Monday, June 29, 2009

What rights for Domestic Workers in Malaysia? Should we also not listen to domestic workers themselves?

Domestic Workers - a big debate is going on, as to whether domestic workers are to be given a rest day off per week or not, and also other rights.

We have heard the viewpoints of governments (both from the sending and receiving countries), employers, agents, civil society groups - but alas, we have not heard from the Domestic Workers in Malaysia. And, the reason for this is that they do not have a union (or even an association), that would have been able to voice out their opinions on the matters being discussed.

The Malaysian Government is going to amend the law - and provide for more rights for domestic workers...but what are these rights? We have to wait and see...

REST DAY - one day off per week (i.e. continuous 24 hours or 30 hours?)

PAID PUBLIC HOLIDAYS - All workers in Malaysia is entitled to 10 paid Public Holidays in Malaysia[ In Hong Kong, it is 12 days per year]



NORMAL WORKING HOURS - there must be a stipulation as to the n0rmal number of hours that a domestic worker is made to work in a day, and the maximum number of hours of overtime a domestic worker is required to work in a day. [Eg, 8 hours a day, Morn:6.30am - 8.30am(2hrs), 11.30am - 1-30pm(2 hrs), 2.30 - 6.30pm(4hrs) - If it is over 8 hours, domestic workers must be entitled to overtime rates...Hourly Rate of Pay Must be stipulated clearly, Overtime Rates. Rest Times must be stipulated..]

ACCOMODATION - Minimum standards of accommodation and privacy just be stipulated. [Acess to cooking facilities, including space in refrigerators. Ability to be able to go and purchase raw materials, food, etc]. Entitlement for a private drawer/locker with key for the keeping of private items. {Maybe, even the possibility of the domestic worker staying elsewhere, i.e. renting a room in the area, and coming to work from there should also be considered}

FULFILMENT OF RELIGIOUS OBLIGATIONS - i.e. the right to go to temples, churches, etc - and participate in religious worship..

ACCESS TO MEANS OF COMMUNICATION - i.e. the ability to use phones, write/receive letters, etc... [Employer may have the obligation to pay for certain number of minutes of phone communication per month for the worker to be able to call family back in home country]

HEALTHCARE - Employers' obligation to provide reasonable healthcare - and to pay for all medical/healthcare charges. Employers to pay also for sanitary pads, pain killers, etc..The right to exercise...jogging.

PASSPORT - Passport to be kept by the Domestic Worker. Worker can ask Employer to keep it for safekeeping, but shall be entitled to immediately get it back on demand.

REIMBURSEMENTS - "...Under the employment contract, you are responsible for expenses incurred by your helper in preparation of documents for taking up employment with you. Normally your helper would have paid such expenses and you should reimburse him/her as soon as possible when he/she produces the receipts. You are advised to ask him/her to acknowledge your reimbursement in writing and keep the receipts for proof of payment...." - taken from Practical Guide For Employment of foreign domestic helpers – What foreign domestic helpers and their employers should know prepared by Hong Kong Labour Department

EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS - Copy must be provided to the Worker. There must also be available a translation in the language of the worker. (A copy of the Hong Kong Agreement, and the Schedule of Accomodation & Domestic Duties is also attached below..)


COMPLAINTS TO LABOUR DEPARTMENT - If the Domestic Worker makes a complaint to the Labour Department, then in all likelihood employer is going to kick her/him out. In Hong Kong, the State provides 'hostels', where they stay, until their cases are disposed off, and this is done soonest - if not mistaken they try to dispose of it within 3 months.

When the Act is amenended, consideration also must be given to the the 'part-time' domestic worker (as opposed to the live-in full-time domestic worker). These may be locals - Malaysians, or even foreign workers. Some employers worry about their 'live-in' domestic workers, and maybe will be looking for the 'part-time' domestic worker - who comes in at certain times, but stays and lives on her own.
Considering also the economic crisis, many persons may be inclined to consider part-time help to do some of the domestic work, rather than employing stay-ins, and it is best that Malaysian Government also provide for rights and obligations of these kind of workers as well.

A copy of the Hong Kong Agreement is as follows:-

Appendix I
D.H. Contract No. ___________
Employment Contract
(For A Domestic Helper recruited from abroad)

This contract is made between _________________________________________________________ ("the Employer", holder of Hong Kong Identity Card/Passport No.* __________________________) and___________________________________ ("the Helper") on ____________________________ and has the following

1. The Helper's place of origin for the purpose of this contract is _______________

2. (A)􀁧 The Helper shall be employed by the Employer as a domestic helper for a period of two years commencing on the date on which the Helper arrives in Hong Kong.

(B)􀁧 The Helper shall be employed by the Employer as a domestic helper for a period of two years commencing on _____________________________, which is the date following the expiry of D.H. Contract No. _________________for employment with the same employer.

(C)􀁧 The Helper shall be employed by the Employer as a domestic helper for a period of two years commencing on the date on which the Director of Immigration grants the Helper permission to remain in Hong Kong to begin employment under thiscontract.

3. The Helper shall work and reside in the Employer's residence at _______________________________

4. (a) The Helper shall only perform domestic duties as per the attached Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Dutiesfor the Employer.

(b) The Helper shall not take up, and shall not be required by the Employer to take up, any other employment with any other person.

(c) The Employer and the Helper hereby acknowledge that Clause 4 (a) and (b) will form part of the conditions of stay to be imposed on the Helper by the Immigration Department upon the Helper's admission to work in Hong Kong under this contract.

A breach of one or both of the said conditions of stay will render the Helper and/or any aider and abettor liable to criminal prosecution.

5. (a) The Employer shall pay the Helper wages of HK$ __________ per month. The amount of wages shall not be less than the minimum allowable wage announced by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and prevailing at the date of this contract. An employer who fails to pay the wages due under this employment contract shall be liable to criminal prosecution.

(b) The Employer shall provide the Helper with suitable and furnished accommodation as per the attached Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties and food free of charge. If no food is provided, a food allowance of HK$__________ a month shall be paid to the Helper.

(c) The Employer shall provide a receipt for payment of wages and food allowance and the Helper shall acknowledge receipt of the amount under his/her* signature.

6. The Helper shall be entitled to all rest days, statutory holidays, and paid annual leave as specified in the Employment Ordinance, Chapter 57.

7. (a) The Employer shall provide the Helper with free passage from his/her* place of origin to Hong Kong and on termination or expiry of this contract, free return passage to his/her* place of origin.

(b) A daily food and travelling allowance of HK$100 per day shall be paid to the Helper from the date of his/her* departure from his/her* place of origin until the date of his/her* arrival at Hong Kong if the travelling is by the most direct route. The same payment shall be made when the Helper returns to his/her* place of origin upon expiry or termination of this contract.

8. The Employer shall be responsible for the following fees and expenses (if any) for the departure of the Helper from his/her place of origin and entry into Hong Kong:-

(i) medical examination fees;

(ii) authentication fees by the relevant Consulate;

(iii) visa fee;

(iv) insurance fee;

(v) administration fee or fee such as the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration fee, or other fees of similar nature imposed by the relevant government authorities;

(vi)others: _____________________________________________________

In the event that the Helper has paid the above costs or fees, the Employer shall fully reimburse the Helper forthwith the amount so paid by the Helper upon demand and production of the corresponding receipts or documentary evidence of payment.

9. (a) In the event that the Helper is ill or suffers personal injury during the period of employment specified in Clause 2, except for the period during which the Helper leaves Hong Kong of his/her* own volition and for his/her* own personal purposes,the Employer shall provide free medical treatment to the Helper. Free medical treatment includes medical consultation, maintenance in hospital and emergency dental treatment. The Helper shall accept medical treatment provided by any registered medical practitioner.

(b) If the Helper suffers injury by accident or occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment, the Employer shall make payment of compensation in accordance with the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, Chapter 282.

(c) In the event of a medical practitioner certifying that the Helper is unfit for further service, the Employer may subject to the statutory provisions of the relevant Ordinances terminate the employment and shall immediately take steps to repatriate the Helper to his/her* place of origin in accordance with Clause 7.

10. Either party may terminate this contract by giving one month's notice in writing or one month's wages in lieu of notice.

11. Notwithstanding Clause 10, either party may in writing terminate this contract without notice or payment in lieu in the circumstances permitted by the Employment Ordinance, Chapter 57.

* Delete where inappropriate.
􀁧 Use either Clause 2A, 2B or 2C whichever is appropriate.

12. In the event of termination of this contract, both the Employer and the Helper shall give the Director of Immigration notice in writing within seven days of the date of termination. A copy of the other party's written acknowledgement of the termina tion shall also be forwarded to the Director of Immigration.

13. Should both parties agree to enter into new contract upon expiry of the existing contract, the Helper shall, before any such further period commences and at the expense of the Employer, return to his/her* place of origin for a paid/unpaid* vacation of not less than seven days, unless prior approval for extension of stay in Hong Kong is given by the Director of Immigration.

14. In the event of the death of the Helper, the Employer shall pay the cost of transporting the Helper's remains and personal property from Hong Kong to his/her* place of origin.

15. Save for the following variations, any variation or addition to the terms of this contract (including the annexed Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties) during its duration shall be void unless made with the prior consent of the Commissioner for Labour in Hong Kong:

(a) a variation of the period of employment stated in Clause 2 through an extension of the said period of not more than one month by mutual agreement and with prior approval obtained from the Director of Immigration;
(b) a variation of the Employer's residential address stated in Clause 3 upon notification in writing being given to the Director of Immigration, provided that the Helper shall continue to work and reside in the Employer’s new residential address;
(c) a variation in the Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties made in such manner as prescribed under item 6 of the Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties; and
(d) a variation of item 4 of the Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties in respect of driving of a motor vehicle, whether or not the vehicle belongs to the Employer, by the helper by mutual agreement in the form of an Addendum to the Schedule and with permission in writing given by the Director of Immigration for the Helper to perform the driving duties.

16. The above terms do not preclude the Helper from other entitlements under the Employment Ordinance, Chapter 57, the Employ ees' Compensation Ordinance, Chapter 282 and any other relevant Ordinances.

17. The Parties hereby declare that the Helper has been medically examined as to his/her fitness for employment as a domestic helper and his/her medical certificate has been produced for inspection by the Employer.

Signed by the Employer
(Signature of Employer)
in the presence of
(Name of Witness) (Signature of Witness)

Signed by the Helper
(Signature of Helper)
in the presence of
(Name of Witness) (Signature of Witness)
* Delete where inappropriate.


Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties

1. Both the Employer and the Helper should sign to acknowledge that they have read and agreed to the contents of this Schedule, and to confirm their consent for the Immigration Department and other relevant government authorities to collect and use the information contained in this Schedule in accordance with the provisions of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

2. Employer's residence and number of persons to be served

A. Approximate size of flat/house square feet/square metres*

B. State below the number of persons in the household to be served on a regular basis:

____ adult ____ minors (aged between 5 to 18) ____ minors (aged below 5) ___ expecting babies.

____ persons in the household requiring constant care or attention (excluding infants).
(Note: Number of Helpers currently employed by the Employer to serve the household ________)

3. Accommodation and facilities to be provided to the Helper

A. Accommodation to the Helper

While the average flat size in Hong Kong is relatively small and the availability of separate servant room is not common, the Employer should provide the Helper suitable accommodation and with reasonable privacy. Examples of unsuitable accommodation are: The Helper having to sleep on made-do beds in the corridor with little privacy and sharing a room with an adult/teenager of the opposite sex.

􀂅 Yes. Estimated size of the servant room ___________ square feet/square metres*

􀂅 No. Sleeping arrangement for the Helper:

􀂅 Share a room with __________ child/children aged _____________

􀂅 Separate partitioned area of __________ square feet/square metres*

􀂅 Others. Please describe ___________________________________

B. Facilities to be provided to the Helper:
(Note: Application for entry visa will normally not be approved if the essential facilities from item (a) to (f) are not provided free.)

(a) Light and water supply 􀂅 Yes 􀂅 No
(b) Toilet and bathing facilities 􀂅 Yes 􀂅 No
(c) Bed 􀂅 Yes 􀂅 No
(d) Blankets or quilt 􀂅 Yes 􀂅 No
(e) Pillows 􀂅 Yes 􀂅 No
(f) Wardrobe 􀂅 Yes 􀂅 No
(g) Refrigerator 􀂅 Yes 􀂅 No
(h) Desk 􀂅 Yes 􀂅 No
(i) Other facilities (Please specify)

4. The Helper should only perform domestic duties at the Employer's residence. Domestic duties to be performed by the Helper under this contract exclude driving of a motor vehicle of any description for whatever purposes, whether or not the vehicle belongs to the Employer.

5. Domestic duties include the duties listed below.

Major portion of domestic duties:-

1. Household chores

2. Cooking

3. Looking after aged persons in the household (constant care or attention is required/not required*)

4. Baby-sitting

5. Child-minding

6. Others(please specify) __________________________

6. The Employer shall inform the Helper and the Director of Immigration of any substantial changes in item 2, 3 and 5 by serving a copy of the Revised Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties (ID 407G) signed by both the Employer and the Helper to the Director of Immigration for record.

Employer’s name and signature

Helper’s name and signature

* delete where inappropriate.
􀂅 tick as appropriate.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cyanide - Better to not use it in Raub to mine gold than to risk human life, wildlife and environment

Cyanide being used in gold mining in Raub - is it safe?

UMNO-led BN government says that it is safe....the local community says, it is not & I do not think that it is...

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Unggah Embas has refuted claims that gold mining activities would lead to environmental damage and health risks.
Villagers in Kampung Sungai Lui and Bukit Koman, Raub are up in arms over goal mining in the area as they are living about five metres away from the mine.

The minister said an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was approved after studies showed that the "carbon in leach" technology used would not affect the environment and safety of the villagers.

"This technology had been referred to foreign bodies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Mineral and Energy, Western Australia, which found it to be viable and safe.

"Complaints by the villagers were considered way before the EIA approval was given. Mitigating measures as to the use of cyanide had also been put into place," he said

Unggah said the use and delivery of cyanide for the activities came under the purview of the international cyanide management code for manufacturers and use of cyanide in the production of gold.

"The Barisan Nasional government will always remain sensitive to whatever industries or activities taking place in this country, including gold mining.

"That is why we have enacted various laws and guidelines to govern and monitor the industries, including gold mining activities."

A news portal had reported that about 3,000 villagers wanted the mining company to stop its operations.

Led by members of the Action Committee Against the Use of Cyanide, they wanted the company to provide the EIA report and to stop the project. - New Straits Times, 28/6/2009,
Cyanide use in gold mining 'poses no environs threat'

Well, let us educate ourselves about this...
Frequently Asked Questions (Source: SERC[State Environment Resource Centre] Website)

Cyanide is one of the world’s deadliest poisons. Just one teaspoon of a 2% cyanide solution can be lethal to a healthy human and even smaller doses can kill wildlife.

Despite its toxicity, this same poison has been widely used by the hard rock mining industry to assist in the extraction of precious and non-precious metals from rock. As a result of transportation accidents and leaks, billions of gallons of this toxic substance has been spilled into the environment since 1970. Even discounting the dozens of accidents that have occurred at mine sites, the processes used by the mining industry result in cyanide and related compounds being contained in discarded mine wastes, which can pollute our groundwater.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Photographer: Gary Mowad

Although very small traces of cyanide are lethal to humans and to wildlife, the mining industry typically uses hundreds of tons of cyanide each year. Most spills have involved tens of thousands of tons of this toxic chemical. In some cases, spills have killed all of the wildlife in an affected area; in others, soils and groundwater have been affected for years following a spill. In many cases of cyanide accidents, the mining companies have gone bankrupt, leaving taxpayers with the burden of costly cleanup.

Considering the risks to water, wildlife, and human health, controversy over the use of cyanide in mining has escalated in recent years, resulting in proposed legislation and public support for banning its use. Spills have occurred across the country and the world for a variety of reasons from storage to transport, indicating that there is simply no way to safely make use of cyanide in mining. Research has presented the mining industry with non-toxic, cost-effective alternatives to cyanide that need to be fully explored.

This website offers the tools necessary for you to ban the use of cyanide in metallic mining in your state. These tools include a sample bill, talking points, press clips, a fact pack, links, and other background information.

Q. What is cyanide?

A. Cyanide refers to a group of compounds made of carbon and nitrogen. Cyanide solutions readily bond with gold, silver and other metals, which is why the mining industry uses it. Cyanide is usually stored and transported as a solid. It is stable when dry. Most cyanide solids will dissolve in water to produce toxic cyanide gas. Cyanide gas is colorless and smells like bitter almonds. Cyanide is produced naturally in minute, harmless quantities in several plants, such as in apple seeds, apricot pits, soil bacteria and species of invertebrate organisms.

Q. How does cyanide affect living organisms?

A. Cyanide is highly toxic. Cyanide is the killing agent used in gas chambers. Cyanide poisoning can occur through inhalation, ingestion, and skin or eye contact. One teaspoon of a 2% solution can kill a person. In general, fish and other aquatic life are killed by cyanide concentrations in the microgram per liter (part per billion) range, whereas bird and mammal deaths result from cyanide concentrations in the milligram per liter (part per million) range. A cyanide spill in Romania on January 30th, 2000, killed thousands of tons of fish and made a significant portion of the Tisza River watershed undrinkable and hostile to aquatic life. Evidence shows that cyanide compounds linger in affected plant and fish tissues and can persist in the environment for long periods of time.

Q. How is cyanide used in mining?

A. Cyanide-leaching allows mining companies to reopen and expand mines containing what were previously unprofitable mineral reserves. There are two types of cyanide-leaching processes used by the modern mining industry. Vat-leaching, where extracted ore is combined with cyanide in vats, and heap-leaching, which involves:

* Digging enormous pits (often larger than some cities) and piling the extracted ore into heaps that would cover many football fields several hundred feet high;
* Spraying a cyanide solution over the heaps so that the cyanide trickles down through the ore, bonding with microscopic flecks of gold or silver, whereupon a heap pad (a rubber blanket), underlying the heap, channels the solution into a holding pond; and,
* Stripping the solution of the precious minerals, recovering the used cyanide, then respraying the cyanide solution over the heap.

In the extraction of copper, nickel, cobalt and molybdenum, cyanide is used during the milling and concentration processes.

Q. What are the dangers of using cyanide?

A. Cyanide reacts with many other elements and is known to breakdown into several hundred different cyanide-related compounds. Despite the risks posed by these breakdown compounds, mines are not required to monitor or report these chemicals.

Cyanide-leaching, as practiced by the modern mining industry, is inherently dangerous to the environment and the communities surrounding a mine that uses the process. As cyanide use continues, so do serious accidents and spills. Four recent examples are:

* Zortman-Landusky Mine, Montana, 1982: Fifty-two thousand gallons of cyanide solution poison the drainage that supplies fresh drinking water for the town of Zortman. A mine employee discovered the accident when he noticed the smell of cyanide in his tap water at home.

* Summitville Mine, Colorado, 1992: Summitville gold mine was responsible for contaminating 17 miles of the Alamosa River with cyanide and other contaminants.

* Kumtor Gold Mine, Kyrgyzstan, central Asia, 1998: A truck carrying 2 tons of sodium cyanide crashed into the Barskoon River. Two thousand six hundred poison cases and 4 deaths were reported in the aftermath.

* Aural Gold Plant, Romania, Eastern Europe, 2000: A cyanide-laden tailings spill sent a toxic slug of cyanide and metals rolling down the Tisza River and into the Danube, killing aquatic wildlife and poisoning water supplies as far as 250 miles downriver.

Q. Does society require we use cyanide to supply gold?

A. Probably not. Potential cyanide-mining substitutes aside, we may not need to use cyanide in gold mining simply because there are already enormous supplies of gold, already mined and refined, above ground in reserve banks (like the Federal Reserve in the U.S.). Reserve banks and international financial institutions store more than 34,000 tons of gold as currency reserves, an amount equivalent to nearly one-quarter of all gold ever mined. A dollar used to be redeemable for a dollar’s worth of gold. That is no longer the case now; gold reserves are an anachronism of a past era. Meanwhile, 34,000 tons of gold could satisfy current global demand for 8 years. (85% of the gold demand is for jewelry, only 12% for industry.) Moreover, by holding these gold reserves, central banks are costing taxpayers money. The U.S., the world’s largest holder of gold reserves, has lost $215 billion since 1980 due to plummeting gold prices, and we stand to lose more if other governments sell their gold reserves first, which is already happening. Reserve banks in the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia have already sold or decided to sell significant portions of their gold reserves.

Q. Is cyanide safe, and is it necessary?

A. Despite mining industry assertions to the contrary, the record clearly demonstrates that cyanide leach mining is not being practiced safely. It is potentially very dangerous to the environment, wildlife, and humans. The hardrock mining industry has a history of cyanide spills, with billions of gallons of cyanide contamination released into the environment, ever since cyanide-leaching began in the 1970s. Furthermore, cyanide-mining may not be necessary. Enormous stockpiles of unused gold already exist above ground in reserve banks around the world.

Q. Are there alternatives to cyanide?

A. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists several alternatives to cyanide, including starch and sulfur dioxide. In 1999, 16 of 18 leading U.S. zinc mines and 11 of 15 leading U.S. copper mines did not use cyanide.

For gold and silver extraction, the Haber Gold Process (HGP) has been proposed as a possible alternative. HGP has undergone preliminary and follow-up testing by mining engineering groups, which have concluded that HGP results in more gold recovery over a shorter period of time than the cyanide-leaching processes, with a cost comparable to, or less than, cyanide-leaching. In addition, HGP passed the California Department of Health Services Acute Aquatic Toxicity Bioassay test, which tests the toxicity of a substance on wildlife. These claims are made by the Haber Inc. web site and, although independent testing of HGP has been done, there are no public documents that can verify these claims.

In addition, the cyanide-free biocatalyzed leaching process from YES Technologies uses a bisufide-leaching agent which is 200 times less toxic than cyanide. Preliminary test results indicate chemical reagent costs associated with this process could be 80% lower than cyanide.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Changing meanings of words/phrases - a new strategy of governments? NGO, Meritocracy, Levy, ...

NGOs - well, at one time this referred to the groups that were fighting for human rights and justice - Groups that were for freedom of the press, opposed to the ISA and Detention Without Trial Laws, etc..

Suddenly, smart Malaysian government started using also the term 'NGOs' - and suddenly, we see many pro-government NGOs - and anti-human rights NGOs..

In the press, NGO here...NGO there - and alas the public is confused about what is this NGO is...

Today, the word 'NGO' is no more linked to groups that fight for justice and human rights - it is just 'non-government organisations' - and these can be pro-government or not, can be pro-freedom or not,...

So, what do we call these NGOs that fight for justice, human rights.....???

MERITOCRACY - This was the word used by many fighting against the 'positive discrimination' ...'preferential treatment' in favour of persons/companies of just certain particular ethnic groups in Malaysia...

Now, just heard Najib starting to use this word - and giving it a different understanding. He talks about the good Malay, the not-so good Malay...and says that in the future when it comes to the allocation of contracts, etc....'MERITOCRACY' will be a consideration in the allocation of projects/tenders to Malay/Bumiputra this that 1Malaysia concept he talked about?

Either way, the new strategy is the giving of new meanings to words that have been used by the progressives, the reformists, etc...and hence, weakening the impact of words and slogans...

What other words/phrases have been taken by the government and been given new meanings? Words, like knives have been taken and their sharpness have been dulled...

Sometime, the same word is taken and used giving it a different meaning...

One example is that word 'LEVY'...
For us, it was the 'penalty' that employers have had to pay if they wanted to hire foreign workers and not local Malaysian workers...
- but wait, now levy can also mean that Human Resource Development Fund levy - that employers have to pay for all workers..
(Using the same word confuses people - and I believe that this is the intention of the government...)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Make Malaysia Torture-Free - Ratify Convention on Torture, Set Up the IPCMC (MADPET- 26/6/2009)


Make Malaysia Torture-Free

- Ratify Convention on Torture, Set Up the IPCMC -

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture), on the occasion of the International Day against Torture, that falls on 26 June 2009, noting that Malaysia still has a deploring record of reported incidences of torture and deaths in custody, reiterates the call for Malaysian to immediately ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to immediately establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) and implement all the recommendations of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police, and do all other things necessary to make Malaysia torture-free.

Torture, as defined by The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is ‘…any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity…’

Whilst acknowledging that there are many forms of torture perpetrated by different parties, we focus our attention in this statement to torture and deaths in police custody. The denial of healthcare and medication, as seen in the case of Lourdes Mary, the diabetic that collapsed in court with swollen leg by reason after not being given her insulin whilst detained in the police lock-up (Malaysiakini-24/10/2008,Star- 24/10/2008), is also torture.

With regard to deaths in police custody, it is indeed shocking that that over the years, the numbers have been increasing, and not decreasing.

Relying merely on data provided by the government, it has been disclosed that there have been 150 deaths from 1990 until 2004 (10.7 per year), 108 deaths between 2000 and 2006 (18 per year), and, 85 deaths between 2003 and 2007 (21.25 per year).

In Malaysia "...from 1990 till September last year [2004], a total of 1,583 deaths among prisoners were recorded in 28 prisons nationwide, with the highest number in 2003 when 279 inmates died. During the same period, 150 detainees died in police lock-ups or custody…" - Malaysiakini, 7/2/2005

‘…Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today revealed that 108 deaths occurred during police custody between 2000 and 2006…’ – Malaysiakini, 23/4/2007

‘…There were 85 deaths recorded in police lock-ups during the 2003-2007…-Bernama, 8/7/2008.

The Malaysian police’s tendency to lie, which is exemplified in the case when the Inspector General of Police physically assaulted handcuffed and blindfolded Anwar Ibrahim, hat resulted in that infamous black eye, must end. Initial reaction of the police was denial, and the then Prime Minister even went so far as to suggest the possibility that the ‘black-eye’ was self-inflicted. Much later, it was proven that it was the head of police himself that tortured the detainee.

In the case of 22 year old Kugan Ananthan, who died on 20/1/2008 at the USJ Taipan police station, The police requested a post-mortem, and it concluded that Kugan died from fluid accumulation in his lungs. Dissatisfied with the results, Kugan's family requested a second post-mortem, which was done by the University Malaya Medical Centre's (UMMC) pathologist, Dr Prashant N Samberkar, who gave the provisional cause of death (pending toxicology) as acute renal failure due to rhbdomyolysis due to blunt trauma to skeletal muscles. But, before the specimens could be sent for toxicology tests, they were confiscated by the police from the pathologist. Photos taken from the second post-mortem report showed that Kugan suffered from massive internal bleeding due to repeated beatings. There were also burnt marks on the body of the victim (Malaysiakini, 4/3/2009, 8/4/2009).

Pathologists/doctors and public servants must act in the interest of justice and truth, and stop coming out with reports that is meant to ‘protect’ the police, that is reports that gives the impression that death was caused by reasons other than police actions and/or omissions.

In another reported case , 53 year old, A. Gnanapragasam, a wireman who was arrested on June 10, and died a few days later in police custody. The widow, M. Manimatalai, 40, said she suspected foul play as when she last met him on Friday, he had a bruise on his right eye. “I saw that he had a black eye. I was also informed that when he was brought before a Petaling Jaya magistrate for a remand order, he had apparently told the magistrate that he was being beaten and mistreated by the police while in custody,” said the saleswoman and mother of six. (Star, 15/6/2009). This case also highlights our concern about the indifference of some magistrates and courts to complaints of police brutality.

In terms of torture, there have been too many incidences of torture in Malaysia, and some examples are as follows:-

* the case of a 27-year-old man and 18-year-old teenager being allegedly scalded with hot water at the Brickfields police district headquarters in December 2008 (Malaysiakini, 15/1/2009),

* A current Member of Parliament, a lawyer and a lay person accidentally “… saw a detainee being tortured by policemen at the Banting police headquarters last Friday. They claimed that the man, in his 20s, was gagged with white tape and his hands bound behind his back… the abuse had taken place during interrogation in a CID room…” (Malay Mail, 9/11/2005)

* When 2 female detainees were allegedly raped by police officers at the Ampang police Lock-up (Malay Mail, Tuesday, March 12, 2002, Star, Tuesday, March 14, 2002)

* Complaints from a trailer driver who was allegedly forced to drink his own urine and had crushed chilli padi rubbed on his private part while under detention at the Jasin police lock-up (Star, Friday, February, 1, 2002)

Getting suspects to confess was perceived as the main reason behind torture in police custody, but Malaysia has amended the Criminal Procedure Code that does not allow the prosecution to use anymore statements made by accused during the course of a police investigation. Despite, the fact that this law has been in force since 7/9/2007, we note sadly that there are still allegations of police torturing persons in their custody.

The police have apparently also installed close-circuit television (CCTV) systems in police stations, but alas without recording capabilities, it is not of much use. MADPET calls for CCTV with audio/video recording capabilities to be installed at all police stations and other places to help end torture by the police. In Hong Kong, as a matter of right, copies of video recordings of the accused in police custody is given to the lawyer to prove that there was no torture and that all was done in accordance with the law. Malaysia should emulate this.

MADPET reiterates its call for a torture-free Malaysia.

Charles Hector
for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)

26th June 2009

Jaya Supermarlet Demolition tragedy :- Pictures reveal 'mistakes' that resulted in 7 dead workers

Something, that I received by e-mail, which looks authentic, and raises questions about the recent Jaya Supermarlet Demolition tragedy that saw the death of 7 workers. (See earlier posts:- Jaya Supermarket Collapse: 7 Workers dead - Is there a 'cover-up'?


To All my engineer friends,,,

Ini boleh kah...or is it Msia semua boleh??
well finally the truth is out, thanks to these pictures.
look carefully at the sequence of pictures from top to bottom;
what's wrong with this scene?
they were demolishing the building from the top with heavy cranes.
Dunno who the consultant but it doesnt make sense to pile on the top right!

The Jaya Shopping Mall disaster
2 excavators clearing the rooftop

And then, KABOOOM!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whipping must be abolished - it is inhumane, it is torture,...34,923 poor migrants whipped (2002-2008)

Whipping should be abolished... (see earlier post, with graphic images of what is the meaning of whipping in Malaysia -JUDICIAL CORPORAL PUNISHMENT - MALAYSIA)

I am sure that this kind of whipping is against all religions ...including is is torture.

Whipping the poor who have come over just to find jobs (or for safety from persecution) is really evil and should be stopped...

I hope that political parties will come out and call for the abolition of whipping --- What about it? PKR..DAP...PAS...GERAKAN...PSM...PRM...MIC.. (I believe that at present, even the Pakatan Rakyat is for whipping ...and that is a shame..)

According to Prisons Department records, 47,914 foreigners were found to have violated the Immigration Act from 2002 to 2008.

Of these, 34,923 were whipped. The remaining 12,991 escaped whipping because two thirds of them were women while the remaining third were men over 50.

About 60 per cent of those whipped were Indonesians, followed by Filipinos (14 per cent), Myanmarese (14 per cent), Bangladeshis (4 per cent), Thais (3 per cent) and others (5 per cent).

The above was revealed in Parliament in response to a question by Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong.

The government says it whips these foreigners as a deterrent to others. - Anil Netto's Blog

The Malaysian Bar, organisation of over 12,000 lawyers, is for the abolition of whipping...

MALAYSIAN BAR RESOLUTION FOR THE ABOLITION OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OF WHIPPING (passed unanimously at the 61st AGM of the Malaysian Bar on 17/3/2007)


1. In recent times, authorities are clamping down with greater brutality on migrants who are deemed “illegal” under the Immigration Act. The increasing demonisation of foreigners in the media as criminals and trouble makers failed to acknowledge that very often these persons are in fact undocumented persons, asylum seekers, migrant workers and refugees who have endured unspeakable horrors escaping conflict stricken territories, and /or suffered at the hands of ruthless agents, traffickers and authorities.

2. Upon arrest, they end up spending long and indeterminate periods in remand, in overcrowded detention centres and under deplorable conditions. Common and recurring accounts given by these immigration detainees indicate that they are subjected to physical and emotional trauma , given stale food, live under conditions of poor sanitation and hygiene, and are not provided with adequate or prompt medical treatment.

3. Upon being brought to Court they often do not know what charges are brought against them. They are not informed of their right to legal representation, and in any event, are not provided with a reasonable opportunity to seek help. The lack of interpretation in appropriate languages renders the whole legal process a complete travesty of justice and human rights.

4. Invariably these migrants are induced and / or threatened with prolonged and indefinite detention to elicit guilty pleas, the full implications of which are neither properly explained nor fully understood by them.

5. Most alarming of all these violations is that the punishment of whipping is meted out without mercy and restraint.

6. Whipping is clearly intended to be a humiliating experience as it will produce huge red welts and permanent scars. It is also said to have caused impotence. The cane marks are permanent and these will be a source of humiliation to the prisoner for the rest of their lives. New Zealander, Aaron Cohen who received six strokes in 1982 for drug-trafficking recalled his ordeal :-

“I got six. Its just incredible pain. More like a burning - like someone sticking an iron on your bum. That’s the sort of feeling. Pain - just ultimate pain. The strokes come at a rate of one a minute - but it seemed like a lifetime to me. I waited and waited for the first one and as soon as I let my breath out - “baam”. Afterwards my bum looked like a side of beef. There was three lines of raw skin with blood oozing out.”

7. Where is the sense in imposing this brutal punishment on offenders of a victimless irregularity like a lack of appropriate documentation? Are Malaysians subjected to atrocities like this when they are found to be in breach of immigration laws abroad?

8. International organisations such as Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Committee have condemned whipping and other forms of corporal punishment as cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment and contrary to human rights law. The UN Committee against Torture has called for the abolition of corporal punishment and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has stated that “corporal punishment” is inconsistent with the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

9. It is therefore unsurprising that the World Refugee Survey in 2005 placed Malaysia as one of the worst offenders of refugee rights documenting cruel and inhumane treatment in our prisons and detention camps.

10. Whipping has also been imposed in a discriminatory manner because the Criminal Procedure Code permits the use of “light rattan” for the whipping of those convicted of “white collar” crimes notwithstanding the embezzlement of millions of ringgit.

It is hereby resolved:-
1. That we the Malaysian Bar, declare that the corporal punishment of whipping is cruel, inhumane and degrading.

2. That we the Malaysian Bar call for the abolition of the whipping sentence as prescribed by any legislation and particularly as against offenders of the immigration act.

3. That the Malaysian Bar leads public opinion rejecting and denouncing the sentence of whipping as it is anachronistic and inconsistent with a compassionate society in a developed nation.

4. That whipping has failed as a retributory and deterrent sentence and that it is time for Malaysia to subscribe to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights i.e. “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” and reject it altogether as a form of sentencing in our country.

And does caning deter these poor migrants from coming back to Malaysia - the answer is no. Desperate poor and oppressed sometimes have no choice...

Caning doesn’t deter illegals

KOTA KINABALU: As many as 4,326 illegal immigrants jailed, caned and deported have been found back in Sabah.

Sabah Immigration Department director Datuk Baharon Talib said some of them had been deported up to seven times but they keep coming back.

He said these immigrants who were rearrested between 2004 and June this year were found working at plantations, mills, workshops and restaurants.

Baharon, who was responding to calls for locals found guilty of employing illegal immigrants to be caned, said that there had been no caning imposed on employers.

However, he said several companies were charged or fined by the courts for not paying the levies.

Calls for more stringent action against those who employ illegal immigrants have been growing in the state. - Tuesday July 22, 2008 (Star Online)

Selangor State Government University - and still all members of the Board are from 1 ethnicity...and Chancellor is the PM's wife....mmmm

Universiti Indusrtri Selangor (UNISEL) - this is a Selangor State Government University...

March 2008 - Pakatan Rakyat Government came in, and since then they did appoint new members of the Board. See my earlier post, 'UNISEL Board of Directors - Is Pakatan Rakyat Any Different from BN?'

Is Pakatan Rakyat multi-racial? Somehow, it still does not reflect in what I see is that all the members of the Board is from one single ethnicity?

I would not be surprised that the ethnicity of the Directors in PKNS, and the other State owned companies is still the same as when it was under the UMNo-led BN (all save one coming from the same ethnic group)?

We are not talking about 'ethnic quotas' - but at least there must be some difference under the Pakatan Rakyat...or maybe not?

I just looked at UNISEL's website - and guess who is the Chancellor?

Board Of Directors

Sunday, 18 January 2009 15:12
Company Secretary

Y.A.Bhg. Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Binti Mansor


Y.A.D. Tan Seri Dato' Seri (Dr.)
Haji Abu Hassan Bin Haji Omar


Y.A.D. Raja Datuk Seri
Arshad Bin Raja Tun Uda

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

126 groups:- Death of 2 Burmese Indicative of State of Detention Places in Malaysia - Denial of Healthcare Is a Violation of Right to Life

Now, you too can add your signature to this statement , go to

Joint Statement - 23/5/2009

(Updated-31/5/2009) – 126 Organisations/Groups)



We, the undersigned, are alarmed to hear that Sa La Hin, 26, and Thang Hoih Ping, 21, two Burmese migrants, have died in the Malaysia’s Juru Immigration Detention Centre from Leptospirosis. This is disease that is usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals, such as rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals. The fact, that 2 persons are dead and others have been infected by this disease, again highlights the state of hygiene, cleanliness and healthcare at Malaysian Detention Centres.

We recall that it was reported in the media in December 2008, that "About 1,300 illegal foreigners have died during detention in the past six years, Malaysia Nanban quoted Malaysian Human Rights (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam as saying. He said many of them died in immigration detention centres, prisons and police lockups because they were denied medical treatment at the right time.” [Star, 18/12/2008, ‘1,300 foreign detainees died due to neglect’]. Now, Sa La Hin and Thang Hoih Ping may just be the latest additions to that list of detainees that died due to similar reasons.

We also recall the words of SUHAKAM in their response to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) dated 13/1/2009, that correctly stated that ‘…SUHAKAM views the denial of medical attention to the point of endangering one’s life as a serious violation of that person’s right to life….’

These deaths may have been avoided if medical attention was provided promptly, and we call for an independent public inquiry to determine whether there was such negligence on the part of the Ikatan Relawan Rakyat or better known as RELA (a People's Volunteer Corps), and the Immigration officers, who are currently responsible for Immigration Detention Centres in Malaysia.

We do appreciate the fact that the Director General of Immigration has now decided that ‘cleanliness and hygiene at immigration depots nationwide are to be stepped-up to ensure safety of staff and inmates there against contracting infectious diseases’ (Bernama, 19/5/2009, Cleanliness, Hygiene at Immigration Depot to Be Stepped Up).

We hope that this is not merely a knee-jerk response, which is temporary in nature, but a new and permanent commitment by Malaysia to improve standards and conditions of Detention Centres and other places of detention.

The current once a week visit by a medical officer to the Detention Centres is certainly inadequate. There should be, at the very least, a permanent clinic/dispensary manned by a medical assistant, with a doctor visiting detainees for several hours at least once every two days or more frequently.

New users of the Detention facility should also be determined free from easily transmittable diseases like Tuberculosis and the A(H1N1) flu before being introduced to the general population of detention places.

There should also be regular visits by the Health Officer, who shall monitor the conditions, including of the living and sleeping environment, of the Detention Centre to ensure that it meets the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness.

The foods, and all aspects of food preparation, also need to be monitored by the Health Department especially since there is a possibility that the fault in the recent deaths could be the current caterer of food and drink.

With regard to those who have died, we are of the opinion that their family and/or dependents should be given adequate compensation by the persons responsible, the detaining authority and the Malaysian government.

Officers and persons responsible for the acts or omissions that resulted in death and suffering should be charged and prosecuted for these crimes. They should not be permitted to hide behind safeguards provided to public servants and/or the RELA volunteers, which unfortunately only promotes culture of impunity with no sense of responsibility and respect for human life.

We, the undersigned, call on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) to immediately commence a public inquiry into these deaths and detention places generally, and come up with concrete recommendations which could be implemented that will improve state of cleanliness, hygiene and healthcare of all detention places in Malaysia.

We are also call upon the Ministry of Health and the government of Malaysia to take necessary steps to ensure that proper steps be taken to ensure that such disregard for life does not happen again.

We reiterate the call for the abolition of RELA, and restate our position that law enforcement, and management of detention places should be done by professionally trained full-time public servants, not volunteers.

Charles Hector

Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the 126 organizations/groups listed below:-

Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc, Philippines

Action Network for Migrants (ANM), Thailand

All Women's Action Society (AWAM), Malaysia

Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma

Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Hong Kong

Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)

Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Link (APWSL), Korea

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body - Hong Kong (AMCB-HK)

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)-AAPP

Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Bar Council Human Rights Committee, Malaysia

Bar Council's Legal Aid Centre, Malaysia


Building and Wood Workers International, Asia Pacific Regional Office

Burma Campaign Australia

Burma Campaign, Malaysia

Burma Campaign UK

Burma Centre Delhi (BCD)

Burma's Nationalities Association (BNA)- Norway

Burma Partnership

Cambodian Women's Crisis Center, Cambodia

Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB)

CDS (Community Development Services), Sri Lanka

Center for Indonesian Migrant Workers - Indonesia

Center for Migrant Advocacy, Philippines

Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Malaysia

Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS), Malaysia

Chin Human Rights Organization

Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLGCSC) Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (USA)

Commission For Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) - The Netherlands

Committee for Asian Women (CAW)

Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM -Asia)

Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma

Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), Philippines

Empower Foundation, Thailand

Ethnic Nationalities Council

Federation of Trade Unions - Burma (FTUB)

FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights

Filipino Migrant Workers' Union - Hong Kong (FMWU)

Forum for Democracy in Burma

Foundation for Education and Development (Formerly, Grassroots HRE (Burma)

Free Burma Coalition - Philippines (FBC-Phils)

Free Burma Campaign, South Africa

Friends of Burma, Malaysia

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)

HAKAM - National Human Rights Society, Malaysia

Health Equity Initiatives, Malaysia

H.O.M.E. (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), Singapore

Hope Workers’ Center, Taiwan

HRWG - Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Advocacy

Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and New Immigrants Service Center, Taiwan

Human Rights Foundation of Monland

IMPARSIAL, the Indonesia Human Rights Monitor, JakartaIndonesia

INFID (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development)

Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)

Institute for National and Democratic Studies (INDIES)

International Migrant Foundation-Bangladesh

Kachin Women's Association Thailand

KAFIN Migrant Center, Japan

KAFIN - Saitama, Japan

Kayan National Development Foundation (KNDF)

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human rights Organisation (KKKHRO), Cambodia

Labornet Korea

Labour Resource Centre, Malaysia

Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia

LHRLA (Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid), Pakistan

Living Water Cenrter ( Thailand )

MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture)

Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)

Mekong Migration Network (MMN)

Migrant CARE, Perhimpunan Indonesia untuk Buruh Migran Berdaulat

Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)

Migrants Rights International


MIGRANTE Middle East

MIGRANTE International



Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. (MMCEAI)

Myanmar Ethnic Rohingyas Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHROM)

National Democratic Party for Human Rights(NDPHR)(exile),SEA Regional Office

National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia

National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI), Malaysia

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, U.S.

Network for Democracy and Development, Thailand

Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)

New Zealand Burma Support Group

NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

OKUP (Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program), Bangladesh

Osan Migrant Workers Center in South Korea

Overseas Mon Coordinating Committee (OMCC)

Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO)

Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF)

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)

Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)

Peoples Service Organization (PSO), Malaysia

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangot (EMPOWER)

Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia

Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor

Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe - The Netherlands


Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia

Raks Thai Foundation, Thailand

Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF), Malaysia

Shan Refugee Organization Malaysia (SRO)

Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)

Shwe Gas Movement

Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia

St. John's Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Tenaganita, Malaysia

The Foundation for the Health and Knowledge of Ethnic Labour (MAP)

The Justice, Peace & Solidarity in Mission Office, The Good Shepherd Sisters

The Micah Mandate

Transient Workers Count Too, Singapore

United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)

U.S. Campaign for Burma

WARBE Development Foundation - Bangladesh

Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia

Women's League of Burma

Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)

Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association (YCOWA),Thailand