Tuesday, July 31, 2007

RM80m to keep foreigners in jail for four months (NST)

RM80m to keep foreigners in jail for four months
By : Aniza Damis

KUALA LUMPUR: We are punishing them for entering the country illegally.

But it is costing us almost RM80 million to keep foreigners in prison for just a few months.

This is because each foreigner who is convicted of Immigration Act offences is sentenced to a few months in prison.

According to Prison Department figures, as of June 25, the number of foreigners in our prisons held for Immigration Act offences stood at 19,041. Of this, 10,089 are in remand. The remainder are serving their sentences.

(If a person is convicted, his time in remand is taken into account in the sentencing.)

The average sentence served is between three and five months.
Based on the department’s 2004 budget estimates, the cost of incarcerating one person in prison for one day is RM35.

Of this, RM3.80 goes towards feeding the prisoner.

If the median stay is four months, this translates into RM4,200 to punish an illegal immigrant for 120 days.

The figure soars when we factor in the 19,041 illegal immigrants currently serving time. The bill comes to RM79.98 million.

Although light sentences would not serve as a deterrent, the fact remains that heavy sentences weigh on our pockets.

The burden is only going to increase as the number of foreigners who enter the country gets bigger every year.

As of June 26 last year, there were only 12,042 foreigners in prison for immigration offences.

This year’s figure reflects a nearly 60 per cent increase in foreign illegals who were convicted.

While this year-on-year comparison may not capture the true nature of the turnover rate of prison populations, it suggests that the overall annual number of illegals convicted may be higher.

Last year, Rela nabbed 25,045 illegal immigrants.

This year, in the first quarter alone, it arrested 9,691 illegals.

Last October, Rela director-general Datuk Zaidun Asmuni estimated that of the 1.8 million migrant workers here, nearly 500,000 might have overstayed, have expired work permits or entered the country illegally.

And, according to the Immigration Department, between last September and April 30, out of the 36,701 visas-on-arrival issued, 20,481 were abused.

The true cost is higher as they make up nearly 40 per cent of the total number of people being detained in the Prison Department’s 47 prisons and other detention centres nationwide.

As of July 6, there were 50,429 people in detention.

Given that these prisons and institutions were designed for an ideal capacity of 38,750, this means an overflow of 11,679 prisoners and detainees.

More than 23,000 are foreigners. In 1995, the number of foreign inmates was just 6,077.

To deal with the problem of overcrowding in prisons, the Eighth and Ninth Malaysia Plans approved 16 new penitentiaries. Construction has begun on six, of which only two will be ready this year.

The parole system, whose bill was supposed to have been tabled in parliament this session, is also meant to alleviate the problem of overcrowding.

Illegal Immigrant Detention Centres Told To Increase Capacity

July 23, 2007 12:26 PM

Illegal Immigrant Detention Centres Told To Increase Capacity

KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 (Bernama) -- All depots and temporary detention camps for illegal immigrants have been told to increase their capacity to accommodate more detainees.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the directive was issued by the Cabinet last week after discussing the issue of worsening over-crowding at these centres.

Najib who was met by reporters at the parliament lobby here Monday, was asked to comment on the disclosure by Immigration Department enforcement director Datuk Ishak Mohamed yesterday that more than 300,000 foreigners were staying in this country illegally or had violated their work permits.

"Therefore, the Cabinet had asked that the detention depots and camps be expanded to accommodate these foreign illegals and other immigration offenders."

He said additional allocations were being provided for the purpose.

Najib added that at the moment it was not possible to mount a massive operation against foreign illegals as there were not enough detention centres to accommodate them before they be repatriated.


Chin Peng asked to produce papers for action against govt

SHAH ALAM: Former communist leader Chin Peng will have to produce his birth certificate and citizenship papers before he could proceed with his legal action against the Malaysian government, the High Court ruled.

“Chin Peng’s main application was made based on the claim that he is a Malaysian.

“Therefore, it is relevant and important for him to produce his birth certificate and citizenship papers,” ruled High Court judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah.

A lawyer for the 84-year-old former leader of the Communist Party of Malaysia (CPM), Darshan Singh Khaira, said the ruling was as good as throwing Chin Peng’s case out of court because those documents had been seized by the government a long time ago.

“He cannot produce the documents anymore. The court should allow him to prove his citizenship through his relatives or acquaintances here.

“One should also look at the treaty signed between the CPM and the Government in December 1989, where some of the former CPM leaders’ names were mentioned,” he said.

Lead counsel Raja Aziz Addruse said they would be appealing against the ruling.

Darshan Singh said he hoped that the appeal could be heard early such as before this year’s Independence Day celebration.

Chin Peng, whose real name is Ong Boon Hua, currently resides in Thailand.

In the originating summons filed on March 4, 2005, the octogenarian asked for a declaration that he and other CPM members be allowed to enter and live in this country.

Apart from the government, he named the home affairs minister, the inspector-general of police and the armed forces chief as defendants.

In June, Chin Peng withdrew two side applications he had filed namely his bid to attend the hearing of his main action and his application to compel the government to provide a copy of his birth certificate and other related identification documents.

The main reason cited was that Chin Peng did not want to prolong the matter.

Asean unanimous to setting up human rights body

Asean unanimous to setting up human rights body

Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 08:12am

©The Star (Used by permission)
by Mergawati Zulfakar and Lisa Goh

At the end of the day, the Asean comradeship and way of doing things won - all member countries agreed to the establishment of a human rights body.

And that was not all.

The foreign ministers also reached some kind of consensus on other matters including changing the way Asean reaches its decisions, membership criteria and legitimacy of decisions made in the absence of a member.

None of the ministers wanted to say how Myanmar, with its dismal human rights record, and the newer Asean members agreed to the setting up of the human rights body, a sensitive issue that had divided the group over the years.

The body is part of the landmark Asean Charter, now in its drafting stage, to be adopted by Asean leaders at their summit in Singapore.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said the ministers agreed to the inclusion of a provision in the Charter that mandated the creation of a human rights body.

“We have instructed the High Level Task Force (HLTF) to include this provision in the draft Charter,” he told reporters after the Asean ministers retreat here yesterday.

The HLTF, comprising senior officials and veteran diplomats, had been unable to agree on several issues including human rights and decided to let the ministers deliberate on them.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the next step was working out the terms of reference of the body.

His Singapore counterpart, George Yeo, said Myanmar had “a positive attitude” towards the body, concurring with Syed Hamid that the terms of reference and other specifics would be done soon.

On revamping the Asean consensus method that will also be part of the Charter, Syed Hamid said the foreign ministers agreed that if decisions could not be reached at their level, it would be referred to the leaders.

As for the Asean membership criteria, the ministers agreed it would not be opened automatically to any country in Southeast Asia.

The ministers also agreed that if an Asean member was not present, it was still bound by whatever decisions made.

Syed Hamid was confident that the Charter would be ready by September.

Monday, July 30, 2007



caning under way

Video clips

Malaysia - judicial caning

Comment and analysis by C. Farrell

With many thanks to the reader who kindly provided the translations from Malay

scenes from the film

the caning trestle awaits

prisoner being shackled up to the trestle

We now have video footage of a genuine judicial punishment session in Malaysia, including several complete canings, ranging from a couple of one-stroke punishments to one of twenty strokes. The video, total running time 22 minutes, is divided into two parts. It was made, probably in 2004, at Seremban prison, not far from Kuala Lumpur.

It gives us a comprehensive, uncensored view of JCP being administered in one session to a batch of adult offenders on a production-line basis.

For the first time we are given a ringside seat at a dramatic spectacle in which a series of convicted men are made to undergo salutary retribution for their crimes, methodically delivered via their bared buttocks, with the full panoply of the State.

material shocking. It is not for the squeamish. You may not want to watch these films if you don't approve of severe corporal punishment for ruthless, violent, adult male criminals. It is your choice.

The film opens with a sign reading "Caning Station, Seremban Prison" (Tempat Menjalani Hukuman Rotan Penjara Seremban).

We then see prisoners waiting to be caned and being examined by the doctor. The caning operative is shown warming up with a few practice strokes.

Each prisoner to be caned is made to wear a sort of pinafore that covers the front but not the rear of his midriff, permitting modesty to be maintained in front while leaving his backside bare. Thus attired, he is brought out to stand in front of the officer in charge, who orders him to state his name and his prisoner number. The OIC then says that his court sentence was X years in prison and Y strokes of the cane. In a number of cases, the OIC asks the prisoner if he understands ("Paham?"), to which all prisoners reply in the affirmative, sometimes adding "Sir" (Tuan).

The OIC then says "So this morning we are going to give you X strokes of the cane" (jadi pagi ini kita akan sebat kamu dengan 13 kali sebatan). The prisoner is then taken to the frame and secured to it, and the special buttock-framing torso protection shield is fitted on. When all is ready, another officer, standing at the wall to the right of the frame, shouts out "Punishment of X strokes of the cane", and then calls out the number of each stroke before it is inflicted, just as described in the account by Robert Symes. As also in his description, the session takes place in an open-air compound.

The strokes are inflicted at intervals of about 15 seconds. On each stroke, the rotan slices into the prisoner's backside. A raw weal flashes up instantly.

Very evident in this film is what is clearly the standard Malaysian practice of having one or more officers holding the prisoner's head from behind the A-frame, just as shown in all the dummy demonstration pictures and stills from filmed reconstructions that we have seen, as well as in the still photo that is almost certainly of a real Malaysian caning in an earlier period before the one-piece torso shield was developed.

cane at the moment of impactThe instant the last stroke is laid on, the officer shouts "habis" ("finished"). In one case we can hear one of the attendants positioned closest to the prisoner at the frame telling him to "take a breath, take a breath" ("tarik nafas").

The prisoners shown come from all Malaysia's three main races, Malay, Chinese and Indian (identifiable when their names are read out). Oddly, their names have been left on the soundtrack although their visual identity has been obscured.

There is no mention in the interviews of what crimes the men committed, or what their ages are.

The first four punishments are of only one or two strokes each. This is a typical sentence for relatively minor and non-violent offences such as illegal immigration.

Next comes a 13-stroke caning for a Chinese prisoner, which here is split over the first and second parts of the film. He takes his punishment remarkably stoically, hardly moving or making a noise.

In the rest of the second clip we see a convict undergoing a rare 20 strokes of the rotan in full. He is a Malay, Azman bin Arsyad. When the OIC tells him that he is now going to get his whipping, the prisoner responds "Thank you, Sir".

This man's very heavy punishment takes over five minutes to administer, not counting his interview with the officer in charge immediately beforehand. It appears to be treated even by the prison staff, who are doing this job every week, as a bit of a special event. A new team of officers has taken over.

I have the impression that each stroke of this caning is being inflicted with even greater force than for any of the earlier ones. At all events, it is a gruesome sight. This prisoner writhes and struggles, and he shouts quite a bit, including "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great"). By the end of the process his posterior is bleeding freely. But bear in mind that to receive such a sentence he will most likely have committed a truly wicked crime such as, perhaps, the rape of young children.

Despite the condition he is in at the end, he manages to limp stiffly back into the building afterwards.

There are also remarkable scenes in the prison hospital showing a dozen or so freshly-caned criminals, each lying face down on a bed to receive medical attention. This must mean that there were other canings at the same day's session that were not included in this film. We see close-ups of several of the wounded posteriors. These already look less horrific after receiving first aid than they did immediately at the end of the punishment.

freshly caned convicts in prison hospitalWhy was this film made? There can be little doubt that it is the same footage as that referred to in this Nov 2006 news item, which says that it was taken in 2004 for an educational documentary "to deter people from taking up a life of crime", and that it was also shown to parliamentarians and other policymakers.

At any rate, it has been claimed anecdotally that films such as this are occasionally shown to older students and/or to juvenile offenders as a warning in Malaysia, as they are known to be in Singapore. And this June 2005 news item reports that "a video of prisoners being whipped" was shown to visitors to an exhibition in Sabah, and that the video had been approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs to deter the public from criminality. Conceivably this was regarded as a substitute for doing the actual flogging in public, which had been mooted in early 2004 for child-rapists, but not proceeded with. (There has never been public JCP in Malaysia or Singapore, or at least not in modern times.)

17 Indons given maximum sentence for entering country illegally (NST - 19/1/2007)

Corpun file 18728


New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 19 January 2007

17 Indons given maximum sentence for entering country illegally

By Jaspal Singh

Seventeen Indonesians were given the maximum six strokes of the rotan each by the magistrate’s court today for entering the country without valid documents. They were also each sentenced to two weeks in jail after pleading guilty to the offence.

Edi, 28, Damik, 27, Yong, 34, Idol, 23, Yang, 20, Marse, 25, Rauz @ Franz, 20, Perdi, 25, Sius, 20, Tius, 26, Doni, 26, Makse, 21, Martinus, 25, Hila, 28, Fitor, 26, Natan Sifa, 28, and Martinuz @ Marcy, 28, were arrested last Nov 28 during Ops Tegas in the Kampar, Sungai Siput and Perak Tengah districts.

Magistrate Mohd Mazran Mohd Mazlan said the punishment would serve as a reminder to them not to treat the laws of this country lightly.

"I cannot understand why you have to give RM1,500 to RM3,000 to boat skippers to bring you to the shores of this country illegally when there are legal ways of coming here," he said.

"You could have used the same money to pay authorised agencies to bring you here with proper documents. At least you would not be caught for being here illegally even if you were unable to earn enough to send back home," he said, agreeing with Immigration Department prosecuting officer Khairul Anuar's submission that entering the country without valid documents is a serious offence.

Earlier this week, the special Sessions Court at the Langkap Detention Depot, near here, became the first in the country to impose the maximum six strokes of the rotan on seven Indonesians who entered the country illegally.

© Copyright 2007 The New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad. All rights reserved.

Six of the best for illegal entry (NST - 17/1/2007)

Corpun file 18721


New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 17 January 2007

Six of the best for illegal entry

TELUK INTAN: The maximum six strokes of the rotan. That was the punishment meted out by a special Sessions Court on seven Indonesians who entered the country without valid documents. First-time offenders Sahwi, 31, Yusman, 23, Hanafi Aman, 27, Iksan Abubakar, 32, Mohd Tohir Ratnam, 46, Samino Kadir, 31, and Girianto, 25, who pleaded guilty to the offence, were also sentenced to jail terms of between 10 and 14 months each at Tapah prison.

Judge Rashidah Chik concurred with the submission by Perak Immigration Department prosecuting officer Khairul Anwar that the only way to effectively deter them and other foreigners from illegally entering the country was to impose the maximum strokes of the rotan.

Section 6(3) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 provides for either a fine of up to RM10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding five years and whipping of not more than six strokes.

The special court was set at the Langkap Detention Depot near here.

Arrested during "Ops Tegas" last Dec 19 in various parts of the state, Khairul said the seven men had been in the country for between one and two years.

He urged the court to impose the maximum sentence of whipping in view of public interest as well as sovereignty of the laws of the land.

"Parliament amended Section 6(3) in 2002 and made whipping a mandatory punishment. The amendment reflects the seriousness of the problem relating to illegal immigration in Malaysia."

He submitted that no leniency should be shown to the offenders although they pleaded guilty and were first-time offenders.

Four others who stayed in the country illegally for less than a year were given four strokes of the rotan and eight months’ jail.

© Copyright 2007 The New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad. All rights reserved.

Fast forward: Detainees at the Langkap Immigration Detention Depot waiting for their cases to be heard outside the newly opened dedicated Sessions Court at the depot in Teluk Intan.
(Picture and caption from The Star, 16 January 2007)

Time for an end to WHIPPING and Corporal Punishment in Malaysia

How did this video 'escape' from the prison?

Saturday, 28 July 2007, 12:23pm

How this video gets out of prison?KUALA LUMPUR: A video has been posted on the internet since March 3 this year showing how a prisoner was caned with rotan until his skins split with blood.

Entitled: "Malaysia Caning Judicial Corporal Punishment" and captioned "This link was posted by one of our fellow leakers. Thought it was pretty good, but does anyone know what happened to cause this?", the video did not reveal the location of the prison and the time it was taken.

However, the prison grounds appear to be in Malaysia looking at the uniform worn by the officers. It also appears that those present were aware that the whole episode was being filmed.

It is quite a gory scene, and please do not click on the link if you find it offensive.

**taken from the Malaysian Bar website

Friday, July 27, 2007

Malaysia's Domestic Workers Act - the TIME has come

With over 320,000 persons working as domestic workers and care givers, it is time for Malaysia to have an act protecting these workers. Today, domestic workers, though mentioned, are not covered by Malaysia's existing employment/labour laws with regard to rights and entitlements. Below is a rough translation of the Household Service Act, which is currently a Bill before the Taiwan 'Parliament'. We can get some ideas from here as we formulate our own DOMESTIC WORKERS ACT.

Draft of Household Service Act

Workers Version Originally Translated from Chinese by the Columban JPIC Office

(This Draft is now Bill before the Taiwan Parliament – and it is hoped that it will soon be law. Only Jordan, it seems, have a substantive legislation that covers the Domestic Worker)


Chapter I General Provisions

Article 1 : This Act is made especially for regulating the standards of minimum labor condition to protect a household worker’s right. Matter not herein regulated in this Act shall be applied to regulation stipulated in other laws.

Article 2 : The terms used in this Act are defined as following :

1. Worker : This refers to a person, including a domestic helper and care giver, employed by an employer to engage in household works to gain his/her wage

2. Employer: This refers to the family that exercise the managing rights, including the employer that employs a worker, the family members and delegate of the employer, and the person that is given care.

3. Wages: This refers to the monetary gain obtained through working, including wages and premiums, allowances and any other regular payments paid in cash on an hourly, daily, monthly, or piece-work basis.

4. Labor contract: This refers to a contract that regulates an employer-employee relationship.

Article 3 : The competent authorities mentioned in this Act refer to the Council of Labor Affairs of the Executive Yuan in the central government; the municipal governments in the municipal cities; and the county(city) government in the counties and cities.

Article 4 : Any person shall not intervene in other person’s labor contract to extract illegal benefits.

Article 5 : An employer shall provide a worker with a habitable space equipped with basic facilities, and the enforcement rules of this Article shall be stipulated by the competent authority. In case both parties agree, a worker’s residence can be settled outside of an employer’s, only that the worker’s rent and traveling allowance shall be paid by the employer in addition to the wage. An employer shall provide a worker with a household service standard, and while applying for a recruiting permit, this standard shall be reported to the competent authority, after which it shall take effect. The content of this standard shall not contravene the laws, public order, good customs, and shall also meet the proportion principle. An employer, during the subsisting period of the contract, shall provide a worker with food or food allowance.

Article 6 ; The central health competent authority, pursuant to regulation of The Labor Safety and Health Law and The Employment and Service Act, shall take the initiative to notice both the employer and worker to assist the latter to participate in regular medical checkup. The expense of this said medical checkup shall be shouldered by an employer.

Article 7 : An employer shall provide a worker with health insurance and labor insurance to protect the working rights of a worker.

Chapter II Labor Contract

Article 8 : Labor contracts are divided into fixed term contracts and non-fixed term contracts. An expired fixed term contract shall be viewed as non-fixed term contract in case any of the following situations arises:

1. Where a worker continues his work without any immediate expression of opposition from an employer.

2. Where albeit a new contract has already been made, only that the working period for both the old and new contract lasts for more than ninety days, and the discontinuance period in between the old and new contracts lasts less than thirty days.

Article 9 : Unless any of the following situations arises, an employer shall not terminate a labor contract with advance notice:

1. Where a worker contravenes with material nature the household service standard regulations of the labor contract, and the situation fails to be improved after asked by an employer to do so.

2. Where a worker is proven by the hospital to be suffering from or afflicted with other material disease or injury.

3. Where the person to be given care dies or the reasons for employment disappear.

4. Where force majeure necessitates business suspension for more than one month.

5. Where a worker is confirmed to be incompetent for his/her job duties.

An employer terminates the contract pursuant to this preceding regulation, from the date that such circumstance is made known, shall act within thirty days. In case the worker is foreign person, return airfare shall be shouldered by the employer.

Article 10 : In case a worker is proven to be in any of the following situations, an employer is entitled to terminate the labor contract without advance notice:

1. Where a determinate sentence is pronounced and confirmed without probation notification or without permission to change this sentence into financial penalty.

2. Where a worker is absent without justifiable reasons for three consecutive days.

3. Where violence or conduct of gross insult is done to an employer.

An employer that terminates the contract pursuant to the preceding regulation, starting from the date that such circumstance is made known, shall act within 30 days. In the cased of a foreign person, the return airfare shall be shouldered by this person him/herself.

Article 11 : In case an employer is proven to be in any of the following situations, and one month after a worker raising an objection still fails to improve what shall be duly improved, than a worker is entitled to terminate the contract and ask the competent authority to have him/her transferred to another employer.

1. Where an employer does not pay wage to a worker in accordance with the contract.

2. Where an employer does not pay wage to a worker directly and in full amount.

3. Where an employer forcibly keeps a worker’s personal belongings in custody.

For a contract terminated pursuant to the preceding regulation, in case a worker is a foreign person who, instead of choosing to be transferred to another employer, desires to return to his/her own country, then this worker’s return airfare shall be shouldered by the employer.

Article 12 : In case any of the following situations arises, a worker is entitled to terminate the contract without advance notice, and the original employer shall present a contract-discharging agreement :

1. Where an employer asks a worker to engage in works unspecified in the employment permit regulations.

2. Where an employer renders violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, or conducts of material insult against a worker.

3. Where an employer suffers from a malignant, infectious disease with contagious contingency.

4. Where an employer exerts act of violence and coercion or other illegal means to force a worker to engage in manual work.

5. Where an employer, through verbal intimidation or physical violence, forces a worker to sign any side-contract against his/her will.

6. Where an employer contravenes the labor contract or labor law, so that a worker’s rights might be compromised by certain damaging contingencies.

An employer that terminates a contract pursuant to Article 9 shall give notice to a worker one month in advance, or such notice shall be substituted by one-month wage. In case that both parties agree upon an advanced contract termination, both parties shall attend the local competent authority to sign an agreement of contract discharging in both parties’ mother tongues, only after which will the termination begin to take effect.

Article 14 : In case any of the following situations arises, a worker shall not ask separation fee from his/her employer.

1. Where terminates a labor contract pursuant to the regulation of Article 10.

2. Where a fixed-term labor contract expires and the worker has already left the post.

The separation fee shall be given in accordance with the following way of computation :

1. Where a worker continue[s] to work for the same employer, for each one-month average wage.

2. Where in respect of the odd service months or a service period less than one year, as is computed pursuant to the preceding paragraph, the separation fee shall be computed proportionately. A service period less than one month shall be computed as one month.

Article 15 : In case a migrant worker desires to be transferred to another employer pursuant to Article 11, during the period of time [waiting] for his/her transfer the competent authority shall pay unemployment allowance to the worker in accordance with The Employment Insurance Law.

Chapter III Wage

Article 16 : Wage shall be determined by an agreement between the worker and employer, provided that after deducted for food and lodging and travel allowance, this wage shall not fall below the basic wage regulated by The Labor Standards Law.

Article 17 : Wage shall be paid once on a regular monthly basis. An employer shall pay the wage in full amount, and shall not deduct any food and lodging fee further. An employer shall provide a worker with pay slips written in language(s) known to the worker, clearly in the slip the amounts of the wage, legal deductions such as tax, health insurance fee and labor insurance fee. After both the worker and the employer have confirmed the specific items, both parties shall sign on the slip, and each shall hold one copy of it. An employer shall keep a payroll of workers, specifying the amount of wages payable, the computed items of wage, and the sum total of wage payments. The payroll record shall be kept in custody for five years.

Article 18 : Where an employer asks a worker to extend his/her working hours(s), the wage for such extended hours(s) shall be paid plus an overtime pay more than half of his/her regular hourly wage.

Article 19 : An employer shall not deduct in advance a worker’s wage for punitive damages indemnity.

Article 20 : In case an employer is proven to be in arrears of wage payment, the competent authority shall order the employer to pay such arrears within a limited period o f time; in case such arrear is still unpaid by the expiry of the said, a worker is entitled to apply for the arrears payment pursuant to The Measures For Obtaining and Paying the Overdue Wages Repayment Fund and the Management of Repayment.

Chapter IV Work Time, Rest Time, and Day-Off

Article 22 : The regular work hours of a worker shall not exceed eight hours per day, and his/her work hours shall be determined by an agreement between the worker and employer. A worker shall rest for 10 consecutive hours per day. An employer shall not ask the worker to provide any manual work during his/her rest hours; in case there is an urgent need for the employer, the employer can only ask the worker to do so with the consent of the worker him/herself. The manual work provided by the worker during his/her rest hours shall be viewed as overtime, which shall not exceed two hours per day, ten hours per week, and forty hours per month.

The employer shall prepare the workers’ sign-in books or time cards to record a workers’ attendance on a day-to-day basis. These books and cards shall be kept in custody for one year.

Article 23 : A worker shall at least have one regular day-off every seven days. By principle this regular day-off shall be on Sundays.

Article 24 : An employer shall provide a worker with an eight-hour leave for labor education.

Article 25 : In case a worker continues to work for the same employer or business entity for a certain period of time, he/she shall be granted a special leave on an annual basis in accordance with the following scale :

1. Seven days for the service more than one year but less than three.

2. Ten days for the service more than three years but less than five.

3. Fourteen days for service more than five years but less than ten.

Article 26 : Memorial days, Labor Day, and other days stipulated by the central competent authority as holidays, these are national holidays for all workers to take day-off. The national holidays are as following:

1. New Year ( January 1st )

2. Peace Memorial Day ( February 28th )

3. Youth Day, or Revolutionary Martyrs Day ( March 29th )

4. Teacher’s Day ( September 28th )

5. Founding Day for the Republic of China ( October 10th )

6. Chiang Kai-shek’s Birthday ( October 31st )

7. Dr Sun Yat-sen’s Birthday ( Nov 12th )

8. Constitution Day ( December 25th )

9. Labor Day ( May 1st )

10. Other holiday stipulated by the central competent authority : Jan 2nd, April 4th – Women’s / Children’s Day, April 5th – Tomb sweeping Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Moon Festival, Lunar New Year, Oct 25th – Taiwan Restoration Day.

Article 27 : A worker needs not to provide any manual work for 24 hours during the very day of his/her regular day-off, national holiday, and special leave. An employer shall, as per usual, pay wage for [a worker’s] working during his/her day-off. In case a worker is asked by an employer and agrees to work during his/her day-off, his/her wage shall be computed by double.

Article 28 : Due to an incident of natural disaster, catastrophe, or emergency event, if an employer deems it necessary [for a worker] to continue the work, a worker’s leave of absence can be thus suspended, only that the wage for the period of time of this suspended leave shall be computed by double, and a worker shall be granted a leave afterwards to rest as compensation for the leave suspended.

Article 29 : Matters for a worker taking leave due to marriage, bereavement, sickness or other proper reasons shall be managed in accordance with the worker’s leave-taking regulations.

Chapter V Human Right Protection, Female Protection, Gender Discrimination Prevention, Sexual Harassment Protection and Prevention

Article 30 : An employer shall not prescribe on advance any written side-contracts stipulating that in case a worker gets married, becomes pregnant, or engages in activities such as child-birth and child-nursing, then this worker will have to leave his/her position, nor shall an employer use the above-mentioned factors as reasons for termination.

Article 31 : A worker is entitled to take a menstruation leave for one day per month. As for female protection measures such as maternity leave, this should be managed pursuant to relevant regulations stipulated in The Gender Equality Act.

Article 32 : An employer and his/her family member(s) shall not create any hostile, intimidating, or offensive working environment for a worker through any sexual request, verbal expression or physical conduct with sexual implication of gender discrimination, with which [a worker’s] personal dignity, freedom of movement are infringed upon or interfered with, and his/her job performance is thus affected.

Article 33 : During the period of time of a worker’s day-off pursuant to Article 26, personal leave pursuant to Article 29, and maternity leave pursuant to Article 31, in case there is a need for an employer to be taken care of, a temporary household care service can be applied in the competent authority of social affairs. Measures for such application shall be stipulated by the central competent authority.

Article 34 : An employer shall not discriminate against a worker’s gender, national or social origin, race, color, religion, and shall not limit a worker’s right to freedom of religion and association.

In case an employer illegally offends a worker’s person and dignity to a material extent, a worker is entitled to claim for an appropriate amount of financial compensation. In case a worker is defamed, he/she is entitled to claim for a proper settlement for reputation restoration.

Article 35 : In case a labor dispute arises between a worker and employer, it shall be managed pursuant to the Procedures For Labor Dispute Management. The competent authority shall provide legal assistance and establish a “Rights of Action Foundation” to assist a worker in processing his/her labor dispute lawsuit.

Article 36 : The competent authority, in order to manage sheltering problems arising from matters such as 1. An issue of law, 2. Reporting an employer for illegal use of worker, 3. Suffering from sexual assault, and 4. Repatriation due to employer’s unilateral decision through contract-breaching shall set up centers for temporary sheltering, so that the work and daily life of a migrant worker can be protected, and his/her rights can be defended.

Article 37 : In case a worker is injured due to his/her work, an employer shall manage it pursuant to laws relevant to occupational accident.

Article 38 : The central competent authority, in order to pursue the implementation of this Act and other labor laws, shall set up labor inspection institution or authorize competent authority of special municipalities to set up special inspection institution to proceed with the task; the competent authority of the special municipalities, counties (cities), if necessary, are also entitled to send officers to inspect. The organization of this said labor inspection institution shall be established by the central competent authority.

Chapter VI Monitoring and Inspection

Article 39 : Upon acting in the course of his/her duties, an inspector shall produce an inspection certificate, and a business entity shall not refuse such inspection. In case a business entity refuses to be inspected, an inspector is entitled to initiate an invitation to and be accompanied by the local competent authority or police agency to enforce the inspection.

Article 40 : In case a worker finds that a business entity contravenes this Act or other labor laws, he/she is entitled to file a complaint to the employer, the competent authority, or the inspection organization.

An employer shall not terminate, transfer or take any disciplinary action adverse to a worker who personally files a complaint mentioned above.

Chapter VII Penalty

Article 41 : Conducts in contravention of the second paragraph of Article 6, Article 9, Article 17, Article 18, Article 19, Article 22, Article 23, Article 24, Article 25, Article 27, Article 28, and Article 33 of this Act shall be liable to pay a fine between $20,000NT plus and $60,000NT.

Article 42 : Conducts in contravention of Article 4 of this Act shall be liable to a determinate sentence under 3 years, detention, a sentence, or a combined sentence liable to pay a fine more than $60,000NT.

Article 43 : Conducts in contravention of Article 7 of this Act shall be liable to a fine that triples the insurance premium shouldered starting from the employment date and ending on the insured date. A worker’s damage thus caused shall be verified and compensated by the insurance authority.

Article 44 : Conducts in contravention of Article 19, Article 23 of this Act shall be liable to a fine of $90,000NT.

Article 45 : Conducts in contravention of Article 29, Article 31, Article 44 of this Act shall be liable to a fine more than $10,000NT and less than $100,000NT. In case a worker’s damage is thus caused, an employer shall take the compensating responsibility.

Article 48 : Anyone that refuses, evades, or hinders a labor inspector’s legal action in the course of his/her duties shall be liable to a fine between $60,000NT and $300,000NT.

Chapter VIII Annex

Article 49 : After being pressed by the competent authority for fine payment, as is stipulated in this Act, but still fails to pay the fine, then the case shall be transferred to the court for enforcement.

Article 50 : The Enforcement Rules of this Act shall be stipulated by the central competent authority.

Article 51 : The date for this Act to take effect, except for the administrative orders issued by the Executive Yuan, shall be the date of its promulgation.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Abused Indonesian maids face long wait for justice in Malaysia (AP)

Abused Indonesian maids face long wait for justice in Malaysia
Fri, Jul 13, 2007
AP (Associated Press)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- When Indonesian maid Ceriyati Dapin could no longer bear the alleged abuse, she took the shortest route to freedom: The 33-year-old woman secretly made a rope of towels, sheets and clothes and climbed out the window of her employer's 15th floor apartment.

Dapin's dramatic escape - firefighters rescued her after she got stuck outside the 12th floor - focused public attention on the mistreatment faced by many Indonesian maids in Malaysian homes.

Indonesian diplomats say at least 1,500 maids seek help at their offices across Malaysia each year. Most complain of unpaid wages, but many also claim they were physically or emotionally abused or, in rare cases, even raped.

In response, Malaysian authorities have stepped up efforts to deter the abuse. The government set up a 24-hour hot line for maids to call with complaints and temporarily suspended the licenses of nearly 20 maid recruitment agencies until they settled unpaid salaries.

But Indonesian officials in Malaysia and human rights activists say more is needed to protect some 300,000 Indonesian maids who live here in search of a better life.

Indonesian maids can earn about 450 ringgit (US$130; ?95) a month, a small fortune for the women, who typically come from impoverished backgrounds.

Mariana Bulu, one of 70 maids who live in a shelter for former maids at the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, said her employers punished her regularly for minor mistakes, breaking her left arm and hitting her so hard with a wooden plank that she lost hearing in her left ear.

"I wanted to come to Malaysia ... now I just want to go home," said Bulu, whose neighbors eventually called the police to rescue her.

Victims who turn to the courts often face an agonizing wait in Malaysia's notoriously slow criminal court system.

Some former maids such as Nirmala Bonat, who said her employer scalded her with a hot iron and poured boiling water over her in 2004, remain at the embassy shelter for years waiting for their cases to be heard.

Bonat, a shy 23-year-old, said she does nothing most of the time, except think about her family back home and work at the embassy cafeteria. For security reasons, the maids are not allowed to leave the embassy. Bonat said she is determined to stay in Malaysia until the court rules on her case.

Her former employer has been charged with causing grievous hurt to Bonat and faces prison if convicted. Hearings have been repeatedly postponed. This case seems to be "not a priority," said Tatang Razak, an Indonesian embassy official.

"It's as if Nirmala has been in prison for three years," said Razak, who has urged Malaysia's courts to speed up proceedings in abuse cases. "We hope to see an improvement."

Eka Suripto, another Indonesian embassy official, said that more than a dozen cases are currently under police investigation or pending in court. No one has been found guilty of abusing a maid in the past three years, he said.

"It's very difficult to convict the employers," Suripto said. "Most of the cases will end up with insufficient evidence. If the employer would be convicted, at least it would serve as a deterrent."

Malaysian authorities, as well as some Indonesian officials, maintain that the problem is not widespread. Malaysian officials add that some maids have been known to neglect their tasks or run away with lovers.

"Sometimes maids also contribute to the situation," Labor Department Director General Ismail Abdul Rahim said. "Abuse is one thing, but their welfare is well protected by the law."

Irene Fernandez, director of Tenaganita, a Malaysian assistance group, said maids need better legal protection because they have scant negotiating power in their employment terms and work in isolation.

"There is no protection mechanism at all," she said. "It shows how low our attitude is."

Dapin, who claims her former employer beat and starved her, has returned to Indonesia to be with her children and husband. She is expected to return to Malaysia to testify if criminal charges are filed.

Police held the employer, a 35-year-old woman who has not been named, for questioning for a week and are still investigating Dapin's claims.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

AI, Aliran: NO to ‘Rela department’

AI, Aliran: NO to ‘Rela department’
Jul 7, 07 6:35pm

Two human rights watchdogs have come out strongly against attempts by the government to make the People Volunteer Corps (Rela) into a full fledged enforcement department soon.

Amnestry International Malaysia (AI) executive director Josef Roy Benedict said such a move would further legitimise and strengthen the powers of Rela members to arbitrarily arrest, search and detain individuals.

“This will worsen the current climate of arbitrary law enforcement in Malaysia and will increase the abuse of power and human rights violations,” he said in a statement today.

At present, Benedict said Rela already has wide and discretionary powers where they can stop any person, enter any premises and make arrests without any warrants.

Such powers also do not come with an oversight mechanism and thus was subject to abuse, he said.

“Therefore, these powers should not be extended to a volunteer civilian body with poorly trained, part time members,” he added.

Similarly, Penang-based civil rights group Aliran said sanctioning the activities of Rela was a setback for Malaysia as a member of the UN Human Rights Council as the body had gained international infamy.

Don’t condone abuses

In a statement yesterday, Aliran said the government should instead consider limiting Rela to a disaster relief work.

“Aliran contends that legitimising Rela to become a permanent feature of our security apparatus is superfluous and tantamount to condoning the continuing violations of human rights in the country, regardless of the status of the victims,” they said.

On June 26, Home Affairs Ministry parliamentary secretary Abdul Rahman Ibrahim announced that Rela was pushing for a separate law to govern its operations with greater authority.

The body currently operates as a division under the Home Affairs Ministry and is governed by the Essential (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat) Regulations 1972, an emergency period legislation.

It is primarily tasked with weeding out undocumented migrants and have been frequently blamed for human rights abuses during their operations.

Once recognised as a full fledged government department, Rahman said Rela would no longer need to depend on the ministry for allocations.

Rahman had told Parliament that Rela had 350,000 active members and 664 officers and administration heads. It is in the midst of recruiting another 3,000 members.