27 November, 2010

Indonesia:"Multilateral Diplomacy Is the Key to Protecting the Rights of Migrant Workers"

Budi Akmal Djafar | November 26, 2010

Indonesia is once again on the back foot after Sumiati binti Salan Mustapa, a female migrant worker, was allegedly tortured by her employer in Saudi Arabia. The victim suffered severe injuries, including being burned with an iron and having her lips cut with scissors.

This is hardly the first time an Indonesian migrant worker, known here as TKI, has been mistreated and suffered abuse at the hands of her employer.

There have been numerous similar cases in the past, primarily in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, where these workers have become not just victims of abuse, but also murder.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono strongly condemned the incident in Saudi Arabia and immediately put together a special team comprised of members from the State Ministry for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide Sumiati, 23, with the necessary medical treatment and legal assistance in Saudi Arabia. At a press conference, Yudhoyono expressed his anger and told his ministers that he wanted “all-out diplomacy.”

But the question we need to ask is why does violence against Indonesian workers abroad continue to occur? Lawmakers have offered several explanations.

First, there is a severe lack of government oversight. Migrant workers are recruited through agencies that are often of dubious credibility, usually lured by the prospect of high-paying jobs overseas. But they rarely receive the proper safeguards to protect them if things go wrong.

Moreover, these workers rarely receive sufficient training. They are rarely taught the language of their work destination or briefed on their legal rights prior to their job placements. They are usually blind to the risks involved in working overseas.

It is like they are being thrown into the ocean without having first been taught how to swim.

Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have not ratified and signed the United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

The convention does more than just protect the fundamental rights of workers. It sets a moral standard and guarantees fair and equal treatment for this vulnerable class.

Consequently, it is quite difficult to hold these countries accountable when they are not fully committed in upholding the rights of migrant workers. Indonesia signed the international agreement in 2006.

The Indonesian government has so far failed to sign concrete bilateral agreements with any of these three countries. Even though a memorandum of agreement on Indonesian workers in Malaysia has been signed, it only outlines protections for domestic workers, leaving others to fend for themselves. Indonesia has failed to find a common understanding with Saudi Arabia on the protection of migrant workers’ rights

And finally, being employed is more than just about earning an income, but it is also a way to build respect and human dignity. For some workers at home, the only way to seek a brighter future is to cross national borders — any employment is better than nothing. Migrant workers are usually desperate for work and our country is not able to provide it for them.....more


24 November, 2010

Perception On Corruption In Politics, Not A True Picture Of Corruption In Malaysia ?

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that the negative public perception on corruption in the country's politics cannot be used as a barometer to assess the extent of corruption in the country as a whole.

Public perception need not necessarily be a reality because much of it was based on factors that were not clear or accurate.

Liew said this in response to a question by Fuziah Salleh (PKR-Kuantan) who wanted to know whether the government was aware that based on the Global Corruption Barometer Survey 2009, the Malaysians' perception on political party corruption was at its worst.

She claimed this was different from the 2009 Annual Report of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which stated that 15 members of political parties were facing prosecution for corruption.

Liew responded by saying that the 15 political party members were prosecuted by MACC based on facts and law. Fuziah also challenged the government to make it compulsory for asset disclosure by politicians, as was being done in Indonesia during the election season, to reflect the government's transparency in combating corruption in the country.

Liew also hit out at Fuziah for not stating the actual facts of the survey by Transparency International, especially on the finding that only four percent of respondents opined that the country's parliament was corrupt, compared with 47 per cent in Indonesia.

"And in other countries like India, Thailand and South Korea, the corruption perception in political parties is much higher than Malaysia, which is 58 per cent, 54 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively. In Malaysia, it is only 42 percent," he said.

He also said that the study was based on information obtained from the people in February last year, which was before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took over the federal government's administration and introduced the National Key Result Areas (NKRA).

"Under the NKRA, the government set the agenda to fight corruption as the main thrust," he added.

Liew also said that the court's failure to convict a person of corruption did not mean that MACC was not doing its job.

"When a politician is taken to the court, he will be allowed to get a good lawyer to defend him.

"So, if he is not convicted, it does not mean that the MACC is not doing its job, but possibly the accused has engaged the best lawyer to represent him in court," he added.

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18 November, 2010

A Hundred Thousand Signatures for Beng Hock

18 Nov 2010

Press Statement by Malaysians for Beng Hock

Malaysians for Beng Hock is now launching a three month long signature campaign in which 100,000 signatures will be sought from the public to petition for the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) in order to investigate Teoh Beng Hock’s cause of death. It now appears that an independent, credible and professional RCI is the best way to bring about justice to Beng Hock’s family, as the coroner’s inquest has failed to provide answers the most crucial questions surrounding Beng Hock’s death in a believable way. The public can sign the petition online at http://www.petitiononline.com/m4bh or contact us for a hard copy petition form.

When the Malaysians for Beng Hock movement was launched, it was made clear that “Everyone is Beng Hock as long as justice is still denied”. If the government could not execute a thorough investigation on Beng Hock’s death and severely punish the perpetrators who were involved in the death and alleged torture of Beng Hock; If the authority which was entrusted to investigate crimes and protect the people could neither uncover the truth nor answer allegations of state torture, all Malaysians would lose their confidence in criminal justice system as well as their sense of security as law abiding citizens.

In the past year, the injustice suffered by Beng Hock’s family had brought about a lot of tears, anger, and pain. We urge the public and the civil society to turn their unhappiness into forces of hope, and to translate their sympathy into concrete actions. We urge everyone to carry out these three simple steps in order to support Beng Hock and his family:

1) Sign the petition in support of RCI into Beng Hock’s death, and help seek more signatures by carrying out a local signature campaign in your neighbourhood or town.

2) For NGOs, clubs and associations, produce two banners demanding “Justice for Beng Hock, Truth for Rakyat”. Send one to Malaysians for Beng Hock, display the other on your office/ centre.

3) Attend the upcoming “Justice for Beng Hock, Truth for Rakyat” mammoth gathering in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysians for Beng Hock will announce the details of the event at a later date.

While demanding justice and truth for Beng Hock, we will also appeal to the government to enact a Human Rights Act in order to safeguard the basic human rights of all Malaysian citizens, rectifying institutional infringement of human rights and preventing incidences such as Beng Hock’s mentally- tortuous marathon questioning session and witnesses being denied legal assistance during questioning from happening again.

Please contact our coordinators Ng Yap Hwa (012-2658448) or Chong Kok Siong (012-2138610) if you are interested to assist our petition campaign and send banners to us. You can also send an email to msians4benghock@gmail.com or visit our blog at http://malaysiansforbenghock.wordpress.com for more information.

Chong Kok Siong



11 November, 2010

Singapore, a “poor little market in a dark corner of Asia” ?

Forty-five years after Singapore’s expulsion from a union with Malaysia left Lee Kuan Yew in tears on national television, the economy of the city-state he led to independence is poised to overtake its neighbor.

Singapore’s gross domestic product will cap its fastest annual growth this year since independence, rising as much as 15 percent to about $210 billion, while the economy of Malaysia, a country 478 times its size, will expand 7 percent to $205 billion, government forecasts show. The nations are scheduled to release their 2010 data by February.

The island that former economic adviser Albert Winsemius once said was considered a “poor little market in a dark corner of Asia” is now ranked by the World Bank as the easiest place to do business, has the world’s second-busiest container port, and boasts the highest proportion of millionaire households, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

“Singapore kept on moving to the next level as the world economy evolved and adjusted to market demands and investors’ interests,” said Lee Hock Guan, senior fellow at the Singapore- based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. “Malaysia was struck by the curse of resource-rich countries: It didn’t optimize its human capital.”

From a low-cost manufacturing center for companies such as Texas Instruments Inc. in the 1960s, Singapore has become the world’s fourth-largest foreign-exchange center with a S$1.2 trillion ($932 billion) asset-management industry.

Smaller than New York City and the only Southeast Asian nation without natural resources, Singapore has grown 189-fold since independence in 1965, helping boost GDP per capita to $36,537 last year from $512. Malaysia’s economy expanded at one- third the pace during the same period and had a GDP per capita of $6,975 in 2009, up from $335 in 1965.

Malaysia’s growth fell to an average 4.7 percent a year in the past decade, from 7.2 percent in the 1990s, when former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad wooed overseas manufacturers, built highways and erected the world’s tallest twin towers.

After more than 140 years under British rule, Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia in September 1963 as Lee and his colleagues sought a bigger common market to cut unemployment and curb communism. The merger survived less than two years amid ideological differences and worsening relations between the United Malays National Organisation, which dominated the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, and Lee’s People’s Action Party.

“For me, it is a moment of anguish,” Lee said on Aug. 9, 1965, the day Singapore became a sovereign state. “My whole adult life, I believed in Malaysian merger and unity of the two territories.” Lee, 87, was Singapore’s prime minister from 1959 to 1990.

(Read more here)


10 November, 2010

Dr M ;"Water Agreeements"

1. Next year, 2011, one of the agreements to supply up to 86 million gallons of water per day (mgd) from Johore to Singapore at 3 sen per 1,000 gallons will end.

2. I understand Johore is still buying treated water from Singapore for 50 sen per 1,000 gallons. The amount purchased should not exceed 12 per cent of the raw water bought by Singapore.

3. The agreement also stipulates that the price of raw water and treated water can be renegotiated and changed if both parties agree. Should the raw water price be revised upwards Singapore would be entitled to revise the price of treated water.

4. If, for example, under the current agreement the water price is increased to 6 sen per 1,000 gallons, i.e. 100 per cent, Singapore can insist on the same percentage price increase by 100 per cent i.e. from 50 sen per 1,000 gallons to one Ringgit per thousand gallons.

5. If both sides agree on this quantum of price increase, Singapore would actually earn more from selling treated water to Johor than Malaysia would earn from selling raw water to Singapore.

6. Almost 10 years ago Johor was allocated sufficient money to build its own treatment plant so as not to buy treated water from Singapore. I am told that for reasons unknown, despite building its own treatment plant Johore is still buying treated water from Singapore.

7. Johore sells raw water to Melaka at 30 sen per 1,000 gallons. It seems that Johore is less generous towards Melaka than it is towards a foreign country. The wisdom of this escapes me.

8. Whatever, in 2011, a new agreement to supply Singapore with raw water from Johore may have to be made, I think that despite Singapore's desalination plant, despite Newater, and new reservoirs, Singapore would still need raw water from Johore. We should be willing to supply the people of Singapore with raw water.

9. The question is whether we should sell at 3 sen per 1,000 gallons and buy at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons of treated water as before or we should extract better terms.

10. Malaysian negotiators are unduly generous and we often provide ourselves with no exit clause. I will not cite the cases.

11. The public, the Johore people in particular, should be assured that we don't make agreements which are indefensible this time.

(From Chedet)


08 November, 2010

Zaid Ibrahim quit his posts and accused his colleagues of hypocrisy and fraud.

Former Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim's attack is certain to fuel a growing sense of dejection among opposition supporters tired of infighting and spark a political firestorm that could severely dent Anwar's public image as he battles sodomy charges.

Zaid — admired by many for being blunt about his political principles — announced he was resigning from several decision-making positions in the People's Justice Party and would no longer seek its No. 2 post because of signs "the leadership actively condones malpractices and electoral fraud to achieve its designed objectives."

Zaid, who was competing for the party post against a rival whom Anwar is known to favour, claimed there were irregularities in the distribution of ballot papers in the party's current elections for top office-bearers.

"I am certain that any political party with such hypocritical and false values will not be able to offer meaningful reforms to the people of this country," he said.

Zaid had once been considered a potential successor to Anwar if the opposition leader were to be convicted on charges of sodomizing a male former aide. Anwar denounces the charges, which could result in a 20-year prison term, as a government plot to block his political ascent. The government denies that.

Internal bickering in Anwar's three-party alliance has taken away much of the shine from major gains the opposition made in 2008 national polls and dampened opposition hopes of seizing federal power in elections that many expect to be held before mid-2012.

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02 November, 2010

Dr M :"5th PM flipped-flopped, incompetent and unable to govern the country and grow its economy.

Dr Mahathir:"PERKASA and ME"

When the 5th PM took over, it became obvious he was incompetent and unable to govern the country and grow its economy. He was seen as weak by the Malays as well as by the Chinese and Indians. He flipped-flopped, making decisions and policies and reversing them, arresting opposition members under the ISA and then releasing them shortly after, claiming that he wanted to protect them.

Extremists among the Chinese and Indians felt they could safely challenge the Government, particularly over racial issues. They demanded that provisions in the Constitution favouring the Malays and the NEP quotas be removed. Even Barisan Nasional partners took up the call

Normally UMNO leaders and UMNO generally would take up the defence of the Malays. But Abdullah as UMNO President and PM was silent (elegant silence) causing the other leaders and members of UMNO to become silent also.

As the attack against the Malays escalated and UMNO remained silent, the Malay public felt they were being let down by UMNO. Losing faith in UMNO, they began to set up NGOs to take up the challenges by the Chinese and Indian activists.

Perkasa as an NGO gained the most support because the founder was more vocal and willing to take risk and to rebut the views of the Chinese and Indian extremists.

In the 2008 elections, many UMNO and BN candidates won only by small margins even in their strongholds. If in the next election defections by even a small number of supporters in some constituencies can result in a reduction of the Barisan Nasional majority or even cause the BN to lose altogether.

Because of the poor handling of the Perak crisis, the Chinese who considered the Pakatan Government of Perak as a Chinese Government, swore not to support BN anymore.

The situation of UMNO and BN looked bleak. They have not regained the Malay support lost in the 2008 elections and they face the prospect of the Chinese not supporting the Barisan Nasional in the 13th General Elections. Striving to regain Chinese support is not enough. They must also regain Malay support.

Perkasa has not indicated that it is against BN and UMNO. In fact it has hinted that it is for UMNO. Looking at the strength of Malay support for Perkasa antagonising them would not be to the benefit of the Barisan Nasional or UMNO.

Perkasa is accused of being racist and should be rejected on that ground. Is Perkasa racist? If anyone cares to study the statement by Perkasa he will not fail to note that it has confined itself to rebutting allegations that the non-Malays have been discriminated against, that the Malays need to retain their present position. If it is really racist then it would be demanding the abolition of the special treatment of the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia. This it has not done except when defending the Malay position.

(Read more here)

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