Friday, July 31, 2015

Gerakan discloses impending closure of electronics company - 1,000 lose jobs?

Thanks to Gerakan's concern for workers, news of the closure of semiconductor factory was carried by mainstream New Straits Times. About 1,000 workers will lose their jobs... 

Yes - the government must step in and do the needful to assist these workers - the same level of assistance that is promised to and given to the terminated workers of MAS Bhd should also be present for all workers of private companies or public sector that gets laid off...

In Selangor, Rakyat Post reported that JVCKenwood had shut down (about 500 workers lost their jobs), and the report also stated that 'Ansell Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s operations have also ceased and its workers were retrenched yesterday. The Australian company made healthcare protective gear.' (how many workers in Ansell lost their jobs?) About 500 workers out of job during Ramadan as JVCKenwood factory closes?

Really - how many more workers have lost jobs due to factory closures?

Sadly, in Malaysia, there is still no temporary unemployment assistance for workers - which really would assist workers 'in between jobs'  


Malaysian workers want UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS just like Thailand?

If you lose your job, SOCSO pays you for 6 months maximum in Thailand

Government woos foreign investors to open factories so that workers in Malaysia will have employment and income. To do this, many forms of preferential treatment are offered these investors - tax holidays, special rate for basic amenities, good infrastructure are provided... but alas, too easily many of these multi-national companies(MNCs) and employers will pick up and move their factories elsewhere when they get a better deal. 

These MNCs  really must start caring more for the welfare and well-being of their workers - and not just close down or move because they can make better profits elsewhere...Workers are not commodities to be used and disposed - but must be seen as partners in business, and as human persons with family and dependents...

Governments, both Federal and State, need to re-strategize when it comes to ensuring its workers have continuous employment and income - a necessity for survival in modern Malaysia.

Security of employment must be of paramount importance - that means secure regular employment until retirement > not precarious forms of employment like short term contracts or allowing the usage of large number of workers from labour suppliers('contractors for labour') where these workers will end up in factories where they will not even be considered employees and are deprived the right to even join unions representing factory employees.

In some countries, short-term contract employment is discouraged. In fact for work involving the 'core business' of the employer, only regular employees are permitted. Short-term contract employment is limited to temporary work - or matters not considered part of the 'core business'. Maximum quota of 10% for non-regular employees at a workplace could be set.

Sadly, in Malaysia, the government seems to be more concerned about the wellbeing and profits of businesses - rather than the economic security, welfare and wellbeing of workers and their families. What is happening to the Malaysian Airlines employees may be good example of this kind of this attitude > the obvious concern seems to be saving the airline...not so much the welfare and wellbeing of workers and their families.

Since 1/1/2013, workers in Malaysia continue to be entitled to an extremely low minimum wage of RM900 - despite the fact that cost of living has most definitely increased quite a bit in the last 2 and a half years.. 

Malaysia has promoted workers to buy houses, etc - and today most workers do have large monthly financial obligations that have to be met settling house, car and other loans, over and above the necessary obligation to house and look after their families. A loss of employment and income puts workers in a great dilemma - if unassisted or unchecked could even lead to bankruptcy, etc....and greater suffering for the worker and their families.

Malaysia had a program that promotes affordable meals - which cost RM5 per meal per person, and if a person takes 3 meals, that would mean RM15 a day. And a worker will have spouse and children...well there will also be transport cost, rental, basic amenities, etc >>> surely, that makes a minimum wage of RM900 absurdly low... MTUC disappointed that after 2 years and 4 months, workers Minimum Wage rates still not increased

Sadly, many of our political parties are not too bothered about the plight of workers - and, as such this action of Gerakan stands out when it raises worker issues

Hope Gerakan would also raise more worker issues - and other politicians and political parties would also follow suit. MPs and ADUNs should also be out there preventing unemployment and assisting workers.

Penang Gerakan concerns over impending layoff of 1,000 workers when Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc closes 
By Audrey Dermawan - 30 July 2015 @ 11:00 PM 

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Gerakan is concerned with the laid back attitude of the Penang state government over the impending layoff of some 1,000 workers when Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc closes its manufacturing plant here in December. 

State Gerakan Youth committee member Teo Yin Horng said the state government should focus on helping the affected workers, find them alternative jobs, and other means to ease their financial burden.

“They should be serious and concerned with getting ready to face the consequential impact on the state’s economy and employment market opportunities,” he said.

It was reported earlier that the state government had said “the closure of the plant will not hamper the development of the semiconductor industry in Penang.” 

Teo said the issue needed immediate attention, not just on the general development of the semiconductor industry, but how the DAP-led state government was going to work with the federal government to help the workers. 

“Also, whether the closure will have a domino effect, prompting other manufacturers to move out of Penang. This is the crux of the problem.” 

Teh also pointed out that downstream industries, including the local suppliers and other related operators, would be affected. 

 Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc, Teo said, was among the first batch of eight multinational companies which set their foot in Penang in the 1970s. 

“For the past 50 years or more, they have provided bread-and-butter for the people of Penang ... one generation after another. Such a dedicated manufacturer.” 

Teo said during the reign of former chief minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, the people of Penang witnessed the mushrooming of factories in Penang. His successor, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, further expanded the industrial base by increasing the number of factories many-folds. 

“Today, we see a slump in the industry. The state government should take initiative to woo the foreign investors.” - New Straits Times, 30/7/2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

U.S.: Don’t Let Trade Trump Human Rights (Fortify Rights Statement)

U.S.: Don’t Let Trade Trump Human Rights


Annual Human Trafficking Report Lets Malaysia, Myanmar off the Hook

(Bangkok, July 28, 2015)—The U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report fails to accurately assess Malaysia and Myanmar’s efforts to combat human trafficking, Fortify Rights said today. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released the report in Washington, D.C. on Monday, upgrading Malaysia from Tier-3 to Tier-2 Watch-List status and keeping Myanmar at Tier-2 Watch-List status, despite evidence that each country failed to adequately combat human trafficking in 2014.

Tier-3 is the lowest ranking reserved for governments that fail to meet and work toward the minimum standards to combat human trafficking set forth in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

“The decisions regarding Malaysia and Myanmar were largely political and don’t reflect either country’s record on human trafficking,” said Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights. "This decision is a disservice to the many victims and survivors of human trafficking."

An amendment in April to the U.S. Trade Promotion Authority prevents the U.S. from entering into “fast tracked” trade agreements with Tier-3 countries. A Tier-3 ranking would have excluded Malaysia from the Trans-Pacific Partnership; a controversial trade deal the U.S. is currently negotiating with Malaysia and 11 other countries. Fortify Rights believes the U.S. State Department upgraded Malaysia to spare it from exclusion from the pending trade pact.

Unlike Malaysia, Myanmar is not a party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations but the Obama administration regards Myanmar as a U.S. foreign-policy success story, despite its worsening human rights record. National elections in the country are planned for November 8.

“With elections on the horizon, D.C. has brushed aside Myanmar’s systematic use of slave labor,” Matthew Smith said. “Myanmar’s army should immediately stop using forced labor and hold perpetrators accountable, regardless of rank.”

The U.S. Government regards all forms of forced labor as human trafficking. Fortify Rights estimates that in 2014, the Myanmar Army and other state security agencies forced several thousand Rohingya men, women, and children in northern Rakhine State to engage in various forms of uncompensated and exploitative work.

A 25-year-old Rohingya man from Myanmar’s Rakhine State told Fortify Rights how the Myanmar Army forced him to repair roads and maintain military barracks four to five days per week in 2014. “The military would come to the village and make us work for them,” he told Fortify Rights. “Sometimes they would give an order to the village administrator, telling him how many people they needed . . . We cannot say ‘no.’ If we say no, they’d beat us.”

On April 21, Fortify Rights Executive Director Matthew Smith testified before U.S. Congress and shared these and other findings based on hundreds of interviews with witnesses and survivors of abuse in Myanmar, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Fortify Rights also documented the ongoing use of forced labor by the Myanmar Army in conflict zones in Kachin State and northern Shan State. Soldiers have forced Kachin and Shan civilians to porter military provisions and equipment on the front lines of the conflict and to “guide” battalions through landmine-ridden territory. Fortify Rights further documented the use of civilians as human shields by the Myanmar Army.

More than 150,000 Rohingya fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine State since 2012 to escape pogroms, ongoing deprivations in aid, forced labor, and severe persecution, including restrictions on freedom of movement. Human traffickers in Myanmar and Bangladesh bought and sold tens of thousands of Rohingya as well as Bangladeshis, duping them onto modern-day slave ships with promises of lucrative employment in Malaysia. Fortify Rights collected evidence indicating that Myanmar authorities profited from the arrangements and, in some cases, towed ships carrying human cargo out to sea.

Fortify Rights documented how traffickers held survivors of the long and torturous boat journeys in remote jungle camps and squalid apartment flats on the Malaysia-Thailand border. Traffickers demanded upwards of $2,000 from the friends and family of their captives, in exchange for their release. Rohingya women and girls who could not raise the necessary funds were sold into forced marriages. Men were sold to fishing boats and other industries in Malaysia and Thailand.

In May, Malaysia and Thailand authorities discovered mass graves containing scores of corpses believed to be victims of human trafficking. Official responses to the mass grave discoveries disrupted trafficking patterns and led to additional abuses against Rohingya and Bangladeshis, as Malaysian and Thai authorities pushed boats out to sea and denied survivors protection.

Following sustained international pressure, Malaysia allowed boats to disembark but immediately placed Rohingya and Bangladeshi survivors of human trafficking into immigration detention facilities. Thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi survivors remain in detention in Malaysia.

“Protection for survivors is a key component in fighting human trafficking,” Matthew Smith said. “Malaysia should stop punishing survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.”


The Trafficking Victims Protection Act established the U.S. State Department’s TIP report in 2000. The annual report is intended to hold governments—including the U.S. Government—accountable for human trafficking.

The State Department annually ranks countries on a three-tier system based on the extent to which countries meet minimum standards for combating human trafficking, including those relating to protection for survivors, prosecution of perpetrators, and prevention. Governments that have not fully complied with the minimum standards and have not made significant efforts to do so are ranked Tier-3; governments that have not fully complied with the minimum standards but have made significant efforts to comply are Tier-2; and governments that have fully complied are Tier-1. Tier-3 countries are subject to sanctions at the discretion of the President of the United States.

Malaysia does not recognize refugees under domestic law, is not state party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 Protocol, and has no legal framework in place to regulate the status and protection of refugees. Without legal status, refugees—including Rohingya refugees—are subject to arrest, detention, extortion, and exploitation and are at particular risk of being re-trafficked.  
For more information, please contact:

Matthew Smith, Executive Director, + (in Thailand),; Twitter: @matthewfsmith@fortifyrights
Amy Smith, Executive Director, +60.11.2301.1870 (in Malaysia),, Twitter: @AmyAlexSmith, @fortifyrights

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TPPA : Malaysia Mesti Tarik Diri, Muktamad Minggu Ini

TPPA : Malaysia Mesti Tarik Diri, Muktamad Minggu Ini - Baca sekarang dan tindak sekarang 

See earlier post:-

Did Malaysia agree to the TPPA now in Hawaii on 25-27 July? Transparently consult people first?

Did Malaysia agree to the TPPA now in Hawaii on 25-27 July? Transparently consult people first?

While all of us are concentrating on the 1MDB, Malaysia may have already agreed to the TPPA..

In Bahasa Malaysia, there have been some good articles that tells why we must say NO to TPPA

TPPA : Malaysia Mesti Tarik Diri, Muktamad Minggu Ini

Jangan tandatangan TPPA - Harakahdaily 

TPPA - Dewan Pemuda PAS tuntut hak dapat maklumat

See related post:-

For raising minimum wages, Egypt sued by Veolia, a French multinational?

Upgrading Malaysia despite no real change in 'worker exploitation' because of TPPA?

MTUC:- Are US State Department and TPP endorsing Force Labour Pratices In Malaysia?

Malaysian Bar:- Untimely and Unwarranted Upgrade in the Trafficking in Persons Report Compromises the Fight Against Human Trafficking

TPPA - ISDS Clauses - States never win,Only investors win awards ofdamages?

MTUC says NO to Malaysia signing agreements that will stagnate or erode worker rights


all to action to Stop TPP

Call to Action to Stop TPP

Starting Saturday, July 25–Friday, July 31st Country leaders and Chief Negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) will be meeting in Hawaii to try to finalise the “free trade” deal which involves 12 nations in the Pacific Rim. Signatory countries include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam with the prospect of adding South Korea, China and The Philippines.  The TPP is designed to set binding rules that allow Multinational Corporations to dominate industries, land, resources and escape regulation. The TPP undermines sovereignty, human rights, efforts to create sustainable communities and limit climate change at the expense of the most marginalised, particularly women.

The crafting of this transnational legal regime has all been done behind closed doors. In the past five years and to this day, parliaments, civil society, media and the general public are excluded from the negotiating process. Meanwhile, over 600 US corporate advisors alongside officials from participating countries have access and influence over the agreements. But those who have to live with the results have no say.
The United States has made significant strides over the past few months to cement this political and economic influence in the Asia Pacific region. U.S. President Obama was given “fast track” authority over trade deal negotiations, which empowers the executive branch to sign trade agreements without congressional oversight, getting rid of any democratic process that allows lawmakers to analyze and change provisions in the TPP. In addition, Malaysia’s ranking in the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report was recently improved, a clear manipulation for Malaysia to sign the TPP. There is a law in the United States that prevents them from entering intro trade deals with nations that earn the worst human-trafficking ranking.  Downgrading Malaysia to Tier 2 from Tier 3, the worst ranking, allows the United States to enter into trade deals with Malaysia which was not otherwise possible.
We, women, civil society organisations and social movements from the Asia Pacific region have been campaigning for the past two years against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and we reaffirm our unequivocal opposition to the TPP and trade deals that put corporate profits before public interest. We believe that the TPP will significantly curtail the rights and freedom of ordinary people as well as the country’s policy space. We find the secrecy around negotiations particularly alarming, given the broad scope of provisions and the vast implications for national and local policies and regulations, particularly relating to public health, labour and local industry, the environment, and access to knowledge and technology.
Please join us between July 25 – 31st in amplifying our collective call for an absolute end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and for the main text to be publicly released. We know this will expose the TPP for what it is: a rotten deal that trade people for profit!
Learn more about the TPP here:
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Monday, July 27, 2015

31st August - MAS Bhd gains 'Independence' from obligations to ensure justice to workers?Trade Unions?

31st August may be INDEPENDENCE DAY not just for Malaysia but also Malaysian Airlines Systems Berhad(MAS Bhd) - the day they escape liability to do justice to their workers and relevant Trade Unions.

It is alleged that the business and assets of Malaysian Airlines System Berhad(MAS Bhd) to Malaysian Airlines Berhad(MAB) may effectively happen at the end of August 2015. The letters of termination sent to almost all employees, some 20,000, states that their last day of work will be the end of August. The new entity, Malaysian Airlines Berhad(MAB) in their offer of employment to some 16,000 ex-MAS Bhd employees, states that the date they start employment in MAB is 1/9/2015. As such, it more likely than not that all business, assets and monies of the Malaysian airlines will no more be with MAS Bhd - but will already be transferred to MAB when the MAB workers start working. If not, maybe our Prime Minister will clarify matters ....

Many workers of MAS Bhd have cases against their employer, MAS Bhd, claiming for reinstatement in wrongful dismissal cases. There would also be other cases of workers claiming for one right or another possibly also in the Labour Department & Courts (now called 'Human Resource'), and also in the the Industrial Relations Departments(IRD), waiting for Minister's Referral, in the Industrial Courts, and maybe also in the High Courts, Court of Appeal and Federal Court. Now, these workers in their struggle to claim rights in law have used the available access to justice mechanisms ...And they would have expended a lot of monies, time and effort pursuing justice... 

Likewise there are also cases between MAS Bhd and Trade Unions in tribunals and courts... Again, here trade unions would have expended much effort, time and monies..

NOW - all these workers and trade unions will be visited with further injustice...

WHY? Since, the appointment of the Administrator on 25/5/2015 > a moratorium came into effect - All cases and proceedings came to a standstill - and they will move again after the end of the Administration period...

BUT when that happens, more likely than not, MAS Bhd will be nothing but an 'empty shell' with no business, work, assets or even monies...

So, even if the workers can still proceed with their proceedings and cases --- the end result is that MAS Bhd may have lost the capacity to satisfy the claims, etc... hence may a workers/trade unions will not only have lost their REMEDY to Justice and Human Rights, but also becomes a further victim - lost also is the monies, effort and time expended to claim justice and rights.

Most likely, if MAS Bhd ends up a 'empty shell' - they would also not be able to continue to retain their lawyers - and lawyers will discharge themselves. And all cases will just come to a standstill with no way of proceeding further... [Why? a company needs a lawyer to act for them in legal proceedings...???]

What about the other workers yet to file their claims against their employer, MAS Bhd,? Well - too bad,no justice for you...

Now, if MAS Bhd had gone for winding-up - well section 292, places workers as a priority even before income tax...?

(1) Subject to this Act, in a winding up there shall be paid in priority to all other unsecured debts—
(a) firstly, the costs and expenses of the winding up including the taxed costs of a petitioner payable under section 220, the remuneration of the liquidator and the costs of any audit carried out pursuant to section 281;
(b) secondly, all wages or salary (whether or not earned wholly or in part by way of commission) including any amount payable by way of allowance or reimbursement under any contract of employment or award or agreement regulating conditions of employment, of any employee not exceeding one thousand five hundred ringgit or such other amount as may be prescribed from time to time whether for time or piecework in respect of services rendered by him to the company within a period of four months before the commencement of the winding up;
(c) thirdly, all amounts due in respect of worker's compensation under any written law relating to worker's compensation accrued before the commencement of the winding up;
(d) fourthly, all remuneration payable to any employee in respect of vacation leave, or in the case of his death to any other person in his right, accrued in respect of any period before the commencement of the winding up;
(e) fifthly, all amounts due in respect of contributions payable during the twelve months next before the commencement of the winding up by the company as the employer of any person under any written law relating to employees superannuation or provident funds or under any scheme of superannuation or retirement benefit which is an approved scheme under the federal law relating to income tax; and
(f) sixthly, the amount of all federal tax assessed under any written law before the date of the commencement of the winding up or assessed at any time before the time fixed for the proving of debts has expired.
(2) The debts in each class specified in subsection (1) shall rank in the order therein specified but as between debts of the same class shall rank equally between themselves, and shall be paid in full, unless the property of the company is insufficient to meet them, in which case they shall abate in equal proportions between themselves.
(3) Where any payment has been made to any employee of the company on account of wages, salary or vacation leave out of money advanced by a person for that purpose, the person by whom the money was advanced shall, in a winding up, have a right of priority in respect of the money so advanced and paid, up to the amount by which the sum in respect of which the employee would have been entitled to priority in the winding up has been diminished by reason of the payment, and shall have the same right of priority in respect of that amount as the employee would have had if the payment had not been made....
The Malaysian Airlines is now owned by MAS Bhd, and in the future may be owned by the new MAB - but they are are both wholly owned by Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional - thus the government of Malaysia. Prime Minister Najib is also the Chairman of Khazanah..

Hence, our Prime Minister Najib and the BN Government have the power to ensure that justice is done to all workers...

* Immediately resolve all pending proceedings and cases > I would suggest payment of all payments incurred in terms of monies, and a amount to compensate the effort and  time wasted in the pursuit of justice..

* Further and additionally, for workers claiming reinstatement, assume that they are successful and pay them the back wages from date of termination until now, plus also a further compensation of 1 months wages for every year of service.

* Further for other worker claims, being monetary claims for matters like overtime, etc - pay them all that they are claiming for...

* Further for trade union cases, I would suggest payment of all payments incurred in terms of monies, and a amount to compensate the effort and  time wasted in the pursuit of justice..


Now, naturally there may be other claims and cases filed by MAS Bhd employees, and maybe even trade unions - for this maybe a significant sum, say RM1 billion is left with MAS to address such claims.

Alternatively, Khazanah Nasional or the new entity MAB, should be willing to step in and assume all or any liability of MAS Bhd to workers and trade unions...This means the Malaysian Airline System Berhad (Administration) Act 2015 [Act  765], which came into force on 20/2/2015, need to be repealed or amended to allow this. Now, this law ensures that MAB is not to be responsible ...

Section 25(2), states that “ The Malaysia Airlines Berhad, the appointer and the Administrator shall not be named as a party in any claim or application made or joined as a party in any proceeding commenced or continued by or on behalf of any employees or former employees of the Administered Companies pursuant to the Industrial Relations Act 1967 [Act 177], Employment Act 1955 [Act 265], Sabah Labour Ordinance 1950 [Sabah Cap. 67], Sarawak Labour Ordinance 1952 [Sarawak Cap. 76] or the Trade Unions Act 1959 [Act 262].

Section 25(1) says clearly, amongst others, that ‘…the Administered Companies, the Administrator, appointer or the Malaysia Airlines Berhad shall not—(a) be regarded as the successor, assignee or transferee or a successor employer to the Administered Companies;(b) be liable for any obligation relating to any retirement plan or other post-employment benefit plans in respect of the employees or former employees of the Administered Companies or any predecessor of the Administered Companies that exists prior to the assumption of control or appointment; or (c) be liable for any sum which is calculated by reference to a period of time prior to the Malaysia Airlines Berhad becoming the employer of the person in question…’
It is most shameful and disappointing that Malaysia enacted a law that suspends and even denies workers existing worker rights in law... this MISTAKE must be rectified now, before it is too late - preferably before asset, business and monies are all transferred to the new company, Malaysian Airlines Berhad(MAB)...

TRADE UNIONS representing MAS Bhd employee could assist by immediately calculating and submitting the amount that they should be paid to PM Najib and the government > and all this be settled soonest...

* The above just my personal opinion - of how justice to workers and unions will not be denied. There is much unresolved matters especially with regard to pending worker/trade unions claims for justice... and possible future claims after 'moratorium' is lifted...

Alternate views and comments are welcome...

Related Posts:-

Why is MAS which may cease all operations on 31/8/2015 appointing new Chief Operations Officer? Media Fumble?

MAS Termination - DISCRIMINATORY? Just retrench those MAS do not need - wrong to keep them as employees until 31st August?

MAS's Independent Administrator finally appointed - not to prepare proposal but to 'sign termination letters'?

Najib to be blamed for MAS's failure,loss of employment of thousands, union busting,..?





Saturday, July 25, 2015

Malaysian Bar:- Untimely and Unwarranted Upgrade in the Trafficking in Persons Report Compromises the Fight Against Human Trafficking

See related earlier posts:-

Malaysia downgraded to Tier 3 - Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 - contractor for labour system, etc.. blamed?

Upgrading Malaysia despite no real change in 'worker exploitation' because of TPPA?

MTUC and Trade Unions Can Help End Human Trafficking and Worker Exploitation

MTUC:- Are US State Department and TPP endorsing Force Labour Pratices In Malaysia? 


Malaysian Bar Press Release - 22/7/2015

Untimely and Unwarranted Upgrade in the Trafficking in Persons Report Compromises the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Wednesday, 22 July 2015 04:05pm
The Malaysian Bar is perturbed by recent news reports suggesting that Malaysia will be upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List status in the rankings in the imminent 2015 Trafficking in Persons (“TIP”) report prepared by the United States (“US”) Department of State.[1]  

The TIP report ranks nations according to their willingness and efforts to combat human trafficking.  It is considered as the benchmark index for global anti-trafficking commitments.

Malaysia’s historical ranking in the TIP report is abysmal.  In the 2014 edition of the TIP report, Malaysia was downgraded to Tier 3 because the Government was “deemed not to be making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards”, and it had made “limited efforts to improve its flawed victim protection regime”.[2]   This is the lowest ranking in the TIP report, and placed us alongside North Korea, Syria, and Zimbabwe. 

The 2014 TIP report also stated that Malaysia had been granted consecutive waivers in 2012 and 2013 from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3, on the basis of a written plan for compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.  Malaysia was downgraded in 2014 because the Government had not adequately translated the written plan into action.

The US Ambassador to Malaysia has reportedly suggested that the Malaysian Government needs to show greater political will in prosecuting human traffickers and protecting their victims, if the Government hopes to improve its currently lowest ranking in the TIP report.[3]

It is inconceivable that Malaysia should receive an upgrade in 2015 based on the recent amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, which, in any event, have yet to come into force.  If there is any lesson to be learnt from recent experience, it must be that the Government has an excellent record of drafting written plans, but a less than satisfactory record of implementing them.  As such, the upgrade of Malaysia, if it were to occur, would be premature and undeserved.  

Further, the gruesome discovery of the “death camps” and mass graves of victims of human trafficking in May 2015[4] must necessarily be taken into consideration in the decision concerning Malaysia’s current ranking, despite the cut-off date of March 2015 for the report.
Such a discovery is irrefutable proof that human trafficking has been ongoing, on a large scale and for a considerable period of time, on Malaysian soil.[5]  The Malaysian Government’s alleged ignorance of this atrocity, which is incredulous, must not be disregarded or rewarded. 

On 15 July 2015, nineteen members of the US Senate acknowledged that amendments had been made to Malaysia’s anti-trafficking laws, but that “additional work remains to ensure that this legislation is implemented in a manner consistent with the recommendations in the 2014 report”.[6]   On 17 July 2015, a bipartisan group of 160 Members of Congress said that they have “seen no reason during the reporting period for this year’s TIP Report that would justify moving Malaysia back to the Watch List.  If anything, the situation in Malaysia has grown worse.  Malaysia has earned its place on Tier 3.”[7] 

It has been alleged that the US Government’s impending decision to upgrade Malaysia to Tier 2 Watch List is aimed at avoiding complications that may arise in connection with the Obama administration being granted Trade Promotion Authority, which is “fast-track” trade negotiating authority for free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPPA”)[8].  The latest Trade Promotion Authority legislation bars the US from enacting trade deals with countries placed in Tier 3 of the rankings in the TIP report.[9] 

Any upgrade of Malaysia in the 2015 TIP report would therefore appear to be primarily motivated by a desire to allow Malaysia to be included in the TPPA.  If so, the upgrade being contemplated is wholly misplaced and unconscionable.  The safety and protection of hundreds, possibly thousands, of victims of human trafficking must ultimately be of greater value and importance than trade agreements and political expediency. 

Malaysia was shielded from the full effect of being downgraded in the 2014 TIP report when, in September 2014, President Barack Obama exempted Malaysia from US sanctions that could have been imposed on countries designated as Tier 3.[10]   Malaysia should not continue to expect to be treated with kid gloves, and the 2015 TIP report should not exculpate Malaysia from the shortcomings in its legal obligations, both international and domestic, to protect victims of human trafficking. 

In coming to its determination concerning Malaysia’s ranking, the 2015 TIP report must not only consider the fact that measures have been formulated to address the scourge of human trafficking, but it must also evaluate their actual implementation and effectiveness.  An upgrade should only be given as and when it is truly warranted, namely when tangible measures have been effectively implemented and positive results clearly demonstrated.  

An upgrade at this juncture would thus be a hollow victory of form over substance.  The lives of an untold number of individuals bear silent testimony to the conclusion that Malaysia has yet to earn any upgrade.  

Amidst the vortex of economic and political issues engulfing the nation, the suffering and anguish of the victims of human trafficking, and their families, must not be forgotten.

Steven Thiru
Malaysian Bar

22 July 2015

[1] “Exclusive - U.S. upgrades Malaysia in annual human trafficking report: sources”, Reuters UK, 9 July 2015.
[2] “2014 Trafficking in Persons Report (Malaysia)”, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, website of US Department of State.
[3] “Malaysia must do more to prosecute human traffickers, says top US diplomat”, The Malaysian Insider, 17 April 2015.
[4] “Horrors unearthed at 28 sites used by human traffickers”, The Star Online, 26 May 2015.
[5] “Int’l disbelief over M’sian ignorance of ‘death’ camps”, Malaysiakini, 28 May 2015.
[6] “Menendez Leads Bipartisan Senate Letter on Possible Unwarranted Ranking Upgrade for Malaysia in Human Trafficking Report”, press release of US Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey issued on 15 July 2015.
[7] “160 Members of Congress Call on State Department to Not Upgrade Malaysia Ranking in 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report”, website of Ways and Means Committee Democrats, US House of Representatives, 17 July 2015.
[8] “Exclusive: U.S. upgrades Malaysia in annual human trafficking report – sources”, Reuters, 8 July 2015.
[9] (a) “Exclusive: U.S. upgrades Malaysia in annual human trafficking report – sources”, Reuters, 8 July 2015;
    (b) “Obama Takes Unexpected Setback On Trade Agenda As Fast Track Passes Senate”, Huffington Post, 22 May 2015.
[10] “US waives human trafficking sanctions on Malaysia and Thailand”, Asian Correspondent, 19 September 2014.

Source: Malaysia

MTUC:- Are US State Department and TPP endorsing Force Labour Pratices In Malaysia?

Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) is shocked to the news that Malaysia may be upgraded to Tier 2 Status in the upcoming US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report (Star, 10/7/2015). The situation of workers and trade unions, with particular reference to migrant workers remain the same, if not has worsened.

The work environment is becoming even more precarious, enabling easier exploitation of workers; and a diminishing of workers’ and trade union rights.

Workers in Malaysia who have been long enjoying regular employment until retirement find themselves being compelled or ‘forced’ by employers into more precarious forms of employment like short-term contracts. Many even end up working in a workplace not as employees – but as workers of some third party (the ‘Contractor of Labour’). This denies these ‘outsourced’ workers the right to join existing trade unions representing employees at the workplace, or to enjoy the additional rights and benefits that is contained in Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA). It also weakens existing Unions and diminishes union bargaining power for better rights.

Migrant workers continue to be ‘bonded’ because many employers are still wrongly holding on to passports and work passes/visas/permits. Whenever Migrant worker want to seek redress in Court, they are often threaten with arrest and deportation by the mere fact that employers are holding on to the passport.

When workers claim their rights through existing legal avenues, many employers simply terminate their workers, and for migrant workers this also mean the loss of ability to stay in Malaysia which is a requirement in law if they want to pursue their claims for justice. The binding of migrant workers just to one employer also makes exploitation easier.

In our outreach work, we have notice that in certain service sectors such as restaurant and security industries workers are compelled to work long hours and are only paid their basic salaries. When migrants assert their claims, more often they are threaten with theft or reports to the enforcement.

Though Migrant workers enjoys the same right as Malaysian workers in accessing Labour redress but the mere fact their stay in the country is determined by Immigration with no alternative employment, makes their cases inaccessible.

Exorbitant recruitment fees paid by workers forces she/he to be bonded to her/his employment despite the exploitative work condition. Further, being tied to the conditions of the work permit, migrant workers are reluctant to pursue their redress as losing their jobs means having to return home with huge debts. At the outset, migrants begin work in a vulnerable situation.

One of the best strategies in combating force labour practices is to give all workers the option to participate in union activities. Only in Union recognition, workers and employer can sit in at a equal platform to discuss and negotiate the terms and conditions of work. However workers and Union often faces many hindrances, threat and intimidation when participating in union activities. Multinational companies having huge resources are willing to spend any amount just to frustrate Union Activities especially in accessing collective bargaining.

MTUC is most concerned that this current moves by the US government maybe to simply facilitate Malaysia’s signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which sadly is also alleged to contain an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. These ISDS clauses have been seen to be a hurdle to minimum wage increases, improving standards of workplace safety, better worker rights and human rights.

Workers in Malaysia should rightfully have received a higher minimum wage as of 1st January 2015, as it was 2 years since they first enjoyed minimum wages on 1/1/2013. The law stipulates that review of minimum wage rates need to be done at least every 2 years, which naturally would have meant a higher minimum wage for workers.

MTUC notes that for raising minimum wages, Egypt sued by Veolia Proprete, a French multinational using an ISDS provision in a trade agreement. We are, of course concerned, that after Malaysia signs the TPPA, employers will resist expending monies to improve working conditions and even wages for the priority of businesses and investor is often just profits.

In February 2015, Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro has visited Malaysia on the invitation by Malaysian Government. The Special Rapporteur has expressed her concerns particularly in the neglect of identifying victims of Force Labour and the restrictive Immigration policies that focus on deportation rather than identifying and assisting victims of trafficking. She has given numbers of recommendation to the Malaysian Government, including the rectification of International Convention such as ILO Convention 189 concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers and ILO Protocol on Force Labour (2014) and ILO Convention Abolition of Force Labour Convention (1957) and strengthening National Legislation in addressing various forms of Trafficking. Sadly, none of her recommendation till to date has been taken into consideration.

Further the VERITÉ STUDY has found forced Labour In the production of Electronic Goods in Malaysia. The report can be accessed at:

In the lights of the above, should the US State of Department upgraded Malaysia to Tier 2 Status in the upcoming Trafficking in Persons Report to give way to the Trans- Pacific Partnership, it would only raise the questions of credibility as it has failed to mirror the actual realities faced by victims of trafficking.

MTUC urges Malaysia and all countries who have businesses or investments in Malaysia to do whatever that is needful to ensure that workers in Malaysia are unexploited and treated justly, and that worker and trade union rights are promoted and respected.

N. Gopal Kishnam
Secretary General
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
Tel: + 6 019 317 4717