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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Court's gender discriminatory judgment against CEDAW & Federal Constitution - Why must women retire earlier than men?

See earlier post:- Court decision supports discrimination against women - retirement age.

Why must women retire earlier than men?
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 12:44

THE Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is deeply disappointed by the recent Court of Appeal decision to dismiss an appeal by eight women who were forcibly retired by their employer, Guppy Plastic Industries, after they reached the age of 50.

Men employed at the company are able to work until they are 55 years of age. This disparity in retirement age between men and women is a clear case of gender-based discrimination.

In 2001, eight women workers from Guppy Plastic Industries were forced to retire after a new handbook of employment regulations was introduced by the company, in which retirement age was stipulated.

The women filed a complaint with the Industrial Court. In 2008, the Industrial Court decided in favour of the women workers, finding that the difference in retirement age constituted gender discrimination.

Guppy Plastic Industries sought a review of this decision and in 2010 the High Court overturned the Industrial Court’s decision, finding in favour of the company.

The eight women appealed the 2010 High Court decision. On March 21 this year, the Court of Appeal dismissed the women’s appeal. The decision of the three-member panel of judges was unanimous.

Judge Datuk K.N. Segara reportedly said that the company was merely following its own employment regulations and that it was the industry norm to have different retirement ages.

JAG disagrees with the judges — the argument that there is no discrimination because the company was merely following its own employment regulations and was acting in accordance with the industry norm, is not acceptable.

JAG wishes to stress that companies’ harmful and/or discriminatory policies cannot be accepted when they violate Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which prohibits gender discrimination.

Women must not be discriminated against — such a practice effectively robs them of five years salary and benefits.

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw), to which Malaysia is a party, defines discrimination against women as: “Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

The provisions of Cedaw apply to all fields, including, “contracts and all other private instruments of any kind with a legal effect directed at restricting the legal capacity of women.”

In July 2011, in a judgment by Justice Zaleha Yusof in the Shah Alam High Court in relation to a women’s job offer being revoked because of pregnancy, it was affirmed that Cedaw has the “force of law” and is “binding” on Malaysia.

All arms of the Malaysian government, including the judiciary, legislature and executive, have a legal obligation under Cedaw to ensure there is no gender discrimination.

By finding against the women, the judges in the Court of Appeal have not fulfilled this obligation. This decision sends a message to employers that gender discrimination is a non-issue and is acceptable.

It is often the industry norm that upon reaching the age of 50, women workers in the plastics industry are forced to retire, and many are then re-hired on a short term contract basis. Besides elements of labour exploitation, their livelihood becomes insecure as they do not receive the benefits of permanent employment.

Women are often disproportionately and negatively affected by unfair and unjust labour practices. This discrimination is unacceptable and must not continue.

THE JOINT ACTION GROUP FOR
GENDER EQUALITY (JAG)

Malaysian government no immediate plans to abolish death penalty

Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz personally is for the abolition of the death penalty, but as a sitting Minister in the current government, the official position is that the government has no immediate plans to abolish the death penalty. He has called on Malaysians to oppose strongly if we want the death peanlty to be abolished (see Nazri: Oppose strongly if you want death penalty abolished (Star 2/3/2012)


The Malaysian Bar is now unanimous in its call for abolition (see Malaysian Bar unanimously passes resolution for the abolition of the death penalty (10/3/2012)

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) and Amnesty Malaysia has come out calling for the abolition. Others groups also are for the abolition - but have yet to issue any statement recently calling for the abolition.

Is Pakatan Rakyat for the abolition of the death penalty? Is DAP? Is PRM? Is PSM? Is PKR/ Is PAS? [The FMT report below says, "Pakatan MPs too supported the motion to end the death sentence" but I have not seen any statement that has been made by Pakatan MPs or Pakatan Rakyat on this issue that clearly states that they are for the abolition - PR should issue a clear statement calling for the abolition of the death penalty - and include it also clearly in their election manifesto (or the 'Buku Jingga')

Is the MCCBCHS for the abolition of the death penalty? Are you for the abolition of the death penalty?

This is the time to come out and clearly call for the abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia..



Death penalty to stay, says Nazri
By Clara Chooi
March 29, 2012

Nazri (right) said the abolition of the death sentence would affect the rest of the country’s legal system.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — Putrajaya has no immediate plans to abolish the death penalty, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz has said, insisting that Malaysia still needs the punishment as a deterrent for serious crimes.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said, however, that the proposal to remove the provision would be considered but only after a thorough review is conducted.

“The suggestion will be given fair consideration once a thorough review and careful study is done on all aspects, and after taking into cognisance the viewpoints of all relevant parties.

“This is needed because the scrapping of the death penalty or natural life imprisonment sentences would greatly impact the country’s legal system,” he said in a written response to Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) yesterday.

Explaining further, Nazri said it was appropriate to maintain the death penalty to deter serious offences like murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, drug trafficking under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and other crimes involving firearms, ammunition and explosives.

The Padang Rengas MP added that the same would apply to the natural life imprisonment sentence as it also involves serious crimes.

“The government at this time does not plan to abolish the death penalty or natural life sentence from the country’s legal system.

“The government is of the view that these penalties are still needed for certain heavy crimes.

“These penalties are more retributive in nature, that is to react towards offenders based on the crimes they have committed,” he said.

Earlier this month, Malaysian Bar members unanimously passed a resolution at the Bar Council’s annual general meeting (AGM) calling for capital punishment to be abolished and replaced with life imprisonment instead.

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee had urged Datuk Seri Najib Razak to add this to his administration’s series of law reforms, saying the move should be “leadership driven”.

Lim claimed that empirical evidence from surveys has shown that despite the introduction of mandatory death sentences for drug trafficking, the number of cases continues to increase.

“Death penalty has zero deterrent effect, so why keep it in our books?” he said.

He pointed out that in light of weaknesses in the country’s legal system, innocent individuals could be found guilty of the offence and sentenced to death despite not committing the crime.

Lim had also urged parliamentarians to join the council in its campaign against the death penalty by pushing for amendments to current laws when the House sits from next week until April.- Malaysian Insider, 29/3/2012, Death penalty to stay, says Nazri


    Nazri’s ‘flip-flop’ stand on death penalty
    K Pragalath
     | March 30, 2012

    Suaram calls on the the Minister in Prime Minister's Department, Nazri Aziz to make a firm stand on abolishing the death penalty.

    PETALING JAYA: Suaram today called on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri Aziz to make a firm stand on the death penalty.

    It said he can’t have it both ways and callled his flip-flop stand “the ultimate denial of human rights”.

    “On March 1, Nazri stated that he wanted the death penalty to be abolished and called for a mass movement of people to oppose the death penalty.

    “However, yesterday, the minister insisted that Malaysia still needs this punishment as a deterrent for serious crimes,” said Suaram’s executive director E Nalini in a statement.

    She was commenting on Nazri Aziz’s defence on the use of death penalty in response to a question raised by Bukit Gelugor MP, Karpal Singh in parliament yesterday.

    Nazri had insisted that Malaysia still needed death penalty as a deterrent to to serious crime.

    He added that the removal of the sentence would only be considered after a thorough review is conducted since its abolishment would have a major impact on the legal system.

    Earlier this month Nazri called himself a “knight in armour” who is all for abolishing the death penalty and wanted a mass movement to end the sentence.

    Pakatan MPs too supported the motion to end the death sentence.

    International human rights organisation, Amnesty International and the Bar Council meanwhile were much more optimistic that Malaysia would eventually repeal the penalty.

    Minister should convince the cabinet

    Bar Council chairman Lim Chee Wee said: “It is safe to say that the statements were made by Nazri on behalf of the federal government.”

    Lim’s confidence comes from the fact that Nazri has privately and publicly declared his personal view in support for the abolishment of the death penalty.

    He added that Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail is also personally supportive for the repeal.

    Lim also urged Nazri to persuade the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s administration to immediately move towards a moratorium and subsequently repeal the death sentence.

    “The minister has been saying that the relevant civil societies and the Bar bear the burden of changing the hearts and minds of the perceived majority of Malaysians who favour the retention of the death penalty.

    “However, we appeal to the minister to utilise his legal training and powers of advocacy to persuade the Cabinet and Najib to move towards abolition,” said Lim in a statement .

    Amnesty International’s executive director Nora Murat too is confident that the government would review the death penalty.

    “However the government needs to restrict the definition of serious crime. The United Nations Human Rights Commission and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights restricts it to crimes directly related to death,” said Nora. - Free Malaysia Today, 30/3/2012, Nazri’s ‘flip-flop’ stand on death penalty

FLA investigations confirms Apple's worker rights violations...

Fair Labor Association Secures Commitment to Limit Workers' Hours, Protect Pay at Apple's Largest Supplier

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Independent Investigation Uncovers Significant Issues; 35,500 Anonymous Surveys Give Voice to Worker Concerns

FLA to Monitor, Publish Progress Reports on Apple and Foxconn Implementation

WASHINGTON, D.C.— After a thorough, independent investigation found significant issues with working conditions at three factories in China operated by Apple’s major supplier Foxconn, the Fair Labor Association secured groundbreaking commitments that will reduce working hours to legal limits while protecting pay, improve health and safety conditions, establish a genuine voice for workers, and will monitor on an ongoing basis to verify compliance. The nearly month-long investigation found excessive overtime and problems with overtime compensation; several health and safety risks; and crucial communication gaps that have led to a widespread sense of unsafe working conditions among workers.

“The Fair Labor Association gave Apple’s largest supplier the equivalent of a full-body scan through 3,000 staff hours investigating three of its factories and surveying more than 35,000 workers. Apple and its supplier Foxconn have agreed to our prescriptions, and we will verify progress and report publicly,” said Auret van Heerden, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, a coalition of universities, non-profit organizations and businesses committed to improving the health, safety, fair treatment and respect of workers worldwide.

FLA’s investigation found that within the last 12 months, all three factories exceeded both the FLA Code standard of 60 hours per week (regular plus overtime) and the Chinese legal limits of 40 hours per week and 36 hours maximum overtime per month. During peak production periods, the average number of hours worked per week exceeded 60 hours per worker. There were periods in which some employees worked more than seven days in a row without the required 24 hours off. Full worker survey data is available at www.fairlabor.org/affiliate/apple.

Foxconn has committed to bring its factories into full compliance with Chinese legal limits and FLA standards on working hours by July 2013, according to its remediation plan in FLA’s report. The supplier will bring working hours in line with the legal limit of 49 hours per week, including overtime. This means a reduction in monthly overtime hours from 80 to 36, and would be a significant improvement given that most of the technology sector is struggling to address excessive overtime.

More importantly, while employees will work fewer hours, Foxconn has agreed to develop a compensation package that protects workers from losing income due to reduced overtime. In order to maintain capacity while reducing workers’ hours, Foxconn committed to increase its workforce significantly as it builds additional housing and canteen capacity.

FLA also discovered that 14 percent of workers may not receive fair compensation for unscheduled overtime. The assessment found that unscheduled overtime was only paid in 30-minute increments. This means, for example, that 29 minutes of overtime work results in no pay and 58 minutes results in only one unit of overtime pay. Foxconn committed to pay workers fairly for all overtime as well as work-related meetings outside of regular working hours. In addition, FLA secured agreement from Foxconn and Apple to retroactively pay any worker due unpaid overtime. The companies are currently conducting an audit to determine the payments due to workers.

According to FLA’s worker survey, 64 percent of employees say that compensation does not meet their basic needs. FLA will conduct a cost of living study in Shenzhen and Chengdu to assist Foxconn in determining whether worker salaries meet FLA requirements for basic needs, as well as discretionary income.

FLA observed other serious issues in areas such as health and safety, worker integration and communication, treatment of interns, and China’s social security enrollment, among others.

A considerable number of workers feel concerned about the protection of their health and safety. More than 43 percent of the workers report that they have experienced or witnessed an accident. These accidents range from hand injuries to factory vehicle accidents. Foxconn has committed to be more inclusive of workers in health and safety monitoring and decisions.

Until now, Foxconn only recorded accidents that resulted in a production stoppage. Beginning immediately, Foxconn committed to require supervisors and workers to report all accidents resulting in an injury.

Many of Foxconn’s health and safety problems, including blocked exits, lack of or faulty personal protective equipment and missing permits, were immediately corrected during the course of the investigation. FLA found that, one year after the Chengdu explosion, Foxconn had improved operating procedures, measurement, and documentation to reduce risks related to aluminum dust where Apple products are made.

The assessment also found that the union at Foxconn is dominated by management representatives and does not provide true worker representation. In keeping with local laws, Foxconn has agreed to ensure elections of worker representatives without management interference.

FLA also secured agreement by Foxconn to find alternative ways to address low enrollment in social security benefit programs and to adapt its internship program to ensure that interns enjoy the protections necessary for a productive, healthy and safe educational experience.

“If implemented, these commitments will significantly improve the lives of more than 1.2 million Foxconn employees and set a new standard for Chinese factories,” van Heerden said.

Following the FLA’s methodology, independent assessors logged more than 3,000 staff hours inside the factories. They evaluated conditions based on visual observation and review of policies, procedures and documentation (payroll and time records, production schedules, employee records); interviewed hundreds of Foxconn workers and managers both on- and off-site; and conducted an anonymous worker perception survey of 35,500 randomly-selected Foxconn workers – providing an in-depth understanding of working conditions, particularly during peak production of Apple products.

Under FLA rules, its assessors have unfettered access to conduct thorough investigations of Apple suppliers. This investigation of three Foxconn factories at Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu, in China is the beginning of FLA’s in-depth, thorough examination of the entire operation to assess whether workers’ rights and labor standards are being respected throughout Apple’s supply chain.

"Joining the Fair Labor Association is voluntary. But once a company joins, FLA sets the rules of investigations and has full access to any supplier, owns the information collected and publishes its findings and recommendations for remedial action,” van Heerden said.

In addition to follow up studies related to this first investigation, FLA will verify Apple’s and Foxconn’s implementation of their remediation plans and will report publicly on progress.

A full copy of the report is available at www.fairlabor.org/transparency/complaints-investigations.

About the Fair Labor Association: The FLA combines the efforts of socially responsible companies, civil society organizations and colleges and universities to protect workers’ rights and improve working conditions worldwide by promoting adherence to international labor standards. The FLA holds companies accountable for monitoring their own supply chains and conducts independent assessments to ensure that the FLA Code of Conduct is upheld. The FLA also acts on and resolves third party complaints and special investigations about workers’ rights abuses at specific factories. Through public reporting, the FLA provides consumers with credible information to make responsible buying decision. FLA is governed by a 19-member Board of Directors that includes an independent Chair and eighteen members equally representing leading universities, labor and human rights organizations, and companies. For more information, visit www.fairlabor.org. - Fair Labour Association, 29/3/2012, Fair Labor Association Secures Commitment to Limit Workers' Hours, Protect Pay at Apple's Largest Supplier

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Explanation needed from Selangor Exco - Why Renovate? Why Spend So Much?

I was disturbed by the amount of monies that have been expended by the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor State Exco members for 'office renovations' - some having spend monies that could have build a few lost cost homes.

Logically, the offices were already there most probably with the necessary furniture, etc - so why was so much money spend for renovations? Please explain more and justify this expenditure...A renovation expenditure of RM5,000 may be justified - but this really is too much...surely these monies could have been better spend. Is there no check and balance to prevent such excess spending? We are all geared up to kick out the BN - for their excesses...and now it saddens me when this Pakatan Rakyat is also spending wastefully the people's money..Please explain. Who approved it?

Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said today former exco member Hasan Ali had spent more than his colleagues for the renovation of his office.
 
Revealing this in the Selangor assembly in Shah Alam, Khalid said Hasan’s expenditure topped the list at RM329,000, followed by Ean Yong Hian Wah at RM 146,000 and Rodziah Ismail at RM119,000.

Other exco members listed included Xavier Jeyakumar (RM70,000), Ronnie Liu (RM53,000), Yaakob Sapari (RM32,000), Teresa Kok and Elizabeth Wong (under RM25,000) and Iskandar Abdul Samad (RM21,000).

This flies in the face of Hasan's defence yesterday that his colleagues Xavier and Halimah Ali had spent significantly more than him to renovate their offices.

On the same day Jeyakumar denied the allegation while Halimah clarified that her office had never been renovated.
 
However, Khalid reiterated that the spending by Hasan was according to procedure and urged the House not to dwell on the matter.

"When he left as exco member, those assets remained with the government, so there is no need to question further," he said.

Aside from this, Hasan yesterday clarified two other allegations against him, on excessive spending for a conference and for not implementing open tenders for the routine road maintenance jobs of the Public Works Department.

Hasan said the RM550,000 spent on the conference included expenses for other programmes that had been approved by the state government, while the move not to implement open tender had been approved by the state treasury.

However, Khalid said Hasan did not obtain through proper means the approval from the state treasury not to implement open tender for routine road maintenance jobs in Selangor.

Hasan ali pc"We found that Hasan did not perform his duties as he should have, by not adhering to procedures on good governance.

"To receive approval, he must get it from the state financial officer. But he got it from a lower ranked officer from the treasury, which is not according to procedure," Khalid said.

Only the menteri besar or the state financial officer, he added, could approve any move on expenses that was contrary to state policies.

The allegations against Hasan, who was dismissed as an exco member after he was sacked by his party, PAS, were first levelled by Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyperson Azmin Ali.

Hasan has since gone on the offensive against Azmin, who is also PKR deputy president, making a series of old allegations against him.- Malaysiakini, 27/3/2012, Hasan Ali's renovation costs highest, says MB  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Give Apple Workers a Voice in Their Future (A Joint Media Statement - 22/3/2012)

Many of us use Apple products - and we must make sure that we do not support violations of human rights and worker rights by buying products made by companies that allow injustices and rights violations of workers. The joining of the Fair Labour Association is certainly a good move by Apple - but it must also translate in Apple actually doing the needful to immediately end the many reported alleged injustices and rights violations suffered by workers involved in making the Apple products that we use or are contemplating to buy. Our choices as consumers should no more just be based on quality, prices, ... - but also an assurance that in the production of these products, i.e. in the entire supply chain, there was no human or worker rights violations, injustices, negative impact on the environment, ... Remember always that our choices do matter...

Give Apple Workers a Voice in Their Future

23 March 2012: The ITUC has joined the International Metalworkers’ Federation and several campaign groups in calling on IT giant Apple to finally take serious action to end appalling abuses of workers in its supply chain. Source: ITUC Website



Media Statement - 22 March 2012
 

Give Apple Workers a Voice in Their Future

By joining the Fair Labor Association, Apple has embarked on its latest program of auditing its suppliers, ostensibly to investigate and remedy the appalling abuses in its supply chain that have been well documented and widely reported. While Apple claims that it is finally taking the issue seriously, its top-down auditing approach can never be a long-term solution to the systematic violations of labour rights that are occurring every day in the manufacture of electronic products. Indeed, Apple promised in 2006 that auditing would protect the rights of workers in its global supply chain, with results that are all too apparent.

The FLA will likely publish next week some of the results of its audits at Foxconn and the organization will no doubt report that labor rights violations are taking place at these factories. Since violations at Foxconn have been well documented by independent investigators, and in many cases admitted by Apple itself, the FLA could hardly claim that all is well. We also have no doubt that the FLA’s report will be coupled with another round of promises from Apple and Foxconn that they will finally clean up their act. The question, however, is not whether there are severe labor rights problems in Apple’s supply chain. This has been obvious for years. And the question is not whether Apple will promise, again, to fix these problems. They surely will. The question is whether anything will actually change.

Because once the audits are over and FLA has gone home, the workers in the factories will again be left to deal, as best they can, with the brutal labour conditions that are imposed on them. Any hope that conditions for workers will improve rests not on the work of auditors, but on the ability of workers themselves to monitor whether their labour rights are being respected and to push for remedies when they are not.

If Apple is genuinely concerned about improving the labour rights of workers that manufacture its products, it must ensure that they can negotiate with their employer to bring lasting change to the way that work is performed and compensated. For the Foxconn workers this means allowing workers to conduct elections to democratically select their own representatives in the workplace who can negotiate with management on the pay and conditions of the workforce. Such elections must be conducted by the workers without interference from management and all managers must be prohibited from taking up union positions. In order for the elected worker representatives to be able to meet management on an equal footing to negotiate on pay and working conditions, they will need support in terms of skills and knowledge. Apple must therefore insist that union representatives be allowed to access training and capacity building that is independent of management, so that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate on behalf of the workers they represent.

Collective bargaining is the mechanism that will enable workers to negotiate with management on appropriate levels of pay and decent working conditions and is one of the fundamental labour rights recognized by the ILO. It is especially critical to addressing health and safety problems. Apple and Foxconn must immediately establish a schedule of negotiations which will lead to a collective agreement that covers all aspects of work including wages and working hours, overtime, health and safety, etc. A collective agreement would help reduce the vast disparity between workers’ pay and the massive profits generated by both Foxconn and Apple, which has announced that it has $45 billion to spend on buying back its own shares rather than on improving pay and conditions for the workers that make its products.

There is no question that giving workers a real say in the way that their work is organized and remunerated will challenge the repressive management practices for which Foxconn is notorious. Foxconn must learn to work together with its employees, through their democratically elected representatives, to find solutions together that reconcile the demands of production with recognition of workers’ rights. This will mean giving access to information on wages, working hours, production schedules and financial information that enable worker representatives to take an equal seat at the table and work with management to resolve the issues. It will also mean that Apple must roll up its sleeves and get involved directly in the bargaining process, so that its demands on unit prices and production deadlines do not undermine agreements on pay and working conditions.

Bargaining should take place above a floor of decent minimum standards. This must include an immediate end to illegal overtime hours, coupled with wage increase to ensure that every worker in Apple’s supply chain is paid a genuine living wage that covers basic needs for a family for a statutory work week (40 hours in China). Given Apple’s gargantuan profits and mountainous horde of cash, there is no financial, practical or moral excuse for any worker making Apple products to go another day without being paid a living wage for a normal workweek.

Finally, it is clear that organizations like ours will need to continue to scrutinize conditions in Apple’s supply chain for the foreseeable future, to hold the company accountable and remedy any abuses. For this to be possible, Apple must be more forthcoming about the identity of its suppliers, not just releasing the company names, but the countries and specific factories in which all the components that go into its products are made.

International Metalworkers Federation (IMF)
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
SumofUs
Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) 
Good Electronics
MakeITFair

 
 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Minister’s Proposal To Restrict ... Unacceptable – Abolish ‘Contractor for Labour’ and ‘Outsourced Workers’ - Syed Shahir

Minister’s Proposal To Restrict ‘Contractor For Labour’ Amendments to Plantation and Agricultural Sector Unacceptable – Abolish ‘Contractor for Labour’ and ‘Outsourced Workers’. [Media Statement – 8/3/2012]

 
Media Statement – 8/3/2012

Minister’s Proposal To Restrict ‘Contractor For Labour’ Amendments to Plantation and Agricultural Sector Unacceptable – Abolish ‘Contractor for Labour’ and ‘Outsourced Workers’.

What we need is the repeal of all the provisions amending the Employment Act 1955, that came in vide Employment (Amendment) Bill 2011, that was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on 6/10/2011 and thereafter the Senate on 22/12/2011. The objections to the said amendments was not just with regards to the ‘contractor for labour’ and/or outsourced workers in our factories and workplaces that are not employees of the said workplace, but also other matters including the 1 month delay allowed for employers to pay overtime of monthly waged workers and the proposed sexual harassment provisions.

It was reported that the Human Resource Minister Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam had announced on 6/3/2012 that the “contractor for labour” amendment, that is sections 31, 33(a), 69 and 73 in the Employment Act (EA) 1955 will now only apply to the plantation and agricultural sector, and that all other sectors will be exempted. [The Sun Daily, 6/3/2012, Amendments apply only to plantation and agricultural sectors (Updated)]. It is already in our law, and today the Minister says this but tomorrow, possibly after the next General Elections, he will extend it to other sectors and/or classes of workers, and all this may be done quietly, for after all it does not have to go through Parliament.

The Minister misses the point totally for the objection of workers and trade unions is to ‘contractors for labour’, which have been called many names including ‘outsourcing agents/companies’, manpower/labour suppliers, ‘outside contractors’ or 3rd parties who have been supplying workers, now commonly called ‘outsourced workers’ to employers, being principals or owners of workplace, statutory and government bodies, without these workers thereafter becoming employees of the said principal or owners of the workplace - hence having no rights to be members of (or form) union of the said workplace and/or the respective regional or national trade union, and hence not being able to benefit from Collective Agreements. Why? It is because the said principals or owners of workplaces do not consider these ‘outsourced workers’ as their own employees – and a Collective Agreement is generally and agreement between employer and their worker-employees. This practice, we believe, have been going on since about 2005.

What we end is the end of this practice of using ‘outsourced workers’, employees of some 3rd party (the ‘contractor for labour’) at workplaces, and this phenomena is now involving not just migrant workers but also local Malaysian workers. It is disturbing that today in some of the factories, the number of these ‘outsourced workers’ is about 50% or more, and this naturally affect worker-employees of the said workplace and their unions. Effectively, it is weakening and destroying worker and/or union bargaining powers with employers who are becoming less and less dependent on their own employees. It will jeopardize our struggle for better wages, benefits, rights and better working conditions. This can be called a union busting practice that today is supported and endorsed by this Barisan Nasional government.

A reading of the Employment Act 1955 will show that it always did advocate a permanent direct employment relationship between employers and workers, to the exclusion of 3rd party labour/manpower suppliers, brokers and ‘contractors for labour’. 

Our laws have also always been clear as to who is employer and who is employee whereby it says that ‘the person or class of persons employed, engaged or contracted with to carry out the work shall be deemed to be an employee or employees and a) the principal or owner of the agricultural or industrial undertaking, constructional work, trade, business or place of work; or (b) the statutory body or local government authority, shall be deemed to be the employer’. Clearly, ‘contractors for labour’ including outsourcing agents/companies, manpower/labour suppliers, brokers, private employment agencies or other 3rd parties were never meant to be and should never be employers certainly not of workers already accepted and working for the principal or owner of workplaces. 

The Minister’s proposal hopes that workers in Malaysia will abandon our brethren workers in plantation and agricultural sector, happy that workers in their own sectors will not be affected. This will not happen for workers in Malaysia are united and will stand united, committed that it should not apply to workers of any sector or class. 

We reiterate that the government must also abolish the current already existing practice of this ‘outsourced workers’ provided by 3rd parties. Employers can use the services of private employment agencies to find them workers, but once the workers are supplied by these agencies, these workers must be employees of the place where they work – not treated and discriminated against as workers only - not employees. It is most disturbing that today, the practice of using ‘outsourced workers’ supplied by ‘contractors for labour’ may have even expanded to Government-Linked Companies(GLCs), and soon may very well extend to statutory and government bodies as well.

We call again for the immediate repeal of the provisions of the Employment Act, inserted vide the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2011, and an immediate end to the practice of ‘outsourced workers’ and ‘contractors for labour’ in Malaysia. Current ‘outsourced workers’ must be made employees of principals or owners of workplaces, and given same rights and benefits as other employees therein, including the right to form and/or join trade unions.

Pending repeal, we urge the government to not put into effect the amendments made to our Employment Act 1955 vide Employment (Amendment) Bill 2011.

All workers in Malaysia in all sectors should be treated equally without any discrimination, certainly not as being proposed by our Human Resource Minister now, which we believe is also contrary to Malaysia’s Federal Constitution that guarantees equality to all persons, and certainly discrimination at the workplace is not an exception provided for in our Constitution.

Workers united will stand together and never abandon any class or group of workers in Malaysia.

Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud
Executive Secretary of National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Ind.Workers
(Former President of Malaysian Trades Union Congress- MTUC)

MTUC allege Ministry destroying trade unions (Harakah Daily)

Jangan kita silap menyatakan hanya Menteri ini atau Kemernterian ini yang merosakkan kesatuan sekerja - yang bersalah adalah kerajaan Malaysia - iaitu kerajaan Barisan Nasional yang kini dipimpin PM Najib. Kadang-kadang kita silap menyatakan bahawa yang bertanggungjawab adalah hanya PM - tetapi ini juga salah, kerana yang bertanggungjawab adalah semua dalam kabinet, semua MP/ADUN dan juga semua parti komponen BN - tambahan pula bila mereka secara terbuka tidak menyatakan bahawa mereka tidak bersetuju, atau melakukan apa perlu untuk menunjukkan kepada rakyat bahawa mereka tidak bersetuju.

Adakah kamu boleh memberitahu rakyat bahawa kamu tidak bersetuju dengan tindakan kerajaan mengenai sesuatu polisi, undang-undang atau tindakan - sememangnya boleh tetapi mesti BERANI, di mana dalam BN, kita ada beberapa orang MP atau Menteri yang telah berbuat demikian.

MTUC dakwa kementerian rosakkan kesatuan sekerja

Salmiyah Harun, 22 Mac 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Mac: Kongres Kesatuan Sekerja Malaysia (MTUC) mendakwa Kementerian Sumber Manusia antara yang bertanggungjawab merosakkan kesatuan sekerja di dalam sesebuah organisasi sehingga menimbulkan pelbagai masalah.

Presiden MTUC, Mohd Khalid Atan berkata, pelbagai masalah sedang menyelubungi pekerja termasuk mereka dihalang untuk berkesatuan.

"Apa sistem perundangan yang ada dalam negara ini? Semua ini perbuatanKementerian Sumber manusia," katanya ketika ditemui di lobi Parlimen.

Ekoran itu, MTUC hilang kepercayaan kepada Menteri Sumber Manusia kerana dia seolah-olah hendak menghapuskan pekerja yang berkesatuan.

"Apabila pekerja dihalang berkesatuan, bukan sahaja merosakkan hubungan pekerja dengan majikan bahkan akan mengundang kemerosotan mutu kerja," kata beliau.

Jelasnya, pekerja yang tidak berkesatuan khususnya dalam sebuah organisasi besar seperti syarikat GLC sudah tentu tiada siapa yang akan membela mereka sekiranya majikan bertindak sewenang-wenangnya terhadap pekerja.

"Kalau kita tengok masalah ini juga berlaku dalam MAS di mana MAS juga mempunya kesatuan dalam masa yang sama ada pula kesatuan lain seolah-olah majikan hendak melaga-lagakan antara pekerja," katanya.

Ini juga katanya terjadi kepada pekerja WestPorts Sdn Bhd ternyata majikannya adalah anti pekerja.

Khalid berkata, kerajaan yang tidak serius terhadap masalah pekerja kerana tidak ada sebarang pindaan terhadap undang supaya lebih adil kepada pekerja dan majikan.

"Malangnya, kerajaan membiarkan majikan yang ada hari ini menyusahkan, sistem penubuhan kesatuan dalam mana-mana syarikat yang memihak kepada mereka, benar pula tubuh union dalam syarikatnya," ujarnya.

Keadaan itu juga, katanya berlaku di dalam syarikat British Tobacco yang di mana kesatuan BATIU yang mewakili 40 tahun pekerja di situ turut dipertikaikan majikannya akhirnya kesatuan itu mati begitu sahaja.

"Inilah masalah besar yang sedang dihadapi oleh kesatuan-kesatuan di dalam sebuah syarikat besar yang mempunyai ribuan pekerja, inilah kerisauan yang menghantui pekerja," jelasnya. - Harakah Daily, 22/3/2012, MTUC dakwa kementerian rosakkan kesatuan sekerja

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Court decision supports discrimination against women - retirement age.

I am totally shocked at the outcome - more so when Malaysian Constitution guarantees equality - and more so that there will be no discrimination based on gender has been particularly guaranteed. (We need to consider the full judgment of the court to get the full details - now we rely only on the news report)

Shocking also, the appeal of these female workers was dismissed with cost of RM10,000 - and what would that be, from an ordinary workers perspective, about 10 or more months wages. Costs in these kind of cases, should never be ordered - more so when it involves matters of public interest, and here it was certainly involved matters of public interest like - Is it OK to discriminate against women workers when it comes to retirement age?

Court rules no gender bias in workers’ retirement age

UPDATED @ 03:07:25 PM 21-03-2012
March 21, 2012
 
PUTRAJAYA, March 21 — The Court of Appeal today dismissed an application by female workers claiming gender discrimination in being forced to retire earlier than male colleagues.

A three-man bench led by Datuk K. N. Segara upheld a 2010 High Court ruling on the 11-year-old case, which had overturned an initial Industrial Court’s 2008 decision in favour of the eight plastic industry workers.

They were forced to retire in June 2001 after the company, Guppy Plastic Industries, enforced a then-new employee handbook rule stipulating a retirement age of 50 for female employees and 55 for male employees.

When reading the panel’s judgement before the court today, Segara discarded the appellants’ argument for discrimination, saying the case was a straightforward matter based on facts.

The panel agreed that the Industrial Court had in 2008 erred in its judgement when it failed to take into consideration relevant factors presented before it, such as the respondent’s submission of several Collective Agreements (CAs) from other firms in the same industry that stipulated the same retirement ages for both male and female employees.

“It is our unanimous view that the appeal should be dismissed.

“We are entirely in agreement with the High Court judge that the Industrial Court had erred by failing to take into consideration the relevant factors and taking into consideration the irrelevant factors,” he said.

The Industrial Court, Segara added, had failed to consider whether it was “fair and reasonable” for Guppy Plastic to “adapt to industry norms for the retirement ages of male and female employees as implemented by other companies”.

The group of workers, upon hearing the decision, stood up to leave the courtroom before the end of the panel’s judgement, as a sign of protest.

The appellants’ counsel, Ragunath Kesavan had earlier raised Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women or “Cedaw” convention of which Malaysia is a member, to argue his case for gender discrimination.

He told the court that during the hearing before the Industrial Court, Guppy Plastics had not furnished medical proof or a report from the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to support its argument that women above 50 are physically unfit to resume their duties.

The Industrial Court, he added, had then decided there was discrimination in the difference between the retirement ages for men and women and said the burden laid on the company to prove their reason for the retirement policy.

Ragunath added that it was also discovered that upon the retirement of its employees, Guppy Industries had “re-hired” 90 per cent on an annual contract basis.

This, he said, meant the “re-hired” workers would no longer be entitled to the benefits offered to them when they were full-time employees.

“There is a big difference when you take away a person’s right as a permanent employee than a contract worker,” he pointed out.

The respondent’s counsel later told the court that the matter did not involve gender bias, pointing out that at the time the company’s retirement policy was introduced, Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution had not yet been amended to include the word “gender”.

“There is no government guideline on how to fix a retirement age. Neither is it against public policy. So the company did what’s best, which is to refer to industry practices,” the counsel said.

The appeal was dismissed with costs at RM10,000.

Speaking to reporters later, Ragunath expressed disappointment, saying the court should have been at the forefront of standing up for constitutional rights. - Malaysian Insider, 21/3/2012, Court rules no gender bias in workers’ retirement age

RIGHT TO MY SAVINGS STATEMENT Campaign - Government must intervene to prevent consumers being denied rights

This right to a savings statement is an important campaign, and there are some related issues that need to be addressed.

1 - Even if you have a savings account book, the NEW problem that arised is that there is apparently a new Bank Negara ruling that states that the account holder must come personally to the Bank, if they want their savings account book updated. This updating of account in most banks have to be done over the counter - not vide ATMs. This means traveling to the bank, during bank operational hours, standing in line and all this just for the updating of the account book - note the making of any withdrawal, transfer, etc - whereby for the later there may be some rationale for insisting the presence of the account holder - maybe to prevent fraud by 3rd parties, but for updating your book? Problem faced most by the Elderly, the disabled and those who have to depend on others for public transport. It is also a problem for even normal working people - as this means leaving work during working hours just to go to the bank to update your savings book. Today, for the elderly, many of them have their pensions and/or other entitlements paid directly into their account - and this monthly trips is a great problem - an unnecessary waste of time, cost not just of the account holder but usually also of others who are forced to accompany such account holders. [UPDATING of Saving Account Books do not require such stringent requirement requiring the presence of the account holder. In other countries, all these can be done using an ATM machine. Any person should be allowed to come an update saving account books - maybe not the withdrawal of monies or the transfer of moneys. It really is very ODD because now anyone using an ATM card can take out monies and/or even transfer monies from an account other than theirs provided they have the requisite ATM card and the password..]

2 - A lot of banks, BSN included, when it comes to updating saving accounts book - the banks do not provide updates containing details of entry and withdrawal (dates, manner of transaction (cheque/cash deposits, transfers, etc) or the sums deposited. My father passed away last June, and being a pensioner, the government transferred RM3,000 into my mother's account for funeral expenses assistance, but when the BSN refused to print details of money entries, but just a lump sum of monies that have entered and withdrawn - it is impossible to even ascertain that the RM3,000 sum had been deposited into the account, let alone when. Banks take the position that detail entries and withdrawals will only be given/printed in savings book if it happened within the month prior.How can one send a written confirmation to the Pensions Department confirming receipt of the said RM3,000-00 for we will not know whether there was any RM3,000 deposit or when it happened. It is difficult when all the information that one have access to is just a lump-sum total of deposits and made from the last up-dating date. [Previously, there was a right to get the details printed out - and even in the worse case scenario, Banks will print out these details on separate sheet of paper, even if not in the saving accounts book - but apparently no more.] Now, more and more things like even dividends paid out with regard to shares are all being directly banked in, and as such consumers really require breakdowns of all monies that come into their savings account so that they can personally check and verify that monies that were supposed to be banked in to their accounts have really been banked in - if not how can they ascertain this, and do the needful to claim their entitlements. Hence, all updating of savings account pass books must provide full details of entries and withdrawals. If not so easily, people can be CHEATED...]

3 - The practice of charging for detailed statements must stop - it is the right of the Consumer of banks to get these statements at a regular interval, preferably monthly, without any additional charges. 

4 - Internet/Phone Banking really is no justification for not giving detailed written statements to the consumer, be it in the form of printing in pass books or those that are being posted to consumers holding current accounts. Many do not use these Internet/Phone Banking services by reason of potential risks of  'hacking' etc, or just not having access to internet, or just preferring to have things 'black and white'. Most of the elderly, in fact maybe even those above 40 just do not have access or use internet/phone banking - this could very easily be verified. What we are concerned with is USAGE for registering for these services normally is done for a lot of consumers when they open their new accounts - so many may have registered - but the question is usage/regular usage, and for the later, I believe it is minimal.

The  RIGHT TO MY SAVINGS STATEMENT Campaign hopefully would also address some of the real issues facing the ordinary consumers of bank, as highlighted above, as well 

Follow this link to get to the Campaign page - http://www.facebook.co/RightToMyStatement

Face book Campaign
In a modern economy, most consumers having a savings account with banks. Fundamentally, the purpose of the savings account is to deposit as well as withdraw monies in a safe and secure institution. Additionally, the savings also accrue interests. 

It is a fundamental consumer right to have a monthly record of these transactions, be it deposit or withdrawals or interests added.  This record is for consumers to counter-check that the transactions recorded are indeed correct and there have been no unauthorized withdrawals as well as to assist in their personal financial management practices.

Additionally, according to Bank Negara:
The Consumer can keep track of their banking transactions and interest earned either through a pass book or through a bank statement. (http://www.bankinginfo.com.my)

However, many banks are NOT providing pass books or monthly statements to their saving account holders.  Thus consumers have no record of their deposits/withdrawals as well if there have been unauthorized withdrawals.

If a consumer wants his record, he has to pay for the statement.

THIS HAS TO STOP.

FOMCA launched the RIGHT TO MY SAVINGS STATEMENT Campaign on 15 March 2012 in conjunction with World Consumer Rights Day.

FOMCA calls on ALL consumers, but especially those have a savings account, but have not been given a pass book or receive monthly statements to support our Campaign. 

Recognizing the power of social media in bringing together people, FOMCA is launching a Facebook Campaign to indicate consumer support and pressure the regulator to enforce the laws and practices which are currently being flaunted. 

The campaign will run for a total of 45 days with a special Facebook campaign page running for the time period. Users need only to like the campaign to show their support. 

Following the completion of the campaign, the total number of supporters for the campaign will be used to demand that all banks provide pass books or monthly statements to ALL saving accounts consumers.


FOMCA
15 March  2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TM - no service - but still you pay full charges to Telekom. Government must act..

Over the past 3 to 4 months, in my kampung, i.e. Kampung Lubuk Layang, Temerloh, Pahang, we have had NO service for maybe now almost 1 month in total because apparently some body had cut and stolen the phone cable leading to the homes in this kampung. This has happened 3 times in the past 3-4 months. The first time, it took about 2 weeks for it to be restored, and on the last occasion, we lost it on Sunday and it only came back on Thursday evening(15/3/2012).

Unlike electricity and water, a disruption of service also means that you do not get get charged as there is no consumption, but in the case of telephone lines, telekom already charges fixed monthly rates for phone services, and for internet (in my case I pay a fixed rate of RM88 per month) -  but even if there is a disruption, the Bills come every time for the full rate - and this is very wrong.

Unlike TNB (our electricity provider), the response time for TM has been becoming worse. Here we are talking about cable 'thefts' maybe just about the length of 1 to 3 poles, which naturally could be very easily repaired within 12 hours (or 24 hours at most) - but it just do not happen speedily any more. 

WHY? Because of inefficiency ....and maybe also the practice of 'outsourcing' repair works to 3rd party contractors delays repairs. If they did it on their own, then maybe it may have been faster - but even if outside contractors are involved, the delay is not justified. Are they issuing 'new tenders' for each and every fault that needs to be repaired? Hopefully not....

When the phone line is out and the internet is down - there is a lot of loss suffered by the consumer. Today many people, besides using their internet for browsing, e-mailing, etc - also do subscribe to internet services like on-line newspapers/magazines, and in my case also on-line law journals that now cost me about RM2,000 per year. Now, there is also on-line banking, e-aduans, on-line SPR checking, etc... needed to be done,...not to mention disruption of rights of expression, communication which today is done a lot vide internet through blogs, letters to editors, email, social network sites like Facebook, twitters, etc. Lawyers too need the internet for their e-filings and many other transactions. So too other professions..

So when services are disrupted, more so not due to your own personal in-house line or equipment, lot of other losses are suffered by the consumer. As of right, Telekom when they issue their subsequent months Bill, MUST without being prompted make necessary deductions to fixed charges of phone and/or internet services, where the deductions be for days/weeks that the service was disrupted. This the Malaysian government must insist upon, and not escape liability and/or obligation and/or their duty to consumers on the grounds that this service has already been privatised.When complaints are made about service disruptions - I hope they are free, and consumers are not being charged for this as well.

As it is, many of the agreements these service providers (phone, internet, electricty, water supply,... does not impose any for the service providers to  provide disruption-free services. Maybe an obligation must be placed on prompt restoration of services not later than maybe 24 hours, plus also the obligation to communicate immediately to consumers if there is going to be any disruptions, or when there is an exact time when the service will be restored, failing they should be liable for all losses suffered by consumers.

In my case, they first said that the most recent problem will be resolved within 24 hours, latest 48 hours - later they said by 14/3/2012(an SMS was sent to me on 12/3/2012), but ultimately service was restored only in the early evening of 15/3/2012.

It is the Malaysian government's obligation to ensure that these basic services are never disrupted, and if it is then it will be restored forthwith certainly within 24 hours. And in the case of phone/internet services, the said service provider also make the necessary deductions of fixed rates for day/weeks whereby the service was disrupted without requiring consumers to chase after them for such deductions.

The right to claim damages for disruptions lasting longer than 24 hours, and for planned disruptions not communicated to clients in advance, must be made available. 

The government also need monitor service providers to ensure that their response time is fast - and if the using of outside contractors is the problem, then maybe we need to get rid of this, and TM should have their own response team, and should at all time have the required cable and other needed parts in their stores. 

Phone line cables, I believe, do have an inbuilt 'alarm' system, that will be triggered off immediately when cables are cut, so that disruptions of such will come to the immediate knowledge of Telekom who could immediately rush to the area (or get the police) to respond, and such thieves could easily be arrested and charged. Phone cables are items not easy to hide, and there is a need for certain kind of equipment (which are difficult to hide) when one is climbing to steal an overhanging phone cable. [The contractor repairing the cable leading to the kampung said that this cable apparently was not equipped with such 'alarm' - and I wonder why, for surely the cables most likely to be stolen are along kampung roads and rural areas - and that is where one needs to have these alarms.]

Now, likewise maybe there is a need for CCTVs to be installed more so since the theft of cables have occurred three(3) times in the space of the last 3-4 months.

The other option, is to bury the said phone lines underground making it even more difficult to steal - but alas, this too was not done, and I would not be surprised if more such thefts happen again at around same area/location.

Was the police informed by the Telekom about these 3 thefts in the last 3-4 months? For, too date I have yet to see any police investigation being done - no police have come to ask me anything.

It is the poor people that most suffer - and let us hope that the Malaysian government will step in and do something about this. To compound matters, the MP of Temerloh is in the Cabinet member. 

Hopefully, this government will not come and say that it is not their responsibility any more since this service have already been privatized..

Monday, March 19, 2012

KTM train stopping at Kluang and so passengers find your own way after that to Kulai, JB, etc

At the train station in Mentakab, when passengers arrived to get on their train to the south, until Johor Bahru, they were told that the train today will only go until Kluang - and not all the way. Passengers were given the option to have their tickets re-imbursed, or alternatively at Kluang - get the money back for those with tickets that went beyond. The reason - problem with the rail tracks...

This is not at all acceptable - for really KTM should have done more. Well, for one, maybe they should have arranged for buses to shuttle all passengers to their respective destinations. Now, what I believe will happen is that when these passengers arrive in Kluang - get some re-reimbursements, they have to make their own arrangements and it will not be easy to get bus tickets then, or even get taxis - and they may end up paying so much more as some people may just take advantage of the desperation of people to get to where they wanted to go...

There would be direct busses from Kluang to all the relevant destination towns ... and getting bus tickets for the night at about 7-8 pem is really not going to be easy. That is why KTM, whenever things like this happen should be responsible enough to organize/arrange alternative means of transport to get all passengers to their destinations as per their train tickets..

Well, it is usually the poorer of Malaysian people that use public transport like trains - and so, most likely no one will make 'BIG' noise and so... KTM and/or the relevant Minister will not do the needful to ensure proper reasonable action is taken. No customer should be forced to take out any more money - or be subjected to the extra difficulty of finding their own way to their final destinations.

Talking about rail transport - Malaysia has certainly failed in improving and upgrading the services, especially the east6 coast line from Tumpat to JB - don't you even have 'double tracks' so that when one track is being repaired - there is always the 2nd track... In Europe and most developing countries, rail travel is being continuously been developed and upgraded as it really is a very effective form of public transportation - How many new tracks/routes have been developed since the British gave us independence? Is this all because Malaysia just wants to sell its Proton, Kancils, etc...and as such a 'bad' public transport system will certainly encourage more and more people to buy our Malaysian cars, motorcycles, etc....Let's think of the future and develop rail transport to be an effective public transport option...

4,000 Women March in Malaysia - Has the Struggle Changed?

Women paint PJ purple in demand for clean governance

The streets of Petaling Jaya, Selangor today was hit by a wave of purple as an estimated 4,000 mostly women marched from two locations to demand for clean governance.

women's day rally 180312
Wearing purple shirts and white gloves, the crowd gathered at two separate meeting points - Taman Jaya lake and Section 14's Masjid Tun Abdul Aziz at around 2pm amidst a light drizzle.

They shouted slogans like "
Hidup, hidup, hidup wanita; tolak, tolak, tolak, tolak rasuah" (Long live women, reject corruption), and held placards against corruption and women discrimination.

The rally was organised by Wanita Suara Perubahan (Wanitasupermy), a coalition of 15 NGOs, to voice their six-point demand and also to celebrate the recent International Women Day on Mar 8.

superwomen rally 180312 15At about a quarter to 3pm, the protesters began their march to Padang Astaka from the two locations, to the curious gaze of oncoming motorists while the traffic police stood idly by.

The police estimated the crowd size to be 1,800.

The protestors arrived at the destination, which was decorated with purple balloons, to the loud beat of drums and the organiser on the stage greeting them, “Welcome, ladies!”


In her address, Empower Malaysia's programme officer Janarthani Arumugam urged the women to make a change in the upcoming general election.

“We have already gotten too bored with the (political rhetoric), we want (the politicians) to listen to us immediately.

“We want a better standard of living and we don’t want taxpayers’ money to be wasted on cows, corruptions and (diamond) rings!” she sneered, poking fun at a series of recent scandals afflicting BN leaders and their kin.

Stop calling us ‘lain-lain’

superwomen rally 180312 13 Also joining the rally were some 20 members of Peninsular Aborigines Villages Network, whose representative Fatimah Bahsin told the protesters in her speech how Malaysian Orang Asli women are being marginalised.

“We are marginalised because many of the Orang Asli women are not well educated.

“But we can do a better job if compared with many educated women,” she told a cheering crowd.

Fatimah also urged the government to endorse the Orang Asli’s native customary land so that they can earn a living, and to officially recognise their ethnicity as ‘Orang Asli’.

“We don't want to be called ‘ lain-lain’ (others) any more!” she said.

superwomen rally 180312 teoh lee lan In a press conference later, Wanitasupermy spokesperson Adriene Leong said women will bear the brunt of widespread corruption as they are already in a disadvantaged position in areas such as education, job prospects and healthcare.

“If (government officers) abuse their power, the funds cannot be channelled to the right places. Women will then suffer the most.

“Take a vivid example: today many women fear to walk out in the streets because the crime rate is high. If the government allocations could be used properly, public safety could be ensured and street crime would go down,” she said.

‘Selangor gov't facilitated rally’

Meanwhile, a number of Pakatan representatives, such as Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Batu MP Tian Chua, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, Pandamaran assemblyperson Ronnie Liu and Batu Tiga rep Rodziah Ismail also attended the rally.

women's day rally 180312 Rodziah, when delivering her speech on stage on behalf of the Pakatan leaders, told the protesters that the rally in Padang Astaka was made possible only because of the Selangor government.

The Selangor exco said the government has made positive changes so desired by the people.

"In the next general election we also need to change, but only to change the BN regime," she said in a politically-charged speech.

The organisers concluded the rally by engaging the protesters to dance to the popular Bollywood song, Jai Ho, which they said represents hopes and dreams. - Malaysiakini, 18/3/2011, Women paint PJ purple in demand for clean governance

VIDEO | 2.29 mins