Sunday, January 28, 2007




Migrants are human beings and should not be treated as stray dogs, and the policy and practice of paying members of the People’s Volunteer Corps (RELA) RM80-00 for each undocumented migrant must be stopped). Now RELA is also asking for allowance of RM24.20 for lower ranking members and RM34.20 for officers given to those participating in trainings and courses could be extended for operations (Star, RELA seeks allowance for staff during ops).

Syed Shahir, President MTUC during his opening speech at the MTUC/ILO Follow up Workshop on Migrant Workers in Malaysia held on 4-6 December 2006 said that this practice of using these “uniformed part-timers who have some policing powers, who were offered and did receive cash rewards for each migrant arrested as an economic incentive and this was most disturbing and embarrassing.” He also went on to say that it was sad that Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad was reported to have said RELA members would be again roped in for the planned crackdown on undocumented workers in 2007(Star, 14/10/2006).

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong claimed that the reward offered had made RELA volunteers desperate to nab as many illegals as possible. He said this when handing over RM,2,400-00, being donations, collected by residents of Old Klang Road’s 4th mile area, to the widows, both of whom had two young children. Their husbands, Ahmad Apik, 35, and Edy Sathurrohman, 26, both Indonesians, drowned allegedly after jumping into the Klang river while trying to evade the RELA personnel. Let’s not forget the words of Michael Chong :” “These people may be illegals [undocumented], but they are still human beings,” ). A wife loses her husband and 2 children lost their fathers, and RM1,200-00 in donations is a far cry from justice.

Its was reported that RELA arrested a total of 17,700 people believed to be illegal immigrants and screened 94,010 people up to September 2006. Out of that 17,700, Indonesians comprised the highest number of those arrested at 12,076, followed by those from Myanmar (2,089), Indians (963), Bangladeshis (923), Thais (402), Chinese (43) and others (1,200). (Star, RELA arrests 17,700 suspected illegals)

What must be noted is that 94,010 people (or 76,310) persons were unnecessarily subjected to the uncomfortable experience of being screened. An by screening, if this meant squatting in sun waiting as what happened to some 1,500 who had to squat waiting at the Sepang District Council compound to have their particulars checked during one of the Ops Tegas (see picture in Star,

he number of illegal immigrants in detention centres nationwide is expected to reach critical stage by January next year. Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said: “There are about 7,467 illegal immigrants detained in 15 centres around the country and based on the progression of arrests made by RELA, we are expected to face a crisis for space by January. One of the biggest centers like the Semenyih Immigration Detention centre can only take in a maximum of 1,500 detainees while smaller ones can only accommodate up to a maximum of 500 people. (Star, Number of illegals set to reach critical stage).It is January 2007 now, and one wonders whether Detention Centres are overcrowded now.

This is yet another reason why Malaysia needs to seriously review its strategy and policies concerning undocumented migrants. Clearly, mass arrests and deportations have not been working – and maybe we need to look at targeting employers that are providing employment, persons who are smuggling persons into the country and also maybe we should move towards a “come, find a job and self-registration” strategy. We cannot deny that Malaysia needs migrants.

But more importantly, what is most crucial at this stage is to immediately put an end to Malaysia’s usage volunteer ‘vigilantes’ in the crackdown on undocumented migrants for there are just too many incidences involving the RELA that is bringing shame to the nation and its people.


The powers of 70,000[i] strong RELA was expanded in early 2005 when the Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) (Amendment) Regulations 2005, which came into operation on 1 February 2005. What was being amended was a Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) Regulations 1966 [P.U. 33/1966], which is a Regulations that came into being by virtue of powers provided for in Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1964 (30/64) (now the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979).

Section 6 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979, stated :- “For so long as the Proclamation of Emergency referred to in the preamble to this Act remains in force, the regulations made under the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1964 (30/64) (except those regulations which the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may by notification in the Gazette declare not to be in force) shall be in force and shall have effect as if they have been made under this Act; and the regulations may be amended, modified or repealed as if they have been made under this Act.”.

Now, given the fact the Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) Regulations 1966 has now been amended Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) (Amendment) Regulations 2005, it settles once again that the Proclamation of Emergency issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on 15 May 1969 is still in force. Malaysia is still under a state of Emergency, and this is ludicrous.

The 2005 amendment to the 1966 Regulations now expressly allows a RELA member “where it has reasonable belief that any person is a terrorist, undesirable person, illegal immigrant or an occupier, to stop the person in order to make all such inquiries or to require the production of all such documents or other things as the competent authority may consider necessary”. It also permits the RELA to arrest without a warrant, may without a warrant and with or without assistance [of the police or immigration officers] enter and search any premises and also stop and search any vessel, vehicle or person, whether in a public place or not. The powers stated in this paragraph is exercisable if there is written authorization from a competent authority, who is defined as being the Director General(Ketua Pengarah), Deputy Director General(Timbalan Ketua Pengarah) and such other officers of the Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat as appointed by the Home Affairs Minister.

What is even interesting is that the 2005 amendments also provides for protection to these RELA volunteers whereby regulation 16 of the 2005 Amending Regulations clearly states : “The Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 shall apply to any action, suit, prosecution or proceedings against the Ketua Pengarah Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat, Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat or any member of the Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat in respect of any act, neglect or default done or committed by him in good faith or any omission omitted by him in good faith, in such capacity.".


What is disturbing is that the arms-bearing RELA members can go out stop, search, enter premises and arrest persons on their own without even the police or an immigration enforcement officer, and this is just not right and may lead to abuse of powers. There must be at least a professional enforcer of the law, be it a police or immigration personnel that accompanies these volunteers ‘vigilantes’. ’as they go out there performing their ‘duties’ The government’s possible justification in using RELA is that they do not have enough immigration and police personnel to deal with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants in Malaysia – but surely it is very unsafe to send normal volunteers without any leadership and on-site guidance of at least one police or immigration personnel.

We are a civilized nation, and we have an appointed government who have appointed and trained professional law enforcers – and if there is inadequate law enforcers, then the proper thing to do is to appoint more police and immigration enforcement officers – not just go out and try to get volunteers with arms to enforce the law.

If cash incentives were also given to the police and immigration enforcement officers, like what is apparently done for the RELA members, I am sure that they too will be more efficient in the performance of their duties.


It may be true that the RELA has been effective in arresting about 19,000 foreigners since February 2005 until October 2006, but at the same time it has visited injustices to so many more persons – Malaysians, documented migrants and others. A sampling of RELA behaviour can be seen from facts that have been taken from media reports, as follows:

* A landscape company spent six harrowing days trying to get its legal foreign workers out of a detention camp. The six foreign workers, all with legal travel and work documents, were whisked out of their quarters in a resort in Cherating in the wee hours of the morning on Dec 28 last year when RELA members “literally broke into their chalet and ordered them out.” (Star,

* Five factories near here [Klang] alleged that at 1.30am on Saturday, a team of 30 to 40 RELA members (half not in uniforms) turned up to look for foreign workers, assaulted some and allegedly stole cash and valuables during the raid. The companies, who lodged police reports, said that all the workers had legal work permits. The workers of Latitude Tree Furniture Sdn Bhd claimed that RELA members had beaten them with canes and iron rods, leaving welts on their bodies. Two Bangladeshi workers sustained head injuries and were given outpatient treatment. The companies were not happy with the method used to search the premises and also said that “Detaining the workers is not a proper thing to do as it only disrupts operations of all our factories,”. They also said “…that such raids put fear in our workers and furthermore our workers claimed to have lost hand phones and cash after the raids.” (Star, Firms hit out at RELA raids)

* Residents of about 10 households in Taman Anggerik, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, complained that RELA personnel crashed into their homes after breaking door locks and smashing gates, and told them that they [RELA] were looking for illegal workers. The residents said the RELA personnel acted like gangsters and showed them no respect. When they asked the RELA personnel to explain why they crashed into their homes, they were told “we are the law.” Cash totaling RM3,756 in a drawer was subsequently found missing. (Star, RELA men break locks to enter houses)

* 22 workers of an IT company were beaten and made to do a 50m “duck-walk” at Section 30 in Shah Alam, RELA director-general Datuk Mahadi Arshad subsequently claimed that it was not a RELA operation, while stating that only 3 out of the 10 involved were RELA members. (Star, ‘Duck-walk’ incident not a RELA operation)


In light of what we know has been happening when the volunteer RELA force, with powers exceeding normal powers that our police even have, have been let loosed in the general community, it is time now to review the usage of RELA and also the powers that have been bestowed on them. There have been too many abuses and complaints which have got into the media which includes assault (and also deaths), property damage, trespass, invasion of privacy and even theft – and it has involved not just the undocumented migrants, but also documented migrants and even Malaysian citizens. Enough is enough.

The RELA must be rounded-up and rested, and the professional police force and other professional enforcement forces must take over the role of policing Malaysia.

In fact, that Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) Regulations 1966 [P.U. 33/1966] must be repealed. If need be, a new law must be enacted for RELA – one that will re-define their role and duties focusing more possibly towards providing protection to Malaysians and trying to overcome the increasing incidences of snatch thiefs crimes and corruption in the country. RELA should maybe focus their attention to fighting corruption involving the police, other public officers, town councilors and elected representatives.

There is no situation now in Malaysia that can justify us still being under Emergency. It is time for the present government and the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to revoke all existing proclamations of Emergency, and at the same time cause the repeal of all remaining legislations that have been enacted during periods of Emergency – whereby one such Act that has to be repealed is the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979.

Charles Hector

22 January 2007, Petaling Jaya

[i] Star, 445 illegals nabbed by Rela”


Asean's empty declaration on migrant workers
Charles Hector
Jan 23, 07 12:12pm

The heads of state and government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), attending the 12th Asean Summit on Jan13 in Cebu, Philippines came out with an Asean Declaration On The Protection And Promotion Of The Rights Of Migrant Workers.

Reading the title only, it all sounds very good for the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers but a deeper consideration of the said declaration itself reveals that it does very little for the protection and promotion of rights as everything declared is to be subject to the laws, regulations, and policies of the respective Asean member countries.

In the preamble, it explicitly states recognising further the sovereignty of states in determining their own migration policy relating to migrant workers, including determining entry into their territory and under which conditions migrant workers may remain.

By the usage of the words subject to the laws, regulations, and policies of respective countries, which is repeated several times in the document, the declaration basically allows that status quo be maintained as it is now in a particular country. Any advancement and protection when it comes, and if it comes, with regard to rights of migrants will depend on the particular member country and the Asean Declaration really does nothing about determining what or when or even whether anything will change for the better.

Laws and regulations are written documents and as such it is clear whereas policy is a vague creature. What is the policy of Malaysia with regard to migrant rights? No one can at any time for sure say what it is. Some say that it is what the prime minister, relevant minister or director-general of immigration state in their speeches and statements. But this can and does change all the time, and one will find it next to impossible to try and claim rights based on such policies.

It may have been reported in the media but then one can always turn around and say that the media got it wrong and it was not what was meant. We need to get our governments to lay down written policies (that are accessible to the public) for us to be really clear on what a government’s policy on a subject matter really is. In Thailand, the Cabinet made resolutions and this made policy clear but this is not so in Malaysia, and even if there were such resolutions, it has been kept away from the public.

A close reading of the declaration will reveal that they are only talking about migrants from Asean sending countries and specifically those that are documented or those that become undocumented later by no fault of theirs.

In the case of Malaysia, this declaration would not even cover the some 170,000 Nepali migrants, being the second largest nationality group of migrants workers, or those from countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other non-Asean countries.

Undocumented migrants generally are also not covered and the only group of undocumented workers covered is made clear by the usage of the words [those that] have subsequently become undocumented, and with regard to families of migrants, it only addresses family members already residing with them, not new members of the family of migrants that may come to be in the future of that said receiving country.

As such the millions of undocumented migrants, some of whom are really refugees, be it from Burma, Aceh , Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines, are not covered with regard to rights in this declaration.

The extension of access of consular functions and diplomatic assistance of member Asean countries when an Asean migrant is arrested or committed to prison or custody or detained in any other manner, under the laws and regulations of the receiving state seem to be a good thing especially when in that receiving country there is no embassy and/or consulate of the country from where the affected Asean migrant originates.

Undocumented workers

As mentioned earlier, the declaration does not talk about rights of the about two to five million undocumented migrants in our country. Officially, the number of documented migrants in Malaysia is about 1.8 million, but interestingly a recent AFP report in October 2006 reiterated yet again that Malaysia’s 10.5 million strong labour force is made up of 2.6 million foreign workers.

Undocumented migrant workers are the most victimised of the lot, but sadly the declaration clearly states that it is not concerned with the documentation of these group of workers when it stated: Nothing in the present declaration shall be interpreted as implying the regularization of the situation of migrant workers who are undocumented

In some Asean countries like Thailand, migrant workers from Burma enter, find employment and then register themselves with the relevant government bodies. Likewise, Malaysian migrant workers in Singapore also get the job first and are then registered by their employers as workers.

An ordinary Malaysian worker gets employed, and then only does his employer informs/registers the said worker with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), for Social Security (SOCSO). The income tax department is also informed by the Employer. A similar system, where the obligations are placed on the employer (rather than the worker) would also work for migrant workers and that will solve the problem of documentation, and will result in much more cost saving for the receiving country.

In fact, in South East Asia we should be striving for an Asean community of peoples, an Asean community of workers and we should be trying to do away with all these sending and receiving agents and government pre-employment documentation procedures. The Asean worker should be allowed to enter any Asean nation freely, but maybe on a restricted entry permit of two to four weeks, being the time for him to secure a job, and if he fails to do so, then he may be required to leave generally, but this should not be the case for those who are refugees.

In Thailand, I believe, if a worker is not satisfied with his employer or his working conditions, he can leave and be allowed to stay in the country for a defined time during which he should find new employment. It is a good practice that Malaysia should also seriously consider.

Consensus, not majority decision

The biggest problem with Asean is that decisions are made by consensus and not by majority vote and this is a fact that cripples and impedes Asean from moving forward in the field of promotion and protection of rights. For example, if the majority of the Asean member nations are not happy with what is happening in Burma and want to make a statement of protest about Burma, Asean cannot do so because Burma (a member of Asean) objects. That’s why there may be gross human rights violations committed by some Asean member country, and Asean makes no statement or comment. Similarly the fact that some members of the Asean are not members of the World Trade Organisation prevents Asean from going into the WTO meetings and negotiating as a block for the good of the Asean people.

I believe that it is this problem that has brought about this very weak declaration that has an impressive title and nothing more. It does not even set minimum standards or guarantee basic rights of workers. Maybe, the soon to be Asean Charter may be able to set some standards and require strict compliance by all member nations within a stipulated time frame. We shall have to wait and see.

As it is, there really seems to be no sense for this declaration to have the secretary-general of Asean to submit annually a report on the progress of the implementation of the declaration to the summit through the Asean Ministerial Meeting. What is he going to report, save that each of the Asean member states have complied what is required of them in accordance with the requirement of their respective countries laws and regulations and policies. There were really no specific requirements that had to be complied by Asean member nations within any stipulated time frame.

To be fair, there is an indication that an Asean instrument on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers is to be developed but alas no time frame was set, and even if such an instrument is developed it must have in place a monitoring system, a complaints procedure and an adjudicating body with penalising powers that should be accessible to everyone, including the migrant workers and their families and not just Asean member states. We already have UN and ILO conventions dealing with the rights of workers, migrants or otherwise; and also migrant workers and their families that could very easily be adopted in toto or used as a basis for this upcoming Asean instrument.

For the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers, we cannot be dealing with just the documented but also undocumented migrants. For refugees from member Asean countries now in other Asean nations, something more may be required, especially since most refugees are seeking asylum and protection from the wrath and possible persecution of their own country of origin.

The instrument must also advocate the equality of persons and equal protection of the law in all Asean countries of all persons and all workers from member nations and even other countries.

One group of workers that are presently left out in the employment laws of most nations is domestic workers and this new Asean instrument must provide for clear rights for this group of neglected workers. In Malaysia today, it is reported that there are about 320,000 domestic workers and as such this is no longer an insignificant or small number.

Asean’s concern about the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers must be applauded but the declaration that emerged on Jan 13 was a far cry from what one would have expected from a group of nations that describe themselves as a caring and sharing community.


Ref.: TG ASA 22/2007.001

Minister Nagase Jinen

Ministry of Justice

1-1-1 Kasumigaseki


Tokyo 100-8977


24 January 2007


Dear Minister,

I am writing on behalf of Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN)[1] to register our grave concern at the executions of four prisoners (Hidaka Hiroaki, 44, Hiroshima; Fukuoka Michio, 64, Osaka; Akiyama Yoshimitsu, 77, Tokyo; Fujinami Yoshio, 75, Tokyo) which took place on 25 December 2006.

This retrograde step runs counter to the universal protection of human rights and is at odd with the international trend away from the use of the death penalty. Very few countries currently carry out executions: provisional figures compiled by Amnesty International indicate that only 20 of the United Nation’s 193 member states carried out state killings in 2006. These executions in Japan, after a 15 month hiatus, will send a discouraging signal to nations in the Asia-Pacific region at a time when others – South Korea and Taiwan for example – are considering the abolition of the death penalty.

On his appointment in October 2005, your predecessor, the former Minister of Justice Sugiura Seiken, refused to sign execution orders due to his personal beliefs. This is not the first time a Minister of Justice in Japan has refused to sanction hangings. Former Minister of Justice Sato Megumu also refused to sign execution orders because of his religious beliefs.

During the four-year informal moratorium on death penalty between 1989 and 1993, homicides in Japan reached some of the lowest rates in modern times with 1,215 murders reported in 1991, well below recent figures such as the 1,419 homicides reported in 2004. Such figures contradict the argument that the death penalty is a uniquely effective deterrent against serious crime. The experience of other countries also shows that an absence of executions does not lead to an increase in homicide rates.

The four executions on 25 December run counter to a growing trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and a lessening in the number of executions; this global trend away from the use of capital punishment was highlighted in our recent report on the death penalty in Japan published in July 2006, “Will this day be my last?”: The death penalty in Japan” (AI Index: ASA 22/006/2006) The death penalty has already been abolished in Cambodia, Nepal, Timor Leste and recently in the Philippines. Currently the National Assembly of South Korea is giving serious consideration to abolition and the authorities in Taiwan have also indicated their desire to remove capital punishment from their laws. Japan seeks to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council; steps towards abolition of death penalty would demonstrate that Japan is progressing towards the full protection of human rights and showing strong leadership on this important matter.

We note your comments reported in various media sources that “…nearly 80 per cent of the people of this country have no objection to the existence of the death penalty”. After over 30 years researching the death penalty, Amnesty International believes that public support for the death penalty is overwhelmingly based on a desire to be free from crime as well as the erroneous belief that executions prevent murders. Amnesty International recognizes the right of citizens to create laws via their elected representatives; such laws must be formulated with respect for human rights. History is littered with human rights violations that had the support of the majority but in modern times are looked upon with horror. Slavery, racial segregation and lynching all had widespread support in the societies where they occurred but constituted gross violations of the victims' human rights. In more recent times, grave violations of human rights in Bosnia, Rwanda and East Timor all had the support of large sections of the population in those countries but were no less unacceptable because of such popularity.

Amnesty International's opposition to the death penalty does not in any way distract from the sympathy the organization and others feel towards the victims of violent crime and their loved ones. As an organization dedicated to working for the victims of human rights violations, Amnesty International is fully aware of the suffering caused by violent crimes. We believe that everyone in society should work to lessen violent crime and that all those impacted upon by such appalling acts as murder, rape and other crimes should be supported and helped as they rebuild their lives after suffering such trauma.

Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) urge the Japanese government to:

  • Stop further executions;
  • Commute all death sentences and impose an immediate moratorium on executions, pending abolition of the death penalty;
  • End secrecy around the application of the death penalty and initiate a public and parliamentary debate on abolition of the death penalty by making available all information regarding the use of the death penalty;
  • Implement procedural safeguards around the right to life and respect the rights of detainees, by improving prison conditions, allowing families, friends and lawyers greater access to prisoners, and ensuring prisoners have access to medical facilities.
I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Yours sincerely,

Irene Khan

Secretary General

Enclosed: Amnesty International Report: Will this day be my last?”: The death penalty in Japan” (AI Index: ASA 22/006/2006)

[1] The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) was launched on 10 October 2006. ADPAN consists of lawyers, parliamentarians and activists from 16 countries: Australia, Hong Kong, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and USA.

ADPAN has 33 members, including 13 organizations: Hong Kong Society and Community Organization, Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) (Indonesia), Forum 90 (Japan), Catholic Human Rights Committee (South Korea), Malaysians against the Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET), Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (USA), Philippine Human Rights Information Center (Philrights), Think Centre (Singapore), Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP), FORUM-ASIA (Thailand), Comunità di Sant'Egidio (Italy), World Coalition against the Death Penalty and Amnesty International. See:

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Suspect found dead in police lock-up

Suspect found dead in police lock-up

SEREMBAN: A part-time lorry driver, who was being remanded to help in investigations into a robbery, died in the police district headquarters lock-up here yesterday.

District police chief Asst Comm Hasanuddin Hasan said that the 46-year-old man's body had been sent to the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital for a post-mortem.

“An investigation is being conducted, including looking at the CCTV (closed circuit television) recordings,” he said.

It is learnt that the suspect and two other men were detained in a restaurant at Jalan Tun H.S. Lee in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

Family members of the deceased and MIC official Shivarraaj Chandran met ACP Hasanuddin over the death yesterday.

The suspect's brother said that he received a telephone call from the police yesterday morning informing him of the death.

“He was fine when he was detained. When I asked the policeman what had happened, he said that my brother took a shower about 3am and then went to sleep.

“They found him dead at about 5am,” he said.

21 arrested in toll protest (Malaysiakini)

21 arrested in toll protest
Jan 21, 07 5:41pm (Malaysiakini)

After watching the anti-toll hike protest from the sidelines for the past two weeks, the police today did the reverse - arresting 21 demonstrators even before the protest had started.

Among those arrested were protest leaders including Parti Keadilan Rakyat Information chief Tian Chua, PAS leader Dr Hatta Ramli and DAP leader Ronnie Liu.

The demonstration in Cheras today was organised by anti-toll hike organisation Protes - a coalition of opposition parties, civil society groups, trade unions and student groups, in which Hatta is the movement's secretary.

The arrested protestors have been taken to the Kajang police headquarters.

Four protestors, including Tian Chua, were hurt in the melee with the police and had been taken to the hospital for treatment.

All the protestors held at the police station were released at about 9.30pm on police bail and have been asked to report to the Kajang magistrate's court on Feb 5.

Crowd in front of station

Earlier, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng, who met with the police officials, told the media that he was given the assurance that the protestors would be released soon.

"They said that they will release the protestors after taking statements from them," he said.

A crowd of about 50 people has also gathered in front of the Kajang police station, waiting for the release of the protestors.

The protest today in Cheras in Kuala Lumpur was the third in the series of protests organised by the coalition to oppose the hike in the toll rates at five Klang Valley highways beginning Jan 1.

In the earlier two protests - the first at the Sunway City toll plaza along the LDP highway two Sundays ago and the second in Gombak last Sunday - the police force was widely commended for allowing the peaceful protests to proceed peacefully.

However, it was a different story today.

Shocked and surprised

Just as the protestors - numbering less than 100 - were gathering at two places at the Cheras Batu 11 toll plaza at about 4pm today to show their displeasure against the hefty toll hike, the police issued them a warning to disperse.

Kajang police chief ACP Rosli Mohd Nizam told the crowd to disperse as it was an illegal assembly.

In one of the spots - near a concrete road barrier closing an alternate route which bypass the Cheras-Kajang highway toll - about 30 would-be protestors led by PKR leader Lee Kim Sin had gathered. The concrete barrier forces residents in the area to use the toll highway.

However, some of them left the scene after the police warnings of dispersals.

Later, about 40 others led by Bandar Mahkota Cheras Free Access Road Action Committee president Tan Boon Hwa came to the area with banners and flags.

They were given five minutes to disperse, but the police started arresting the protestors in about three minutes.

Tan (photo) and a few others put up a struggle, but eventually six at the concrete road barrier - including Lee Kim Sin - were arrested. There were about 80 police officers on the scene.

In all, the police arrested 21 protestors in both the spots - the second spot being the rest area near the toll plaza. Both the regular police force and the anti-riot Federal Reserve Unit were involved in dispersing the crowd.

Surprised and shocked by the harsh police action, the rest of the protestors slowly begin to disperse from the protest venues.

A malaysiakini journalist was also held by the police. He was not officially detained but his camera was seized. He too was also taken to the Kajang police station.

“I have not been detained but they are keeping me here. I can walk around and make phone calls,” said journalist Andrew Ong using his mobile phone.

He has been told that the police were awaiting orders from the Kajang police chief. He said that the police wanted to see the photographs he took of the protest.

He was later released with his camera after about two hours from the Kajang police station.

Sharp rise

Beginning Jan 1, the toll rates for five major highways in the Klang Valley increased between 20 to 60 percent.

Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) saw the highest rise with its toll rising from RM1 to RM1.60 while the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway's Gombak toll is now at RM5, an increase of RM1. The highway's Bentong toll was increased by 50 sen to RM3.

The other affected highways are Shah Alam Highway, Cheras-Kajang Highway and the Guthrie Corridor Expressway.

The hikes have drawn strong reaction from various groups including component parties of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

The protest in Sunway City was the most notable thus far which drew thousands of participants from all walks of life in denouncing the drastic hikes in toll charges.

[photographs by Andrew Ong]

Friday, January 19, 2007

Probe prisoner 'beatings': Suhakam tells police (Malaysiakini)

Probe prisoner 'beatings': Suhakam tells police
Andrew Ong
Jan 19, 07 5:00pm

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said it will launch a public inquiry if the police do not investigate the alleged beatings of inmates in the Simpang Renggam detention centre in Johor.

According to Suhakam commissioner N Siva Subramaniam, the commission views seriously the allegations of abuse by warders compiled in his report after he visited the centre last week.

“We want the police to investigate the police reports lodged by the alleged victims and their parents first.

“We would give them one month to do so, failing which Suhakam would hold a public inquiry into the matter,” he said when contacted yesterday.

On Monday, he said Suhakam appointed three commissioners to carry out the tentative public inquiry - Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Dr Chiam Heng Keng and newly appointed commissioner and former director of the Public Complaints Bureau Khalid Ibrahim.

“A public inquiry would once and for all enable victims and their parents to present their evidence (on the alleged abuse) to the inquiry,” he added.

To date, there has been no official account of the incident. According to news reports, 16 inmates were given outpatient treatment at the Kluang hospital after the incident.

One inmate, who contacted malaysiakini shortly after the incident, claimed that ratan canes and batons were used to beat inmates after they were made to squat on the floor.

Previously, Siva said his Jan 8 visit to the detention centre revealed prima facie evidence of human rights abuse by the warders.

Don’t delay

In another development, rights group Suaram urged Suhakam not to delay in holding the public inquiry as evidence might be tampered with over the month.

“We think it should be done as soon as possible because physical evidence on the inmates would be less obvious over time. Furthermore, any delay might allow certain parties to threaten the victims against giving evidence,” said Suaram coordinator Chang Lih Kang.

On January 5, Suaram had written to Suhakam chairperson Abu Talib Othman, urging him to conduct the public inquiry.

The detention centre holds some 4,000 inmates detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance 1969 and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985.

The centre has been the subject of controversy due to it being overcrowded and unhygienic.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Murder Victim's Families Against the Death Penalty

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 ( from Asia Death Penalty Blog)

Death penalty victims speak out

Execution leaves a prisoner dead, but it leaves their families serving a deeply painful life sentence. Yet we rarely hear their stories, and we are almost never confronted with the consequences for them of having a loved one killed by the state.

A new report in the USA has broken this silence surrounding the families of executed people.

The report by Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR), released on Human Rights Day -- 10 December, documents the experiences of the families and how they suffer similar effects to others who have experienced violent loss.

MVFHR said it produced the report Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind "to highlight the similarities between the experiences of survivors of homicide victims and survivors of people who are executed".

MVFHR is an organisation of the families of people killed through murder and terrorist acts, and the families of people killed by the state. It works against the death penalty, based on a human rights perspective.

"Family members of the executed are the death penalty's invisible victims," said Renny Cushing, executive director of MVFHR.

"With each execution, we create a new grieving family who experience many familiar symptoms of trauma, some of them long-lasting. As a society, what are we doing to address the suffering of these families?"

Hearing their voices
The report is based on the deeply moving testimony of many families from "this new group of victims".

"I don't think people understand what executions do to the families of the person being executed," said Billie Jean Mayberry, whose brother Robert Coe was executed in Tennessee in 2000.

"To us, our brother was murdered right in front of our eyes. It changed all of our lives."

Robert Meeropol, whose parents Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed when he was six years old, emphasised the devastating effect of execution on children.

"What impact does this event have on children’s impressionable lives, and what cost does society pay for that impact?"

The report makes recommendations for mental health professionals, educators, and child welfare advocates.

MVFHR has also sent a copy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with a request that she undertake a study of the impact of executions on surviving families.

Read their stories
Our colleagues at the Abolish the Death Penalty blog are running a two-week, ten-part series with the families' stories from the MVFHR report.

The first post is available here.

The full report is available here. (Please note the file is 2.46Mb.)

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Have a heart for the disabled, KLCC told (Malaysiakini)

Have a heart for the disabled, KLCC told
Andrew Ong
Jan 18, 07 11:40am

Mohd Firdaus Azizan suffers from cerebral palsy. The condition prevents the 24-year-old from being able to feed, dress or clean himself.

He suffers from speech impediment and cannot use his limbs. He has limited use of his fingers, but still manages to manuever a motorised wheelchair.

Despite this, Firdaus is determined to live as independently as possible.

The youth sells souvenir items such as key-chains and postcards along the pedestrian tunnel linking the KLCC Putra LRT station and Suria KLCC shopping complex.

"I enjoy selling these things and making an honest living," said Firdaus with the help of an interpreter during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

But now, his livelihood is at stake because KLCC Urus Harta managing director Mustafa Awang said that 'beggars' along the tunnel portray a negative image about Malaysia.

KLCC Urus Harta took over the tunnel from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) on Jan 1 and has given its ‘squatters’ till Jan 18 to vacate.

Failing which, Mustafa reportedly warned that enforcement officers from the DBKL and Welfare Services Department would be summoned to remove them.

'Be proud of him'

Are petty traders with physical and mental disabilities seen as ‘damaging’ to the country’s reputation?

This was the question raised at the press conference called by the newly formed Malaysians Against Discrimination of the Disabled (Madd) coalition.

“Being able to sell things gives Firdaus some purpose and joy in his life,” said the coalition’s legal adviser N Surendran (right).

While acknowledging that KLCC has full rights over the tunnel, he said the company could have handled the situation better.

“We would think that KLCC would use their discretion and allow them to continue trading, or at least propose an alternative for them to earn a living,” he added.

KLCC should help the disabled as part of their corporate social responsibility, stressed the lawyer.

Meanwhile, wheelchair-bound activist Anthony Thanasayan also expressed disappointment over the issue.

“Why should we see people like Firdaus as a shame to the country? KLCC should be proud of him,” he told the press conference.

He said inaccessibility of public transport and buildings hinder many talented disabled people from seeking meaningful employment.

Contacted today, Mustafa declined to comment on the criticisms. He referred malaysiakini to a public relations officer who could not offer immediate comments.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

2 Workers Dead & 10 seriously injured in Industrial Accident at Work Place

Recently on 10/1/2006, it was reported that one Malaysian & one Burmese worker were killed, and 12 other Indian Migrant Workers were seriously injurded when a scaffolding at the construction site(their workplace) collapsed. They were hit by the slabs, which fell from the seventh level. Twelve slabs, each weighing about 50 kgs, were said to have fallen from a platform on the scaffolding.

The dead are 52-year-old Malaysian Liew Wan Chew and Myanmar national Boi Nei Tang, 35. The injured have been identified as Balraj Singh, 21, Pretap Singh and Arjan Singh both 22, Aman Singh, 23, Kala Singh and Gurbachan Singh, both 24, Salam Khan, 25, Subash Kumar, 26, Gurnam Singh, 30, Jamuna Prasad, 33, Rampal Singh, 37 and Kashmeer Singh, 40. Except for Salam who is from Bangladesh, the rest are from Punjab, India.

The police says that it is a case of sudden death ("
Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Mohammad Zulkarnain said the police have classified the case as sudden death" - a bit too fast for a conclusion, is it not - was there thorough investigation done before hand..and what does that "sudden death" mean) - BUT the question is whether any criminal action will be taken against the said employers and/or the developers.

The question is whether the Employers will be fined and/or required to pay any compensation to these workers. It was sad to note that the Minisiter, was seen to listen to the briefing of the by developer Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Sdn Bhd - strange that he did not seem to have gotten any briefing from any Occupational Health and Safety inspectors. A stop-work order was issued BUT for how long. Will there be an investigation into the incident, and will the said Developer and persons involved in the constructions be penalized.

The questions that arise:-

1) Have the Occupational Health and Safety Officers been doing visits to construction sites to ensure that working condirtions are safe for the workers on a regular basis? It is not enough only to come in when there is an industrial accident that receives the attention of the media. Looking at construction sites, and comparing it with some other countries like Hong Kong, it can be seen that the Malaysian worksites are not as safe as those. In Hong Kong, safety netting covers the whole of the building and there is very little (or no) risk of any brick falling and other things falling. It all looks so safe.

2) 2 died and 12 were injured but the Developer seem to be more concerned about completing the work done - which they said was only 6 weeks away from completion. Now, will the government do a thorough investigations and ensuring that all requirements to ensure safety is complied with is in place before revoking the stop-work order OR will the stop-work order be revoked in a few days time after the issue is no more a hot topic in the media. Has work already started.

3) What are the benefits that these migrant workers will get? Are they covered by SOCSO and/or Workman's Compensation Act? Was all the said Migrant Workers documented workers? If they were not, would they receive any compensation at all - for after all it was not too long ago that some undocumented Indonesian migrant workers were declared to be not entitled to receive their wages because they were undocumented. What about these 1 Migrant Worker and the 12 others who were injured - are they documented or not? And if they are documented with the relevant government department ensure that they get their due compensation as the law requires - or just keep quite and not make any payment out because these workers did not take the necessary steps to put in for their claims (After all Migrant Workers are not part of any Unions and many are ignorant about the law and/or how to make the necessary applications for compensation). Note some of the injured also may be not able to work anymore - and would the employer just terminate them - and not pay them for the months that could not work (or the remaining period of their work permit)? Many may just want to get back to their country - and the employer would get off scot-free, and the SOCSO and Workmen's Compensation also may just forget them.

4) Would the Company - its Directors and its shareholders be penalized and also charged for reckless killing of another (or murder or some other offence in the law) - or will they again get off scott-free. They must be penalized and also charged in court - and this will also serve as a warning so that other employers/developers would thereafter make sure that safety at the workplace is at its highest standards. Would the said Developer be "black-listed" - of course not just the company BUT also the Directors (if not that same group of Directors, CEO and COO etc will just go away and set up another company and escape the intention of the "black-listing").

5) Lifes were lost and persons were injured - but alas the coverage by the local media was dismal and in fact foreign media had more details about what happened and who got killed/injured.

6) Several years ago a Sudanese young man, who came to Malaysia to study, was killed by electrocution at the workplace (i.e. the Putrajaya Mosque) - and sadly this never received media attention - and in fact the incident was also not reported to the Labour Ministry. The boys family is yet to receive any monies from Workmen's Compensation. How many more migrant workers (documented or otherwise) have been similarly killed and/or injured at worksites - and have just not gotten reported, and even if the case was reported or was in the knowledge of the Ministry have not been given even the required workmen's compensation as required by law. Migrants are also human beings - and it must be the duty of the government, be it the Ministry or the police force, to ensure that they get whatsoever compensation as required by law and that the developers/employers be penalized for their negligence that caused the death of workers.

This case, like most other cases involving the ordinary man, will just be forgotten - BUT it is hoped that the Ministry and the police do the necessary to ensure that JUSTICE be done.

Selected reports from the local media, and also some foreign media about the incident is as follows. The source has been the internet version of these media - not the print media version.

Two dead, 10 injured when scaffolding collapses

Update by The Star newsdesk

Two died and 10 others were injured when a scaffolding they were standing on collapsed at a construction site in Jalan Bukit Bintang around noon on Wednesday.

Four of those injured are in critical condition.

The two dead workers were a Malaysian and Myanmar.
Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Mohamad Zulkarnain bin Abdul Rahman, who was at the scene of the incident, said the two died when they construction material fell onto their heads after they landed on the ground.

The injured workers were sent to Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

The workers were standing on a platform on the metal scaffolding about 15m above the ground when it collapsed.

Eleven Indians injured in Malaysia

Press Trust of India
Thursday, January 11, 2007 (Kuala Lumpur):

Two people were killed and 11 Indians injured, some of them seriously, when a scaffolding with several slabs of granite and construction materials plunged 15 metres to the ground in the Malaysian capital.

The accident took place at the construction site of a swank condominium-cum-botique hotel complex in downtown Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

One of the dead was a Malaysian national while the other was from Myanmar.

The Indians were all reported to be from Punjab who had come to Malaysia to work as construction site workers.

They were on the ground floor when the scaffolding crashed on them. Four of the injured were reported to be in a serious condition.

One of the injured workers, 22-year-old Rampal Singh whose arm got fractured was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying that he had managed to jump clear just before the slabs hit the ground.

"I am returning to India when I recover," Singh said. Seven of the injured are still at the hospital.

Work suspended

The two dead people were in a lift outside the second level of the building when they were hit by the slabs, which fell from the seventh level.

Twelve slabs, each weighing about 50 kgs, were said to have fallen from a platform on the scaffolding, the report said.

Work has been suspended at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur project site by authorities. Human Resources minister Fong Chan Onn said he would not compromise on safety at construction sites.

The Kuala lumpur Department of Occupational Safety and Health director Omar Piah said 17 people died at construction sites in the city and at the administrative capital of Putrajaya last year.

The incidents happened at 10 construction sites, he was quoted by the media as saying.
One of the accidents that hit media headlines here last year was the death of a management consultant who was killed when a 720 kg concrete mould fell on him from a 20th floor of a partly completed complex.

Thursday January 11, 2007
Two die in scaffolding mishap,

Two men were killed and 12 others injured when an upper-level scaffolding with several granite slabs collapsed and hit them.
Police said the scaffolding could have collapsed from the weight of the slabs, each weighing about 50kg.

The tragedy occurred at 12.30pm yesterday at the 5ha construction site of the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, a residential cum boutique hotel project, in Jalan Bukit Bintang here.

Dangling scaffolding: Workers and passers-by looking up at part of the collapsed scaffolding left in mid-air after the 12.30pm mishap which killed two workers.

The dead are 52-year-old Malaysian Liew Wan Chew and Myanmar national Boi Nei Tang, 35.

It is believed that the two were in a lift outside the second level of the building when were hit by the slabs, which fell 15m from the seventh level.

Twelve slabs, each weighing about 50kg, were said to have fallen from a platform on the scaffolding.

The falling slabs also injured 12 workers who were on the ground floor. Four of them are in serious condition. The injured have been identified as Balraj Singh, 21, Pretap Singh and Arjan Singh both 22, Aman Singh, 23, Kala Singh and Gurbachan Singh, both 24, Salam Khan, 25, Subash Kumar, 26, Gurnam Singh, 30, Jamuna Prasad, 33, Rampal Singh, 37 and Kashmeer Singh, 40. Except for Salam who is from Bangladesh, the rest are from Punjab, India.

At press time, Balraj Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Subash Kumar, Salam Khan, Arjan Singh, Rampal Singh and Kashmeer Singh were still warded in Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Mohammad Zulkarnain said the police have classified the case as sudden death.
When met at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary, Lim's wife, who declined to be named, demanded action to be taken against those responsible.

Related Stories:
Deaths the second fatal incident in five months

Star Thursday January 11, 2007
Deaths the second fatal incident in five months

The death of two workers from falling granite slabs at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur project site was the second fatal accident in five months. A stop-work order has been issued on the project.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn said a worker died in August last year after he was hit by a piece of wood that fell from a scaffolding.
“The fact that there had been two accidents within five months shows some degree of non-compliance or a lapse in the system,” he told reporters after inspecting the accident site and a briefing by developer Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Sdn Bhd yesterday. Dr Fong said an immediate stop-work order had been issued on the residential cum boutique hotel project. “The scaffolding may have given way due to overloading,” he said. During the briefing, Pavilion executive director Y.S. Liew said the project was just six months away from completion. He said the workers had been installing tiles on the outer part of the building when the incident occurred.

In a faxed statement, Pavilion and its sub-contractor Putra Perdana Construction Sdn Bhd expressed regret over the incident and extended their condolences to the families of the deceased workers.

Two dead, 10 hurt when scaffolding collapses at Malaysian site

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday January 10, 2007 Kuala Lumpur-

A Myanmar construction worker and his Malaysian colleague were killed when a 15-metre high scaffolding they were on collapsed Wednesday in the heart of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur. Ten other workers at the construction site in the city's major tourist and shopping area were injured in the accident.

The two victims, a 50-year old local worker and the 35-year old Myanmarese national, died from severe head wounds, said district police chief Muhammad Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman.

Out of the injured, six were said to be in critical condition, Muhammad Zulkarnain was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency. The nationalities of the injured, who have been sent to a nearby hospital. have not been confirmed, he said.

In the noon incident, the cables of the metal scaffolding was believed to have given way due to overloading.

Work on the site has been temporarily halted until investigations are conducted.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency