Saturday, January 04, 2014

Recommiting to upholding cause of justice - monitoring Malaysia, BN, PR, DAP and others

Justice and human rights is what Malaysians want - and this are the values and principles that never should be undermined or compromised for whatever reasons - including the attempt to get greater support for GE14..

For a long time, many Malaysians have not been happy with the UMNO-led coalition, now the Barisan Nasional, that have been governing Malaysia because more and more it has been perceived to be acting contrary to justice and human rights.

For the good of all not just the rich and businesses

This government begin forgetting that its obligations was for the good, welfare and benefit of all Malaysians - not just the rich and powerful, not just the corporations and foreign investors, not just to their own party members and elites, not just to certain communities in Malaysia... - but to all Malaysians (all persons in Malaysia) to every individual, family and household. Of course, there must always be a priority for the poor and the marginalized - where there would most necessarily be proactive steps to ensure that they too (individuals and families) are not be left behind in the enjoyment of wealth and benefits of the Malaysian community as a whole. Data and statistics of individual and family income and well-being are disappearing making it more and more difficult to assess the real situation of Malaysian individuals and families. Averages and means are available but this is not enough to get a true picture.

Malaysia is a democracy, and this means the power lies with the people. We have elections whereby the Malaysian people chose suitable persons as their REPRESENTATIVES to undertake the day to day task of governing the community. 

People's Representative once elected behave like 'Feudal Lords'?

At the Federal level, areas/constituencies are drawn out whereby people in each of these constituencies chose one representative - the Member of Parliament(MP), and then from amongst all the MPs they choose ONE - the one who "command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House..." who then  is appointed as Prime Minister by the King. Prime Minister then chooses his Cabinet (the Executive) who is tasked with the day to running of the country.

Now, all the other elected people's representatives(MPs) have the duty and obligation to ensure that the Executive (PM and his Cabinet) are doing the right thing - they serve as a check and balance. This is an obligation imposed by the people on all non-Cabinet MPs including those from Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Rakyat and others. The forum that they are expected to do this is in the Dewan Rakyat - but alas, when we watch the live telecast of parliamentary proceedings, it is sad that many are not even present in Parliament most of the time. I say that if you do not want to be in Parliament, representing the people asking questions and debating issues, then you should never have contested to be an MP or accepted to be a Senator - resign now, and let some other who is willing take your place.MPs must not be absent from Parliament (Malay Mail)

The other problem in Malaysia is that MPs and Senators do not 'represent the people' rather they represent the political parties/coalitions that they represent - and this is wrong. Hence, BN MPs and Senators fail in their duty of monitoring the PM and the Cabinet(the Executive) - they do not criticize the wrong actions and ommissions, they do not support good arguments made by the Opposition - in short they just do not exercise their own freedom of opinion and expression and end up as 'YES persons' of the Executive.[see Malaysia: Dictatorship or real Democracy? They thus no longer represent the people they are supposed to represent in Parliament but just become 'blindly loyal' persons to the Executive, who usually are the political leaders of their party.  The opposite may also be true for those in the Opposition, whereby their position is also a 'blind opposition' to the Executive most of the time.

How many were against this position? How many do we have to lobby?

Voting in parliament is also 'by voice' - who is the loudest? Speaker assumes based on attendance of MPs - i.e. Barisan or Opposition? There really should be votes that are counted, and hopefully we will see that it is votes given by MPs as what their position is. The WHIP (which is the call for MPs of a certain political party to vote en-bloc should not be used save for maybe the important Financial Bills. If MPs vote according to their conscience, they matter and people will be approaching and lobbying MPs for support on various issues - but today Malaysians do not even bother about the MP or the Senator who they deem are of little worth since they do not exercise the Freedom of Expression or the Freedom to Vote in Parliament - so people go straight to lobby the Prime Minister and maybe the Cabinet. 

For many in Malaysia, MPs are just the people you go to get some financial support, or maybe someone who may support some land/project application... This must change - Votes in Parliament need to be counted, and hopefully results would not always be the same as the number BN MPs and Opposition MPs present and voting... In 2014, we hope that MPs and ADUNs start behaving as people's representatives...

I do not want to hear you people - just LISTEN and 'obey'

Of course, if one is to be a true people's representative, there should be more sharing of information between the rep and the people. There must be true consultation...and listening to the people's views and an end of the attitude of 'Listen...listen...listen...we know what is best for the us' attitudes. There should be more real dialogue, discussions and of course listening to the people...There must be transparency and accountability.

People choose MPs & ADUNs - not Senators, Local Government(Local Council) or even community leaders. Why?

There is still no democracy at the level of local government (Local Councils) - and there is also still no elections at the level of kampungs, kampung orang asli, taman/housing estates, new villages - and this is a demonstration of a lack of trust in the people of Malaysia. The government appoints these leaders and deal with them as though they represent the community they allegedly 'lead' - but alas most on the community do not even know who these 'leaders' are, and there is really no meeting/consultation/discussions happening between these appointees and the local people. 

The Malaysian people still do not elect our Senators, they are still selected by the State and the Federal government - but the provision in Article 45(4)(b) says that this can change in favour of direct elections by the people..  Maybe, in 2014, we the people will get that right to choose our own Senators..

(4) Parliament may by law -
(a) increase to three the number of members to be elected for each State;
(b) provide that the members to be elected for each State shall be so elected by the direct vote of the electors of that State;
When they failed to have Local Council Elections, the Opposition States came out with the appointment of NGO or civil society representatives into the Local Council - but alas now that quota is also reducing? The civil society reps were also not democratically chosen by the civil society but rather chosen by the State. In Penang, democratically chosen names were handed to the State government but alas only some were accepted. A few in Local Councils do nothing when the majority who are from the political parties, who still many a time uses the 'whip', can always win any vote. Further, when it is the State that has the power to choose, many good civil society reps do change - becoming less a true 'civil society rep' and more a crony of sorts...a 'good person' doing the needful to ensure that they are in the good books of the people who has the power to appoint. There has also been no (or little) reporting back by these 'NGO/civil society reps' to the civil society or the Malaysian public which really should be happening on a regular basis - a report that highlights the plus, the negative aspects, the changes they are working towards and the hurdles faced, and the strategies forward, etc ... Transparency and accountability? Good thing in Selangor is that finally in 2013, we started seeing some minutes of Local Council meeting.. 
Removing avenues for people's participation in Malaysia
Now, the Malaysian government has created laws that undermine the right to freedom of expression and even peaceful assembly. Control over print publications(newspapers and magazines), radio and television stations have also deprived Malaysians from not just information and alternative views, but also the ability to communicate views and opinions to others. 

When people frustrated with a government that does not listen come out and express themselves in numbers through peaceful assembly - it is called 'illegal' - the new Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 really is more draconian...Denied the right to protest by peaceful assembly before Parliament(Dewan Rakyat) passed the law allowing Detention Without Trial

There is also concern now that even the Pakatan Rakyat or some of the opposition leaders are also sliding in their commitment for justice and human rights. Local Council elections promised in 2008 was no more a major commitment in GE13 and still there is appointment even in the Opposition PR-governed states. There was democratic elections at the kampung and kampung barus in Perak when under the PR - but alas that positive movement for greater democracy was not followed in the other PR States....WHY?

Oops...ordinary Malaysians are uniting - must stop this trend?

What has happened in Malaysia over the last few years is that Malaysians have come together as one people irrespective of ethnicity, religious differences, age, gender - and they have become braver willing to risk the possibility of arrest, tear gas, police... we have seen people in Malaysia coming out in large numbers, the last being the price increase protest of 31/12/2013 which saw at least 15,000 -- and the ruling government is getting more and more worried that 1Malaysia is becoming a reality. The rise of these issues based on religious differences may be a tactic to undermine this growing movement of Malaysians... 

Human Rights & Justice for all - end all forms of discrimination

Equal pay for equal work is a basic principle and value. For a long time, women doing the same work as men were paid less but we have won that battle, and now they receive same payment. Then, there was concern that migrant workers may be discriminated by being paid less than local workers but that too was overcome mostly even by constitution guarantee, plus the added insertion of section of section 60L in the Employment Act 1955 in 1998.
60L  Director General may inquire into complaint.
(1) The Director General may inquire into any complaint from a local employee that he is being discriminated against in relation to a foreign employee, or from a foreign employee that he is being discriminated against in relation to a local employee, by his employer in respect of the terms and conditions of his employment; and the Director General may issue to the employer such directives as may be necessary or expedient to resolve the matter.
(2) An employer who fails to comply with any directive of the Director General issued under subsection (1) commits an offence.
When it came to Minimum Wages, the BN government also acted justly by the taking of the position that all workers will be entitled to Minimum Wages, and this was just and fair, and then the government acted unjustly when, amongst others, it came up with the order allowing some employers the right to delay payment of minimum wages to their migrant workers until the end of 2013. Hence, an unjust situation arised whereby local workers were paid more than migrant workers for a certain period.

Earlier, the government wanted to make the migrants personally pay the levy, which was originally imposed on employers to deter them from employing migrant workers over local workers but Malaysians including the MTUC took a principled just stand - 75 Groups:- 'Levy on foreign workers cancels out minimum wage'

But then we have Pakatan Rakyat saying that migrant workers should not be paid minimum wages - they should be paid less for the same work...Did Guan Eng say that minimum wages under PR would only be for Malaysians not migrant workers? Please do clarify .
Now, the DAP is asking for a continuation of discrimination - pay local workers minimum wages but delay paying migrants minimum wages for at least 5 years...

GEORGE TOWN (Dec 30, 2013): To ensure the country remains competitive, the DAP is urging the government to review the implementation of the minimum wage for foreign workers in Malaysia.

Party secretary general Lim Guan Eng (pix) said many small medium enterprises (SMEs) were forced to pay local workers higher salaries to stem unhappiness that their pay was to be on par with foreigners.

He said this development added to the cost of doing business which could be reflected by the increase of prices in goods.

"For this reason, there should be a review of extending the minimum wage to all workers by giving a grace period of five years to allow SMEs to adjust before including foreign workers," he said in a statement today.

The minimum wage policy comes into force on Jan 1 next year with RM900 set for the Peninsular and RM800 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

The policy was launched on Jan 1 last year through the Minimum Wage Order.... - The Sun Daily, 30/12/2013, DAP urges govt to review minimum wage for foreign workers

I must thus condemn this injustice and discriminatory position that DAP is taking - For the same work done, it is only just that all workers receive same pay. 

Same standards of evaluation for all in matters of justice

Malaysians are for justice and human rights - and the position being taken by the DAP is nothing but discriminatory and against human rights. Wooing Malaysian voters for upcoming GE may be underlying intent of such position, but really such unjust positions undermining the equality of human persons and workers is unaccepted...

For a long time, many have been less critical(or not openly critical) of Pakatan Rakyat and the Opposition, mainly focusing the attention of what was perceived as the greater evil, i.e. the Barisan Nasional government...BUT hopefully this year the people and civil society would become also critical of any party or person that suggest injustice and/or is anti-human rights...

There is much to be changed in Malaysia - a country where the democratic space of its citizens seem to be shrinking and shrinking. The government is also removing subsidies and doing things that cause the cost of living to increase BUT not the income of the people. Malaysia finally has a minimum wage and all workers will finally enjoy this in 2014 - but the minimum wage is just RM900, which is just about RM30 above the poverty line income. For Sabah and Sarawak workers, receiving minimum wages of RM800 would still mean that they receive less than the poverty line income...

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today proposed a RM300 per month cost of living allowance (COLA) for all the 10 million private sector workers in view of the escalating cost of living.
Its President, Khalid Atan, told bernama that it was essential for the government to introduce the regulation on COLA because almost five million private sector workers were now earning just about RM30 above the poverty line of RM870 per month.

At present the minimum wage for workers in peninsular Malaysia is RM900 and for those in Sabah and Sarawak it is RM800. - Bernama, Source: MTUC Website, 27/12/2013, MTUC Seeking RM300 Monthly COLA For 10 Million Workers

The new trend of the BN government is to make Malaysians more financially depended on government handouts like BR1M. Like 'beggars', we are asked to apply and get financial handouts, which by the way is not a guaranteed right but something based on the discretion of the PM and his government. Malaysians want their dignity to be respected - and way to do this is to reduce the cost of living. Malaysian government intentionally kept wages/income low to woo in the foreign investors, and we were OK with this provided the government kept the cost of living down and enabled Malaysians a good life - but over the last few years, this government is forgetting this or 'are they punishing us?' by just increasing prices across the board - hence increasing the cost of living and making people suffer?   

BN has violated our human rights and has acted unjustly, and we, the people, shall do the needful to ensure that the cause of justice is upheld. The Opposition, who were before partners in the struggle for Human Rights and Justice, but today from time to time, they slip and take anti-justice and anti-human rights positions, and we have the duty to condemn such positions/stance with the hope that they will get back on the right path. If not, after GE14 when we may be having a non-BN government, we may find the new government that may not be very different from the one we all struggled to replace...

Struggling for justice and human rights has never been easy. There are always real RISKs - but we need to be even stronger in 2014 in our commitment to 'uphold the cause of justice without fear and favour'...


No comments: