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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Malaysia signed that agreement to 'import' asylum seekers seeking asylum in Australia

They went to Australia to seek asylum - but Australia, rather than processing their application, decided to 'export' - no, deport them - or rather 'dump' them back to Malaysia, and they did this vide an agreement signed between Australia and Malaysia, whereby Australia, on their part, agreed to accept 1,000 UNHCR recognized refugees per year for 4 years, from Malaysia.

Is Malaysia going into the business of accepting asylum seekers, being the processing center for those applying to be recognized refugees, and thereafter making arrangements for them who qualify to be placed in 3rd countries? What is most odd is that Malaysia does not recognize 'asylum seekers' and 'refugees' in law - and they lump asylum seekers and refugees into the category of 'illegal immigrants' (undocumented migrants) - and there is continuous active enforcement against these 'illegal immigrants' (undocumented migrants) who are arrested, detained, charged, convicted, whipped, deported... 
Australia, on the other hand have an obligation as a member of the United Nations, to take in and accept refugees who will ultimately be their citizens. Australia has a duty to deal with asylum seekers in accordance to Australian law - but sadly, they have been doing all they can do to make sure that asylum seekers that arrive in Australia - never get to Australia or are detained elsewhere (not in Australia) and as such deprive these asylum seekers from being covered by Australian law - this new deal with Malaysia is just another such attempt.

Will these 'asylum seekers' from Australia be treated any differently from the other 100,000 over asylum seekers (or the 2 - 5 million undocumented migrants in Malaysia)  in Malaysia? Malaysia's Federal Constitution guarantees equality to all persons (not just citizens) in Malaysia - so there cannot really be any preferential treatment to there 'asylum seekers from Australia'.

Will Australia be leasing a piece of land, and housing these asylum seekers. What happens to them if they do not refugee status? Will they be sent to our immigration authorities to be detained and deported back to their home country? Will Australia be paying for this? Remember, they never broke any Malaysian law - but now when Malaysia willingly accepts them, will they be treated of people who have broken Malaysian law? Is not Malaysian government a willing party in the breaking of Malaysian law? Do they want to come to Malaysia? Or are they unwillingly sent by Australia to Malaysia - is this not 'trafficking in human persons'? Are not Australia and Malaysia 'human traffickers' in this instance? If they do consent, will not the bringing of these persons who do not have a valid passport/travel documents 'human smuggling'?

At the end of the day, it is sad that both the Malaysian and Australian government seem to forget that they are dealing with human persons - not commodities(to be imported and exported) as part of some agreement which the said asylum seekers are just not parties to?

Really, Malaysia needs to enact a law that clearly acknowledges asylum seekers and refugees, that sets out clear procedures of dealing with them, and also their rights when they are in Malaysia applying for asylum or refugee status.

Related posts in this blog:-

Australian Parliament condemns Malaysian-Australian asylum-refugee swap deal

How can Malaysia arrest and detain persons who never broke Malaysian laws?

800 Australian asylum seeker brought into Malaysia to be detained in Semenyih - Is this legal?

The trade of asylum seekers for refugees between Malaysia and Australia (Law Council of Australia)


Press Release (28 July 2011)

Asylum Swap Deal & the 60th Year Anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention:
Ratify First, Arrange Later

Today, 28th of July, 2011, will mark the 60th year anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention - the first and main international agreement that protects the fundamental rights of refugees across the world. 142 nations have ratified the convention. This number does not include Malaysia.

Asylum Swap deal signed

On Monday, 25th June 2011, Australian and Malaysian governments together signed the controversial asylum swap deal.  The deal to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in return for 4,000 recognized refugees to Australia comes into effect immediately at midnight.

As a human rights organization, SUARAM strongly condemns the decision to continue the deal, which is constantly criticized by additional various quarters including the UN as well as Malaysian and Australian activists.

SUARAM is of the view that this is a gross denial of freedom and the right to seek asylum in Australia, a country that is signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. SUARAM rejects the elucidation that this deal would be a win-win situation for the both governments and a total loss for the smugglers. What about the subjects involved (asylum seekers or transferees)? Do the governments believe this deal will benefit them (asylum seekers)? Do they think this deal will confine asylum seekers to a boat sailing to Australia? This deal does not meet its justification of stopping human trafficking and the smuggling business model.

The failure to look into human rights principles

SUARAM believes that the failure to take into consideration human rights principles is the most crucial and overlooked element in the arrangement. Poor human rights protection has been encouraging asylum seekers to flee from Malaysia and sometimes use whatever means they deem necessary to seek protection.   

Both governments must respect the rights of all individuals seeking asylum in Australia and not gamble their fates by transferring them to Malaysia, a country that has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention. The failure to look into human rights principles may lead to the failure to consider those on the losing end: the asylum seekers who will be transferred to Malaysia. 

Verbal commitment, insubstantial pact

Ministers Hishamuddin Hussein and his Australian counterpart, Chris Bowen had both officially signed the agreement promising that the 800 asylum seekers will be treated in “dignity” and “respect”. This included their rights to work, access to education and health care, and freedom to move. At the same time, the details of the agreement do not ensure any concrete proposal to enforce the guarantees and promises made by the ministers. If the official arrangement does not guarantee concrete protection to the 800 asylum seekers, how can a verbal commitment claim to ensure concrete protection to the 800 asylum seekers? We believe that these 800 asylum seekers will melt into the 100,000 refugees who suffer and enjoy almost “zero” tolerance and fundamental rights protection.   

Ratify first, arrange later

Until now, Malaysia has showed no intention of ratifying the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. Yet Malaysia is interested getting involved with refugee-related arrangements  such as the asylum swap.

Malaysia maintains a blanket policy that all undocumented migrants including refugees and asylum seekers are considered illegal migrants. As such, they can be arrested, deported, and even punished by judicial caning under the immigration act. 

SUARAM urges the Malaysian government to first ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and/or at least to develop an effective domestic act and administrative mechanisms before dealing with any arrangements regarding refugees and asylum seekers.

Why should Malaysia ratify?

SUARAM launched its campaign to urge the Malaysian government to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention in May 2011. In conjunction with the 60th year anniversary of the convention on 28th July, we once again urge the government to ratify it in order to provide legal protection and promotion of the fundamental rights of the refugees in accordance with internationally recognized legal and humanitarian standards.

Ratification would also demonstrate the Malaysian government’s commitment for genuine “burden sharing” in handling global issues: developing effective administration and cooperation with UNHCR, reducing the capacity of immigration detention centres, as well as supporting the lack of human resources in various domestic sectors in Malaysia.   
 

Released by,

Andika Wahab
Refugee Coordinator
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
0163723699

Australia, Malaysia: Refugee Swap Fails Protection Standards
‘Arrangement’ Opts For Burden Shifting Over Burden Sharing


(Bangkok, July 27, 2011) – Australia and Malaysia’s agreement to swap 800 asylum seekers who arrive in Australia for 4,000 refugees living in Malaysia fails to meet minimal standards for refugee burden-sharing, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to both countries’ prime ministers. The Arrangement between Australia and Malaysia on Transfer and Resettlement was signed on July 25, 2011.

“The refugee swap agreement should have been rejected outright because Malaysia is not a party to the Refugee Convention and has no refugee law or procedure,” said Bill Frelick, refugee program director at Human Rights Watch.  “The gap in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers between Australia and Malaysia remains enormous.”

In its letter, Human Rights Watch said that the failure of one of the two parties to accept the obligations established by the most relevant treaty regarding refugees and to apply customary standards demonstrates the hollowness of the agreement.

The protection and education of refugee children are of particular concern under the agreement, Human Rights Watch said. The agreement says nothing about “best interest” determinations or other basic principles of protection for unaccompanied children under international law, only that special procedures “will be developed.”

“The agreement ignores the special needs of unaccompanied children,” Frelick said.  “Saying that implementing procedures will come later is no excuse for failing to spell out basic principles in the agreement itself.”

The agreement also says that school-age children will be permitted access to “private education,” but adds that if “such arrangements are not available or affordable” the children should have access to “informal education.” Neither private education nor informal education meet the standards for the right to free and compulsory primary education in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which both Australia and Malaysia are parties.

Australia’s willingness to admit 4,000 more refugees for permanent resettlement was potentially a great humanitarian benefit, Human Rights Watch said. But it urged the Australian government to separate that agreement from a deal that would deflect people seeking asylum in Australia to another country.

Malaysia’s willingness to recognize a group of asylum seekers as being lawfully present was also a positive development, Human Rights Watch said. However, creating an exception for 800 “swapped” people while 90,000 other refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia remain “illegal migrants” subject to deportation is unacceptable, Human Rights Watch said.

“Unfortunately, the Australia-Malaysia refugee swap agreement is more about burden shirking than burden sharing,” Frelick said.

For more information on the Australia-Malaysia refugee swap, please see:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Malaysia, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/asia/malaysia

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Australia, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/asia/australia

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Bill Frelick (English): +;1 202 612 6344; or +;1 240 593 1747 (mobile); or frelic@hrw.org
In Bangkok, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or robertp@hrw.org



 
 
 IOM yesterday witnessed the signing of an agreement between Australia and Malaysia designed to combat people smuggling and discourage asylum seekers from risking their lives in small boats to reach Australia.

Under the agreement, which was signed by Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Dato' Seri Hishamuddin bin Tun Hussein and Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen in Kuala Lumpur, over the next four years Malaysia will send 4,000 recognized refugees to be resettled in Australia, and Australia will send 800 newly arrived "boat people" to Malaysia, where their asylum claims will be processed.

IOM will play an important role in helping both nations to implement the agreement, notably by facilitating the movement of the 4,000 refugees from Malaysia to Australia.

"We already move around 7,000 mainly Burmese refugees every year from Malaysia. These are people who are referred by UNHCR and accepted for resettlement by third countries. This deal will increase our caseload by about 1,000 people a year for the next four years - something that we welcome," says IOM Malaysia Head of Office Valerie Dourdin-Fernandez.

IOM provides medical screening, cultural orientation and makes all the necessary travel arrangements for refugees leaving Malaysia to start new lives abroad.

IOM is also planning to expand its activities in Malaysia, in close collaboration with the government and UNHCR, to help Malaysia to provide adequate care and maintenance for the 800 "transferees" arriving from Australia.

"We are currently looking into ways to complement services already provided by UNHCR, NGOs and the government to ensure that these people's stay in Malaysia is safe and dignified," says Dourdin-Fernandez.  

The services will include an option that will allow any transferee who decides to abandon his or her asylum claim to voluntarily return home to their country of origin with IOM. IOM will arrange travel documents, air tickets, exit permits and, depending on the destination country, reintegration assistance.

IOM doctors will also screen new arrivals at a Malaysian government reception facility to identify vulnerable individuals who may need special help.
 
Transferees will be expected to move out of the reception facility and into the community after a maximum of six weeks and IOM is looking into how it can help them to find affordable housing, health care, jobs and education for their children.

For more information please contact Chris Lom at IOM's Regional Office for Asia & the Pacific in Bangkok, Tel:  +66.819275215, Email: clom@iom.int


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Press Freedom in Malaysia - Not a 'controlled' puppet media... very pro-government.. .

Malaysian democracy in practice is a mockery to democracy, as Najib's BN government's understanding is that people vote for their elected reps once every 5 years to sit in Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies, and thereafter people are expected to sit back in silence and accept whatever the ruling governments do and say. 

Thereafter, people are not allowed to have free speech, free expression, freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of the press.... all these being freedoms guaranteed by the highest law  in the country, the Federal Constitution - which thereafter is taken away by other laws.

According to the BN government, people are not permitted to voice opposition or a different opinion from the ruling government on any matter... and if they do, then they are being 'anti-government', and hence a threat to national security ... and the law will act against them - even by using those draconian Detention Without Trial laws which permits indefinite detention for reasons that are unchallengeable in court. 

To exercise freedoms guaranteed by the Federal Constitution - one requires permission by the government, the police, etc - and even, if one were to apply for these permissions, the chances are they are not given - and, even if given, it is given at the eleventh hour with absurd conditions. Political party functions and gatherings in closed halls have previously been given on condition that there are no political speeches...(Is that not absurd?)
Of course, when it comes to premises, many of the peoples' venues like stadiums and town halls is almost impossible to get - why the 'managers' of the premises refuses to give permission, as in the recent free election gathering - citing reasons of 'unavailability'(when it is free) or even worry that the premises may be damaged/vandalized...Even certain private facilities are 'forced' to reject permissions.

Of course, the late police approval (even if given), makes it very difficult to advertise the event and make the necessary preparations. Monies will all have to be spend for the venue and related matters - and suddenly at the last minute, you may never get the approval and may have to cancel. After such experiences, many will just stop - or just stop applying. Many Malaysians feel it is absurd to have to apply to the police for permissions - hence, they will proceed without making any such applications....why give the police so much power? In other countries, requirement is only to inform the police - not ask for permissions.

Media - well, since all publications need to again apply for and get licenses every year, or can have their licenses immediately revoked or 'suspended temporarily' - most main stream media have been cowed into just being propagators of government voices, and not giving space for any other alternative voice or opinion. In the recent ALIRAN monthly, even with regard the 9/7/2011 BERSIH 2.0 event, media was 'instructed' on how they should cover the event.... they were allegedly said not to refer to the event as 'BERSIH rally or ...' but as 'illegal assembly'. They were asked to just focus on the problems caused - disruption to business, traffic jams, vandalism, etc ...


TV, radio told to demonise Bersih rally
 
Lee Way Loon
Jul 1, 11
12:03pm
 
With the Bersih 2.0 rally just around the corner, the authorities have launched a media campaign to label the rally as an illegal gathering to the extent that TV stations are required to submit daily reports detailing their news coverage on the rally.

Malaysiakini learnt that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which oversees all private TV and radio stations, has directed the broadcasters to state the number and content of news related to Bersih in their reports.

NONEYesterday, the commission also invited representatives from 22 electronic media and telecommunications operators to attend a one-day seminar titled 'Content Monitoring Seminar 2011' at its auditorium in Cyberjaya.

According to the MCMC letter issued to the electronic media, a copy of which was obtained by Malaysiakini, the aim of the seminar is to "discuss compliance with licensing criteria and other relevant provisions".

Editors who attended the seminar told Malaysiakini that they were implicitly advised by the MCMC not to refer to the rally as "Bersih rally" but as "illegal gathering" in their news coverage and to discourage members of the public from taking part in it.

On July 9, the day of the rally, footage showing police using violence on protesters is considered taboo, the editors said.

Instead the news should highlight the difficulties and inconvenience caused by the rally to the people, as well as scenes of protesters heckling, public property being vandalised and massive traffic congestions.

RTM already playing the role
State-owned RTM TV stations have been airing street polls against the rally on an almost daily basis in the past week.

Messages telling people to stay away from the rally are also being aired daily over both RTM and MCA-owned Mandarin radio station 988, which has highlighted the rally's status as illegal.

Most of the mainstream local dailies, meanwhile, have already been referrring to the Bersih 2.0 rally as an "illegal gathering".

chinese newspapers 250205Even the Chinese dailies, which exercise comparatively greater editorial independence, are leaning toward a conservative stand on this issue.

Both China Press and Nanyang Siang Pau have in their editorials recently dissuaded the people from taking part in the rally in order to "protect the national security".

Among others, they recalled the May 13 racial clashes of 1969 in order to convince their readers about the potential harm the illegal assembly could bring about.

Websites warned
Meanwhile, MCMC has warned it would shut down websites deemed a threat to national security, including those promoting the July 9 rally.

MCMC chief strategy officer Mohamed Sharil Mohamed Tarmizi told the Star that the commission would not hesitate to take action against any website for breaching the Communication and Multimedia Act.

Anything deemed illegal or wrong in the real world also applied to the cyber world, said Sharil.

Responding to an anti-Bersih advertisement aired on RTM channel TV2 yesterday, PAS Youth urged RTM to stop “misusing taxpayers' money to commit slander against a people's movement”.

“The short advertisement starts with an actor showing a Bersih leaflet, which was well-received by actor Bell Ngasri who showed interest in joining the rally.

"This was followed by actor Ezany Nizariff who showed a clip of chaos breaking out overseas, while saying that this will be what will happen at the Bersih rally and that the rakyat will feel threatened while tourists will flee.

“The advertisement ended with Bell throwing away the leaflet and saying that the Bersih rally is actually a dirty rally... RTM has allowed itself to become a political tool, but worse still, it showed no evidence that such violence and chaos would happen in Bersih and was forced to steal footage from overseas,” said the Selangor PAS Youth information chief Riduan Mohd Nor.

He added that if RTM wanted to let the people know the truth about Bersih then they should telecast on TV1 and TV2 a debate between Bersih and the Election Commission or BN representatives.- Malaysiakini, 1/7/2011, TV, radio told to demonise Bersih rally

Now,  a Media Consultative Council led by Ministers - just another mechanism, I believe, to stifle further press freedom in Malaysia - to possibly ensure what should be reported, and how it should be reported... As it is, mainstream media is already functioning as government loudspeakers - providing very little coverage for opposing viewpoints, very little 'investigative reporting' that will definitely serve as a check and balance against government/s abuse of power,... and if one were to even read newspapers from Thailand and other countries, we will see 'how boring' and 'un-newspaper like' malaysian mainstream media has become. Najib and the BN should realize that it is these kind of 'controls' and 'media' that has forced Malaysians to come out to the streets in an effort to communicate their views and concerns to the governments of the day, to the people of Malaysia and to the world at large...

Remember that criticisms of government, its actions and its policies, is a pre-requisite of a true democracy... and a truly democratic government will not be afraid of such criticisms - and will respond not with threats, violence and 'laws', but by giving answers, explanations and views... all intended to convince Malaysians. You do not suppress alternative voices - you encourage them. Yo do not just 'blindly' reject all differing views, but you listen and consider - accept those that are good reject the 'bad' - and importantly listen to the people and easily acknowledge when you are wrong.

Freedom of the press must be allowed uninhibited - and, if the government really wants to have a space for its voice to be heard, then maybe get a few pages in mainstream dailies (paying for it, of course) and insert your statements, views, etc... could call that "Government's Voice" or "Government Speaks"...

Editors snub gov't-led media council at first meeting
 
Aidila Razak & Salhan K Ahmad
Jul 25, 11
7:13pm
 
Editors of print media were today unanimous in their opposition to a government-led media consultative council, at the first meeting with the government to discuss the matter.

NONEAccording to those who attended the poorly-represented closed- door meeting chaired by Information, Communication and Culture Ministry secretary general Kamaruddin Siaraf (right), the editors were "about 100 percent" against government involvement in the council.

Notable absences in the one-hour meeting today were top editors of widely-read publications The Star, The Edge and Malay Mail.

Those who made it included representatives from The Sun, Bernama, the China Press group, Sin Chew group and the NSTP group, as well as the National Union of Journalists Malaysia.

Also present were media officials from the Prime Minister's Department.

“The print media is sending a very clear message that we feel that this is another layer of control.

“The perception is that we are already battered,” said a source who attended the meeting.
This was echoed by NSTP group managing editor Nuraina Samad, who also attended the meeting.

“How is going to help our circulation?” she asked, raising anxiety over the council's effect on the bottom line.

However, Kamaruddin, who according to the Home Ministry and Information, Communication and Ministry joint-proposal is to be the co-deputy chairperson of the council, said that the press have gotten the wrong impression.
'It's not about regulation'

“The council is not about regulation, it is just a consultative council that has no executive powers.
“We just want to be a helping hand, nothing else.”

“All we want is to pave the way to establish (an independent) media council... we have enough laws to regulate already,” he said, adding that he will take the feedback to the government.
Kamaruddin, who admitted that the editors had “gone against him” in the meeting, also went as far as conceding “failure”.

“We had called the print media first.. but it has failed even with them... so I have to report this to the government,” he said.

He added that they will also consider the suggestion from Bernama editor-in-chief Yong Soo Heong to also include media owners in the council.

NONEAccording to NUJ secretary-general V Anbalagan (right), what the media essentially wants is a council independent of the government in order to maintain its role as the fourth estate.

“This is a step backward, an exercise in futility... What we want is to set up a council made up of media members which is funded with taxpayers' money.

“It should not be headed by the government but by a retired judge,” he said, relating the outcome of a NUJ meeting in April on the matter.

The government proposal discussed today suggested that the council be co-chaired by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim.

The deputy co-chairpersons will be the ministries' secretary generals, while officials from the Prime Minister's Department, National Security Council, and the Information Ministry's Special Functions Department (Jasa) were also proposed as council members.

The council aims to, among others, be a forum for “harmonious” cooperation in the interest of nation-building, and to produce “communication strategies to tackle recurring issues”. - Malaysiakini, 25/7/2011, Editors snub gov't-led media council at first meeting

Monday, July 25, 2011

William Bourdon - arrested & deported with no right to be heard - alleged corruption in submarine deal

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Press Release
 
Arbitrary detention and deportation contrary to natural justice

The Malaysian Bar, and the public at large, are unable to fathom the cause for the recent detention and subsequent deportation of French lawyer William Bourdon. 

The reason reportedly provided by the Immigration Department – that the lawyer had violated the conditions of his Social Visit Pass – is vague and wholly inadequate.  This obvious imprecision hampers the visitor’s ability to answer the charges levelled against him.

The lack of specificity is antithetical to the principle of natural justice in administrative law, pursuant to which a clear and explicit basis for the deportation should have been furnished to the visitor, in order that he could have defended himself against any allegation.

As enunciated in the then-Supreme Court case of J P Berthelson v Director General of Immigration, Malaysia & Ors [1987] 1 MLJ 134, the rules of natural justice require that a person who will be affected by an administrative body’s decision be afforded an opportunity to be heard.  The affected person possesses a legitimate expectation to defend himself or herself, as it would be unfair to condemn anyone, or to deprive anyone of a right, without hearing what he or she has to say.

The veil surrounding this matter merely cements, in the mind of the public, the perception that the French lawyer’s deportation may have arisen as a result of the talk he had given in Penang the previous evening, relating to alleged corruption in the Malaysian Government’s purchase of submarines from a French company.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Government to justify publicly its grounds for deporting the French lawyer, and to cease such arbitrary detention and deportation.  This incident is another negative mark on the Government’s record on rights and fundamental liberties, which on this occasion involves a foreigner.

Lim Chee Wee
President
Malaysian Bar
25 July 2011


***

July 23, 2011 18:53 PM
 
Zahid Warns Of Action Against Those Twisting Facts On Submarine Purchase

BAGAN DATOH, July 23 (Bernama) -- Legal action will be taken against certain quarters if they continue to twist facts in connection with the purchase of two Scorpene submarines from France.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the ministry had repeatedly clarified the issue and maintained that the purchase was carried out in a transparent manner.


"If Dr Kua (Kia Soong) and SUARAMm (a human rights non-government organisation in Malaysia) can bring a lawyer from France, William Bourdon, to charge the Malaysian government in French court, we can also charge Dr Kua if there are proofs that certain facts have been manipulated," he told reporters after opening the Hilir Perak Sepakat Komuniti 1Malaysia programme here Saturday.


He was commenting on the presence of French lawyer William Bourdon at a briefing in Penang this week, allegedly over a "new" development in the purchase of the two submarines.


--
BERNAMA

Malaysia deports French lawyer for rights group

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Malaysia deported a French lawyer who spoke about an upcoming corruption trial involving a $1.2 billion submarine deal that opposition leaders have sought to link to Malaysia's prime minister, a human rights group said Saturday.
Malaysian authorities accused William Bourdon of unspecified immigration violations.
Bourdon spoke at a dinner in Malaysia's northern Penang state Thursday about a French court case set for trial in September and had been scheduled to address a similar event in Kuala Lumpur late Saturday.

The case is linked to complaints filed by Malaysian rights group Suaram with a French prosecutor in 2009 alleging corruption in a 114 million euro ($164 million) fee that shipbuilder DCNS paid to Malaysian firm Perimekar Sdn. Bhd. to facilitate a submarine deal.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied any corruption. Najib was defense minister in 2002 when Malaysia ordered two diesel-electric Scorpene attack submarines as part of a naval upgrade. It has since received both the submarines.

Suaram said immigration officials detained Bourdon when he flew from Penang to Kuala Lumpur and put him on a plane to Paris shortly before midnight Saturday.

Bourdon told The Associated Press he was instructed to get a plane ticket home at his own expense. He said he told the officials that he didn't understand the expulsion and that the decision lacks any justification.

"I told them I acted as a lawyer, in full respect of my duties and the rules of my profession, and in respect of international law and national laws," he said in a phone interview before his deportation.

Malaysian Immigration Director General Alias Ahmad said in a statement that Bourdon "violated the terms of his social visit pass." He did not elaborate, and other officials familiar with the matter could not immediately be reached.

In his talk Thursday, Bourdon gave an update about the status of the case, the French judicial system and what to expect from the trial. The Kuala Lumpur dinner event continued Saturday with speeches by Malaysian opposition leaders and a prerecorded video message by Bourdon.

Malaysian defense officials have said the fee was paid to Perimekar for coordination and support services. But critics argued that Perimekar was formed only a few months before the contract was inked, had no track record in submarine services and didn't have the financial ability to support the contract.

Perimekar is owned by the wife of Abdul Razak Baginda, who once was Najib's aide and a close friend.
Abdul Razak was acquitted in 2008 of abetting in the murder of his ex-mistress, a Mongolian woman. He confessed to having an affair with her and said she was blackmailing him. The woman was shot and her body blown up with military-grade explosives in October 2006.

Two policemen were convicted and sentenced to death for murdering the Mongolian. Suaram has said initial investigations by their French lawyers showed the Mongolian worked as a translator for Abdul Razak in the submarine deal.
------
Associated Press writer Pierre-Antoine Souchard contributed to this report from Paris.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RM67 mil - spending too much for RELA, a voluntary force..

The problem in Malaysia is that it is so difficult to get information - in fact, information that were easily available at official government/Ministry/Department websites are slowly being made unavailable. As an example, crime statistics in Malaysia - before we could find information of the number of serious crimes (reported) and even information about status of investigation, etc - we had info on murder, armed robbery, and various other crimes... but today, I cannot find these information ...

Sadly, many of the 'government' websites seem to be having more information about tender applications, ect... but less information about what matters..

So, much so, the only way we can get answers is through questions in Parliament - but the space for oral questions is too limited, and when it comes to written questions ... sadly many MPs just do not share the answers they get with the people.... (Pakatan Rakyat and the Opposition parties really should compile a list of questions that have been asked and the answers given...) Even our Parliament website do not have these 'written questions and answers' - it should be easily made available to members of the public - so, we do not have to ask questions already asked and answeres..

Gwo-Burne Loh(PKR Kelana Jaya) stands out as an exception as he circulates the answers he receive to civil society and  others... Below the question and the answer about RELA...(and my rough translation to English is in italic bold...)

JAWAPAN BAGI PERTANYAAN BUKAN  LISAN PADA JUN 2011
Answer to the Non-Verbal Question on June 2011
SOALAN:
Question:

TUAN GWO-BURNE LOH [Kelana Jaya] meminta MENTERI DALAM NEGERI menyatakan jumlah anggota RELA setakat April 2011 dan berapakah peruntukan kewangan dari Kementerian Dalam Negeri bagi RELA dari tahun 2006 hingga 2010.
TUAN GWO-BURNE LOH [Kelana Jaya] asked the Home Minister to state the number of RELA members as of April 2011 and how much was the financial allocation from the Home Ministry for RELA from year 2006 until 2010.

JAWAPAN:
Answer:

Saya mengucapkan ribuan terima kasih kepada Ahli Yang Berhormat Kelana Jaya yang mengemukakan pertanyaan tersebut.
I thank you for raising that question

Untuk makluman Yang Berhormat dan Dewan Yang Mulia ini bahawa sehingga 30 April 2011 sejumlah 2,629,117 orang telah mendaftar menjadi ahli RELA.
For your information, as of 30 April 2011 a sum of 2,629,117 persons have registered as RELA members

Manakala peruntukan kewangan daripada Kementerian bagi RELA dari tahun 2006 sehingga tahun 2010 adalah seperti berikut:
In terms oof allocation from the Ministry for RELA from 2006 until 2010, it is as follows:-

2006 – RM8,966,325.00
2007 – RM47,101,406.90
2008 – RM 67,757,042.00
2009 – RM 59,147,968.97
2010 – RM 67,071,253.10


And the price of bread have gone up 10 cents

Well, what used to be RM2.30 for a small loaf is now RM2.40 - it may be 10 cents only but it again increases the overall cost of living....

Prices are increasing - what next electricity rates, ASTRO,....
And we still do not even have minimum wage - despite the fact that the government is fully aware that 30% plus of workers in Malaysia earns less than poverty rate wages....




Monday, July 18, 2011

International Criminal Court: Step in the right direction, but swift action needed (Bar)

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Press Release
 
International Criminal Court: Step in the right direction, but swift action needed

Today, 17 July, is commemorated worldwide as International Justice Day.  It marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) in 1998. 

The ICC is an independent and permanent court to try persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.  It serves a vital role as an enduring international institution constituted to bring the perpetrators of such vicious acts to book. 


This year’s International Justice Day is especially meaningful to the Malaysian Bar, as the Malaysian Government had announced, in March, its intention to ratify the Rome Statute.  The Malaysian Bar reiterates that it applauds this pledge, and urges that the Government play its role in promoting international peace and stability by ratifying the instrument without further hesitation.


Becoming a State Party to the Rome Statute is imperative, in order to send a clear signal that
Malaysia shares the international community’s commitment to end the impunity of aggressors in conflict-ridden areas of our global village and obtain justice for victims of some of the gravest crimes against humanity.  The long-term solution to international conflict must be both a resolute commitment to peace-keeping and a stern resolve to bring to justice those responsible for atrocities.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Government to urgently join the community of 116 nation states that have thrown their weight behind the ICC and given it the moral and legal authority to deal with blatant human rights and humanitarian abuses worldwide.  As a tribunal that receives widespread respect, the ICC will, if fully supported, go a long way towards bringing about lasting peace by punishing all those who perpetrate crimes against their fellow human beings.


Joining the ICC would also be consistent with Malaysia’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council, which is responsible for upholding the highest possible standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. 


Membership of the ICC would not threaten or compromise Malaysia’s sovereignty.  The fact that the ICC operates on a principle of complementarity means that the international jurisdiction of the ICC is carefully balanced with the jurisdiction of the Malaysian courts.  The ICC is a court of “last resort” and has jurisdiction only if the national legal system of an alleged perpetrator’s home country (or the country where a crime took place) is unwilling or unable to act.


We look to the Malaysian Government to expeditiously ratify the Rome Statute and thus demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and the cause of international criminal justice.  As ever, the Malaysian Bar is ready to assist the Government in any way we can in this regard.


Lim Chee Wee
President
Malaysian Bar

17 July 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Remembering the JCY's 5,000 Workers Protest 2010 - maybe the biggest workers' protest in Malaysia for many years

1 worker died - because the employer was slow in providing healthcare, and this is what started the protest by more than 5,000 workers - and they were migrant workers. It was also involving workers from many different countries - Nepal, Burma, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh. Language difficulties and other differences were overcome as these workers united for workers' rights.

It may be the biggest worker protest at a factory that Malaysia has seen for years - but sadly, we see that the media reports was rather unfair to their workers and their legitimate protests. The workers were painted in a negative light in the reports.

Notice also how the Star, in their reports protected the company, the employer, and it was not even named.

JOHOR BARU: A two-day protest by more than 5,000 foreigners at a factory workers' enclave, in Tebrau Industrial area here, turned violent Monday when a guard post was destroyed and stones and rubbish were hurled at bystanders.

The protesters, comprising workers mainly from Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, even used fire extinguishers against bystanders and chased down a vehicle ferrying two health inspectors.

It is learnt a member of the public suffered a minor cut on his head after being hit by a stone thrown by the protestors.

The foreigners had, on Sunday, protested against the management of a factory, following the death of a Nepali worker.

On Monday, they demanded higher wages from the management and a mini-clinic to be built in the compound.

More than 200 policemen were deployed and managed to keep the situation under control, preventing any spillover.

Johor Baru (South) OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin Yaakob said the protestors dispersed about 5.50pm.

He added that the workers' representative would meet their agents as well as the factory's management on Tuesday to discuss problems faced by the workers.- Star, 16/8/2010, Foreign workers run riot at factory enclave


JOHOR BARU: A protest by more than a thousand foreign factory workers at their quarters in the Tebrau industrial area turned violent on its second day, as a guardpost was destroyed and onlookers were pelted with stones and rubbish.

The protest, which lasted some eight hours, also saw the workers – mainly from Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India – turning fire extinguishers on bystanders and chasing after a vehicle ferrying two health inspectors.

It is learnt that a bystander suffered a minor cut on his head after being hit by a stone thrown by a worker.
However, the 200 policemen deployed to the scene managed to prevent the fracas from spreading beyond the compound.

Smokescreen: Foreign workers running for cover after setting up a smokescreen by burning rubbish at their enclave in Tebrau industrial area in Johor Baru yesterday.

The protest erupted on Sunday following the death of a Nepali factory worker from high fever, allegedly because the management had been slow in sending the worker to hospital.

Yesterday, the protesters demanded higher wages.

Bangladeshi Jinur Biswas, 26, said the workers wanted their wages increased from RM420 to RM546 per month.

“We also want the company to provide a mini-clinic within the compound and to pay about RM25,000 to the family of any worker who dies here,” he said, adding that prompt action was needed to aid any sick worker.

He also said the company had not been paying the workers overtime.

“Even if we worked 12 hours, they would pay us only two hours of overtime,” he said.

Johor Baru (South) OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin Yaakob said the workers dispersed at about 5.50pm.

“Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel were stationed there to restore calm at the quarters. They did not discharge their weapons or felt the need to fire water cannons,” said ACP Zainudddin.

He added that a representative from the workers would meet their agents and the factory’s management today to discuss the problems.

“The meeting will be held at 11am at the management office in the Tebrau Industrial area,” he said. - Star, 17/8/2010, Onlookers pelted with stones as protest over death of Nepali turns ugly

JOHOR BARU: The protest by foreign workers at the Tebrau industrial area is over. Police do not expect any further trouble.

Johor Baru (South) OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin Yaakob said the workers’ representative had met with their agents as well as the factory’s management yesterday and resolved the matter.

“The factory’s management has agreed to meet the workers’ demands, including increasing their wages,” he said.

He said all parties were satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and no more trouble was expected.

“I hope the workers will not stir up trouble and solve any problem in a non-violent manner,” he said.

The protest which took place at the workers quarters involved more than a thousand foreign factory workers who turned violent on Monday, destroying a guard post and pelting onlookers with stones and rubbish.

The workers – mainly from Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India – also turned fire extinguishers on bystanders and chased after a vehicle ferrying two health inspectors.

However, the 200 policemen deployed to the scene managed to prevent the fracas from spreading beyond the compound. - Star, 18/8/2010, Johor foreign workers’ protest now resolved

It was indeed good that JCY International Berhad, a company incorporated in Malaysia, which supplies Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, ... responded quickly and apparently reached a settlement with the workers - see also their Press Statement on this issue


 


The protest also received recognition by ITUC - in their website

A three-day protest by more than 5,000 migrant workers over the death of a Nepali co-worker ended on 17 August following a four-point agreement between JCY SDB BHD Company, a computer parts manufacturer in Johor Baru, and the company’s workers. According to fellow Nepali workers, Karna Bahadur Gharti Magar of Rolpa died on 14 August due to a delay in getting treatment for a serious illness caused by company negligence. ...

",,2m x 2.5m cell and sleeps on the floor.." - inhumane conditions for Detention Without Trial victims - PSM6

They are all being detained under a law that allows for Detention Without Trial - with no right to defend themselves, or for a fair trial in an open court. And, they are made to sleep in a 2 X 2.5 meter cell on the floor, and this is unacceptable...and is 'torture'. 

Arrested on 25/6/2011 - and then re-arrested again without being released again on 2/7/2011 under Section 3(1) of the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, a detention without trial law - and this means that they have deprived their liberty for 21 days already

On 6/7/2011(Wednesday) , they filed an urgent application in court to get their freedom claiming that their detention is unlawful - but strangely and certainly unjustly the court first fixed the hearing on 12/8/2011 - and then on 22/7/2011 (which is still more than 15 days). These kind of applications should have been heard on 7/7/2011 or 8/7/2011 - i.e. as soon as possible.

So, why is the court delaying the hearing? Maybe on instructions from ... or maybe to give time for the Minister to issue his 2-year Detention Order, for after that order comes out, the right to challenge the reasons for the said Detention is no longer possible today...., and even if they are successful in their application filed on 6/7/2011 - they will continue to remain in detention if the Minister's Detention order has been issued. [The detention for the 1st 60 days is by the police, and the court can look at the reasons for detention - and if not justified, can release the 6] 

Now, the police and the government can arrest and detain persons for long time, depriving the individual of their freedom - and there should really be provisions for monetary compensation for the deprivation of liberty... if there is, then the police and the government will not use this power of detention arbitrarily and unnecessarily .... 

R Release immediately and unconditionally Kumar Devaraj, Saras, Chon Kai,  Sukumaran, Letchumanan, Sarat Babu and all others currently being detained in Malaysia under Detention Without Trial laws. Repeal all Detention Without Trial Laws - more than enough normal laws that could be used that will guarantee the right to a fair trial.




PSM detainee: I have everything except freedom
Kuek Ser Kuang Keng
Jul 15, 11
4:09pm  All six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) activists detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) were allowed to meet their family members and lawyers for the second time today, but for just 15 minutes.

According to the those who visited them, the six were physically well, but suffered mental torture in the form of repeated long-hour interrogation on matters not related to the offence they are accused of.

NONE“He is physically okay and in high spirits. He has everything, except freedom,” said Wong Pei Chin (left), girlfriend of PSM central committee member Choo Chon Kai.

“He is detained in a 2m x 2.5m cell and sleeps on the floor. He is not someone who will complain about this kind of environment. The only thing he desires now is freedom.”

The 23-year-old safety officer said she felt like crying when police stopped her meeting with Choo after 15 minutes.

“I hope he can be released as soon as possible. He still has many things yet to accomplish,” Wong added.

Together with PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan and the lawyers for te PSM 6, the family members called a press conference in Kuala Lumpur after visiting the six late this morning.


Arutchelvan said the six, dubbed 'PSM6', were detained in different police stations and that police had rejected their requests to be kept in one location, making the action to get their signatures on their affidavits more difficult.

The lawyers, and two commissioners of oath, were forced to rush from one police station to another to get the detainees to sign the affidavits, which are necessary for their habeas corpus application.

anti fta protest at miti 140108 arutchelvanThey managed to get all the signatures, except that of Sungai Siput PSM branch secretary A Letchumanan. The application will be first heard next Friday, Arutchelvan (right) added.

During the press conference, J Raveen Veerase, son of Sungai Siput MP Dr D Jeyakumar, said his father, who had earlier been hospitalised because of heart palpitations, is in stable condition.

"He did not have much complaint except that the light of the cell was switched on all night long and the toilet was very dirty."

K Indran, 40, younger brother of M Sukumaran, said his brother was mentally tortured by four to five policemen, who repeatedly interrogated him on the same questions, sometimes up to five hours continuously.

NONE"He broke into tears immediately upon seeing us. We were all very sad. He was confined alone in the cell and could not hear what was happening next door," Indran (left) said.

K Gunasegaran, 47, relative to PSM deputy chairperson M Saraswathy, also complained that Saraswathy was subjected to hours-long interrogation, twice a day.

"She was asked the same questions over and over again. She told the police, 'if I had committed any offence, charge me, don't try to tarnish the good name of PSM'," Gunasegaran said.

Saraswathy also complained of chest pains, but she was not given any medication, her niece N Sasintharadevi said.

The mother of PSM Youth leader Sarat Babu said her son was suffering from recurring headaches because of the interrogation.

"He just cannot take the torture... he hopes he can be released by end of this month."

NONEWith tears welling in his eyes, the 19-year-old son of Letchumanan, L Devanthiran (left), appealed to the government to release his father as soon as possible.

"My dad has many responsibilities. He needs to take care of his business. Now, my mother is taking care of it for him because my sister and I need to study.

"We can't do anything without our father," Devanthiran said, adding that he was praying for the father, who has become his 'hero'.

The family will join the family members of the other detainees and PSM members and supporters in a 'picnic' in front of the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters later today as a silent protest.

"What else can they do when their family members are detained?" Arutchelvan said.
- Malaysiakini, 15/7/2011, PSM detainee: I have everything except freedom