants  Trade Union (MTU), Korea
Migrant Workers Network – New Zealand
National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia
Nepal Institute of Development Studies( NIDS) ,NEPAL
Network for Empowerment of Women in Vietnam
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Penggerak Belia Zon 23 MPSJ, Malaysia
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Persatuan Penduduk Taman Muhibbah, Malaysia
Persatuan Prihatin Komuniti KL & Selangor
Philippine Society in Japan – Nagoya
PINATUD A SALENG TI UMILI
PINAY (Montreal)
POURAKHI, Nepal
Pusat Komas, Malaysia
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Malaysia
Rights Jessore, India
Shan Refugee Organization (Malaysia)
Shan Women Action Network (SWAN), Thailand
St. John's Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Tenaganita, Malaysia
The Communications Union (CEPU), Victoria Branch
The Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), Philippines
The Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB)
The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec
The National Human Rights Society (Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi  Manusia, HAKAM), Malaysia
The Shwe Gas Movement
Unite Union New Zealand
Women Empowerment Association
Women Petition Committee
Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)
Yaung  Chi Oo Workers Association  ( YCOWA)
Yayasan Annisa Swasti (YASANTI), Indonesia

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Citizenship - a British 'strategy' to get support rather than from any 'social contract"...???

Not that it matters, since we are all Malaysian citizens today - but it is interesting that some say that the granting of citizenship to all in Malaysia including those of Chinese and Indian elasticities was really some that the British colonial powers did, and one of the primary reasons for so doing was to win the 'hearts and minds of the people' in their battle against against the Malayan National Liberation Army (or the 'communist terrorist' as the British called them) 

So, does this mean that there was no 'social contract' as UMNO leaders have been talking about. [Of course, the current government can decide which history it wants - the truth or something else.) UMNO's social contract argument promotes 2 classes of Malaysians - promotes the notion that there is one privileged class and the rest of Malaysians. Maybe it is time for us to no longer blindly believe the 'history' being fed to us.... 

Below are some quotations from documents/books about Malaya (Malaysia) which may be interesting to note...


Templer is praised by Dr. Klev I. Sepp in 'Best Practices in Counterinsurgency,' Military Review, May-June 2005. 

During the 1950s Malaya Emergency, British High Commissioner Sir Gerald Templer a declared antiracist strived for political and social equality of all Malays. He granted Malay citizenship en masse to over a million Indians and Chinese; required Britons to register as Malay citizens, elevated the public role of women; constructed schools, clinics, and police stations; electrified rural villages; continued a 700% increase in the number of police and military troops; and gave arms to militia guards to protect their own community. In this environment, insurgent terrorism only drove people further from the rebels and closer to the government. 

Sunderland points out how Templer brought everyone into the fold:

Templer took office in February 1952. On midnight, 14 September, 1,100,000 Chinese and 2,630,000 Malayans became what were called "federal citizens."

People vote for civil society representatives to Local Councils in Penang - Will Selangor follow?

Well, Penang leads the way and they had elections to select the civil society representatives to the Local Councils in Penang...

Well, will Selangor follow suit and let civil society choose who they want to represent civil society (including maybe the Professionals) in the various different Local Councils. [At present it is the State government that chooses and appoints - not the people, not the various different civil society groups,....]

We want Local Council elections - but alas the Pakatan Rakyat states are dragging their feet citing various excuses. I believe, that they like the BN before them, would rather pick and chose their own Local Councilors rather than allowing the people to democratically elect their own Local Councilors.

Anyway, what is happening in Penang is impressive - people elect their own civil society representatives to the Local Councils. [Penang has allocated 5 places in the Local Councils for persons from civil society]

Likewise, in Selangor there is similar allocations - so when will civil society be able to exercise their right to choose who will represent civil society in the Local Councils...

Historic local council polls held in Penang

 


The Penang Forum 3 elections have been a three-in-one process to learn the issues, listen to candidates and vote for civil society representatives to the MPPP and MPSP, says the Penang Forum Steering 
Committee





Voters casting their ballots enthusiastically at the Penang Forum 3 polls

More than 300 people participated in an election organised by Penang Forum 3 (PF3) on 14 November 2010. The event was organised to elect five persons each to the MPPP and MPSP. These ten will then be nominated by PF3 as civil society representatives to the two local authorities.

Prior to voting, the participants listened to talks by a serving Councillor and by other Penang Forum representatives about issues related to local council governance. Then they listened to short speeches by all the 24 contestants.

The most interesting aspect of the day’s event was its 3-in-1 feature: an opportunity to learn about the local government issues, to meet and question the candidates, and only then to vote.

Elected to the MPPP were:
  • Teo Lee Ken
  • Lim Mah Hui
  • Chin Khuan Sui
  • Loh Swee Heong
  • Dalbinder Singh
Elected to the MPSP were:
  • Tiun Ling Ta
  • Sivagurupatham a/l S Vadivelu
  • Teng Kim Chew
  • Krishnan a/l Samiah
  • Ung Teow Hong
The event was held in the Penang Chinese Girls School Alumni Hall (directly opposite St Nicholas), along Jalan Bagan Jermal. The meeting opened with a forum chaired by former Penang State Government Exco Member Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon.

The first speaker was Ms Lim Kah Cheng, a three-term MPPP Councillor. She briefed those present about the structure of local government in Penang, about the workings of the MPPP and MPSP, and about the role of a Councillor. She warned that there would be lots of work to do but that the work was satisfying because one would be helping to improve the everyday lives of Penangites.

The second talk was by En Ahmad Chik who spoke on the Penang Forum and of the Forum’s expectations of would-be Councillors. Above all, these Councillors must prioritise the interests of the rakyat and uphold the CAT principles (competency, accountability and transparency). Ahmad called all present to endorse the Penang State Government’s ‘no plastic policy’ which the audience enthusiastically supported by raising their hands and shouting out a resounding ‘Yes’.

Following these talks, the candidates were introduced. Each was allowed to address the hall briefly. The audience also asked the candidates several questions. Earlier, outside the hall, some of the candidates and their supporters were canvassing for votes. Some had put up posters and distributed multi-coloured pamphlets.

Voting began at noon and ran smoothly. Nothing untoward occurred.

At 1.00pm, the counting of votes was conducted on stage in front of the contestants. P Ramakrishnan, president of Aliran, and Ahmad Chik, Penang Heritage Trust Council Member and Penang Forum representative, had been appointed as ‘Election Commissioners’. According to them, the voting and the entire election process had been ‘free, fair and transparent’. They thanked all present for their cooperation
YB Chow Kon Yeow, the Penang State Government Exco Member for Local Government and Transportation, was present to witness the last part of this pioneering event by Penang’s civil society organisations.

Penang Forum expectations of the elected

Prior to 14 November, all contestants had declared that they had read, understood and supported the principles contained in the Penang Forum Declaration, first adopted in April 2008.

Hence the elected are expected to promote the rights of marginalised groups (including women, workers, rural communities, youth, senior citizens, the disabled, homeless, as well as migrants and refugees); to protect Penang’s environment and preserve its heritage; to stress balanced, integrated and sustainable planning; to address and respond to urban services complaints; and to cater to the general interests of the entire Penang society, not just those interests of specific interest groups to which they might individually be affiliated.

All candidates, including the elected, were also informed of the following clause in the Local Government Act 1976, Section 10(2) about eligibility and suitability which reads: “Councillors of the local authority…shall be persons ordinarily resident in the local authority area who in the opinion of the State Authority have wide experience in local government affairs or who have achieved distinction in any profession, commerce or industry, or are otherwise capable of representing the interests of their communities in the local authority area”.

Indeed, all contestants including the ten elected, had declared that they do not hold office in any political party or in any chamber of commerce; have not been convicted as a criminal or declared a bankrupt; and that they do not belong to any association that agitates for racial supremacy or racial hatred.

Penang Forum

Penang Forum is a coalition of more than 40 Penang-based civil society organizations who first came together in April 2008. The steering committee comprises representatives from Aliran, Malayan Nature Society, Penang Heritage Trust, Persatuan Orang Cacat Anggota Malaysia, Suaram Penang, the Tg Bungah Residents Association, Taman Sri Nibong Residents Association, the Women’s Centre for Change, etc.

More information about Penang Forum and PG3 can be obtained from penangforum.net
.
Penang Forum Steering Committee
14 Nov 2010


Source: ALIRAN

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AUNG SAN SUU KYI IS FREE ! - Just Media Statement

Media Statement

AUNG SAN SUU KYI IS FREE !

The International Movement for a Just World (JUST) warmly welcomes the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s most famous political prisoner, from house arrest on 13 November 2010.

Imprisoned for 15 out of the last 21 years by a military junta which has suppressed the people’s struggle for human rights and democracy in Myanmar, Suu Kyi has emerged as an enduring, universal symbol of the eternal quest for freedom. Her indomitable courage and her unwavering perseverance have won accolades from individuals and groups all over the world. What is remarkable about her commitment to her cause is her ability to retain her dignity and her integrity in the face of formidable odds.

There is much speculation on why the junta set her free. Since a political party spawned by the junta, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won a farcical election by a huge margin a few days ago, the regime may have felt that its position is secure enough to release Suu Kyi. On the other hand, given widespread allegations of electoral fraud, her release may also be a way of refurbishing the regime’s tattered public image. It is also true that for some years now, Myanmar’s ASEAN partners and even its close ally, China, have been quietly cajoling the regime to end Suu Kyi’s incarceration. 
 
Whatever the reasons, JUST hopes that her freedom will not be short-lived. She was released in 1995, after six years in detention. Then in 2000 she was arrested and imprisoned again for two years. After a brief spell of freedom, she was imprisoned for a third time in 2003. She remained in prison or under house arrest for the next seven years. ASEAN governments and China should go all out to dissuade the military junta from detaining Suu Kyi again. 
 
To prove that it is sincere about Suu Kyi’s release, the junta should set free the 2,200 political prisoners languishing in jails in different parts of the country. It should also begin to relax its iron grip upon the media and allow social groups to exercise a degree of autonomy in their evaluation of the regime’s governance. Myanmar’s monks should also be given some latitude to act as the nation’s conscience.

Suu Kyi would certainly want to encourage the regime to move in this direction. In this regard, she should be more strategic than she has been in the past. While holding on to her principles, she should act in such a manner that the regime will have no excuse to abrogate her freedom or to tighten even further its hold upon society. 
 
Let Suu Kyi’s freedom this time pave the way for the eventual liberation of the people of Myanmar.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
President,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

Malaysia

14 November 2010


Civil Society and peoples' voices need more media coverage

Mainstream media, usually 'controlled'/owned by the political personalities/parties of the government of the day, gave little space to civil societies, NGOs and ordinary people - and that was why we were happy with the emergence of independent alternative media ...and other alternative media (i.e. those belonging to Opposition Political parties, and/or other individuals/companies) believing that there will be more space for the alternative voices.

Unfortunately, this seems today to be no more true - for many civil society/NGO media statements do not even get a mention in alternative media...Alternative media seem to be distracted in internal political party disputes/fights...and is more inclined to cover only the voices of political personalities (they call 'news-makers')

Maybe, someone will start talking about a "Third Force" alternative media....

Have a look at Harakah (PAS newsletter), SUARA Keadilan (PKR), Rocket (DAP) - and we find that there is not much coverage of civil society/NGO media statements... Why? Could they not at least carry some of these media statements/stories on the online edition of their publications, if not the print version.

What about Malaysiakini - the alternative online media which was initiated by civil society itself. Maybe, Malaysiakini should stop and review its current reporting priorities... There just have been too much time wasted on internal party disputes...and most of this are really personality clashes - not a clash on different issues/policies. Was it a fight between a person wanted Local Council elections to be conducted now in Selangor and one that who did not? Was it about any issue/principle? 

Remember that the method used nowadays is not the de-registering of political parties ...and the arrest and detention using the ISA and other Detention Without Trial Laws...

Now, the method is by encouraging and creating splits...that is what was done with HINDRAF, and soon we may see  a similar phenomena happening in PKR - maybe there may be a 'Keadilan Baru'?

Proposal for media:-

1- Cover the voices/expressions of people on various issues, including media statements be civil society groups.

2- If you cannot do by reason of insufficient time and resources, then at the very least, carry the media statements. If not in the print media, at least on the website of the online edition.

3- Remember that the role of the media is not just to report in-fighting, scandals, etc  but to also to educate, evaluate and discuss more serious issues. In the near absence of freedom of assembly/expression in Malaysia, media plays an even more important role of being a channel where the voices of the people will be heard. Free Trade Agreements - maybe good for the investor, but is it really good for Malaysians. Privatized basic amenity providers - is it working or is it better for the state to take over - should we nationalize. Are there no stories about workers....worker struggles. etc? What about stories from the Parliament? State Legislative Assembly? - tell us why MPs/ADUNs are opposing some Bill...why are they supporting it?

Give the 'rakyat' and the people in Malaysia more space...more coverage in your media please...




3, including 16 year old, shot dead by police 0n 13/11/2010

Press Release - 15 November 2010
 
 
Fatal shooting of 3 persons including a 16-year-old boy in Glenmarie


Lawyers for Liberty is gravely concerned over the shooting to death of three alleged suspects by police during the early hours of Saturday 13th November 2010 at Glenmarie, Selangor.

The dead were Mohd Shamil Hafiz Shafie, 16, Mohd Khairul Nizam Tuah, 20, and Mohd Hanafi Omar, 22. Although one of the dead persons was a sixteen year old boy, acting Selangor police chief Datuk A.Thaiveegan has made the incredible claim that all the dead were "seasoned criminals".

The police allege that the dead suspects were part of a gang known as "Geng Minyak" which preyed on petrol stations. They further allege that the suspects when cornered rushed at the police with machetes and that the police shot them all dead in self-defense. We find this story by the police to be quite unbelievable.

If the suspects were only armed with machetes and not firearms, why was it necessary to shoot all of them dead? Were any warning shots fired? It beggars belief that men armed with machetes would rush into a hail of bullets.

We note that there is disturbing similarity in the justification given out by police after almost every fatal police shooting in recent memory. In almost all cases, police claim that the suspects fled and police gave chase. The suspects then attacked police and the police opened fire killing all instantly. No suspect in such situations ever seems to survive. Subsequent to the shooting police claim to have discovered weapons in their vehicle and accuse the dead of being involved in all sorts of crime. Of course, by then none of them can defend themselves.

Even 14 year police shooting victim Aminulrasyid Amzah was accused of being a parang wielding criminal. This standard police version which is trotted out after every shooting is extremely improbable, to say the least. 

It should be noted that international policing norms require that firearms only be discharged to protect life and that clear warnings be given with adequate time to comply. Are these rules being observed and complied with by the Malaysian police force? We seriously doubt it, going by previous cases.

We also note that the authorities continue to refuse to make public even the police guidelines on discharge of firearms. Why all this secrecy?

We call for an immediate independent investigation into this latest shooting, with the findings made public. We reiterate the call for a Royal Commission to investigate all police shootings over the past decade.

We call upon the police force to adhere to international guidelines on policing and to eschew all unlawful actions in the name of crime prevention.   

LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY
N.Surendran
Fadiah Nadwa Fikri

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Third and stronger UN Resolution for the abolition of death penalty...Malaysia must heed this call



UNITED NATIONS: THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE ADOPTS A RESOLUTION ON A MORATORIUM ON EXECUTIONS

November 11, 2010: The UN General Assembly would, for the third time in four years, renew its call for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty under the terms of a draft resolution approved today in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) by a recorded vote.

Following on similar resolutions adopted by the Assembly in the 2007 and 2008 sessions, the draft was approved by a vote of 107 in favour to 38 against, with 36 abstentions. 
The resolution garnered more support from UN Member States than the previous resolution in 2007 and 2008, confirming the worldwide trend towards abolition of capital punishment. In 2007, the resolution pro-moratorium was adopted by 104 votes in favour, 54 against with 29 abstentions at the UN General Assembly in New York. In 2008, the resolution was approved by 106 votes in favour, 46 against with 34 abstentions.
Bhutan, Guatemala, Kiribati, Maldives, Mongolia and Togo changed their vote to back the moratorium. In a further sign of support, Afghanistan, Comores, Nigeria, Solomon Islands and Thailand moved from opposition to abstention.
While noting ongoing national debates and regional initiatives on the death penalty, the Third Committee calls upon States to restrict the use of the death penalty, to reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed, and “to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty”.  States that have abolished the death penalty are meanwhile called upon not to reintroduce it.
Enhancing a similar call included in the previous resolution in 2007, the Third Committee calls upon all Member States to make available relevant information with regard to their use of the death penalty, which can contribute to possible informed and transparent national debates.
Three written amendments to the draft, as well as one oral amendment, were put forward by delegations who said the jurisdiction of Member States was completely disregarded by the draft. All the proposed amendments were rejected by recorded vote.
The most important amendment proposed by Egypt, who said that, under the Charter of the United Nations, the Organization was unauthorized to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, was rejected by a vote of 62 in favour to 79 against, with 31 abstentions. The amendment proposed by Botswana was rejected by a vote of 51 in favour to 81 against, with 33 abstentions.  Singapore’s amendment was rejected by a vote of 58 in favour to 79 against, with 30 abstentions.
The representative of the Bahamas moved an oral amendment to operative paragraph 3 (d), in such a way that it would have the General Assembly call upon States “to consider establishing a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty” (in lieu of “to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty”). The oral amendment offered by Bahamas was rejected by a vote of 54 in favour to 82 against, with 29 abstentions.
The General Assembly is expected to endorse the resolution in its plenary session in December. [ Source: Hands Off Cain]

UNITED NATIONS Nov 11 (Reuters Legal) - A U.N. General Assembly committee issued a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty on Thursday, while the United States joined China, Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and others in opposing the measure.


A vote on the issue took place in the Assembly's Third Committee, a body composed of all 192 U.N. member states that addresses human rights and humanitarian issues. 107 countries supported the nonbinding resolution while 38 other countries opposed it and another 36 abstained. The General Assembly is expected to formally adopt the resolution this December.


"Support for the moratorium has gained ground and the effort was from across the board regionally," said Jose Luis Diaz, who is Amnesty International's representative to the U.N.


Diaz, whose organisation campaigns in favour of the moratorium, said that five countries have changed their position to support the measure since a similar vote took place in 2007. He also noted that a handful of other countries, including Afghanistan and Thailand, chose to abstain rather than vote no as they did last time.

Other opponents to the measure who include Egypt, Singapore and Myanmar typically invoke state sovereignty to defend their position, according to Diaz.


"They point to the laws on their books. To hear them tell it, this is a criminal justice matter, an internal matter that is not a human rights issue."


Singapore introduced one of three amendments to the draft resolution before the vote, aimed at softening the language. The amendment proposed adding that the General Assembly "reaffirms the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own legal systems."


The U.S. delegation voted in favour of the Singaporean amendment, which failed to win sufficient support to be included in the final version.
An Egyptian delegate told the assembly the United Nations should focus on "due process rather than abolition," sentiments echoed by the U.S. delegate.  

The European Union was the driving force behind the resolution, although there were African, Asian and Latin American states that signed on as co-sponsors. Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, East Timor, Rwanda, Mozambique and Russia were among the resolution's sponsors and also voted for it.


The U.N. resolution is titled "Moratorium on the use of the death penalty" and is referenced as document A/C.3/65/L.23/Rev.1.


(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau of Reuters; Additional reporting by Jeff Roberts of Reuters Legal) - Reuters, 12/11/2010, Support grows at U.N. for death penalty halt, U.S. opposed
 Some older relevant posts:-

CCM Youth - IN SUPPORT OF ABOLISHING THE DEATH PENALTY AND APPEAL TO REFORM CRIMINAL LAWS

Nazri reiterates call for abolition of death penalty...

Give Yong Vui Kong a Second Chance - Save him from the hangmen's noose

Malaysian Bar: Abolish the death penalty

MADPET: N0 TO THE EXTENSION OF DEATH PENALTY TO CHILD RAPIST CIVILISED MALAYSIA MUST ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY

Will PR State Sultans start commuting death sentences to prison terms? Abolish Death Penalty

Malaysia should save Yong like it managed to save Umi Azlim (and maybe others) from the death penalty

MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY PROVISIONS IN LAW SHOULD BE REPEALED