Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why not just charge if they have the evidence...or are these 'suspects' mere distraction?

Many are pleased that the police have arrested 'suspects' with regard the incidences of vandalism/arson of places of worship - but I am concerned. I am concerned whether the correct persons were arrested...

After all, there has been a lot of 'public' pressure on the police, and sometimes just to 'reduce' this public media pressure, police may simply arrest persons and detain them. 

What are the evidence that the police have against these 'suspects', and why are they taking so much time to complete their investigations? After arrest, if the police need more time for investigations that require the presence of the 'suspect', then they go to court and apply for a remand order...

This is a simple case - and they should have either charged them in court, or released them. If the police do not have enough evidence, then they can always release now arrest later and charge. There is no justification for such a long remand. 
Let us look at section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which discusses remand, and how long they can remand a person and for what purpose.. 

117.  Procedure where investigation cannot be completed within twenty-four hours.

(1) Whenever any person is arrested and detained in custody and it appears that the investigation cannot be completed within the period of twenty-four hours fixed by section 28 and there are grounds for believing that the accusation or information is well founded the police officer making the investigation shall immediately transmit to a Magistrate a copy of the entries in the diary hereinafter prescribed relating to the case and shall at the same time produce the accused before the Magistrate.

(2) The Magistrate before whom an accused person is produced under this section may, whether he has or has no jurisdiction to try the case, authorize the detention of the accused in such custody as follows:

(a) if the offence which is being investigated is punishable with imprisonment of less than fourteen years, the detention shall not be more than four days on the first application and shall not be more than three days on the second application; or

(b) if the offence which is being investigated is punishable with death or imprisonment of fourteen years or more, the detention shall not be more than seven days on the first application and shall not be more than seven days on the second application.

(3) The officer making the investigation shall state in the copy of the entries in the diary referred to in subsection (1), any period of detention of the accused immediately prior to the application, whether or not such detention relates to the application.

(4) The Magistrate, in deciding the period of detention of the accused person, shall take into consideration any detention period immediately prior to the application, whether or not such detention relates to the application.

(5) The Magistrate in deciding the period of detention of the accused shall allow representations to be made either by the accused himself or through a counsel of his choice.

(6) If the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to try the case and considers further detention unnecessary he may order the accused person to be produced before a Magistrate having such jurisdiction or, if the case is triable only by the High Court, before himself or another Magistrate having jurisdiction with a view to transmission for trial by the High Court.

(7) A Magistrate authorising under this section detention in the custody of the police shall record his reasons for so doing. - (CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE (REVISED 1999)
 So, why are they still being held on remand - and why did the Magistrate allow a further 7 days..

The remand order on seven individuals suspected of arson attempts on two churches and a school in Taiping have been extended until Feb 2.

The seven-day extension was granted by Magistrate Rahni Kartini Abd Rahim today as the original order expired today.

Remand proceedings at the Taiping Magistrate Court were held behind closed doors.

The group - aged 17 to 29 - are being investigated under Section 295 of the Penal Code for defiling a place of worship and Section 436 for causing mischief with fire or explosives.

The first offense carries a maximum two-year jail penalty and/or a fine, while the second offense carries a maximum 20-year jail term and/or a fine.

taiping arson attack st louis churchThey were detained on Jan 22 to assist investigations over the Jan 10 arson attempts on St Louis Church (left), All Saints Church and SMK Convent.

Molotov cocktails were hurled at the three structures which resulted in minimal damage.

The incident in Taiping is believed to be related to the landmark High Court judgment which overturned the Home Ministry ban on the use of the term 'Allah' by Catholic magazine Herald Weekly.

Since the controversial decision last month, numerous places of worship of several faiths have been struck by vandalism or attempted arson attacks. Most targets have been churches.- Malaysiakini, 27/1/2010, Seven suspected 'arsonists' remand extended

What are the offence they are being suspected of? 

Section 295 of the Penal Code

295.  Injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class.
Whoever destroys, damages, or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons, with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons, or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage, or defilement as an insult to their religion, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 436 for causing mischief with fire or explosives

436.  Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy a house, etc.
Whoever commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, the destruction of any building which is ordinarily used as a place of worship, or for the administration of justice, or for the transaction of public affairs, or for education, or art, or for public use or ornament, or as a human dwelling, or as a place for the custody of property, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

18 Groups: Attack against one faith is attack against all faiths

Would Malaysians allow the actions of a few 'mis-guided' persons affect the rights and freedoms in this country?

Would the UMNO-led BN government use these 'incidents' to deny existing rights and freedoms?

Joint Statement of Civil Society on 22nd January 2010

Attack against one faith is attack against all faiths 

We the undersigned Malaysian civil society groups from different spiritual, cultural and ideological backgrounds condemn unreservedly in the strongest possible terms the latest arson attacks against two suraus in Muar in the early morning of January 21

Any attack on any faith in Malaysia is an attack on all faiths in Malaysia. We express our solidarity with the Sirratulrahim Surau in Kampung Sabak Awor and Parit Beting surau, and to the Malaysian Muslim community at large.  

The attacks on the suraus seem to be a deliberate and desperate move to provoke Malaysians into sectarian conflicts. The earlier attacks on nine churches, a mosque, a surau, a gurdwara and a convent school, have failed to trigger even distrust as Malaysians of all faiths and creeds stand united in the wake of violence.

While the Police must act swiftly in investigation and defeat any act of violence and terrorism, we call upon all Malaysians to have faith in peace, freedom and reason. 

After all, these attacks are at most a crisis of law and order caused by a failure of the Malaysian state, not a crisis of religious harmony indicating a failure of the Malaysian society. 

Let us stay calm and support each other. Let our spirit of fraternity defeat any unscrupulous conspiracy to tear Malaysian society apart, to censor media, to compromise on rule of law or to justify draconian measures like ISA. 

As Malaysians stand united, violence and authoritarianism shall have no place in this blessed country. 

Endorsing Civil Society Groups
  1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  2. Bar Council of Malaysia
  3. Civil Right Committee, Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)
  4. Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre Bhd (LLGCSC)\
  5. Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform (CSI@Parliament)
  6. Friends in Conversation (FIC)
  7. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
  8. Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism Christianity Hinduism Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST)
  9. Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
  10. Penang Du Zhong Education Society
  11. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
  12. Sarawak Central Region Friendship Association
  13. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
  14. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  15. The Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs
  16. The Micah Mandate (TMM)
  17. Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
Endorsing Political Parties
1. Democratic Action Party (DAP)

Friday, January 22, 2010

CNY Crackdown: Maybe restaurants should 'register' their migrant workers - rather that Government making threats...and 'problems'

What I have observed is that, most of the Restaurants and Gerai Makanan (Food Stalls) employ migrant workers as their workers. The employers, majority Chinese and Malay, are really small businessmen with just that one shop/restaurant/kedai kopi.

The reality today is that locals prefer not to work in these restaurants/food stalls, and if they do work, their preferences are the KFC, Pissa Hut, Old Town White Coffee, MacDonalds, etc not the normal usual Malay, Chinese, Indian restaurants. The 'long odd hours' and the non-air-conditioned working environment is really not that attractive.

And when you work in a restaurant, food stall and kantin, you normally will be expected to do all the work - i.e. from waiting tables, serving, collecting payments, washing up the dishes, cleaning the tables, etc - In the slightly bigger busier establishment, the only kinds of work is usually cooks and the general restaurant worker.

The Indian restaurants have managed to bring in Indian migrant workers - and these are usually all 'general workers' with maybe limited cooking skills. But for the Chinese establishments, they many a time rely on workers from Burma and Indonesia [and many of these are undocumented, or in the case of the Indonesian women they really would be 'domestic workers'.

For the Chinese restaurants/shops, previously it was always a 'family business' - and those who worked were the parents, children, uncles, etc... but times are changing and today many of these small Chinese businesses find that the younger generation is not interested in working in the shops anymore - hence necessity has driven many to have to employ migrants. On the other hand,. with regard to the Malay shops - some of the younger generation have stayed closer to home and is still willing to help - but numbers of younger family members are shrinking fast.

As we know, our government has been more interested in fulfilling the demands of the 'bigger' companies - the plantations, the factories, etc... and not the needs of the smaller people in Malaysia save for 'domestic workers'.

Now, Chinese restaurants are in a worst off position because of the 'halal' factor  - hence not being able to attract the Malay workers.

Local Malaysians prefer working in supermarkets, bookshops, stationery shops, doctor's clinics, etc etc - not really restaurants/coffee shops.

This crackdown this coming Chinese New Year will certainly affect almost all Chinese Restaurants, and some Malay (and Indian) food shops. Even those, who have Indian migrant workers will have difficulty because certainly the waitering function is still being carried out by these migrants. 

Reality is that in most food places, even if there is a local person/worker, he/she would be the one handling the cash register, or maybe doing the cooking. With regard to all other work, it is being done by migrant workers - and most of this is the undocumented worker.

The solution is for the UMNO-led BN government to change its law and policy and allow employers to EASILY register their migrant workers with the Labour Department. Upon registration, the Employer will be required to immediately pay the required payment to ensure that the worker is covered by the Workmen's Compensation Act, and the immigration department shall forthwith issue a work permit/pass. The employer shall be required to pay the necessary levy for employing migrant workers (or the government can waive the levy).

This is certainly a better solution than arresting, detaining, whipping  and deporting migrant workers - which would leave a massive worker shortage causing a lot of shops to 'shut down'.

This is certainly a better solution that arresting these employers, charging, convicting, whipping, fining/jailing them under the law.

These are the smaller people of Malaysia - and it is time that the UMNO-led BN government shows that it cares for the smaller person and businesses. We all know that they care and do a lot for the bigger corporate companies.

If a method does not work...we look at other methods of resolving the problems.....but alas, the UMNO led BN government of Malaysia just never learn....for the past so many years they have been arresting, detaining and deporting migrants ...and spending a lot of money. Time to reconsider.

Let them all come into Malaysia legally - and allow them to look for jobs within a period of 30 - 60 days, and if they do find a job, it is the duty of the employer to inform the Labour Department and the relevant agencies to do the needful.

For the local workers, all who are unemployed shall register with the Labour Department indicating what kind of job they are looking for, willing to do... This will be the register that the Labour Department will check to determine whether there are available local unemployed workers. If so, then local employers will be asked to meet these workers first and offer them a job, or something like that. Maybe, where there many local unemployed willing to work in restaurants, then some kind of quota sysytem could be put in place. {In the Music Industry some time back, the Hotels and Bars were allowed to bring in 'foreign bands' but a condition was that they also had to employ a loacl band, who will be allowed to perform more or less equal hours...}. Maybe, something like this should be considered.

Foreign workers who work as waiters or receptionists are violating the Immigration Act, said Immigration director-general Abdul Rahman Othman.

“There is no provision for foreigners to work as waiters or receptionists, and this is a breach of the conditions stipulated in the Act,” he told Malaysiakini in telephone interview.

Currently, hundreds of thousands foreigners are employed as waiters.

Abdul Rahman added that foreigners are banned from working in the frontline of the services sector.

NONEThousands of printed circulars explaining the Immigration Act both in English and Bahasa Malaysia are being distributed in restaurants and other public areas. It is also posted at all immigration offices nationwide.

“We are doing this as part of our education campaign to inform the public that no foreigner can work in the frontline (of the services sector). Any employer who employs a foreign staff as waiter is breaching the Act.”

Abdul Rahman said the fliers were also to alert and educate employers to take action against any foreign worker working as a waiter.

He said the Immigration Department would begin a nationwide crackdown in cooperation with the police and Rela from Feb 15 on thousands of employers believed to be harbouring or employing illegal workers.

Most restaurants affected

Currently, there are about 1.8 million approved foreign workers in the country, and the department believes there are at least an equal number of illegal ones.

“We are meeting employers, employer associations and groups before the deadline to highlight to them the immigration laws and policies for hiring foreign workers.

“From Jan 5, we have been having dialogues with associations such as the Malaysian Employers' Federation and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers,” Abdul Rahman said.

The flier also spells out the various offences under the Immigration Act 1965.

When restaurant associations were contacted, officials who declined to give their names said that most restaurants would be seriously affected by the crackdown.

Many will have to close from next month because the majority of their waiters are foreign workers. Various restaurant associations indicated it also will be a damper on the tourism industry. - Malaysiakini, 19/1/2010,
Foreign workers cannot be hired as waiters

Usage of word 'Allah' a constitutional rights, says Malaysian Gurdwaras Council

Malaysian Gurdwaras Council says "It's our constitutional right. We will not tolerate any form of obstruction on the usage."

Sikhism is a religion founded on the monotheistic teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469 - 1539). He attained guruship on 1507. He was succeeded by nine other gurus, until the death of the tenth and last guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708. The Gurus were born in Northern India, but traveled extensively from as far west as Iraq to Assam in the east and Sri Lanka in the south.

The fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji was responsible for the compilation of the Adi Granth, that also includes his revelations and of those of the earlier four gurus. This Holy Scripture was completed in 1604. The hymns of the ninth guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji were added in the year 1705 by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in the final Sikh Holy Scripture, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Shortly before his demise in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh Ji ordered that the Guru Granth Sahib Ji would be the ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs, the final and eternal guru. The holy book is the perpetual living Guru of Sikhism.

The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is one of the few scriptures in the world that has been compiled by the founders of a faith during their own life time. It is particularly unique among sacred texts in that it is written in Gurmukhi script but contains many languages including Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Bhojpuri and Persian.

The holy book spans 1,430 pages and in 33 sections, there are a total of 5,894 hymns of six Sikh Gurus, thirteen Hindu bhagats or saints, five Muslim divines, a Sikh devotee and twelve bards.

In Sikhism today, there is nothing more important than the holy book. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji resides around the world, in every Gurdwara or Sikh Temple, and in every Sikh household. The Priests and other Sikhs will perform ceremonies to show respect to the holy book. While moving it, it is common to carry it on top of a covered head. When it is open and exposed, it is common to wave a Chaur Sahib over it.

The word "Allah" is predominantly used in Arabic and other Middle-eastern languages, and in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. It has been used for centuries to mean the one and only God, the Almighty. The same spoken word is written in many different scripts and alphabets of these various languages. Its usage also predates Islam.

The word "Allah' (and its derivatives of "Alah", "Alhu", "Allahu", "Alaahi") in reference to God is also utilized approximately 46 times in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It is thus not exclusive to any written or spoken language in Malaysia. It predates the Malaysian Independence, and thus its usage is assured in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

The President of the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council, V. Harcharan Singh said followers of the Sikh religion in Malaysia would not tolerate any form of obstruction on the use of the original words and terms taken from their now 405-years old holy book.

He strongly suggests that the Malaysian authorities do in-depth researches, findings and understandings before passing on any of their ideas or implementing any legislation on the use of words or terms of languages in the religious scriptures and writings in our multi-religious and multi-lingual society.

The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council is the umbrella body of some 130 Gurdwaras or Sikh Temples nationwide representing more than 100,000 Sikhs and many other North Indians (Punjabi and Sindhi descents) followers of the religious teachings.

V. Harcharan Singh is also the Vice President of The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST).- Malaysiakini.TV, Gurdwaras:
Gurdwaras: It's our constitutional right

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

35,103 prisoners - 10,800 foreigners (50% immigration offence), 31 prisons (8 overcrowded). How many remand prisoners? How many tried/convicted prisoners?

31 Prisons in Malaysia
8 are overcrowded

"...Zulkifli [Prisons Department Director-General Datuk Zulkifli Omar] said eight of the 31 prison institutions in the country were still over-crowded..." - Star, 20/1/2010, New parole system proves to be successful
35,103 prisoners nationwide, of which 10,800 are foreigners
With regard the foreigner prisoners, 50% of the cases involved breaking immigration rules
He [Prisons Department Director-General Datuk Zulkifli Omar] also noted that one-third of the prisoners were foreigners and 50% of the cases involved breaking immigration rules. “We have 35,103 prisoners nationwide, of which 10,800 are foreigners.’’ - Star, 20/1/2010, New parole system proves to be successful
Sadly, we have not been told as to how many are prisoners who have been tried and convicted, and how many of these are really remand prisoners (i.e. those who are still waiting for their trial to be over [or maybe even start] ) 

With regard to persons who have yet to be tried, convicted and sentenced - generally for the majority of the cases they have a right to be bailed out, and if they are, then they would not have to languish in prisons whilst waiting for the trial to complete.

However the fact is that there are many, especially the poor, who just do not have money or resources to get bailed out. In Malaysia, we need money to be put in - not just the promise to pay later in the event that the accused 'runs away and not attend court' . So how many can afford to raise and pay RM2,000, RM3,000 or more for bail (remember we will not be able to access or use this money until the trial is all over, and the accused is either convicted or acquitted). Hence, many of the poor will not be able to afford bail - and/or find persons that will stand as sureties. Hence, they do languish in these 'remand prisons' - and some have been known to have even spend more time than the maximum sentence of the offence that they have been charged with - and here in Malaysia, their is still no compensation for this loss of liberty in criminal cases. [This is why many of these 'poor' may just plead guilty, even if they are innocent, because then they can just serve whatever sentence, get out fast and move on with their lives...].

When it comes to foreigners, it is even worse.

Bail - Difficult to find the money for Bail

Sureties - Normally, the court will require 1 or 2 sureties, and the Court may ask that these be Malaysians, and note that it is the sureties who usually have to open an account under their name, and the put the required monies into these accounts, which are then frozen to prevent the 'bail money' to be taken out without a court order.

Documents - Visas/Work Passes/Work Permits have expired, and unless the additional step is taken by their lawyers to get the Immigration Department to renew these visas - they cannot legally be let free to remain in the country. Immigration Department would most likely only issue them 'Special Passes', i.e. monthly passes costing RM100-00 per renewal. Courts will require the undertakings of lawyers of migrants to take their passports for the purposes of applying for these 'Special Passes', and thereafter returning the said Passports for the court's safekeeping. Everytime a renewal is required, there is a need to get a court letter, get the passports to the Immigration Department, pay the money, get the special passes, and then return the Passports to court. Everytime the passports expire, again it is required to go to the relevant embassy and get it renewed - and the migrant will be required to pay the requisite fee. Further, for the purposes of renewal, the holder's physical presence will be required, and this again is difficult especially at the first instance of application when the bail is granted.

Passports - Courts generally order that the passports be deposited in court to prevent the foreigner from 'running away'. Now, even when it comes to documented migrants, employers/agents hold these passports - and the accused does not even have it on them.

Given all the above circumstances, that is the reason why many foreigners, who really are remand prisoners waiting for their trial, will end up in the prisons.

Many foreigners also, by all these difficulties like the poorer Malaysians, may just plead guilty even if they are innocent so that the court can impose a definite sentence that they can carry out in the prison and move on --- but alas, unlike the Malaysians, they may not be released because their passports and visas may have expired and they cannot leave prisons and enjoy freedom until their documents are in order...

Hence, more foreigners in prison..

It will be better to look at statistics of foreigners/Malaysians tried and convicted of the more serious crimes before we can make any conclusions about foreigners and crimes in Malaysia.

Language is also a problem - interpreters many a time do not come free, and this inability to communicate effectively with the authorities, their lawyers, etc..

KAJANG: Prisoners on parole numbering 777 have successfully served their time outside the prison walls since the system was introduced 18 months ago, said Prisons Depart-ment director-general Datuk Zulkifli Omar.

Saying the success rate was very high, he added that only 20 of them were thrown back into prison for breaching the rules and that 193 convicts were still under parole.

He said a total of 990 convicts were eligible for parole under the system that was introduced in July 2008.

Asked if the system had helped reduce over-crowding, Zulkifli said eight of the 31 prison institutions in the country were still over-crowded.

“Eligibility for parole is limited to those who have served half their sentence,’’ he said after accompanying Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye to the Kajang Prison Complex here yesterday.

To further check prison overload, plans are in the pipeline to introduce a new prison system catering to specific categories such as remand cases, convicted cases, women and juvenile, he said.

He also noted that one-third of the prisoners were foreigners and 50% of the cases involved breaking immigration rules. “We have 35,103 prisoners nationwide, of which 10,800 are foreigners.’’

Meanwhile, Lee said the parole system was good to sensitise the public and potential employers to accept rehabilitated convicts.

“Through the system, convicts would be given a chance to prove their performance at work.
“Otherwise, under normal circumstances, employers tend to immediately reject applicants who are ex-convicts,’’ he said.

He also called on parents and the community to keep an eye on ex-convicts and give them the moral support for rehabilitation..- Star, 20/1/2010, New parole system proves to be successful
Nearly one-third of prisoners nationwide are foreigners, a leading factor blamed for congestion in jails, Prisons Department director-general Datuk Zulkifli Omar said today. 

Indonesian inmates, he said, made up the highest number at 5,000. Of this, more than 50 per cent committed offences under the Immigration Act, which includes slipping into the country illegally.

Statistics show that as of last Sunday, of the total 32,130 inmates held at 31 prisons nationwide, 10,833 were foreigners. The prisons have a capacity to accomodate 36,740.

As prison congestion is due mainly to foreigners, Zulkifli said the prisons department was restructuring the placement of the prisoners to solve the problem.

He was speaking to reporters after a visit by a group of Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) officials to the Kajang Prison here. -- BERNAMA - New Straits Times, 20/1/2010, Foreigners almost one-third of total inmates nationwide

Priority must be reform not just punishment - Parole system working..

It is good that we have started using the 'parole system" - whereby persons of good behavior are permitted to be outside the prison confines working and living. Of course, if they violate any of the conditions or are 'naughty', they will be sent back to prison.

There is also other forms of 'punishment' that should be considered and incorporated into the law. Community service is one. House arrest is another (there are devices to ensure that the person so sentenced stay within the area) - this would be good for younger persons.

Objective of sentencing should be reform - not only pure punishment. Reform is so much better in the long term as the prisoner would be re-entering society after serving the prison term. Would it not be better that the prisoner has been reformed - hence less chances of committing crime again.

In China, even when it comes to the death penalty, after 2 years from being sentenced, the 'condemned's ' sentence is commuted to a prison term. Judges also have the power to specifically order suspended dead sentences - i.e. so that there can be a review in 2 years to evaluate and possibly commute it to a prison term.

But Malaysia is so rigid - judges do not even have the option when it comes to sentencing in some cases. If convicted, in some case, the only sentence available is death. We really need to get rid of these 'mandatory sentences' set by the Legislative arm of government. The Legislature should only set minimums and maximums, and leave it to the Judge to decide on the actual sentence to be handed down, which should be based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Prisoners on parole numbering 777 have successfully served their time outside the prison walls since the system was introduced 18 months ago, said Prisons Depart-ment director-general Datuk Zulkifli Omar.

Saying the success rate was very high, he added that only 20 of them were thrown back into prison for breaching the rules and that 193 convicts were still under parole.

He said a total of 990 convicts were eligible for parole under the system that was introduced in July 2008.

Asked if the system had helped reduce over-crowding, Zulkifli said eight of the 31 prison institutions in the country were still over-crowded.

“Eligibility for parole is limited to those who have served half their sentence,’’ he said after accompanying Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye to the Kajang Prison Complex here yesterday.

To further check prison overload, plans are in the pipeline to introduce a new prison system catering to specific categories such as remand cases, convicted cases, women and juvenile, he said.

He also noted that one-third of the prisoners were foreigners and 50% of the cases involved breaking immigration rules. “We have 35,103 prisoners nationwide, of which 10,800 are foreigners.’’

Meanwhile, Lee said the parole system was good to sensitise the public and potential employers to accept rehabilitated convicts.

“Through the system, convicts would be given a chance to prove their performance at work.. “Otherwise, under normal circumstances, employers tend to immediately reject applicants who are ex-convicts,’’ he said.

He also called on parents and the community to keep an eye on ex-convicts and give them the moral support for rehabilitation.- Star, 20/1/2010, New parole system proves to be successful

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

100 storey building in KL - taller than the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers....Referendum please

The the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers will no longer be the tallest building for the Federal Government is planning to build a 100-storey building (or is it 3 hundred-storey building).

Are we not afraid of earth quakes? Do we in Malaysia really need such high structures? What about the increase of cars and traffic jams for all the sites are in already busy areas?

I thought we were over the tallest flag pole... the tallest tower...the tallest twin tower...but alas, here we go again and this time it will be 100-storey buildings...

And do we have the necessary fire fighting equipments for such a high building? What happens if there is a power failure? Walking down will be fun....

Have the people in the area been consulted? Have the notice board inviting objections and questions been put up at the project site. For these kind of 'mega project', it is not enough to just give the right to object to adjacent registered land owners. This right must be given to all people who live and work around the said area.

Today, even to get to court from the Jalan Duta traffic light ( a distance of about 400 meters), it can take about 20-25 minutes in the morning because of the traffic congestion. And, now there will be another 100-storey building in that area.

Priority should be to improve public transport - not building mega projects. Note that many of the buildings in KL and Klang Valley are already having difficulty getting tenants - so, really do we really need more office spaces?

 Three sites in the city have been identified for the development of iconic structures to spur growth in the economy. 

Sources say they are Dataran Perdana in Jalan Davis, the area surrounding Stadium Merdeka and the vicinity of the Matrade Centre in Jalan Duta.

All the plots of land are privately owned.Two belong to governmentlinked companies — Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera Bhd and Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) — while the Naza group owns 25ha in the vicinity of the Matrade Centre.

Economists were recently briefed by the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department on the implementation of the iconic projects, as part of efforts to boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Even though the actual designs of the three structures have not been finalised, two appeared to have a 100-storey building each.

This could rival the highest structure in the country — the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers, completed in 1997 at a cost of US$1.2 billion (RM4.05 billion).

While it is understood that the design for such a skyscraper is included in the original development master plan for the 25ha site around the Matrade centre, another source claimed that a 100-storey building is to be built near Stadium Merdeka, owned by PNB.

Bank Islam Malaysia chief economist Azrul Azwa said: “The key thing is the huge cost of the development and what the government’s role will be in this.

“There needs to be a costbenefit analysis of the projects to ensure they not only give short-term benefits to GDP but also help the economy in the long run.” RSP Architect’s Hud Bakar said a 100-storey building, on average, would cost 50 per cent more per square foot than a normal high-rise building, depending on the actual design.

Real estate agent Previndran Singhe of Zerin Properties said: “It is good to have iconic developments. But we should do away with the perception that iconic developments mean tall buildings.”- New Straits Times, 7/12/2009,
100-storey skyscrapers planned for Kuala Lumpur

Developers and construction players are generally, in favour of several mega property projects in the pipeline in Kuala Lumpur, especially the proposed development of a multi billion ringgit 100-storey skycraper, expected to be built near Matrade Centre, bordering Jalan Kuching and Jalan Duta.

Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) president Ng Kee Leen said the mega projects would help spur the Malaysian economy further and provide more jobs to players in the industry .

Occupying a 28-ha site owned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), the project could be completed in three to five years, if approved.

“It’s definitely the right time to revive the construction industry in a big way as (prices of) raw materials for the construction industry have stabilised and more importantly, consumer confidence, both local and foreign, is rising,” Ng told StarBiz yesterday.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall had approved several 30-storey and 50-storey property developement projects in the city, which are expected to commence soon.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall and top officials from PNB were unavailable for comments on the mega projects or confirm if the proposed100-storey skyscraper project had been approved.

Ng said despite the current property overhang, there were signs of a revival in the construction industry.

“There is now more hiring of draftsmen and architects and if most of the mega projects are appproved, it would certainly help further boost the Malaysian economy,” he said.

On the impact of the 100-storey property project, Ng said: “We don’t see this (building more mega property projects) as having a negative impact on the construction industry or the economy.”

“It would show to the world the Malaysia’s seriousness in following through with its plans,” he said, citing the continued property developments in Hong Kong and Singapore despite the current property overhang.

Jack Chua, a local real estate property agent and a property consultant specialising in property in the Golden Triangle area, said the impact of new mega projects would overall be positive to the economy.

“We believe if Malaysian government policies remain consistent and attractive, there should still be good buying interest from locals and foreigners, even if more mega projects come onstream,” he said.

Meanwhile, a local property analyst said while government policies had generally been proactive and supportive of the construction industry’s growth, the recent re-introduction of the real estate property gains tax (RPGT) did not go well with players in the industry.

“Many of them felt that the RPGT came very suddenly, just when the construction industry was showing signs of recovery,” he said.

The analyst said many construction players, including associations like MBAM and Real Estate and Housing Developers Association, had urged the Government to reconsider deferring the RPGT to a more appropriate time. - Star, 8/12/2009, Builders positive on mega property projects

Will Malaysia follow Mongolia and declare a moratorium on all executions?

When will Malaysia abolish the death penalty? Will Malaysia follow Mongolia and declare a moratorium on the death penalty.

Even in China, 2 years after the accused is given the death penalty, the death penalty is commuted to a prison term. The exception would be if the said accused had committed further crimes after receiving the the death sentence. Would Malaysia also follow the practice in China, and commute those who have sentenced to death.

For Immediate release
Embargo until 09:00am GMT  14 January 2009

Mongolia : moratorium on executions welcomed

Amnesty International welcomes the announcement made by the government of Mongolia today declaring an official moratorium on executions in the country.

Amnesty International believes President Tsakhia Elbegdorj has taken a bold move for the protection of human rights in Mongolia and welcomes this important development as a key step toward full abolition of the death penalty.

 “The government of Mongolia has shown that it has a strong commitment to human rights by introducing a moratorium on the death penalty. Amnesty International urges other countries in the region to follow Mongolia’s example,said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International Asia-
Pacific deputy director.

Asia continues to execute more individuals than the rest of the world combined. Amnesty International estimates at least 1,838 individuals were executed in 11 countries in Asia in 2008.

In China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and North Korea, executions and death penalty proceedings are shrouded in secrecy and a lack of transparency.

Mongolia must quickly amend its law on state secrecy to end the lack of transparency in the application of the death penalty. Transparency is an essential element of an open and free society but also an important step towards abolition,” said Roseann Rife.

The President of Mongolia commuted the death sentences of at least three people in 2009. Executions are carried out in secret in Mongolia and no official statistics on death sentences or executions are made available. Prison conditions for death row inmates are reported to be poor. Families are not notified in advance of the execution and the bodies of those executed are not returned to the family.

More than two-thirds of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In 2008, 106 countries voted in favour of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution calling for a moratorium on executions.

 “We look forward to Mongolia’s support for the UNGA resolution in 2010 and urge other nations in the region to follow suit,” said Roseann Rife.

In 2010 Mongolia’s human rights situation will also be reviewed under the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review.


The UN General Assembly will consider a third resolution calling for a moratorium on executions in 2010. Mongolia voted against the UNGA resolutions adopted in 2007 and 2008, as has China, India, Indonesia, North Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Japan. In 2008, 106 countries voted in favour of the resolution, 46 voted against and 34 abstained.

Amnesty International believes the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and opposes the death penalty in all cases. The death penalty is discriminatory, used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities and it the ultimate act of state violence. There is no evidence that it is any more effective in reducing crime than other harsh punishments.

For more information please contact Roseann Rife at Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Hong Kong on +852 2385 8319 or +852 9103 7183(m) or call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email:

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

CIJ: Do not ban usage of "Allah"

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
27C Jalan Sarikei, off Jalan Pahang
53000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 4023 0772
Fax: 03 4023 0769

Press Statement
16 January 2010

Do not ban usage of "Allah"

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) strongly protests the government's ban on the usage of the word "Allah" by the non- Muslims in the Peninsular, as pronounced by Minister in the Prime Minister Department, Nazri Abdul Aziz. By perpetuating the myth that multi-religious usage of the word causes racial and religious discord, the government indirectly encourages a violent reaction against those whochallenge the ban.

On 15 Jan, Nazri Abdul Aziz said in an interview that the usage of "Allah" is allowed for non- Muslims in the East Malaysia but forbidden for Christian publications and sermons in the Peninsula. He told journalists from the media group KTS's dailies of Borneo Post, Utusan Borneo and Oriental Daily that the ban is to preserve harmony among groups in  Peninsular Malaysia. On 5 January, Nazri disputed the High Court ruling permitting the word's usage by Catholic weekly Herald on the same grounds.

Following the ruling, ten churches and a Sikh temple have been attacked  with petrol bombs, molotov cocktails or otherwise vandalised.

However the violence has clearly been caused by the ban, rather than by the use of the word 'Allah'. The word is being used in East Malaysia peacefully and has been used by non-Muslim communities in the Peninsula without incident. State censorship and clampdown of alternative views has deepened the so-called sensitivity and confusion. Research into preventing  ethnic conflict has repeatedly shown that a diverse, mature media is one of the key factors in violence prevention.

In this context, CIJ is concerned that the police have discouraged a forum  on the issue that was held on 11 Jan, and by reports that the Prime Minister has implicitly instructed editors to censor coverage of the opposition coalition's views on the banning of the word 'Allah'. What is  needed to diffuse tension is encouraging of public discussion and debate, with all sides being given time to present their views.

By applying for a stay order against the Catholic Herald, the Government  is perpetuating the view that the Christian newspaper is to blame for the violence. What is needed is an investigation into the root cause of this controversy, the ban itself.

The government should stop promoting ahistorical views which ignore the  fact that the word "Allah" predates Islam and the experience where "Allah" has been used by other faiths peacefully. CIJ calls on the government to allow the court ruling in favors of multi-religious usage of the word "Allah" to take effect.

Issued by

Sonia Randhawa

For more information please contact Wai Fong at 03 4023 0772

'Allah' case - The judge's reasons....

Some in Malaysia have really got a very wrong understanding of the facts, i.e. they believe that 'Allah' has just been used in the Peninsular Malaysia recently. This is not at all true, the word 'Allah' have been used for a very long time now among Peninsular Malaysians. In my church in Pahang, for as long as I can remember, it has been used in our prayers, songs, Bible and publications in the Malay language. Unlike, the major towns in the West Coast, English is not the 'common communication language' amongst Christians - it has been Bahasa Melayu, and as such the word 'Allah' has been used. It is absurd to believe that Malay, and the word 'Allah' are only used by Christians in Sabah and Sarawak. Maybe our good Ministers should be visiting our churches in the 'rural areas' too... 

The judge at the High Court has released her 59-page written judgment, and the following Malaysiakini report gives us some of the things that are contained in this judgment...

There is a well established practice for the use of 'Allah' among the Malay-speaking community of the Catholic faith in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

herald court case 050508In a 59-page written judgment in the Herald case, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Lau Bee Lan said this is proved in “unchallenged evidence (which) is in the origin of the word and its translation”.

Looking at the factual matrix, she said the court has to bear in mind the constitutional and fundamental rights of persons professing the Christian faith to practise their religion and to impart their religion to persons professing the religion.

“The Catholic church comprises large section of people from Sabah and Sarawak, whose medium of instruction is Bahasa Malaysia, and they have for years used religious material, in which God is referred as 'Allah'.

“There is also a large number of Bahasa Malaysia speaking (Catholics) in Penang and also in Malacca.”

She noted objections were raised based on Article 11(4) and the various state enactments, which restrict propagation of other faiths to those professing Islam.

“Seen in this context, by no stretch of imagination can one say that the state enactments may well be proportionate to the object they seek to achieve (in protecting Islam), and the measure is therefore arbitrary and unconstitutional,” Justice Lau said.

“This also shows the first respondent (the home minister) has taken an irrelevant consideration (in exercising his powers).”

'Ban is unconstitutional'

Lau also found that the Home Ministry's move to impose conditions on Herald was unconstitutional under Article 3(1) and Article 11(1) and Article 11(3).

Article 3 concerns the religion of the federation, namely Islam, and Article 11 is with regard to freedom of religion.

The judge, in declaring the ban on Herald as illegal, null and void, said the home minister in exercising his discretion to impose conditions in the publication permit, had not taken relevant matters into account.

“Hence, he has committed an error of law,” she said.

She noted that the word Terhad (limited) is printed on the front page of Herald and that this serves as an additional safeguard, in that publication is restricted to the church and to Christians only.

islam and judiciary judgement“In my view, if there are breaches of any law, the relevant authorities may take the relevant enforcement measures. We are living in a world of information technology, information can be readily accessible.”

“Are guaranteed rights to be sacrificed at the altar just because the Herald had gone online and is accessible to all?”

Lau said there is no material support for the government's arguments that the prohibition over the use of 'Allah' is a threat to national security.

She said she found merit in the plaintiff's arguments that the court should take judicial notice the word 'Allah' is used in the Middle East among Muslims and the Christian community and that this does not cause confusion.

'Issue is justiciable'

The judge also ruled that the proceeding were justiciable as the Malay rulers and the Agong, have no prerogative powers to govern the affairs of other religions.

The affairs of other religions are governed not by the rulers but by their own religious groups, as clearly enshrined under the constitution under freedom of religion.

“Furthermore, any other laws than those set out in Article 11(4) are passed, such laws would be construed unconstitutional.

“This present judicial review is not a judicial review of a decision of the rulers or the Agong, as heads of Islam concerning the exercise of their duties and functions. It is only a review over the minister's prohibition of the use of 'Allah' in the Catholic publication.

“Since the rulers and Agong cannot make any decision in respect of any publications and matters connected therewith, the issue of non-justiciability does not arise.”

She gave the verdict on Dec 31 last year, lifting the ban. The government has managed to obtain a stay of implementation, with the church's consent, pending an appeal against the ruling.- Malaysiakini, 18/1/2010, 'Allah' ban: Home minister erred in law

Registering undocumented migrants and allowing them to work will profit Malaysia

An interesting solution would be to register all undocumented migrants who are employed. MIC Youth has also made such a proposal... Maybe, their concern was for those missing Indian nationals, but it is a suggestion that could be used for all undocumented migrants.

Migrants from Burma, who have fled their country which is under military dictatorship, to escape persecution or just to earn a better living should maybe be given special consideration. There are , according to my estimation, an estimated 600,000 - 700,000 undocumented migrants from Burma in Malaysia today. This also will be reflected by the fact that one of the biggest group in our Detention Centres are from Burma.

This proposal to register them as workers is also economically feasible, as Malaysia now spends about RM30-00 per migrant per day in the detention centres.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop said the government also had to shoulder expenditure of RM30 a day for every illegal immigrant held at immigration depots.

"This covers the daily cost and treatment cost only, and not medical cost. The cost of air, sea and land charges is borne by the government," he said when replying to a question from Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri (PKR-Bagan Serai). Star, 10/12/2009, Parliament: RM30mil spent to send back 154,729 illegals

In terms of taxation, maybe Malaysia should definitely start taxing these migrant workers and this will be a definite income. Currently, taxes are paid to sending countries - and maybe, this policy must change, and Malaysia should tax income made by workers (Malaysian or migrant) who work and earn in Malaysia. Taxation pays for public utilities and amenities, and the migrants should also be given full and equal access to all these amenities, including healthcare.

MIC Youth has asked the Government to come out with a clemency programme to register the missing foreigners working illegally in the country.

Youth chief T. Mohan said the Government could legalise them and allow them to be employed by local companies in need of workers.

“It would be pointless to deport them. We should think of ways to get them to come out, register and be legal workers in the country,” he said yesterday.

He said these illegal workers would not take up the offer if they were required to pay a hefty fine or leave the country.

“We feel a minimal fine and a condition to allow them to work legally in Malaysia for a three-year term would be an attractive incentive,” he said.

Mohan said the Government would also benefit from the levy imposed on the workers.

He was commenting on reports that there were nearly 40,000 Indian citizens missing in Malaysia after their tourist visas expired.

Mohan urged the Government to set up a special committee to identify the reasons for the high number of missing foreigners in the country and recommend appropriate measures to prevent a recurrence.- Star, 18/1/2010, MIC Youth: Register missing foreign workers

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Of Chinese New Year crackdown on employers ...and missing 'Indian' nationals..

Chinese New Year is on February 14 and 15, and the UMNO-led BN government has declared that they are going to start their crackdown on employers who hire undocumented migrant workers.

Was this date intentionally picked to antagonize the Malaysian Chinese community, noting that many of the employers of undocumented migrants are smaller Malaysian Chinese owned shops, restaurants, small factories, etc...

Clearly, this is an act that is insensitive to the people of multi-racial multi religious Malaysia. Starting the crackdown on a day that is very important to the Chinese community is very 'not Malaysian'. And for Chinese, their new year is a 14-day affair. So will be seeing many Malaysian Chinese businessmen now being arrested and hauled away during the Chinese New Year celebration.

I wonder whether this is an action that have political motives, i.e. is this done to attempt to 'threaten' Malaysian Chinese to start supporting the UMNO-led BN government. Is this the 'punishment' that is being meted out to Chinese for their voting against the BN in the last elections? Is this the attempt to force MCA and GERAKAN (and maybe also the MIC) to come crawling back to UMNO? After all, there is clearly much dissatisfaction within MCA and Gerakan about their continued existence within the Barisan Nasional. Now, this crackdown will certainly affect many of these party supporters...

The Malaysian government must realize that the practice of employing undocumented workers is been happening despite the various crackdowns... despite the fact that a number of employers have been charged. Hence, certainly the solution is not 'cracking down' on these migrant workers or their employers, and those that provide shelter for them.

What the government need to do is to conduct a detailed study as to why many of these small shops, restaurants, businesses, factories are still willing to risk employing undocumented workers? Is the process of employing documented migrants too cumbersome...too expensive... or maybe just unviable for these smaller businesses? Maybe, this current procedure involving agents here (and there), outsourcing companies, etc is just not working.

Maybe, it is time for Malaysia to consider a different method in dealing with undocumented migrants, noting that they are definitely needed by so many of the Malaysian businesses. Maybe, it is just better to get these employers to 'register' these undocumented workers at the nearest labour department hence legalizing these workers - and saving so much cost in arresting, detaining and deporting them. [After all, the government has disclosed that it cost about RM30 per day to keep in detention one undocumented worker, and this does not include healthcare/medical care - RM900-00 per detained undocumented worker. Then, of course there is that cost of deportation...]. Maybe, it is just better to get them all registered - thus guaranteeing their worker rights, and possibly also generating some income for the government.

Malaysia has yet again cowed down to US's lobby. The last one was that 'War Against Terror'...and not it is the US's 'War Against Trafficking of Human Persons'.

When someone is 'kidnapped' against their will and taken to Malaysia to work in oppressive slave-like conditions, without the freedom of movement, etc - we can say that this is trafficking. But migrants workers who 'sneaked' into Malaysia either by themselves, or with the help of others to work here are not 'trafficked persons' . Maybe, we can call them persons who have been smuggled into the country. So, the idea of using an Anti-Trafficking law against employers of undocumented migrant workers is an affront to common sense. It looks like Malaysia is 'kow-tow-ing' to the mighty US ...trying to show that it is doing a lot of things to combat trafficking of human persons...

We also have sufficient laws that can be used against persons employing (or harboring) undocumented migrants - and it is very wrong to even threaten people with the Anti-Trafficking Act.

So many undocumented migrants have been arrested in the past, but alas there was really not that much effort done even in investigating and determining their employers - let alone taking action against these employers. So, why now?

Wooing back the support of Malaysians have not been working for the UMNO-led BN. So, maybe now they are trying a different approach. After all that 'Allah' issue has obviously not worked in bringing back the Malay support, and has certainly weaken further the non-Muslim support of the UMNO-led BN. Now, is the new strategy to use of threats... remember the target of this Chinese New Year crackdown are the employers of undocumented migrants - and many of these are the small business owners... Promises have not worked...will threats work.

Recently, it was also highlighted that there were '40,000' Indian nationals that were missing - i.e. those who have entered the country with valid documents, but who have not left after their visas have expired. I wonder why only Indian Nationals are mentioned - for after all, there surely are hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of other 'missing' nationals of other countries. In Malaysia, in 2004, the Malaysian government disclosed that there were about 5,852,997 'missing' foreign nationals - and this was based on official entry-exit records only.  [ A Star 27/9/2005 reported the Malaysian government stating that their records  showed that 15,452,112 foreign nationals entered Malaysia in 2004 but only 9,599,125 people left the country during the year – meaning that there were about 5,852,997 or 38% of the total arrivals overstaying.]. Hence, the fact that there is only 40,000 'missing' now is really not at all such a big deal. The concern is why the Malaysian government just chose to highlight the data of just one particular nationality - has it got anything to do with the fact the the third largest ethnic group in Malaysia came originally from India?

The timing of these concerns raised by the UMNO-led BN government of Malaysia, i.e. about 'missing' Indian nationals...and about a major crackdown on employers of undocument migrants on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year can raise questions about the motives of this government. Or maybe, it was all just a coincidence and I have read too much into this...

Tougher penalties for hiring illegals

Farrah Naz Karim
Human trafficking law to be used from February 15.

PUTRAJAYA: There will be no second chance for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Come Feb 15, the authorities will throw the book at errant employers by also charging them under the the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (ATPA).

Currently, errant employers only face charges under the Immigration Act, which would see them being fined RM5,000 for each illegal worker. They also face whipping for harbouring illegals.

Errant employers will now face longer jail sentences and heavier fines when they are also charged under the ATPA.

Immigration director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman said harbouring or hiring illegal immigrants could be linked to offences under the APTA which include exploitation, debt bondage and slavery.
“These drastic measures are needed to curb the number of overstayers in the country.”

The department is now giving errant employers, including multinational companies, till Feb 15 to clean up their act, after which there will be no second chance.

He said during this period, the department would try to educate employers through associations, industries as well as fliers on the penalty for hiring or harbouring illegals.

“After that, we will go after them aggressively. They should come forward now because when we get them, charge them and push for maximum penalties, they cannot feign ignorance of the law," he said in an interview yesterday.

"Even if they come forward now and surrender their illegal workers, they would still have to face the law. They may get leniency from the department or from the court."

But there would be no leniency after Feb 15 as the chief justice, in a recent meeting with the department, had told prosecuting officers to push for the maximum sentence in each case, he said.

"We were told not to ask the court to use their discretion when sentencing those caught for hiring or harbouring illegals."

Rahman was responding to the issue of nearly 40,000 Indian citizens missing from Immigration records, stated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to visiting Indian journalists on Tuesday.

Rahman said the department could not give the exact number of foreigners who were overstaying here as many could have left Malaysia through illegal channels.

He said operations to weed out illegal immigrants would also focus on those who came into the country on student passes.

Last month alone saw 6,261 student passes issued in Peninsular Malaysia, with 1,014 granted to those from China (see table A). Last year, Sabah issued 150 student passes while Sarawak issued 8,306.

Rahman said many had abused the RM60-a-year pass to avoid heavier levies. Those who work in the service sector pay RM1,800 a year.

The department last year arrested 46,900 foreigners and locals for Immigration offences while 73 employers were charged with hiring illegals. More than 30 employers were also arrested for harbouring illegals.

Rahman said the country was also losing significantly in cash outflow where reports in 2006 revealed that US$2.7 billion (RM9.18 billion) was channelled out to Indonesia alone.

He said the current maximum fine of RM3,000 for overstaying, was not enough of a deterrent.

"Take a person working in the illicit flesh trade who makes RM300 a day and overstays for 60 days. They would have earned RM18,000. After being fined that amount, they would still return home with RM15,000."

Rahman said the department was expected to ensure tourists' arrivals were not impeded by strict enforcement at entry points.

He, however, revealed that the department had last year imposed the "Not Permitted to Land" ruling on 25,084 foreign individuals (refer to table B). - New Straits Times, 14/1/2010