Friday, November 24, 2017

Public prosecutor granted ‘too much power’ over life and death, says human rights group (Malaysian Insight)

Public prosecutor granted ‘too much power’ over life and death, says human rights group 


Bede Hong
A HUMAN rights group is critical of an amendment to the law governing the death penalty, saying it gives too much power to the public prosecutor over the judge in determining who deserved to be sentenced to death.

Yesterday, the bill for the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 was passed in Parliament, amending Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which pertains to the death penalty. The new law allows the judge to exercise discretion in meting out life imprisonment instead of the death penalty, which was previously mandatory for those convicted of drug trafficking. 

However, a clause states that the judge may impose a sentence other than the death penalty, only if and when the "public prosecutor certifies in writing to the court, that in his determination, the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia."

"It is wrong to give the public prosecutor the power to decide who dies and who may live," Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) coordinator Charles Hector said in a statement today. 

"Remember, that he is also responsible for prosecution in a criminal trial, and the power to the public prosecutor to give or not give the written certification is most dangerous. It may also undermine the right to a fair trial."

According to the proposed amending act, if the public prosecutor does not provide the certification, judges will have no choice but to impose the death penalty.  

Hector said the power of sentencing should rest with the judge alone. 

"The existence of appeals to higher courts helps ensure that there be no errors."

Before sentencing, the judge usually hears and considers the submissions of the prosecution and the convicted person to impose an appropriate sentence. 

"Thus, the question of whether there was assistance or not could be included as one of the listed matters that should be considered by the judge before he decides and pronounces sentence." 

"Some may have no information or very little information, or maybe that information and/or assistance will not help disrupt drug trafficking activities. As, such this really should be for the judge to decide and maybe should be a point to be considered before sentencing."

In a statement today also condemning the law amendment,  Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said there was little guarantee that the law enforcement agencies and public prosecutor would not abuse such "unfettered and arbitrary power".

"It is basic that the act of prosecution is an executive function of the state and the office of the public prosecutor shall be strictly separated from judicial functions. Therefore it would be a serious miscarriage of justice if the prosecutor could also decide the mode of punishment, and all the so, the punishment of death," he said. 

By compelling judges to impose a life or death sentence based on the public prosecutor’s certification is an "unnecessary fetter" on their discretion and interferes with judicial independence and justice, Paulsen said. 

As of March, there are almost 800 prisoners on death row for drug trafficking offences under Section 39(B), according to Prison Department statistics.

Madpet has called for all death sentences to be commuted to imprisonment. It further calls on the government to impose a moratorium on pending executions and speed up efforts towards the abolition of the death penalty. – November 24, 2017.- Malaysian Insight, 24/11/2017



Judges Discretion to Not sentence to Death ONLY if Prosecutor Allows?



Media Statement – 24/11/2017


JUDGE’S DISCRETION TO NOT IMPOSE DEATH PENALTY ONLY IF PUBLIC PROSECUTOR GIVES CERTIFICATION IS WRONG

Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 Meant To Abolish Mandatory Death Penalty And Return Sentencing Discretion To Judges Has Too Many Flaws

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) welcomes the fact that the Bill to amend Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which has the mandatory death penalty, to now give judges discretion in sentencing, that will allow the imposition of life imprisonment instead of the death penalty has finally been tabled in Dewan Rakyat(House of Representatives). The said Bill, the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017, which has taken a long time, was finally tabled in Parliament on 23/11/2017 for the first reading.

SENTENCING DISCRETION TO JUDGES ONLY WHEN THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR ALLOWS IT
 
MADPET is disappointed that discretion when it comes to sentencing those convicted for the offence drug trafficking (Section 39B) is not going to be given to judges in all cases.  Judges will only get the discretion to impose a sentence other than the death penalty, only if and when the ‘Public Prosecutor certifies in writing to the Court, that in his determination, the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia.’(Section 2(b) of the Amending Act)

Rightly, it must be Judges and the courts that consider and decide whether one has ‘assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia’.

Before sentencing, judges will usually hear and consider submissions of both the prosecution and the convicted person, and then impose an appropriate sentence. Thus, the question, of whether there was assistance or not could be included as one of the listed matters that should be considered by the Judge before he decides and pronounce the sentence. Some may have no information or very little information, or maybe that information and/or assistance will not help disrupt drug trafficking activities. As, such this really should be for the judge to decide, and maybe should be a point to be considered before sentencing. There may be also other relevant considerations of safety of oneself and/or family as many of these drug kingpins may threaten to cause harm, and Malaysia may not yet be ready to provide the requisite protection to the accused family and loved ones.

It is wrong to give the Public Prosecutor the power to decide who dies and who may live. Remember, that he is also responsible for prosecution in a criminal trial, and the power to the Public Prosecutor to give or not give the written certification is most dangerous. It may also undermine the right to a fair trial.

Now, according to the proposed amending Act, if the Public Prosecutor does not provide this ‘certification’, judges would have no choice but to impose the death penalty. This mandatory requirement for such a ‘certification’ by the Public Prosecutor must be deleted.

NO REVIEW OF DISCRETION OF PUBLIC PROSECUTOR TO PROVIDE CERTIFICATION

Further, it is stated in the proposed amendments that, ‘The determination of whether or not any person has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities shall be at the sole discretion of the Public Prosecutor and no action or proceeding shall lie against the Public Prosecutor in relation to any such determination done by him in good faith, in such capacity’.

Well, that suggests that no one may be able to question or challenge the correctness of the Public Prosecutor’s decision – not even the courts by way of Judicial Review. This invites the possibility of miscarriage of justice, because if there is no required ‘certification’ by the Public Prosecutor, then the said convict will be sentenced to death.

Judicial Review is an essential ‘check and balance’ especially in a Democracy. One should be able to move the court to review even the decisions of the Public Prosecutor. Further, as it is Public Prosecutor, who decides whether to prosecute or not, this issuance or issuance of this ‘certification’ maybe for the wrong reasons, possibly even to ensure that the prosecution wins the case.

The power and discretion when it comes to sentencing must always rest with Judges alone. The existence of appeals to higher courts, helps ensure that there be no errors.

800 OR MORE ALREADY CONVICTED ON DEATH ROW WILL STILL BE EXECUTED?

In March, Minister Azalina said that according to Prison Department statistics, there are almost 800 prisoners on death row for drug trafficking offences under Section 39(B) (Star, 24/3/2017). These would all be persons already convicted.

The new proposed amendments, however, will not help any of these persons, whose trial is over and they have been convicted and sentenced.

The proposed amendment, in Section 3(2) of the proposed Amending Act, states very clearly that new amendments, when it comes into force, will only be used for persons who ‘…has not been convicted under section 39B…’. This means that all 800 or more on death row for drug trafficking will still be executed, unless they are pardoned by the King and/or rulers.

As such, MADPET urges that the sentence of all 800 or more persons currently convicted and on death row be immediately commuted to imprisonment.

MANDATORY SENTENCES CONTINUE TO EXIST

Even with the amendment, there still will be mandatory sentences – Death(if the Public Prosecutor Does Not Certify), and when there is certification, then judges can impose either Death or Imprisonment for Life(plus whipping of not less than 15 strokes). There is no discretion given to judges to impose a lower prison term, but judges seem to have the discretion to order whipping of more than 15 strokes.

With regard persons being tried under Section 39B Drug Trafficking, we know that many of them may have had the drugs for various different reason, knowingly or unknowingly, and some maybe out of desperation because of poverty.

We know that section 37(da) Dangerous Drugs Act states that “…any person who is found in possession of-(i) 15 grammes or more in weight of heroin;(ii)… otherwise than in accordance with the authority of this Act or any other written law, shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, to be trafficking in the said drug.” This and other similar legal presumptions shift the burden of proof to the accused person, and it is most difficult for an accused person, more so if he/she is poor, to prove that the drugs found did not belong to him/her.

Should a ‘fool’ who made one mistake be sentenced to death or life in prison. A mandatory life sentence is also grossly unjust. Judges should be given real discretion even with regard to the length of imprisonment, and as such a mandatory life sentence also needs to be reviewed, and judges should have the discretion to impose lower sentence. There should be lower prison sentences for first time offenders, and higher for repeat offenders. We should be emphasizing rehabilitation rather than a ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ policy.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY OFFENCES?

Malaysia have been studying the abolition of the death penalty, and to date we are only seeing action with regard the drug trafficking. There are so many other offences that provide for mandatory death penalty including crimes that do not result death and/or grievous hurt to victims.

Malaysia needs to speed up at least the abolition of the mandatory death penalty for all offences, and returning sentencing discretion to judges.

MADPET calls


a)    That discretion when it comes to sentencing should be with judges. The proposed pre-condition before a judge can exercise judicial discretion in sentencing, being the written certification by the Public Prosecutor that the convicted  has ‘assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia’ should be deleted. Such conditions are unacceptable;

b)    That the death sentence of the 800 or over persons on death row for drug trafficking(section 39B) be forthwith commuted to imprisonment;

c)    That Malaysia speed up its efforts towards the abolition of the death penalty, especially the mandatory death penalty for all offences;

d)    That Malaysia impose a moratorium on executions pending abolition of the death penalty.


Charles Hector
For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

UEC - Is the The Legal Profession Qualifying Board (LPQB) being discriminatory?

To be a lawyer, we really should just be looking at the Law Degree that one holds. Is it recognized or not? 

Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) - well, that is not a University Degree. It is like our Malaysian Sijil Pelajaran(SPM) Malaysia.

Nationalism - we only recognize the SPM - and not any other? Well we are also recognizing A-levels, which is a requirement for admission in foreign universities like in England, Australia, etc... (Well, many of this foreign universities do not recognize our SPM, do they?And, why is this? Is it because our SPM is not up to par...?)

Likewise, the UEC is a recognized requirement for Universities in Singapore, Taiwan, etc..So, if we recognize the A-levels, why are we not recognizing the UEC, when foreign Universities are recognizing it, and admitting students(Malaysian students) into the law degree programmes.

So, why is the  Legal Profession Qualifying Board (LPQB) being discriminatory - remember most foreign degree holders (that is recognized in Malaysia) cannot become a lawyer unless they sit and pass the Certificate of Legal Practice... that is the pre-requisite before you can be a lawyer in Malaysia.

Well, Malaysia is now allowing foreign lawyers to practice in Malaysia - Do they have SPM?

The problem now is that lawyers from local Universities do not have to take and pass the Certificate of Legal Practices, and the standards in local Universities is not what it was before. There is a need for a Common Bar Exam(or the CLP for all) so that only those of a certain standard are allowed to practice. Lawyers provide professional legal services for the public, and as such, there is the need to maintain standards.

It was rather sad that it was the President of the Malaysian Bar that was reported making the statement on behalf of  Legal Profession Qualifying Board (LPQB) about this UEC matter..,Cause the Malaysian Bar has much higher standards and principles, and would most likely oppose positions that are seen to be discriminatory. I am sure that the Malaysian Bar position would be different...

UEC - if the concern is about the grasp of Bahasa Malaysia and English, then make it a requirement that one is expected to pass the Malay and English test - and this should maybe be a different test/certificate. Those who have already passed their SPM Bahasa Malaysia and English could be excluded.



‘Decision against UEC applies to all CLP candidates’

George-Varughese-uec

PETALING JAYA: The decision not to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) as an entry requirement for the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) exam applies to all students, says Malaysian Bar president George Varughese.

Speaking to FMT, he said the decision of the Legal Profession Qualifying Board (LPQB) “binds every law 
student who wants to take the CLP exam, regardless of where they are from”.

Varughese, a current member of the LPQB, was asked to respond to concerns raised by the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) on whether East Malaysian UEC holders would be affected by the board’s 2005 decision.

AAS Sibu branch chairman David Kuok had told FMT that he wanted to hear the board’s official stand on the issue, following remarks from former Malaysian Bar president Khutubul Zaman Bukhari, who said the LPQB could not impose its decisions outside the peninsula.

“The statement by this ex-president seems to be a personal decision, and I want to know whether his statement reflects the board’s stand,” Kuok said.

Khutubul Zaman had said there was no reason for AAS or the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) to be upset as the LPQB had no power in Sabah and Sarawak.

When asked if the board would review the 12-year-old decision, Varughese said he had asked for the issue to be discussed at LPQB’s next meeting in December.

According to a notice on the board’s website, the decision against recognising the UEC as equivalent to SPM or STPM was made in 2005. Those who wish to sit for the CLP need at least two pass grades in the STPM or A-Levels.

The board is composed of the attorney-general, the Malaysian Bar president, two judges and an academic nominated by the government.- FMT News, 22/11/2017


Top universities accept the UEC


Nation; Sunday, 15 Nov 2015



MORE than 800 universities in the world open their doors to UEC students (as long as their academic results meet the entry requirements), according to the latest compilation by the Dong Zong (United School Committees Associations of Malaysia).

Among the top-ranking institutions that recognise the senior UEC are the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Oxford University, University of Cambridge, University of Toronto, University of Tokyo, National University of Singapore, University of Hong Kong, University of Melbourne, Peking University and Kyoto University.

“Based on The Times Higher Education World University Rankings Top 200 of 2014, more than 70 of these world-class universities have accepted the enrolment of UEC graduates to pursue tertiary education in their universities,” says Dong Zong in an internal report on “Access to Higher Education with UEC Qualification”, made available to Sunday Star.

The United Examinations Certificate (UEC) is a standardised examination conducted by the Dong Zong in the country’s 60 Chinese independent secondary schools. After studying for three years, students will sit for the junior UEC exam, and after six years, they will sit for the senior UEC exam.

In another report on the whereabouts of senior UEC leavers after they sat for their examination in 2013, the Dong Zong report says that out of 8,088 Chinese secondary school graduates, a total of 6,235 students, or 77.16%, chose to pursue further studies.

Among those seeking higher education, 3,017, or 48.39%, enrolled in local colleges and universities while 2,895, or 46.43%, went to universities overseas.

Within Malaysia, most UEC students are in private institutions and branch campuses of foreign universities.

Only two UEC graduates managed to get into local public universities.

Among foreign countries, Taiwan took in the largest number of UEC students with Singapore ranking second.

The other favourite destinations of the 2013 batch were Australia, Britain, and China.

The Dong Zong says this report tracing UEC students is the outcome of a survey carried out from June to November 2015.

The last breath of the labour movement?(Part 4)

The last breath of the labour movement?

Published:     Modified:

This is the final part of a series on the Malaysian labour movement.

FEATURE | Malaysia continues with its “divide and rule” policy with the labour movement, permitting only unions based on occupation, sector and industry, and disallowing the formation of unions or federations across different sectors.

Private and public sector workers alike are still prevented from belonging to common unions. The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) continue to be registered as societies.

The justification for the control of unions and labour rights is “competitiveness,” or the need for Malaysia to attract foreign investors to set up factories, and hence create jobs and income.

Low wages and a passive workforce make Malaysia attractive, and the fact that there have been no mass strikes for almost four or more decades is seen as a positive.

Such justifications may be good for businesses, but it certainly is not helping workers. Their wages remain low, and their rights continue to be eroded. A perusal of laws will see that the Umno-BN government has been continuously eroding worker rights through various amendments of existing laws, and even a handful new laws.

Worker rights education is also not a priority, and is absent from the curriculum. Hence, many workers are not even aware of existing rights in Malaysia, and more importantly, how they can claim it.

The government does not seem to be bothered as well with the inspection and enforcement of labour and trade union rights, except maybe for occupational safety and health rights (photo).



The Human Resources Ministry’s statistics on employment and labour, for instance, provide no figures of the number of inspections and enforcement actions concerning labour rights, save for matters concerning occupational safety and health, even though the law permits authorities to do so.

This would suggest that Malaysia may not even be interested in protecting existing worker and trade union rights. These inspections must be done randomly, and/or based on information received on alleged violations.

To not act until victims to lodge formal complaints – particularly in the Malaysian labour context, where many employees are easily terminated if they lodge complaints – is unreasonable.

'Unions remain weak'

Union busting continues. Union presidents and leaders are easily terminated for issuing public statements. Union members are terminated for sending memoranda to election candidates to get them to commit to the struggle for better worker rights.

Workers participating in legal pickets are arrested for “making noise.” Union registration and “recognition” processes are delayed, not expedited – not just by government bodies, but also by allowing drawn-out litigations initiated by employers.

Malaysia finally introduced its minimum wage in 2013, which was bumped up to RM1,000 (Peninsular Malaysia) and RM920 (East Malaysia) per month in 2015.

The figure is absurd when the government itself acknowledges that families with a household income of less than RM4,000 per month are in need of BR1M assistance (logically, assuming a family unit has two income earners, the minimum wage should really be set at RM2,000).

But even here, there were not only implementation delays granted to employers, but also a lack of enforcement against errant employers who refused to pay even the paltry figure.

Unions remain weak. Mass layoffs of unionised workers in the thousands are met with muted protests, if any, such as in the case of Malaysia Airlines. 

The labour movement in Malaysia has been weakened successfully. The reasons are not just laws and government policies, but also weak, fearful union leaders and members cowed into submission.

The unwillingness of workers and unions to stand for their rights and fight for better worker and trade union rights is a major problem – no struggle will mean no improvement. To depend solely on the government to bring about improvements for rights is foolish, especially when its victims fail to highlight abuses in the first place.

As noted previously, Malaysia’s worker and trade union laws fall short of existing international standards, which became evident when even the now-defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) – which could have in theory overruled existing labour laws – set improved labour rights as one of its provisions.



It is perhaps good that some countries, as a matter of policy and law, have adopted policies that they will not enter into trade agreements with countries that do not at the very least have a minimum standard of human and labour rights.

The government claimed that it would review existing labour laws to bring it in line with TPPA provisions, even if the deal is no more. But this has not as yet been carried out.

It is also confusing and somewhat embarrassing that some trade union leaders in Malaysia still consider trade union adviser John Alfred Brazier, a tool used by the British to carry out union busting in the 1940s, as the “father” of trade unionism in the country.

On a positive note, some unions have of late gone beyond just focusing on employer-employee issues into addressing other pressing socioeconomic, politic and cultural issues affecting the nation – like the increase of cost of living brought about by the introduction of the goods and services tax, as well as kleptocracy and corruption scandals that have impacted the economy of the country.

MTUC and other trade unions have also in the past endorsed and campaigned for some candidates contesting in general elections, which even saw the Umno-BN government reacting by temporarily removing 

MTUC from its position as the representative workers’ body at the International Labour Organization (ILO).

What next?

There will always be risks in the struggle for rights. The question now is what Malaysian workers and trade unions are willing to do.

Remain in the shadows, as desired by the then British colonial government, and the present Umno-BN government? Or will they wake up and fight for better worker and trade union rights, and cause the re-emergence of a strong labour movement?

Without highlighting wrongs, violations, issues and concerns, the struggle for better rights will not be known to others, meaning there will be no pressure on the government and employers to protect and improve labour rights in Malaysia.

Failing this, the election manifestos and policies of political parties may one day not even contain any commitment to the improvement of rights and the strengthening of the labour movement.

If 100,000 Felda settlers and their families can quite rightly make their welfare a major national concern, why not the 14.5 million workers in a country of 31 million? We do not just have the power to change the course of the labour movement, but also to shape the future of Malaysia.


This article was first published by Aliran here. Malaysiakini has been authorised to republish it. - Malaysiakini, 19/11/2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How the British suppressed the Malayan labour movement (Part 3)

Part 3 of  4 parts

The state of the labour movement in Malaysia (Part 1)

The origins of the labour movement in M’sia (Part 2 of a series)

How the British suppressed the Malayan labour movement (Part 3)

The last breath of the labour movement?(Part 4)

 


How the British suppressed the Malayan labour movement

 

Published:     Modified:
This is part three of a series on the Malaysian labour movement.

FEATURE | In 1947, the Pan-Malayan General Labour Union, which was established in 1946, changed its name to Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU).

It boasted a membership of 263,598, and this represented more than half the total workforce in Malaya. 85 percent of all existing unions in Malaya were part of the PMFTU.

The attitude of the Malayan worker was more assertive during this period. For instance, a strike was reported of Chinese and Indian hospital workers because they no longer wanted to be addressed as 'boy', and workers began to see their subjection to physical punishments as unacceptable. 

Tamil trade unionists refused to suffer any longer the use of the derogatory term “Kling”. Estate workers no longer dismounted from their bicycles when a dorai, or planter, passed by.

In short, unions concern went beyond limited industrial relations matters or employee-employer matters concerning work rights and working conditions.

The British colonial government wanted to crush this development, and the ever-strengthening labour movement decided to “reconstruct” the organised labour movement in Malaysia and Singapore.

While the Singapore Trade Union Adviser, SP Garett, allowed the Singapore GLU (SGLU) to re-organize as a federation and operate legally without registering which led to the formation of the Singapore Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) in August 1946.

In Malaya, however, the then Trade Union Adviser John Alfred Brazier did not want the same for Malaya – he did not want the PMGLU to be recognised or continue to exist.

Brazier ruled that all the branch unions had to register, and that thereafter there be no relationship between any of the newly registered unions with the PMGLU (that later came to be known as the PMFTU). The registered unions were not allowed to seek guidance or remit funds to PMFTU. This created problems for the PMFTU, that ultimately led to its demise.


The Trade Union Ordinance required the registration (or re-registration) of trade unions according to sector or industry, and this allowed the government to deny registration to unions they considered strong, unacceptable or “militant unions”.

Until the proclamation by the British colonial authorities of a state of emergency in Malaya and Singapore in 1948, most of the plantation trade unions and federations of plantation trade unions in Malaya were affiliated with the PMFTU.

It is of interest that the British may have considered the PMFTU a bigger threat than even the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), for the PMFTU was outlawed even before the CPM was.

The influence of the Trade Union Adviser

Another method that was employed by the British, was to try and influence the trade unions, and to this end in 1945, a British trade unionist, John Alfred Brazier, was appointed by the government as Trade Union Adviser.

English-educated middle-class individuals were groomed and trained to replace the then existing progressive worker leadership of trade unions. One of the targeted unions were the plantation worker unions.



The government-appointed trade union adviser’s objective was not to strengthen, but rather, to weaken the labour movement in Malaya. This included eliminating the labour movement’s role in the political, socio-economic and cultural lives of the nation, and narrowly restricting its activities to “industrial relations”, that is the disputes between employers and workers.

This was an unnatural development, as workers are also citizens and humans who live in the country. Who wins the federal, state and local government elections is material – the wrong people and parties may mean anti-worker and anti-trade union policies and laws.

This restriction led to further erosion of worker rights and the power of negotiation for better terms. If the price of water, basic amenities, and the cost of living go up, it also has a direct impact on the lives of workers and their families. To bar unions and workers from taking up or speaking on such issues was absurd.

It must not be forgotten that workers and their unions had played a very significant role in the struggle for independence of Malaya from the British colonial government. They also played a significant role in developing the Constitution of Malaya - now Malaysia.

The PMFTU, Clerical Unions of Penang, Malacca, Selangor and Perak, and the Peasant's Union were a part of the All-Malayan Council of Joint Action (AMCJA), with Tan Cheng Lock as chairperson and Gerald de Cruz as Secretary-General, who actively campaigned on matters concerning the Malaysian Constitution.



It must be reiterated that what the British did to the trade unions in Malaysia was contrary to the accepted position and role of trade unions in England. To this day, trade unions in the United Kingdom continue to play an active role in the political life until today, being still very much affiliated to the Labour Party.

The manner in which the British treated the labour movement in Malaya and Singapore was not at all the same the way they treated their own labour movement in Britain.

In Malaysia, the object was clearly “union busting” for the benefit of employers and businesses, most of which were British-owned or controlled.

Other laws to suppress labour movement

Besides the new labour laws, the British colonial government also used other laws to suppress or carry out “union busting”.

In 1947, the ordinary trespassing law was used to keep union organisers from meeting and speaking with workers in plantations.

For instance in late March 1947, a large police force came to the Dublin estate in Kedah to arrest a federation of trade unions official for trespassing as he was speaking to a group of workers there. When the workers closed ranks around the official, the police opened fire, killing one worker and wounding five.


In a clash between police and workers at the Bedong estate on 3 March 1947, 21 workers were injured; whereby "the strike leader died of injuries received at the hands of the police a few days later". 61 of these workers were charged and sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

The existing law then was that workers could not be terminated just for exercising their right to strike, which was a worker’s right. But in October 1947, the Supreme Court ruled in a case involving three rubber tappers that striking was a breach of contract and that the dismissal was justified. This was a major change of law and policy.

Unionists were also convicted for intimidation. In November 1947, S Appadurai, vice-president of the Penang Federation of Trade Unions and chairperson of the Indian section of the Penang Harbour Labour Association was charged for having written to an employer warning him against using “backlegs”.

“Backlegs” are persons who act against the interests of a trade union by continuing to work during a strike, or taking over a striker's job during a strike. In law then and before this, it was wrong for employers to use “backlegs” when workers are on strike. However, in this case, the said union leader was found guilty and sent to prison.

In January 1948, K Vanivellu, secretary of the Kedah Federation of Rubber Workers Unions was charged for having written to an employer asking him to reinstate 14 workers who had been dismissed for striking and suggesting that if he did not, the remaining workers might leave their jobs.

Hence, various other laws and the courts were also used wrongly, for the purpose of “union-busting” pursuant to the new British policy of weakening the labour movement in Malaysia.

New amendments to the Trade Union Ordinance

The Trade Union Ordinance of 1940 was again amended to weaken unions. New amendments to the Trade Union Ordinance were passed by the Federal Legislative Council on 31 May 1948. The amendments were in three parts.

The first stipulated that a trade union official must have at least three years of experience in the industry concerned.

The second prohibited anyone convicted of certain criminal offenses (notably intimidation and extortion, which were common charges against unionists) from holding trade union office.

The third stated that a federation could only include workers from one trade or industry.

As Michael R Stenson said in his 1969 book, “Repression and Revolt: the Origins of the 1948 Communist Insurrection in Malaya and Singapore”, the first provision was seen as "a measure designed to exclude educated 'outsiders'”.

It also created problems because many workers worked in different industries and sectors, as work available during that time was not permanent, and had more of a seasonal or transient nature.

It was similar to what is happening now, with the use of precarious short-term contracts, where after the end of contracts, workers have no choice but to find another job, which more often than not is in a different industry and sector.

The third part that insisted that a federation could only include workers from one trade or industry effectively killed the PMFTU and even the SFTU. This divided private sector workers further, and it also affected public sector workers, because it prevented workers from different sectors and industries from coming together and fighting for better rights and common issues.

PMFTU outlawed in June 1948

On 12 June 1948, the British colonial government finally outlawed PMFTU. This is interesting considering the fact that the Malayan Communist Party and other left-wing groups were only made illegal later in July 1948.

Can we say that for the British colonial government, the bigger concern or threat was the labour movement and unions - not the Communist party?  

Many of the leaders of the labour movement were arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced. SA Ganapathy, for example, who was the first president of the 300,000-strong PMFTU, was hanged by the British in May 1949.


He was said to be on the way to the police to surrender a firearm he found, when he was arrested by the 
police and sentenced to hang in Pudu Jail.

The birth of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)

Effectively, the British colonial government succeeded in crushing the labour movement in Malaya. With the requirement of registration, and the powers vested in the Registrar of Trade Unions, the government could now eliminate the stronger “troublemaker” trade unionist and trade unions, and break up the labour movement according to sectors/industries – divide and rule.

In January 1949, there only remained 163 registered trade unions with a total membership of only 68,814. In comparison, PMFTU had a membership of about 263,598 – which represented more than 50 percent of the total workforce.

The Council of Trade Unions was formed. It organised the Conference of Malayan Trade Union Delegates from 27 to 28 February 1949, and this gave birth to what is today known as the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

Now, since the amended new trade union laws prohibited the formation of trade union federations from different trades, sectors and industry, MTUC could not be registered as a trade union or a federation of trade unions, and had to be registered under the Societies Act as a society.

After Merdeka: The oppression continues

On 31st August 1957, Malaya got its independence from the British, but alas, the position of the new Umno-led coalition government that ruled since then until now did not differ much from their past British colonial masters.

Malaysia may have gained independence, but workers and trade unions continued to be denied independence.

They continued to be oppressed and suppressed, by the Umno-led government – who adopted and continued the British “divide and rule” policy and laws, and the restrictions and control with regard to trade union activities, trade union funds and even trade union leadership restrictions.

The struggle for Malaysian independence took many forms ranging from armed struggle to diplomatic negotiations, and for some the handing over power to the Umno-led coalition was not real independence, and some continued to struggle on.


The Umno-BN government and some leaders continue to be confused as to whom we were fighting to gain our independence from – the British or the Communist Party of Malaya (and others).

Members of the police and military serving the British colonial government are shockingly still seen as “heroes of independence”, and the recent invitation of 31 British army veterans to participate in the 2017 Independence Day celebration highlights this continued confusion.

Some suggest that the British choice in handing over power to the Umno-led coalition, a “friend”, was basically to ensure the protection of British-owned companies and assets, and the continued flow of resources and profits from Malaysia to Britain.

All these may not matter, as we now accept that Malaysia is an independent state. What matters is that workers, unions and the labour movement continue to be oppressed and/or stifled even many years after independence.

The role and influence of the labour movement in socio-economic and political life and future of the nation continues to be slowly eroded as the current government’s policy is perceived to be pro-businesses and employers.

A greater concern seems to be to ensure smooth unhindered operation of business and profits, something that may not change soon as the government too now are employers in the growing number of government-owned and/or controlled private businesses.


This article was first published by Aliran here. Malaysiakini has been authorised to republish it. - Malaysiakini, 18/11/2017

Keep people poor and in debt, and they will be afraid to stand up for rights or justice?

FREEDOM - Well that has been something that Malaysians have not really fully experienced - thanks to the UMNO-led coalition(today the Barisan Nasional) that has 'ruled' in Malaysia ever since independence in 1957. 

The funny thing is that many Malaysians have not just adapted but have also accepted the state of affairs...and some even believe that is all that we deserve... If there are going to be any changes, well we Malaysians really must WANT it and be willing to fight for this...we cannot simply be an 'independent' by-stander, not committed...and doing nothing...

GDP - Is UMNO-BN borrowing to increase spending to increase GDP? Debt RM908.7 Billion, Reserves RM426Billion only?






Well, now there is a lot of 'finger pointing' at Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak - 1MDB, kleptocracy, 'poor' governance, etc...BUT, the fact is that Najib could be very easily removed as Prime Minister - it is the Members of Parliament(wakil rakyat/peoples' representative) that is keeping him in power - the moment that Najib loses the confidence of the majority of the MPs, he cannot anymore remain as Prime Minister - he will have to resign and/or advise the Yang DiPertuan Agung to call for a new elections. 

Then, there is UMNO itself, UMNO members can also get rid of Najib Tun Razak as the President of UMNO...but that too is not happening? 

What about BN component parties - MCA, MIC, Gerakan, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu(PBB), Parti Rakyat Bersatu Sarawak(SUPP), Parti Liberal Demokratik(LDP),Parti Progresif Penduduk Malaysia(MYPPP), Parti Bersatu Sabah(PBS), Pertubuhan Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Bersatu(UPKO), Parti Demokratik Progresif(PDP),  Parti Rakyat Sarawak, ... Well, have these 'independent' BN component parties all lost its independent voice - silence means, the consent to all that Najib and the BN government is doing? UMNO dominance and control within the BN looks like the new reality - and its various component parties seem to have simply lost its own identity...freedom..independence?

Wakil Rakyat(peoples' representative) - MPs are peoples' representative and as such what they say and do should reflect the voice of the people? But alas, how many of these 'representatives' even have consultations and/or discussions with the people they allegedly represent? How many even provide information to the people of their constituencies? What is the problem about having a once a month public meeting with your constituents using some town hall, community hall or some other venue  - to simply report back to the people what is going on, to answer questions...to simply LISTEN to the views and concerns of the people you are supposed to be representing? [Well, Opposition MPs could say, they could not get the halls and the required permits in BN controlled states, but what about Selangor, Penang and Kelantan?

Well, if you do not have the time to meet the people once a month, well you could start a Blog/Website/FB Page - and keep the people in the know of the main issues, concerns, your opinions, the answers to your Parliamentary questions ....Hello, you are paid a lot being an MP, surely this could be done. Well, some have Blogs/Website ...but they use this to simply post their photos of them shaking hands, handing out 'gifts' and 'bantuan', opening some functions ... Important - but people need more information concerning major issues and concerns, etc...

People are also the problem - because they simply 'vote' without properly considering the candidates or the parties - do they have a history of being 'democratic', fighting for justice and rights,...OR you vote because the leadership of parties picked and chose these candidates? Do you try to meet with your MPs to get information, discuss issues, etc...? Or do you just go to see the peoples' representative to get 'donations' and 'contracts'? 

DEMOCRACY - Well, we claim that we live in a democracy, but the reality is that maybe we are living in an 'autocracy', 'dictatorship' or a 'feudalistic' state? We do not challenge or dare to voice out a different opinion from that of our 'leader' - we just listen and follow? We are 'obedient'...we are 'loyal' - and that is the problem not just in the government, but also in ordinary societies. The style of leadership is no more 'democratic'...and when members question or voice a different opinion, the solution seems to be simple - we expel them as members - usually the leaders do this, and the members simply do not question. Well, in a democratic organisation, there will also be many different opinions (some even against the opinion of the 'supreme' leaders)...there will always be criticism of actions taken and decisions made. But at the end of the day, despite the different viewpoints, criticisms, etc ...they will decide and take a common stand. Seldom, do they get a 100% support...but more than 50% is sufficient, and they do not expel members simply because of the difference of opinions. 

Is our political parties democratic? Well, at the recent UMNO AGM, oddly there seem to have been no different view or opposition to the actions of the leadership? PAS expelled Husam Musa because of his opinions and the wrongdoings he highlighted...and was there even a Disciplinary Hearing? Mahathir's Pribumi party has also been expelling 'leaders'/members who publicly raised questions and criticisms? So, look at the various parties - is it democratic? A party that does not practice democracy may not have the capacity to govern Malaysia in a democratic manner...

FREEDOM - well, that is what everyone is fighting for. But alas, many today may have sacrificed 'freedoms' and even rights in favour of mere survival ...

DEBTS can affect your 'freedom' and desire to struggle for 'rights'. If you end up with large debts, and monthly loan payment obligations, then a worker will not even highlight wrongdoings and fight for better right - Why? For fear of repercussions - loss of employment, overlooked for promotions, etc..UMNO-BN policy of not insisting on regular employment, and allowing unchecked precarious employment(short term contracts, workers supplied by contractors for labour, etc) simply makes this FEAR more ...and, hence a greater loss of FREEDOMS.

Well, this UMNO-BN government is encouraging people to buy OWN houses - take out your EPF(savings for old age) and buy your own house. Now, you can get almost 100% loan - and you get to pay back in 30 years. If you get a RM100,000 house(now very difficult), and you are paying say 5% interest on the loan, well by the time you end up paying your loan, you would have paid 150% interest, and that means you paid RM250,000-00 for the house, and monthly payments is about RM550 roughly - Well, how much monthly income needed for your survival? Minimum wage of RM1,000 - how much for all the other payments - electricity, Indah Water, water, telecommunication, Astro, transportation, etc...Will you finish payment by your retirement age? 

Problem is where will you buy the house? Will you be staying in it? Well, now employment security is gone ...thanks to the government, many people are on short-term contracts, and private companies can end up retrenching you...and finding a new job near the house you purchase is not at all easy these days. Civil servants do get transferred to where the need is, and same to many who are working in private sector. Now, if you are forced to move to another town - then, there is extra accommodation expenditure. Surely, the government knew all this - but alas the reality of ordinary people is not much the government's concern. And the fact that one is burdened by such monthly loan payments makes a person 'docile' - not willing to demand or even claim rights. Well, there you have it - people end up putting themselves in a situation, that makes them indifferent and not bothered...a non-payment of loan payments could result is loss of homes, cars, etc. 

Practically and reasonably, the government should have just build houses for people...and rent it out at a nominal sum. The government should have provided housing loans with a very low interest - hence becoming truly responsible for the people. When one suddenly loses monthly income - government could delay payment, or even re-structure payment. But if you took a loan from an ordinary private bank, you can forget about compassion - not pay, lawyers letter, house seized and auction. Low rental houses really a need especially for civil servants, and poorer Malaysians. Increase financial obligations - and the people will be 'controlled'.

Malaysia was a nation blessed with natural resources and goods - PETROLEUM, RUBBER, TIN, OIL PALM,...and good weather. Remember the British colonial government held from from granting Malaysia independence for a long time because of this...'wealth'...Finally, it handed over the government to the UMNO-MCA-MIC coalition...WHY? Why was that coalition given the power? A good question to ask...had it anything to do with that continuation of the British 'divide and rule' strategy...or more important 'protecting the wealth and businesses' of the British in Malaya? After all, the Malaysian government post-independence did not take back land, property or British businesses? So was it true INDEPENDENCE or was it just handing over power and control to cronnies or 'friends' or people who will protect British interest?

There was no dismantling of unjust oppressive laws the British left - like the laws 'weakening' and 'controlling trade unions? The old Sedition Act 1948 still is there and is still being used.

Why would they still maintain these policies and laws, that restrict freedoms, so long after Independence? Well, maybe it worked...and it certainly has kept UMNO, and now the UMNO led coalition, Barisan Nasional, in power. Further, if we look around, many of these leaders and their families have become rather wealthy...Comparatively, many Malaysians are still poor...and ultimately, the government, has admitted that financial assistance is needed for families earning less than RM4,000 monthly. [Beware the BR1M - because it is not a right in law, and depends solely on the discretion of the government of the day. It should be made into a right in law - then it becomes a right for all Malaysians]

The government administers the people's monies - but alas, now we continue to hear how a lot of public funds have also been wrongly taken by individuals for their own benefits - Corruption, Kleptocracy, Other Abuses of power, etc ....(Just have a look at even the Auditor Generals Report - and wonder why even after being highlighted, not much real actions have been taken against the guilty individuals...) The failure of government to take strict actions against the corrupt, especially in government, only makes the problem even bigger...Blame and responsibility would ultimately lie with the Prime Minister, the MPs that kept him in power, and of course the people who by their votes brought about this..

Now, the UMNO-BN government is slowly removing subsidies, increasing tols...increased cost of living. 

Worker wages, rights and 'weakened' unions were all put in place allegedly to make Malaysia more attractive and draw in foreign companies to come open their factories - So, many Malaysians sacrificed a lot and accepted these low wages and the state of affairs, and the government tried to keep cost of living low - so people could live decent lives. 

But these all are changing very fast under UMNO-BN, as now it moves even faster to adopt more and more neo-liberal(capitalism) policies - "Whatever you want you pay for it...if you cannot afford it, then too bad". Remember, the biggest advocate of neo-liberalism was the US, and the model has clearly failed which the emergence of a new class of poor and homeless. The policy does not care for those who cannot compete...the winners of the 100 meter race gets medals, and the others get nothing. 

Well, such 'neo-liberalism' thinking may be OK where all of the citizens are already well-to-do, and so some 'winners of the rat race' can get more and more...But reality is that in a human community, it will not work - for human beings are diverse in skills, abilities, capacities ...and our responsibility must always be for the well-being of ALL - not just ourselves and/or our families. Governments should ensure this, and as such the focus must always be for the poor and marginalised - to ensure that their livelihood is as equitable as others - but the UMNO-BN seems not to understand this. Look at BR1M - logic dictates greater assistance for the poorer families and individuals - so this practice of giving the same sum for all families earning RM3,000 or less is illogical.

Uplifting the socio-economic status of the poor in Malaysia - somehow the UMNO-BN government failed to grasp that concept...look around you. Welfarism or monetary payouts works for flood and natural disaster victims - but for an effective upliftment of the poor, one needs to give people the ability, skills and assistance so that they can themselves later improve their socio-economic position and will be no more be dependent on welfare or monetary assistance...

All in all, the UMNO-BN government, in governing Malaysia, has forced most Malaysians into poverty or financial instability - and so, they will continue to 'depend' on this government's welfaristic practices... 

They have encouraged Malaysians to be in debt - with the encouraging of people to buy homes, cars, etc ...on loan. A person who have much monthly loan obligations will be less likely to take RISKS which is crucial if we want to gain more rights and liberties, voice out and stop injustices and violations of rights, if we want to 'check and balance' leaders of government, etc...

Now, for those willing to speak up...government just created more THREATs - well, there is the Sedition Act, Peaceful Assemble Act, Criminal Defamation, Targeted Enforcement of Laws, Multimedia Act, Censorship laws --- well, the threat is targeted to almost everything ...including social media (even pressing 'Like' can get you in trouble)...Siti Noor Aishah Atam is in jail for having in her possession 12 books that were not banned in Malaysia. According to the government, Malaysians in this democratic country must be QUITE and accept things...your democratic right is the ability to VOTE once every 5 years...

One indicator of the failure of government is CRIME - well, is it increasing especially thefts and robbery (Well, UMNO-BN was smart - so no more statistics of crime - just some crime index?? Very smart. Well, then let us look at the number of persons in prison - well, in 2016, it was revealed that there are 59,600 in prisons (Does that even include the possibly thousands under Detention Without Trial laws - ABOLISH POCA AND DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL LAWS (38 Groups) - 142 juveniles have been arrested under the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA))

59,600 convicts in prisons in this country...Director of Inmate Management of the Prison Department, SAC Nordin Muhamad said of the total, 71.3 percent of those in prison are Malays and 66 per cent of them are between 22 and 40 years old.
59,600 persons in prison in a country of about 30 million - That is like 1 or 2 number of voters in a Parliamentary Constituency - and what 71.3% of prisoners are Malays, in a country where 50% of the population are Malay? Well, is that an indicator of the failure of UMNO-BN...

The special preference provided for in the Malaysian Federal Constitution for Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak was meant to uplift the socio-economic condition of ethnic groups that were inequitably lower than primarily the Chinese Malaysians and Indian Malaysians...so with all these special allocations, UMNO-BN seems to have desperately failed even with the Malays? Well, or maybe the money and benefits have not been flowing to all persons in the said targeted ethnic groups - because there is certainly an increase of the number of very rich individuals from the said groups - and the rich have been growing richer and richer...

The keeping people poor and always needing the UMNO-BN, was that the strategy? Well, in recent years we have had cases of RM2.6 billion in PM's personal account, alleged loss of billions of ringgit from 1MDB (which strangely the government and 1MDB says that there was no such loss - but several other countries say the opposite like US, Singapore, Switzerland, etc ...) 
 
Majority are poor...indebted(with personal monthly loan repayment obligation) - so many Malaysians will just not have the 'capacity' to be bothered about other people in Malaysia - or the well-being of ALL Malaysians, and will be too fearful to take RISKS...to force a change in government or the priorities of the government? 

RISK will always be there when people want to CHANGE things ...So, will Malaysians take RISKS...or will they continue to keep UMNO-BN in power for the BR1M money, the chances of getting scholarship, the chance of getting jobs in the civil service, the possibility of getting a 'low cost house', 'small contracts', government 'subsidies', etc...

The failure of UMNO was the lack of questioning amongst the members of UMNO - likewise the failure of BN component parties. They say 'Silence is CONSENT' - so MCA, MIC, Gerakan, ...? Maybe, it is time that the various members of political parties need to re-evaluate their principles and core values, and even their leaders > Are you ready to abandon values and principles for some of your party members becoming Ministers or YBs? 

Yes - FEAR and desire not to do the needful for the betterment of Malaysia (nay...for the betterment of ALL persons in Malaysia) - Is that what you believe in and want?

The UMNO-BN government or persons associated with these parties have made 'insinuations' that there will be repercussions for those who oppose the incumbent government...so, what will you do? 


 
 

Some 33,500 convicts in prison because of drug abuse

Some 33,500 convicts in prison because of drug abuse
Of the total, 71.3 percent of those in prison are Malays and 66 per cent of them are between 22 and 40 years old.
 
KUALA LUMPUR: Some 33,500 of the 59,600 convicts in prisons in this country are because of drug offences and they represent 56 per cent of the total number of prison inmates nationwide.

Director of Inmate Management of the Prison Department, SAC Nordin Muhamad said of the total, 71.3 percent of those in prison are Malays and 66 per cent of them are between 22 and 40 years old.

"What is worrying is the involvement of our citizens in drug abuse. Only 11 per cent of prisoners due to drug offences are foreigners," he said while sitting as a panel member of an anti-drug forum, here today.
 
The forum organised by the Malay Consultative Council in collaboration with the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF), the Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam) and Utusan Melayu Bhd, was attended by over 100 participants specially invited to find a more effective plan to fight drug abuse.

Meanwhile, principal assistant director (International) of the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) Hamizan Haidzir expressed concern over the rising number of drug abuse cases in this country.

In 2016 (last year), the number of arrests for drug offences stood at 30,844 people compared to only 26,000 in 2015 (the previous year).

"Drug abuse is on the rise throughout the world, particularly with the entry of synthetic drugs which have negative effects on the central nervous system."

Hamizan said the authorities will intensify its efforts to fight drug abuse by increasing the frequency of raids on premises with the aim to trace and arrest those involved in drug abuse.

-BERNAMA- Astro Awani, 14/6/2017







 

Worst off in this situation is the Malay population, I believe. The non-Malays, because they are alienated by the Bumiputra policy has learnt how to survive and even prosper without government assistance or preferences. Well, the 'Bumiputra' preferential policy really helps UMNO-BN, because without that many will not be able to make it in the market - in getting jobs, etc...

UMNO - well, it is a Malay party - and there are only about 50% Malays in Malaysia - but for the past few years, there is no more disclosure of the real number of Malays in Malaysia, as we now suddenly get the Bumiputra figures? 

Well, some of the ethnic groupings in Sabah and Sarawak are really not that happy of being lumped in as Bumiputra? Why? Who really are benefiting from these 'Bumiputra' preferences and allocations? How many Malays - what is the percentage of the total Malay population will this make? How many Kadazans? How many Ibans? How many Penan?