Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This is PAS Seat...DAP seat...PKR seat - what about other candidates - No seats unless...

A pre-occupation of this being PKR seat...and that being DAP seat...etc leads one to wonder what seats remain for the other opposition political parties...and independent candidates. Nobody likes a 3-corner fight, but if the Opposition political parties are so fixated with the idea of this being their turf... then all other independent candidates & candidates from other Opposition to BN parties are expected to do what?

The Pakatan Rakyat must not be so 'rigid' - and must be open to fielding the best person as the candidate. Even though PKR stood as a candidate in Temerloh Parliamentary seat, for example, they should not be too rigid in allowing a better candidate who may be from DAP, PAS, PRM, PSM ...or even an independent to stand as the candidate....let us have the best candidate to stand against the BN candidate.
Of all the Pakatan Rakyat political parties, PKR has been found most wanting - given the fact that majority of those that 'jumped' and became BN-friendly have been from that particular political party...At one time, they had the biggest number of seats in Parliament...but no more. It was also party-hoppers, majority of whom came from PKR, that caused the opposition to lose one State...

Who makes a good 'lawmaker'? Well maybe, we need to review the participation of the various Pakatan Rakyat MPs/ADUNs in the Parliament/State Legislative Assembly... and, sadly the results will be disappointing as many have just adopted the role of being mere 'seat warmers' - playing no active role within the  Parliament/State Legislative Assembly and/or outside... The criteria of selection seems to be loyalty - and sometimes, it is not just a loyalty to the party....but loyalty to certain personality/faction within the party. 
The political parties and the people need to review their present position and manner of thinking...before the next GE. Choose the best candidate - one who have an history of advocating for justice and human rights...not just the 'least threatening' or those that 'kow-tow' the most...

What is PKR talking about? If Malay majority seat, then it will be a PAS seat, if non-Malay majority, then it will be a DAP seat, if mixed seats, then it will be PKR seats... I sincerely hope not.

PKR is gearing up for some tough negotiations with fellow Pakatan Rakyat member PAS, with both parties eyeing several of the same seats in the 13th general election, which is widely speculated to held this year.

While he did not name the constituencies, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali said the seats involved were in areas with no racial majority, or what are referred to as "mixed constituencies".

azmin interview 260408 talking"It is no longer the old formula where PAS will contest in Malay majority areas, DAP in Chinese majority areas and PKR in mixed areas. Now, PAS also wants the mixed seats," Azmin (right) said this morning.

PAS has traditionally enjoyed support from the Malay community, but recent by-elections have proven that this too is becoming a challenge for the coalition.
For example, its Tenang by-election candidate Normala Sudirman recently lost on the back of an overwhelming 83.3 percent Malay support for BN.

A lot older and better organised than PKR, PAS is expected to come to the negotiation table citing its stronger presence in terms of numbers of members and divisions.

However, Azmin said, PKR would substantiate its claim to the seats PAS was seeking by showing that "PKR resonates better with voter sentiments", which, he claimed, had been gathered through the party's "detailed voter analysis".

Besides the negotiated seats, the Gombak parliamentarian added, PKR was sure of about 90 percent of the seats it wished to contest.

However, the party is still in the process of choosing its candidates. Division leaders nationwide have been given a March 20 deadline to come up with a shortlist of candidates to be sent to the central leadership.

PSM reps can be PKR candidates

Interestingly, Azmin said the party would consider candidates mooted by the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM).

The party has also held talks with Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), which in 2008 fielded three representatives under the PKR banner.

"We have no problem with them contesting under our banner again as they have shown very strong loyalty to the cause," he said.

hindraf crc scah talk 121208 jeyakumarHowever, Azmin added, PSM's stand that it is not part of Pakatan Rakyat, but "only friends" of the coalition, could confuse voters.

If the socialist party wanted to contest under the PKR banner, he said, it would need to adhere to the common policies of Pakatan.

PSM wants to use its own symbol in the coming general election, after finally being registered as a political party in June 2008, ending a 10-year struggle.

At its congress last year, PSM central committee member Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj (above) said the party could not be part of the Pakatan coalition as it promoted liberal capitalist ideals that went against the PSM ideology.

However, Jeyakumar added, "we are with them in the struggle to unseat BN".- Malaysiakini, 15/2/2011, Azmin: PAS now eyeing PKR's turf

Monday, February 14, 2011

Workers, local and foreign, do enjoy the same salary for the same job in Malaysia

It is odd that the Minister is using the word 'may' - because it is already a certainty, and this guarantee of equality is found in Malaysia's Federal Constitution which is extended to all persons, not just citizens.

Further, in our Employment Act, there are clear provisions that state that there should not be any discrimination on the basis of one being a local worker or a foreign worker, and if there is a complaint can be lodged...

60L.  Director General may inquire into complaint.(Employment Act 1955)
(1) The Director General may inquire into any complaint from a local employee that he is being discriminated against in relation to a foreign employee, or from a foreign employee that he is being discriminated against in relation to a local employee, by his employer in respect of the terms and conditions of his employment; and the Director General may issue to the employer such directives as may be necessary or expedient to resolve the matter.
The problem now is that market forces determine the wages of a worker, or better still it is the employer that determines the wages of a worker...and it has been found that the wages that employers pay their workers are unjustly too low - some 30% are even paid below poverty line wages, and that is the reason why there must be intervention by the government and we need a Minimum Wage Act that will fix minimum wages that employers are supposed to pay their workers. This is not a new thing, as already the Employment Act already determines the minimum rights that all workers are entitled to - i.e. paid annual leave, paid sick/medical/hospitalization leave, paid maternity leave, working hours, overtime rates, etc. Setting the minimum wage would just be an extension of already what we have in the law. Countries like India, for example, have had a minimum wage law since 1950's. The lack of a minimum wage law shows the UMNO-led BN government to be pro-employer and not pro-worker. They said they will do, and they are still procrastinating. I have suggested that as a matter of policy, the government can fix a minimum wage now ....whilst we wait for the Act to be drafted, passed...and become a law.

Foreign workers may enjoy a minimum wage salary scale just like local workers if the private sectors minimum wage model is implemented, said Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam.

Subramaniam said the current wage scale for foreign workers was determined by market forces and expected to continue until the government decides on the minimum wage implementation.

“Any request to implement the minimum wage system now cannot be entertained before the implementation because Malaysia does not have a structured minimum wage model for local workers,” he told reporters after closing a minimum wage laboratory to gather feedback from all stakeholders, in Putrajaya today.

Subramaniam who was asked to comment on Indonesian media reports that requested the Malaysian government to set a minimum wage scale for Indonesian maids said: “When there is no minimum wage structure for local workers, the government cannot allow a minimum wage request for foreign workers.”

He added that the only sector that offers a similar wage scale for local workers and foreign workers was the plantation sector.

Asked why it was taking the government such a long time to decide on the minimum wage scheme, Subramaniam said it was a major policy issue that needed an in-depth study before any decision was made.

“We have gathered feedback and data from various government agencies. We now have a complete picture of the various sectors involved and details that can be used by the government to decide.

“The salient points from the discussions during the lab will go towards the drafting of the regulations governing the National Wage Consultative Council, which will be tabled in Parliament,” he said.-Bernama - Malaysiakini, Komunitikini, 14/2/2011, Foreign workers might have similar minimum wage with local workers

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Good example of Muslim-Christian interaction and living together in Egypt

Just like Malaysia, there are Muslims and Christians, and it is good to see how ordinary people live and behave respecting one another's faith and belief. In Malaysia too, ordinary people do live in harmony respecting the differences in the people in their communities, including the religious and other cultural differences. It is only some politicians and a few persons that try to sow seeds of division and enmity, and sometimes I believe the intention is more for some political gain.

Over the years, there have been some who have tried to stir ill-feelings among the multi-religious peoples of Malaysia, but it has really not generated much support at all. In comparison, we see the Reformasi protest in Kuala Lumpur that saw 10,000 plus persons repeatedly coming out to the street  on weekends protesting the wrongdoings and failures of the UMNO led-BN government, despite the real fear and prospect of being water-cannoned, tear-gassed, physically assaulted by the police, arrested and charged, etc...I am talking about the earlier REFORMASI protest... Of course, later on the Opposition parties and  pro-Anwar elements tried to hijack this movement/action of the people and make it their own, just like what did happen in Egypt - it was a people's action -- and now the Opposition parties started creeping in to claim leadership of the masses. [I share from my perspective of being there on the ground during the said REfFORMASI protests, and later being a "Reformasi Lawyer', who acted for hundreds of people when they got arrested,and detained in PULAPOL, etc and for their trials]
Back to the issue at hand, where the positive aspect of interaction of a people, irrespective of their religion and/or ethnicity, needs to be highlighted...
Published on: February 13, 2011,Herald Malaysia

By Anil Netto

By now much has been said about what has been happening in Egypt. But less visible is that the uprising in Egypt has witnessed some remarkable scenes of Muslim-Christian understanding on the streets, especially in Tahrir Square. When Muslims prayed in Tahrir or Liberation Square, Christians formed a protective ring around them.

And when the Coptics and other Christians prayed, it was the turn of the Muslims to stand guard against attacks from pro-Mubarak thugs. You know, when interreligious dialogue takes place, sometimes those occasions tend to be stuffy, formal affairs laced with platitudes and niceties as no one wants to offend the other side.

But what took place at Tahrir Square on Sunday, Feb 6 had none of the usual preparations and pleasantries usually associated with these occasions. Instead, Muslims and Christians together reflected on the autocracy facing their country, the loss of innocent lives, and the struggle for freedom. All around them were symbols of that repressive reality: rocks and stones that had been used as projectiles, army tanks that failed to provide security... and wounded and hungry people.

Reflect as Michael Jansen reports for the Irish Times: Muslims and Christians unite in prayer as clerics and speakers remind us of those who have died: MUSLIMS PRAYED with Christians yesterday in Tahrir Square at the heart of Cairo. A priest from Egypt’s ancient Coptic rite held high a cross, read verses from the Bible and in a deep, sonorous voice led hymn singing. The mostly Muslim throng joined in, familiar with the Arabic phrases the faiths share.

They closed by rendering softly, then belting out lustily the Egyptian national anthem, Beladi (My Country), concluding with the cry: “We are united, Christians and Muslims, we are all Egyptians! Hurriyah, hurriyah! Freedom, freedom!” Muslims performed the noon day prayer before the Copts held a second prayer meeting.

A woman in red standing next to Irish Ambassador Isolde Moylan and me translated the words of the priest. “He told Mubarak, our churches were attacked when you were in power . . . “Now that there are no police in the street and we have revolution, our churches are safe, our people are safe.” The cleric mentioned the bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria during a Mass on January 1 that killed both Christians and Muslims.

Another man took the microphone and spoke of the 300 “martyrs” who have died since hundreds of thousands of democracy advocates seized control of Tahrir Square on January 25 and demanded that Mubarak and his entire regime resign. “You do not speak of the martyrs, Mubarak, but you cannot ignore them,” the speaker shouted. In the crowd were some of the walking wounded. Men with bandaged heads or plaster casts on their arms, a man with his ankles bound in gauze. They were among the defenders of the square when it was attacked by pro-Mubarak elements last Feb 3 night. At least 5,000 have been wounded during 13 days of mass action. We paused to speak to young men gathered near a stall selling tea.

Like many other welcoming Egyptians, Amin, a bearded member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was delighted to see Irish visitors. He was keen to make his point to Isolde who had come in listening mode: “In the West they try to scare people by saying the brotherhood wants to make Egypt like Iran. This is a lie. We are Sunnis, not Shias. We do not want rule by clerics. We want democracy. We want freedom.” An AFP report in the Philippines Inquirer noted that some Muslim demonstrators at Tahrir Square showed solidarity with their Christian brethren.

Ahmed Shimi, 47, raised a banner adorned with a Christian cross, the Islamic crescent and the declaration “Muslims plus Christians equal Egypt.” “We don’t want differences between Muslims and Christians. We believe that we are all Egyptians,” Shimi said. “Mubarak wants to sell the idea to the United States and Europe that we have a problem in Egypt with the Christians and that he is the right guy to address it. But it’s not true.” What made these scenes all the more extraordinary was that they took place against a backdrop of the shocking New Year attack on a Coptic Church in Alexandria.

But even before that, Muslims had rallied behind their beleagured fellow Egyptians, the Christians, to provide them with a protective ring during Christmas Eve services. One report said “thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas Eve Mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside. From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s Mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.” What we have heard in Egypt time and time again is that the people on the streets, Muslims and Christians alike, are united in their desire for freedom and justice.

They have come out to demand their rights. They carry for people and governments everywhere important lessons. Egypt is experiencing serious problems. The gap between the rich and the poor is large, youth unemployment is high and a large number of people are living on less than US$2 a day. Meanwhile, a Guardian report alleged that the Mubarak family fortune could reach up to US$70 billion, a lot of it probably stashed abroad. Consider the impact of neo-liberal policies on countries like Tunisia and Egypt.

These countries had fairly strong GDP growth rates and FDI and had followed IMF-World Bank neo-liberal policies such as slashing subsidies and privatisation. They were regarded as economic miracles. Only last year, the World Bank in a ‘Doing Business 2010’ report had hailed Egypt as a ‘top global performer’. Obviously, someone forgot to tell the seething, teeming masses on the streets for whom such ‘economic reforms’ meant little. Mubarak has ruled for 30 years through his hated security apparatus.

Egyptians who fell on the wrong side of the regime were put away and no one heard their screams of anguish in hidden detention cells or during ‘rendition’. Mubarak, like a string of previous dictators Suharto, Marcos, the Shah of Iran, was of course US backed, and he presided over a repressive system. The United State provided military aid to Egypt but a lot of this money flowed back to US corporations when Egypt bought arms and planes from these firms.

While the extraordinary scenes of Muslim- Christian unity are an inspiring part of the uprising, the danger is that the people’s democratic uprising may be hijacked by conservative forces allied to the military and vested business interests bent on maintaining neo-liberal economic policies, possibly with the blessing of the United States under the guise of ‘an orderly transition’. If that happens it would amount to a massive betrayal of the people’s passionate desire for economic justice and real democracy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

2 migrants killed and others sent to hospital - If no passport, money, insurance - will they be treated?

2 migrant workers killed and others sent to hospital. What happens to those who were sent to hospital.
....The Workmen’s Compensation Act, on the other hand, only provides for a one-off payment to the victim and/or their dependents where death has resulted from the injury/disease, that is a lump sum equal to sixty months' earnings or RM18,000, whichever is the less...
No treatment if cannot produce passport...?

No treatment if do not pay deposit first? Note Malaysia charges migrant workers 1st class rates in public hospitals, clinics, etc...

See below a recent statement that was issued by 58 civil society groups about healthcare and health insurance...

SUBANG JAYA: A Bangladeshi kitchen hand and a Nepalese security guard died while two other foreigners were hospitalised after inhaling dangerous fumes in a manhole behind the Subang Parade shopping complex.

Subang Jaya OCPD ACP Zainal Rashid Abu Bakar said the incident occurred at about 2pm when witnesses stumbled upon the men gasping for air at the bottom of the manhole.

The Fire and Rescue Department lifted out the victims who were barely conscious after inhaling the fumes.
Helping out: Fire and Rescue Department personnel lifting out a victim who was found in the manhole near Subang Parade shopping complex Thursday.
According to SJ Echo, Bangladeshi kitchen hand Mohammed Momen was found lying under the three other men slumped over him. Attempts to revive him failed.

The Nepalese guard, Balinath Tah, 33, died on his way to hospital. He was believed to have responded to the distress call from the other victims.

The other two victims, a Bangladeshi and a Nepalese, have been hospitalised at the Univer­siti Malaya Medical Centre and are in stable condition.

“It is not immediately known how the victims came to be in the manhole,” ACP Zainal said yesterday.

He did not rule out the possibility that one of the victims, after being sent to investigate if there was a gas leak, fainted from inhaling the fumes.

Subsequently, others who went down the manhole including the security guards, may have also succumbed to the fumes.

Police will record statements from the survivors and witnesses.

Witnesses who were first at the scene said they saw two security guards in the manhole gasping for air when they looked into the manhole.

A Subang Parade management spokesman said Subang Parade had no scheduled maintenance work for its manholes.

“We are concerned with the incident and have launched our own internal investigations on the matter,” SJ Echo quoted the spokesman as saying.

The bodies were sent to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre for post mortem. - Star, 11/2/2011, Two foreigners killed after inhaling dangerous fumes

Media Statement – 20/1/2011

Employers must pay all medical cost of workers especially when it is a work-related accident or an occupational disease.

We, the undersigned 58 organizations, groups and networks are appalled that the Malaysian Government is now asking about 1.5 million migrant workers themselves, and not their employers, to buy a new Foreign Workers Hospitalisation and Surgical Insurance. If these migrant workers do not do so, the Malaysian government is threatening not to renew their work permits. The Malaysian Health Minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, also stated that the worker’s work permits will not be renewed if there are outstanding hospital bills. [Bernama, 7/1/2011, Foreign Workers with Insurance May Enter Hospital without Deposit]

What is worrying is that workers should never be required to pay for their treatment and necessary healthcare especially if the reason treatment is sought is a work-related or industrial accident, or some occupation-related disease.

With regard to migrant workers in Malaysia, who are required to get a clean bill of health before they enter Malaysia, and before they are given a work permit, it is only right for employers to be liable to pay for all treatment and medical charges if they do get sick in Malaysia. Further, it is generally the employer that determines where these workers must stay and work.

In Malaysia, whilst the social security of local workers are covered by the Social Security Act, migrant workers are covered by the lesser Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952, which unlike the former do not provide for continuous regular support and assistance until death for a worker who is a victim of an industrial accident or occupational disease. The Workmen’s Compensation Act, on the other hand, only provides for a one-off payment to the victim and/or their dependents where death has resulted from the injury/disease, that is a lump sum equal to sixty months' earnings or RM18,000, whichever is the less.

It is good that the Workmen's Compensation (Foreign Workers' Compensation Scheme) (Insurance) Order 1998, extended coverage to personal injury (and death) that is sustained in an accident which occurs outside the working hours of the workman. Given this fact, there only needs to be a minimum extension of coverage to cover any remaining matters that will require treatment, hospitalization and/or surgery, and this could be done quite easily by amending the relevant Act and/or broadening the scope of the current insurance that employers already do have to buy for their foreign workers.

Malaysian Health Minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, was reported saying that this new insurance was to ensure that foreign workers’ medical bills in public hospitals, which to date total RM18mil, will not be a burden to the Government. (Star, 26/11/2010, Compulsory medical insurance policies for foreign workers from next year). However, this cannot be right as there should not be any outstanding migrant worker medical bills at all.

Under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, the employer is clearly liable to pay for the conveyance to the hospital, treatment, ward charges, medicines and other expenses incurred in the treatment and rehabilitation of such workmen (sec.15).  The employer is clearly liable to pay directly to the management of such hospital all fees and charges, and as such one wonders what unpaid medical bills the Minister is talking.

Further, attention also should be drawn to Workmen's Compensation Regulations 1953, in particular Regulation 18, which deals with the issue of excess fees, “A workman admitted either to an approved or a special hospital shall, where such hospital is a private hospital, himself be liable to pay the amounts of any fees or costs incurred on his behalf in excess of the maximum amounts prescribed by the Minister of Health under section 15 (3) of the Act, and, where such hospital is a government hospital, such excess amounts shall be paid from public funds.” Since, the Minister is talking about government hospitals, there is certainly no way that there exist outstanding medical bills when it comes to migrant workers.

The Malaysian pro-employer government has proceeded to further protect employers of migrant workers by limiting the maximum amount fees and cost that is payable by an employer under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. As of 1st March 2007 (PU (A) 077/2007), this maximum liability of an employer for ward charges, including surgical ward treatment fee is RM300, for operation fees it is RM250, for X-Ray Fees it is RM100 and for other electric therapeutic charges it is RM100.

The rates stipulated are outrageously low given the fact that government hospitals and clinics charge migrant workers first class rates, and the lowest deposit for a migrant worker who needs to be warded is RM400, and if it was a surgical case, it is RM800-00. Operation charges can range from RM50 to RM3,000 depending on the type of operation. Ultrasound cost RM100. Radiology charges range from RM50-RM600. Lab charges range from RM5 to RM100 depending on the type of tests, and usually there will be quite a lot of tests needed.

But, even when the government does limit the amount that the employer is liable to pay, the excess as stipulated in Regulation 18 of the Workmen's Compensation Regulations 1953 is paid from public funds, and as such there really is no logical reason why there can ever be outstanding debt. It is really hoped that in Malaysia, the government does not expect the migrant worker to come up with the money themselves before the necessary treatment and/or surgery is done. Employers should make all the necessary payments immediately, and should thereafter do the needful to claim whatever excess payment from the public fund.

The Health Minister is naïve to insist that the migrant worker only need to provide their passport before treatment is given, as in most cases the employers and/or the agent do wrongly hold on to the passports of migrant workers. Sometimes, the passports are with immigration authorities and/or some other authorities. Hence, in the name of justice, all necessary treatment must be immediately provided to migrant workers on their arrival and registration, without insistence on the production of passport and/or payment of any large deposit. Let not the absence of a document and money be the cause of death or the loss of limbs of a migrant worker in Malaysia.

It is also very wrong to threaten to penalize the migrant worker with non-renewal of work permit, when any punishments in law should rightly be against the employer and should not in any way jeopardize the rights and the well being of migrant workers already in Malaysia.

We, the undersigned groups, hereby:-

a) Call on the Malaysian Government to ensure that all employers of migrant workers, not just those that employ domestic workers and in the plantation sector, be liable to pay for this new Foreign Workers Hospitalisation and Surgical Insurance;

b) Call on the Malaysian government to ensure that no worker would be made liable to pay for the conveyance to hospital, treatment, ward charges, medicines and other expenses following a work-related accident and/or for some occupational disease.

c) Call on the Malaysian government to repeal Maximum Amounts for Fees and Costs (PU (A) 077/2007), and ensure that employers of migrant workers be liable to pay reasonable amounts consistent with the rates imposed by the government for medical care and treatment of migrant workers at government hospitals.

d)  Urge the Malaysian government to review and remove the differential rates being charged for Malaysians and other foreigners, especially migrant workers, at government hospitals and healthcare facilities.

e)   Urge the Malaysian government to review the policy of ‘No Treatment until Production of Passport and payment of deposits”, and ensure that all who needs medical treatment and care are immediately given the said required care that will prevent loss of life and/or limbs.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the following 58 organizations

Archdiocesan Human Development Commission (AHDC)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women , law and Development ( APWLD )
Asian Migrant Centre(AMC)
Asian Migrants Coordinating Body in HK (AMCB)
Association for Community Development-ACD, Bangladesh
Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in HK (ATKI-HK)
Building and Wood Workers’ International Asia Pacific Regional Office (BWI-APRO)
Burma Campaign Malaysia
Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP), Cambodia

Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
CCC  Netherlands
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Malaysia
Civil Right committee, Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Committee of Asian Women, CAW
Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS), Burma
Health Equity Initiatives
Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service Center (HMISC), Taiwan
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh

INFID, Indonesia
Johor Textile and Garment Workers Union
Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP), Timor Leste
Labour Behind the Label, United Kingdom
Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid, Pakistan
Legal Support for Children and Women(LSCW), Cambodia
MADPET - Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
Manggagawang Kababaihan Mithi ay Paglaya (MAKALAYA), Philippines
MAP Foundation, Thailand

Mekong Migration Network (MMN)
Metal Industry Employees’ Union, Malaysia
Migrant Care, Indonesia
Migrant Health Association, Korea
Migrante International
Migrants Rights Council, India,
Myanmar Youth Knowledge Initiative
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
NGOs in Myanmar Web Portal

Penang Office for Human Development (POHD)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
Pusat Komas
Sarawak Dayak Iban Assocoation
Solidaritas Perempuan (Women's Solidarity for Human Rights), Indonesia
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
Thai Committee for Refugees (TCR)
Think Centre, Singapore
Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), Singapore

UNI Global Union-Malaysia
United Indonesians Against Overcharging (PILAR)
Verite Southeast Asia
Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, France
WARBE Development Foundation-Bangladesh
WIRDA (Women Institute for Research Development and Advancement)
Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc. (WLB), Philippines
Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Stop using 'Pariah', 'Indon', 'Bangla', 'Sakai', ...as sign of respect...

Some communities do not like to referred in a particular manner, and/or by using certain words. Whether the reasons put forward is reasonable or not to others really should not matter, but as a respect for the aggrieved persons or communities, we should immediately stop using such words.
When I was growing up, the Malays did not like to be called 'sakai' - the meaning then attached to the word was that it meant that they were 'jungle people', illiterate/stupid, backward, etc [Of course, that word meant something else, but it mattered not for what was important was the perceived meaning, and the reasons for its usage then] 

For those of Indian origins(not Punjabi), the word that was used was 'Keling' and 'Pariah'

For the Punjabi, it was 'Bayi'...for the Chinese, 'China Kui'...

The Indonesians do not like to be called 'Indon' for similar reasons - and Malaysian government has been informed and they have agreed to change but some media outlets are still doing it.

The Bangladeshis do not want to be called 'Bangla' for similar reasons...

The reasons really matters little - but an initial immediate response from any person/community/government that is respectful of others is to stop using such words...

Kuala Lumpur. The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has protested against the use of the word “Indon” in a Malaysian newspaper, arguing that it carries negative connotations.

The protest was in response to an article in Berita Harian, titled “Taktik Kotor Indon” (“Indonesian Dirty Tricks”), about Indonesia’s organization of the Southeast Asian Games in November.

“We are disappointed and resent the word ‘Indon’ because the leaders of both countries have agreed not to use the word, including in the mass media,” Embassy spokesman Suryana Sastradireja told state news agency Antara on Wednesday.

The article, which is still available online, features an interview with Malaysian Olympic Assembly vice president WY Chin, who was quoted as saying that Indonesia had listed a number of sporting events that advantaged their athletes.

“We just received the list of sport numbers to be competed [in the Sea Games] and most of them are sports where their [Indonesia] athletes are more likely to win,” Chin was quoted as saying.

Suryana said the newspaper’s choice of the word “Indon” in the headline could jeopardize diplomatic relations between the neighboring countries.

“The word “Indon” is very humiliating and very embarrassing. We are going to send a note of protest to the ‘Berita Harian’ and question their motives for using the word,” Suryana said. “We demand the newspaper avoid using the word in future articles and the article writer must be sanctioned.”

Syamsul, an on-duty editor at Berita Harian, said he was unaware of the controversy and could not comment.

Nafi Nur Rauf from the association of Indonesian students at Malaysia’s Utara University said there were two definitions of “Indon” in Malaysia.

“I asked my Malaysian friends on campus the meaning of “Indon” and they said it is only a short version of Indonesians, it’s not to humiliate Indonesians but there is indeed another meaning which is an insult to associate Indonesians with maids or domestic workers,” Nafi wrote on the association's Web site.

JG, Antara - Jakarta Globe, 4/2/2011,
‘Indon’ Article Prompts Protest

The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has protested the recent publication in the Malaysian media of the term "Indon" in a news headline, a word often used by Malaysians to describe Indonesians, and regarded by many as derogatory.

Embassy spokesman Suryana Sastradiredja said Malaysia's Berita Harian had published a story titled "Indon's Dirty Tactics" on the appointment of Indonesia as the host for the upcoming Sea Games.

The story featured an interview with Malaysia Olympiad Assembly (MOM) vice president W. Y. Chin, who said Indonesia had selected sporting events that would benefit its athletes.

"We're disappointed and protest against the use of the term 'Indon' because the two heads of state have already agreed against using this term, including in the mass media," Suryana said Wednesday, as quoted by Antara. "We want no more writing of this kind, and a firm action taken against the writer."

Suryana said Berita Harian had often used the term "Indon" in its articles citing Indonesia.

The embassy plans to send an official letter of complaint to the paper, questioning why it frequently used the term. - AsiaOne News, 4/2/2011,  RI embassy protests use of 'Indon' in Malaysian headlines

Friday, February 04, 2011

ABIM can play a bigger role in ensuring justice in death in custody cases

It is great that more and more civil society groups have been coming out in death in police custody cases. Just a few days ago, the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia, and now it is Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim).

ABIM wants family members to be proactive and demand  for an inquest in death in custody cases - but alas, they will need help in the form of advice and assistance, and as such I hope that more and more civil society groups will offer this service as part of their functions. I am sure that the Bar Council and other groups that have been in the forefront in asking for these inquest, demanding 2nd post-mortems, etc would be more than willing to provide the necessary training needed.

Given the fact that groups like ABIM has a large membership spread all over Malaysia, they do have the required capacity to help families of persons who, not only die in police custody, but also those who were killed in police 'shoot to kill' incidents. 

Family members of detainees who die in police custody have been urged to be more proactive in demanding an inquest into such sudden deaths, so as to help prevent these from recurring.

"When a person dies in custody, the family must take the initiative and demand their right to an inquest," Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) secretary-general Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim (right in picture).

NONE"In some cases, I do not blame the family members, for many may not be aware of this right. Those in the know should proceed with their demand for an answer. They should not wait until a NGO makes a move," he told Malaysiakini.

As many as 147 deaths in police custody have been reported since 2000 and several NGO activists have demanded guarantees from the Home Ministry and the police that such deaths will no longer occur.

Yesterday, the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia called for a 'third party witness' to be present during interrogation in police stations, as a move to curb deaths in custody.

Statistics between 2000 and February 2010 showed that 64 Malays had died in police custody, with 30 deaths among Chinese detainees, 28 among Indians, eight people of other races and 14 of the dead being foreigners.

Raimi said NGOs should actively assist family members of victims of sudden death in the custody of police or other authorities, especially in cases where the families were not aware of what they can do.

azlan"Therefore, it is vital for us to guide them (the families)," he said, adding that everybody deserved to learn the truth behind such deaths.
'Nothing to do with race'

Raimi also called for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be formed soon, noting that nothing had been done since it was first proposed in a royal commission report six years ago.

"It's high time the IPCMC is implemented. Important changes for justice must be done now, it must be seen to be done," he said.

The police force, he said, should also be more responsible, with all its officers and men becoming familiar with the Criminal Procedure Code so that they do not abuse power.
"When a detainee dies in custody, it is not good. It simply means the detainee died without proper judgment. It is the court that finds a person guilty and passes sentence, not the police," he added.

Asked to comment on figures showing Malays being the highest number of people dying in police custody, Raimi said all human lives are equally important and racial origin does not have any role in custodial deaths.

"A life is a life, simple. Do not make these deaths a racial issue. We should advocate justice for those who died and for their family members," he added. - Malaysiakini, 2/2/2011, Demand inquest, custodial death victims' kin told

See also earlier posts:

147 [64 Malays, 30 Chinese, 28 Indians,...] died in police custody 2000-2010

Note also that we must not just be concerned about those who die in police custody, on in police shooting incidents - but for those who die in custody at MACC, Immigration Detention Centres, Prisons, etc...

Shot Dead By Police
279 shot dead in 2000-2009 period

 2,571 deaths in custody between 1999 - 2008 - prisons, rehabilitation centres and illegal immigrant detention depots

A TOTAL of 2,571 detainees died of various diseases while being held in the country’s prisons, rehabilitation centres and illegal immigrant detention depots between 1999 and 2008, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said. - 2,571 detainees died in past nine years - Star, 24/3/2009

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

147 [64 Malays, 30 Chinese, 28 Indians,...] died in police custody 2000-2010

If there is a death in custody, as of right there must be an independent inquest. There should not be any requirement for family members of the victims or others to request one.

In fact, there should be an inquest on any deaths that happen by reason of the police (or enforcement officers or RELA) involvement and/or action/omission, whilst in custody, those shot and killed allegedly when the police were 'trying' to arrest, etc...
We have found out that just having an inquest is not sufficient - if there has been no proper serious independent investigations done about the death...No proper investigations - to many gaps - result an inquest that cannot come out with any conclusive decisions.

Further, inquests should be done by a High Court Judge - not by some public officer from the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, and Deputy Registrars, Session Court Judges, Magistrates and ....yes the Public Prosecutors are all from the same Judicial and Legal Services Commission. So, the coroners senior may be the Public Prosecutor in that case...

Even though an inquest, is not a battle between 'prosecution' and 'defence' as it happens in criminal trials, but is an inquiry to discover the truth the manner in which the Teoh Beng Hock's and many other inquests were conducted seem to be otherwise, with the man from the AG's Chambers trying to prove that no police or MACC or other authorities were involved in the death...and that the death was suicide or misadventure where no authority could be blamed for...

That is why for a proper inquest....there must be (1) an independent investigation into the death, (2) an independent coroner presiding the inquest, and (3) re-enforcing that the intention of any inquest is to find the truth - not to mount a defence that the authorities were not responsible.

In order to curb deaths in custody, the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) has suggested that a 'third party witness' be present during interrogation in police stations.

"This could be, but not necessarily, a lawyer. His presence would eliminate claims of brutality against the detainees," said its secretary-general Maamor Osman.

"Questioning should never be one-to-one," he added. "The third party witness will watch to make sure there is no physical or mental torture. This would help prevent any dispute. sausage dilema ppim pc 290305 dr maamor osman holding reportOf late, there are have been many reports of police brutality during interrogation, even allegedly resulting in death.

Maamor (right) also urged the police to inform the detainees of their rights, including access to a lawyer or family members when arrested, as many people had no idea what to do when detained, or that an interrogation cannot exceed eight hours per day.

He also recommended the police set up closed circuit televisions in the station particularly in the cells to monitor the inmates so that any violent behavior that could cause injury would be observed.

Playing up racial issues

When asked what was his reaction to Malays being the highest number dying in police custody, he said he hoped this people would not make this issue a racial one, as the work of the police was go after wrongdoers, irrespective of their race.

"But we do not condone deaths in custody if it was caused by brutality," he stressed.

azlanAs many as 147 deaths in police custody have been reported since 2000 and last Friday several NGO activists demanded guarantees from the Home Ministry and the police that such deaths will no longer occur.

between 2000 and February 2010 showed that 64 Malays had died while in police custody, with 30 deaths among Chinese detainees, 28 among Indians, eight people of other races. 14 of the dead were foreigners.

Sixty three deaths were classified as from 'other diseases' such as ulcers, jaundice and intestine, lung and throat infections, 32 from HIV, 12 from brain hemorrhage, while 23 had been listed as 'suicide - Malaysiakini, 1/2/2011,
'Third party witness' to prevent deaths in custody