Monday, September 15, 2014

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

A government cannot increase MINIMUM WAGE? A company can sue the government for doing that?

This is the danger of investor protection clauses in investment agreements and treaties between countries like the TPPA - Is Malaysia bothered about workers, communities, people....?

Now countries cannot even increase minimum wages .... or ensure  better protection of worker safety and health, better protection of the environment, better protection of the local community,... BECAUSE some foreign company may just sue Malaysia...therefore, in fear, government may just avoid such risks... 

How many such agreements/treaties have this BN government signed? What steps is our government taking to get rid of these investor protection clauses...and these  ISDS provisions


The Injustice Industry: Egypt challenged over rise to minimum wage

Le Monde Diplomatique reports that the Veolia group, a French multinational, is suing the Egyptian government because of a rise in the monthly minimum wage. The company is using the ISDS provisions in an investment treaty between France and Egypt.

The case is still in progress, but is yet another example of the dangers of including investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). - http://aftinet.org.au/cms/veolia-vs-egypt-workers-2014


Special courts for foreign investors have no place in trade deals

09 Nov 2013, by Owen Tudor in International
The TUC has called for ISDS procedures to be excluded from the  Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – the free trade deal being negotiated between the EU and USA. I last wrote about Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) procedures on Touchstone in September, and this week George Monbiot, David Martin MEP and Nobel prize winner Joe Stiglitz have all opposed them. European governments like France, Germany, Greece and Hungary are not keen, and, further afield, the Australian and South African governments have refused to agree any more trade deals with ISDS procedures included. It looks like this is a campaign we can win.

ISDS procedures create a special status for foreign investors, and disadvantage everyone else. They have been inserted in trade agreements (and, more specifically, bilateral investment treaties) to protect foreign investments from totalitarian or failing regimes lacking the rule of law. They provide foreign investors with access to panels which can require compensation from governments which expropriate their investments. AFLCIO trade expert Celeste Drake describes them as giving 
“foreign investors in the U.S. (and U.S. investors operating in foreign countries) the opportunity to skip traditional methods of complaining about laws and regulations they don’t like and sue nations directly in private arbitration tribunals made up of for-profit arbitrators rather than full-time judges.”
Trade unions in Europe and the USA oppose ISDS because multinational enterprises’ lawyers have extended the definition of ‘expropriation’ to cover almost everything that is to their employers’ financial disadvantage. Egypt has been sued by Veolia for raising the minimum wage, Germany is in court for abandoning nuclear power, and Canada has been challenged by US pharmaceutical giants for restricting the use of high price drugs. George Monbiot’s Guardian article gave even more examples.

In the UK, there are genuine concerns that ISDS would restrict the scope for a future government to redraw the boundary of procurement in the NHS, as Labour has pledged to do. Under ISDS, such a promise could become paralysingly costly, regardless of its popularity with the electorate.

We know that multinationals plan their use of ISDS provisions not just to win compensation where they have lost out, but also to threaten democratically elected governments with costly and time consuming litigation. That makes governments even more averse than they already are to the risk of taking on corporate power.

ISDS also disadvantages domestic investors, who need to use the normal courts to pursue their governments for any perceived wrongdoing. Outrageously, the European Commission has issued a so-called ISDS “fact sheet” (in fact a highly tendentious document brilliantly dissected by open source industry correspondent Glyn Moody) which suggests that US investors might have reason to consider European courts biased in hearing such claims. Trade deals already provide well-established systems of state-state dispute settlement in the worst cases.

But what should really set alarm bells ringing is the privileged position ISDS processes provide for the transnational enterprises and sovereign wealth funds which provide most foreign direct investment. There are no proposals to give consumers, environmentalists or workers the same protections. An ISDS provision in TTIP would create a completely separate justice system for corporate litigants – a sort of platinum class law court for the world’s frequent flyers.

Governments should acknowledge that free trade must be for everyone, not just for a privileged class. Investor-state dispute settlements must be ruled out now from the TTIP negotiations. - Touch Stone, 9/11/2013

Friday, September 12, 2014

Detention Without Trial for 2 years - this law(PCA) must be repealed?

Well, here is another draconian law that allows for 'Detention Without Trial' for 2 years - this must also be appeal.

Let us not forget that all are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. How many people have been detained without trial for 2 years under the Prevention of Crime Act? Will they ever be tried? 

The trio were detained under the Section 19A of the Prevention of Crime Act, which allows for detention of up to two years for investigation purposes, without trial.

Police have only a maximum of 14 days for the purpose of investigation under the Criminal Procedure Code, and that should be the case for all laws.  

Police need to improve their investigation skills, and charge people in court when there is sufficient evidence to prove that a person is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Keeping someone in detention for 2 years for the purpose of investigation is absurd - How many have been detained for periods from 14 days to 2 years under the PCA - and then released without even being charged or tried in court - I would say that such 'detention without trial' is a gross injustice...

Three detained for up to two years for 'secession'

Police have detained three men for allegedly joining the group loyal to the Sulu sultanate with the goal of secession of Sabah from Malaysia.

The trio were detained under the Section 19A of the Prevention of Crime Act, which allows for detention of up to two years for investigation purposes, without trial.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar (right) said that the trio were detained on July 22, as the Sulu sultanate is an illegal entity with the objective of seeing Sabah secede from Malaysia.

The detention order for Abu Bakar Jayari, Zainuddin Mislani and Kassim Ibrahim was issued on Sep 9.

Abu Bakar and Zainuddin are Malaysian while Kassim is a Filipino citizen who entered Malaysia illegally, he said in a statement.

“They are also believed to have successfully recruited new members as preliminary measures to claim Sabah on behalf of the Sulu sultanate,” he said.

A group claiming to be the Sulu sultanate were involved in a standoff with Malaysian security personnel in Lahad Datu in 2013.

68 from the Sulu side and 12 Malaysians, including two civilians, were killed in the incursion which lasted slightly more than a month.

More recently, there have been urgings that action be taken against groups proposing a review of the Malaysia Agreement  and allegedly promoting  the secession of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia.- Malaysiakini, 10/9/2014,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Average household income is RM5,900 per month? 1 earns RM500K, and 99 earn RM900 - gives average of RM5,000plus

Malaysians earn RM5,900 per month? 

Nope, they are talking about AVERAGE(Purata) - If one person earns RM500,000 per month, and 99 earns RM900 - the the average monthly income would be RM5,891-00. So from increasing averages, it may mean that the rich are just getting richer and the rest are still as poor..

We really need the information about figures of households having income less than RM500, RM1,000, RM2,000, RM3,000, etc - that would give a clearer picture of Malaysia. 

Remember BRIM - that provided financial assistance to families earning RM3,000 and less - and indication that people are poor and need financial assistance to survive in Malaysia today...

What is the poverty line income of Malaysia today? - I have been trying to get these figures but have not been able to get it. With increased cost of living, Poverty Line Income for households may be RM3,000, and for individuals living alone, it may be RM2,000 - given that this is condition for receiving BR1M? What is it?

Unjust BR1M - the poorer must receive more assistance...the richer households lesser

21 million poor Malaysians in need of government financial aid? Poverty line income should be increased to RM3,000 in line with BR1M




RM5,900 a month income is simply not true – Steven Sim

People say politicians often tell lies. But really, more often than not, they actually give us statistics. What is the difference? I'll let Mark Twain tell you: “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics”.

The latest statistics our government proudly brandish at us is the report that household income in Malaysia has surpassed RM5,900 a month. This was presented by Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, the former Maybank boss roped into the Cabinet as “economy minister”.

Intuitively, most Malaysians know it’s a farce. Why?

Because many families we know, maybe including our own, earn much lesser than RM5,900 a month. 
Because even the government itself proudly claimed that its cash transfer programme BR1M has benefited 80% of Malaysian households. The only condition for BR1M is that a recipient household must earn less than RM3,000 a month.

Because as recent as September of 2013, the government said that 82.5% of young Malaysians below the age of 30 earn below RM3,000 a month. They constitute more than one-third the workers in Malaysia.

Because according to the 2012 Household Income and Basic Amenities Survey (HIS/BA 2012), the bottom 40% of Malaysian households only earn about RM1,800 per month.

Additionally, while the HIS/BA 2012 already noted that the average Malaysian household earns RM5,000 a month, 50% of Malaysian households actually earn less than RM3,626 monthly.

How did that happen?

Statistics, the art of telling official “lies”
(Caveat: I love statistics because if used responsibly, they provide useful insights into reality.)
The "economy minister" used the latest HIS/BA 2014 which has yet to be published by the Department of Statistics on its website. Hence, I will use the HIS/BA 2012 to illustrate how he has cleverly used statistics to paint a rosy picture of our earnings.

Abdul Wahid used mean household income to demonstrate that we are already earning RM5,900 a month. 
In the HIS/BA 2012, as mentioned above, the mean household income was already RM5,000 a month. This was basically arrived at by averaging the total income of all households with the total number of households.

As we all know, an average works well if the data set is symmetry, i.e., if everyone has roughly the same salary in this case. Otherwise, a one or two greater values in the set will significantly skew the average from the other values.

We may just add a local twist to the famous anecdote: Bill Gates entering into a workmen's bar, immediately turned everyone into a millionaire, if a minister like Abdul Wahid comes in to take an income survey and presented the mean income of the bar patrons.

On the other hand, the HIS/BA 2012 also reported that the median household income in Malaysia was only RM3,626. Median gives a better picture of an asymmetrical set of data, that is, a set with values which differ greatly from one another. It divides the set equally into two parts above and below the median value.

Thus according to the HIS/BA 2012, 50% of Malaysian households actually earn less than RM3,626 monthly although the average income is RM5,000 a month.

Both are valid statistical outputs, so what is the problem?

If you ask me, the problem with such “dishonesty” is not much about the government lying to us but rather the government lying to itself. By patting its own back on the so-called achievement, the government created a false sense of its own success, thus risked ignoring the real situation and the work that still needed to be done.

During my first parliamentary sitting in 2013, the self-same "economy minister" proudly told the House that because our country’s unemployment rate was below 4%, according to economist John Maynard Keynes, we can be deemed to have full employment. Since then, I have been pointing out that such self-congratulatory perspective continues to blind the government towards the real condition of employment in this country, ranging from high unemployment among young Malaysians including graduates to the issue of underemployment, from unfair industrial practices to gender discrimination in the job market, from our over-dependence on low-skilled migrant labour to brain drain.

Similarly, when someone the stature of an "economy minister" says we are already earning RM5,900 a month, the government risked overlooking the actual problems of low wages, high cost of living, high indebtedness among Malaysians and income inequality.

Even with all the reports showing economic growth, we have failed in the last 20 years to achieve any significant improvement to close the gap on inequality.

According to Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni, Malaysia’s Gini Coefficient Index, which measures inequality (0 means perfect equality, 1 means perfect inequality), was 0.431 in 2012, one of the highest in the region, compared to countries such as Thailand 0.4 and Indonesia 0.37.

Thus, the problem about telling lies is not that others will be convinced but rather the one telling the lies believed his own lies. – September 9, 2014.

* Steven Sim is MP for Bukit Mertajam. * This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/rm5900-a-month-income-is-simply-not-true-steven-sim#sthash.86KHXyrz.dpuf

Taraf hidup rakyat meningkat, purata pendapatan isi rumah 2014 RM5,900, kata Wahid

Kajian Pendapatan Isi Rumah 2014 menunjukkan taraf hidup rakyat meningkat, kata Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar. Gambar fail The Malaysian Insider.Kajian Pendapatan Isi Rumah 2014 menunjukkan taraf hidup rakyat meningkat, kata Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar. Gambar fail The Malaysian Insider. 
Angka awal Kajian Pendapatan Isi Rumah 2014 yang dijalankan kerajaan, menunjukkan taraf hidup rakyat meningkat, dengan purata pendapatan isi rumah melepasi RM5,900 sebulan.

Menteri Di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar berkata ia merupakan pencapaian yang ketara berbanding hasil kajian pada 2012 yang merekodkan purata pendapatan isi rumah sebanyak RM5,000 sebulan.

"Daripada segi meningkatkan ekonomi, kita sudah berjaya, dan dibuktikan dengan pertumbuhan keluaran dalam negara kasar (KDNK) sebanyak 6.3% pada separuh pertama tahun ini.

"Namun, mengembangkan ekonomi semata-mata tidak mencukupi kerana kita juga mesti memastikan ia dapat dirasai rakyat, daripada segi gaji lebih tinggi yang mesti selari dengan produktiviti," katanya pada sidang media di luar acara Simposium Ekonomi Global 2014. Nisbah gaji kepada KDNK di Malaysia berkembang kepada 33.6% tahun lepas berbanding 29.3% pada 2008.

Menyentuh ringkas Rancangan Malaysia ke-11, Wahid berkata kerajaan kini berada pada kedudukan yang baik untuk membentangkan rancangan pembangunan itu di Parlimen Mei tahun depan berikutan penyelesaian pelarasan awal dengan 12 kerajaan negeri.

"Hanya tinggal Sabah. Saya akan menemui ketua menteri dan Kabinet negeri minggu depan," katanya.

Simposium 3 hari ini yang bermula Sabtu, dianjurkan Kiel Institute for the World Economy dan dihoskan Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

Simposium sebelum ini berlangsung di Istanbul, Turki dan Rio de Janeiro, Brazil dan pertama kali berlangsung di Malaysia. – Bernama, 8 September, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/bahasa/article/taraf-hidup-rakyat-meningkat-purata-pendapatan-isi-rumah-2014-rm5900-kata-w#sthash.TuEbBBPR.dpuf
RM5,900 average household income? Lies, damned lies, and statistics, says MP - 
 On Sunday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar (right) was quoted by national news wire Bernama as saying that the average household income in the country has risen to over RM5,900 a month. ― Picture by Choo Choy MayOn Sunday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar (right) was quoted by national news wire Bernama as saying that the average household income in the country has risen to over RM5,900 a month. ― Picture by Choo Choy May 
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 ― The federal minister's claim that Malaysian households make an average of RM5,900 monthly is a farce that does not represent the actual earning capacity of most Malaysians, an opposition lawmaker said today.

DAP's Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said the figure is a result of creative use of statistics in the 2014 Household income Survey (HIS) preliminary report to paint a “dishonest” picture of increased prosperity among the people.

“By patting its own back on the so-called achievement, the government created a false sense of its own success, thus risked ignoring the real situation and the work that still needed to be done,” he said in a statement.

On Sunday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar was quoted by national news wire Bernama as saying that the average household income in the country has risen to over RM5,900 a month, a significant increase from the RM5,000 monthly average recorded in the 2012 HIS.

Sim stressed that the figure does not make sense when the government itself admitted that 80 per cent of Malaysian households had benefitted from the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) cash aid programme, whose recipients must earn less than RM3,000 a month.

He added that government statistics also showed that 82.5 per cent of Malaysians below the age of 30 earn less than RM3,000 a month as at September last year.

The first-term parliamentarian noted that Abdul Wahid's figure was derived from averaging the total income of all households in the country, regardless of earning capacity ― a method that invariably puts out skewed findings due to the income inequality.

Sim stressed that the median household income in Malaysia ― which stood at RM3,626 in the 2012 HIS ― gives a clearer idea of how much Malaysian households actually earn as it differentiates between low and high income earners.

He warned that the government's habit of glossing over figures could distract from its responsibility in dealing with the cascading issues of employment conditions, youth and graduate underemployment, unfair industrial practices, gender discrimination, over-dependence on low-skilled migrant labour and brain drain.

“According to Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni, Malaysia’s Gini Coefficient Index, which measures inequality (0 means perfect equality, 1 means perfect inequality), was 0.431 in 2012, one of the highest in the region, compared to countries such as Thailand 0.4 and Indonesia 0.37.

“Thus, the problem about telling lies is not that others will be convinced but rather the one telling the lies believed his own lies,” he said. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/rm5900-average-household-income-lies-damned-lies-and-statistics-says-mp#sthash.iarSRvL3.dpuf

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

They risked all to come out against the Sedition Act?

They risked it all for justice and human rights. They risked it all to uphold the cause of justice without fear and Cavour. The students involved risked expulsion from the University, and disciplinary proceedings. The lecturers and academic staff risked termination, non-renewal of contracts, future discrimination when it comes to promotion, etc. They all risked the possibility of arrest, detention, criminal charges and cases,...

BUT, despite all the risks faced by themselves and their families, they came out to call for the Sedition Act to be abolished...

There were some politicians there, and as usual they seem to have stolen some of the limelight from people who organized and came out to express themselves despite all the risks...

What is this government of us want? For all of us ...to just LISTEN...LISTEN... agree and follow what they say - the question now is with Malaysians, do we defend our right to be able to 'criticize' or have a different opinion from the government, the right to freedom of expression and opinions, the right to practice true democracy...



Hundreds of UM students march for law lecturer


Hundreds of Universiti Malaya students, sporting blue ribbons, staged a march in campus in solidarity with law lecturer Azmi Sharom, who has been charged with sedition.

The protesters, which included five DAP MPs, also demanded that the Sedition Act be abolished. Azmi (right, addressing the crowd) was also present.

Led by the UM student union president, Fahmi Ismail, the protesters marched for about 1km from the law faculty.

Meanwhile, a group of students in Penang’s Universiti Sains Malaysia also staged a similar march.

Speaking to reporters later, Azmi said he is proud of the students for coming out in large numbers to voice their concern.

"Freedom of speech is an issue close to the students' hearts,” he said.

He said he does not know if students will face disciplinary action following the demonstration, but is prepared to defend them if any are hauled up by the UM administration.

Students are not sheep

In his speech later, Azmi expressed gratitude to Universiti Malaya Academic Staff Union (PKAUM) and the university's students union for organising the demonstration.

"(But) my biggest thank you is to the students of UM," said the academician, who has 24 years of teaching experience under his belt.

Commenting on Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who urged students not to skip class for Azmi’s sake, he joked that this was probably because Khairy was never absent from class as a student.

"He doesn't understand that all of you here are not pro-Azmi, rather, you prioritise human rights and freedom of speech.

"We will show the country that the students are not like sheep, that they know about important issues.

"This is about freedom of expression, this is not just about freeing Azmi Sharom," he added.

He also urged students to seek freedom for preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin who was charged with sedition this morning.

"We must ask for the freedom of Wan Ji, Safwan Anang, the late Karpal Singh, Adam Adli, Tian Chua, Rafizi Ramli, N Surendran, Teresa Kok, Susan Loone as well as the president of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma).

"This is the difference between us and those who defend the Sedition Act.

"It is not good for him (Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman) as well. Although I don't agree with what he says, we must defend his rights to speak,” he said, referring to all caught in the sedition dragnet.

'No intimidation'

Meanwhile, Economics and Administration Faculty lecturer Terence Gomez said that this is the first time the student and academic staff union has come together for a cause, since he started teaching in UM in 1993.

Commenting on the spate of arrests, he said academics will not be able to publish controversial articles should it continue.

"We won't accept the kind of intimidation we are being subjected to. I say, stop this nonsense now."

The protest ended at 2pm, after speeches by various students and academics, with protestors singing the national anthem.

Students participating in the student union’s strike will also skip class until 4.30pm today, to attend a separate lecture on campus on issue.

Also present at the demonstration were DAP MPs Gobind Singh Deo (Puchong), Lim Lip Eng (Segambut) and Teresa Kok (Seputeh). - Malaysiakini, 10/9/2014,

On academic freedom and the Sedition Act – PSSM (Malaysian Insider)

On academic freedom and the Sedition Act – PSSM

We in Persatuan Sains Sosial Malaysia (PSSM) view with great concern and dismay the ongoing – and widening – use of the Sedition Act 1948 by the current administration.

The recent arrests of law academic, Dr Azmi Sharom, and journalist, Susan Loone, and the sentencing of student activist, Safwan Anang, all under the Act, increasingly creates the perception at home and abroad that the Act is being (mis)used to silence dissenting voices, to curtail legitimate debate and instil a culture of fear and submission.

The Sedition Act is a 66-year-old colonial relic, ostensibly designed by the British to silence local opposition to colonial rule. Sixty-six years on, we believe it is really time for the Act to be relegated to the history books.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak evidently is aware of this. On July 11, 2012, Najib declared that his administration would repeal the Sedition Act. He made this declaration while stating that the Act would be replaced by the National Harmony Act. The announcement came as part of Najib's slew of legislative reforms to increase civil liberties initiated during the eve of Malaysia Day in 2011.

On September 5, just last Friday, he was reported as having reiterated that the Sedition Act would go. For us, the fact that Najib had reiterated his earlier declaration strongly implies that, even for the prime minister himself, the Act has outlasted its usefulness.

And just last week, on the day that Azmi was charged in court, Najib outlined the objectives of Malaysian education, one main objective being "to create a future generation that is truly educated and not merely in possession of academic qualifications".

For us, to create a future generation that is truly educated, universities in particular and society in general, need genuine academic freedom and freedom of expression, and the necessary space and healthy environment for the critical exchange of ideas to flourish. But, how can we achieve this lofty objective when a culture of fear lurks in our midst, where dissent is punished, and academic freedom is severely curtailed?

The university, after all, is the place to push the frontiers of knowledge, and academics and students are the agents for the fertilisation of ideas, often competing, often different.

We seriously note that the reputation of Malaysian universities today has eroded and continues to be under scrutiny both nationally and internationally. The on-going arrests targeting dissenting voices can only erode their reputation further.

Hence, instead of punishing the Azmi Sharoms of this world, the thinkers and public intellectuals who challenge our prejudices and our biases, we in PSSM believe that their contributions should be acknowledged. And if there are those who do not agree with their ideas, let them then challenge these ideas with those of their own, if any.

While recognising the importance of law in maintaining stability and order for the country, it is nonetheless crucial that we uphold the rule of law, and not rule by law.

After all, we keep being reminded that we are on track for Vision 2020, that the Najib administration is really serious about the Vision.

If that were true, if the Vision is still to remain our overall political, economic, cultural, social and, yes, moral, compass, we in PSSM believe that Malaysians, especially the government of the day, need to reiterate and remember the nine challenges of the Vision.

As regards the present situation, we really need to remember the following challenges, namely, Challenge 3: Fostering and developing a mature democratic society, and Challenge 5: Establishing a matured liberal and tolerant society.

Just a week or so ago, on 31 August, we celebrated 57 years of Merdeka from colonial rule. In a few days' time, on 16 September, all Malaysians, in turn, will celebrate Malaysia Day.

We in PSSM believe that all Malaysians can have a meaningful celebration of our nationhood with the repeal of the Sedition Act and the upholding of basic freedoms. – September 9, 2014.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/on-academic-freedom-and-sedition-act-pssm#sthash.PEKwVxeS.dpuf

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Silencing Azmi curbs intellectual discourse - an opinion by Terence Gomez

 Silencing Azmi curbs intellectual discourse

COMMENT When Azmi Sharom, associate professor of Law at the Universiti Malaya, was charged under Malaysia's Sedition Act for providing a legal opinion on a constitutional matter, it shocked the academic community.

It was particularly alarming to academics as it is now well acknowledged that the Sedition Act is an obsolete relic of British colonial rule, introduced to curb dissent. Even Prime Minister Najib Razak had expressed the view, about two years ago, that this Act had to be repealed.

Najib's government is now preparing a National Harmony Bill to replace this Act. Azmi was, however, one of a number of people, many of them politicians in opposition parties, to be charged under this Act in the recent past.

The issue that Azmi (right) had commented on was in response to the question as to how the next Selangor menteri besar should be selected. Azmi's views were published in the online portal of The Malay Mail.

He is quoted as saying two things in this article: "You don't want a repeat of that, where a secret meeting took place" and "I think what happened in Perak was legally wrong. The best thing to do (in Selangor) is do it as legally and transparently as possible."

It was baffling that these opinions were viewed as being seditious. In fact, the Bar Council, in its statement on Azmi's case, is quoted as saying that his comments "cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, constitute sedition". Azmi, in response to this charge, has argued that his "statements were based on established case laws and democratic principles" and that he views this charge against him as "a blow to academic freedom and the freedom of expression".

Like the Bar Council, many have viewed this sedition charge as perplexing. It is not when we consider that this charge has been proffered against Azmi. His statement on the Selangor political crisis and his response to the charge against him are a reflection of Azmi's now long-recognised willingness to talk the talk of justice.

Through his regular - and popular - column in The Star, to which he has been contributing over the past few years, Azmi has been providing, fearlessly, critical feedback on major flaws in society, the economy, academia and the legal system. The overriding impression one gets is that this charge is a blatant attempt to curb dissent and in Azmi's case, a punitive act to silence critics.

Browbeat academics into obedience

The irony of this charge against Azmi is that the government has been persistently calling on academics to ensure their research is deployed so as to have an impact on society. In fact, government funding for research comes with the strict stipulation that the findings must contribute to the betterment of society.

Meanwhile, in the public domain, academics have now long been subjected to much criticism of their inadequate contribution to society as public intellectuals. A growing lament, and one apparently indicative of declining academic standards in Malaysian universities, is this: where have all the public intellectuals gone? With this sedition charge against Azmi, the government is clear on one thing: academic feedback is warranted, but not on matters politic, specifically those that suggest the need for reforms.

This act against Azmi will compel academics to rethink any aspiring notions they may have entertained to be in the forefront of intellectual discourse about ways and means to solve the problems that ail the Malaysian economy and society.

The challenge to academics - and the general public if they value the need to have intellectually vibrant tertiary institutions - is to call on the government to stop what amounts to an attempt to intimidate academics into obedience, an act that will only serve to further undermine the credibility of Malaysian universities.

A large number of academics, about 300 of them from across Malaysia, have publicly stood by Azmi, a clear collective commitment of their resistance to any attempt to stifle academic freedom and to browbeat university faculty into silence.

There are other crucial reasons why the government should revoke this charge against Azmi. An obvious repercussion of this act is that it will diminish, even subvert, critical discourses in the universities which can seriously hamper high quality scholarship. This will, in turn, undermine meaningful tutelage which can have a significant bearing on the quality of graduates Malaysian universities now produce, an issue already viewed with much concern.

The government cannot call on academics to produce graduates with the capacity to think creatively, a clear project of educational empowerment, while stifling academic freedom.

TERENCE GOMEZ is professor of Political Economy at the Faculty of Economics; Administration, Universiti Malaya.

Malaysiakini, 7/9/2014,  Silencing Azmi curbs intellectual discourse

See also related earlier posts:-

Saturday, September 06, 2014

‘Never before railwaymen sacked for picketing’ (Malaysiakini)

See also earlier posts:-

KTMB sacks top union leaders, 110 other railwaymen await fate 

112 KTMB workers terminated? Why? For a Union organised picket?

‘Never before railwaymen sacked for picketing’

Former Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Muhammad Abas is flabbergasted that Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) sacked its workers for participating in a picket.

The former Railwaymen’s Union of Malaya (RUM) president said such action was never taken against workers under his leadership.

“There was once when we had a picket for 23 days and no one was sacked. But workers were sacked for this picket which only lasted for three days.”

Muhammad stressed that the company cannot, in any way, interfere with the activities conducted by the union.

He said RUM should forward the matter to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as this may affect the country’s image if the issue draws international attention.

“As the former RUM president, I urge KTMB to re-employ the sacked workers,” he said in commenting on the sacking of two top union leaders - RUM president Abdul Razak Md Hassan and his deputy R Subramaniam.

Hundreds of RUM members participated in the May 9 picket to demand for the resignation of KTMB president Elias Kadir as they claimed that the company had performed dismally under his leadership. _Malaysiakini, 6/9/2014, ‘Never before railwaymen sacked for picketing’

Railwaymen awaiting KTMB axe for picketing

Railwaymen’s Union of Malaya (RUM) former president Abdul Razak Md Hassan believes that it is only a matter of time before members of the union who participated in a picket last May are sacked.

He claimed that the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) is booting out exp the workers one by one. Abdul Razak himself was expelled on Aug 29.

The latest incident witnessed three KTMB workers given marching orders without notice. The three are Muhammad Faizal Shahibul Kiraya, Zahit Zakaria and Mohamad Yusuf Mohamed Rashid.

"They will get rid of the workers one by one until all 110 workers are out," Abdul Razak (left in photo) told Malaysiakini today.

He explained that the workers were those who were identified by the KTMB management as having participated in the May 9 picket.

Razak was referring to the picket held to pressure KTMB president Datuk Elias Kadir to. About 700 RUM members had participated in the protest.

He said the management decided to do that as it believes that they had broken the law by their action.

However, citing Section 4 (Act 177) of the Industrial Relations Act 1967, Abdul Razak said the company had no power to obstruct union activities.

He, nonetheless, stressed that the union members will not appeal to get their jobs back.

“We are not in the wrong,” said Abdul Razak who is also mulling taking legal action against the company for  “wrongful dismissal”. - Malaysiakini, 6/9/2014, Railwaymen awaiting KTMB axe for picketing

KTMB sacks top union leaders, 110 other railwaymen await fate

Correction:- In the earlier post, based on the Malaysiakini report, I stated that 112 were terminated. Now, according to the Malaysian Insider report, it seems that only the President and the Deputy President of RUM have been terminated without Domestic Inquiry with immediate effect. The other 110 employees have been issued show cause letters. There were about 700 KTMB employees that took part in the picket - will the others also be receiving show cause letters in the near future?

I still say what KTMB is doing is wrong - and they should really reinstate the 2 and discontinue disciplinary action against the other employees. 

I am also shocked with the apparent lack of response from the Union and the KTMB employees - it is so wrong to sack their Union President and Deputy. In many other countries, there would have massive pickets and protest from workers - but alas, in Malaysia...? And KTMB would most likely get away with it...

Workers must be committed to uphold the cause of justice with fear or favour - this would mean standing against injustice even if one's job is at risk. Without solidarity and the willingness to 'stand up', workers will continue to be not respected by employers - and sadly, our laws and procedures seem not to favour workers.... Is it just for a worker to lose his job and income...whist the company goes on as usual - this certainly is not 'industrial harmony' or Justice... 

We have forgotten the 18 from DRB who have been terminated...the President, Secretary General and members of NUFAM , Wan Noorulazhar the president of the Electronic Union Western Region, NUBE Union leaders, NUJ Union President.... there has just been too much of termination of UNION leaders ...but alas the Unions and their members chose to 'stay silent' and allow the slow procedures of the Industrial Court to go forth. Do the Unions even support their terminated leaders and fellow members with monthly payments to help them survive this way too long process for justice which takes years...and years? If not, is solidarity no more amongst workers and in Unions? 

KTMB sacks top union leaders, 110 other railwaymen await fate 

Malaysia's main rail operator has sacked two top union officials while another 110 are awaiting their fate after taking part in a picket on May 9, the Railwaymen's Union of Malaya (RUM) confirmed today.
The sacked officials, RUM president Abdul Razak Md Hassan and his deputy R. Subramaniam, described their termination as a travesty of justice.
Razak told The Malaysian Insider that they received their termination letters from Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) last Friday.

"We were informed that our services were no longer required and our termination was with immediate effect," Razak said. "Besides us, 12 other RUM members are awaiting their disciplinary hearing once a domestic inquiry has been completed by KTMB.

"110 RUM members have been issued showcause letters by KTMB, which appears to be slowly identifying who else was involved in the picket on May 9," Razak said.

Razak was referring to the picket which was held to pressure KTMB president Datuk Elias Kadir to step down. About 700 RUM members had participated in the protest.

"Elias moves too slowly and appears to be driving KTMB into the ground. The current dire straits KTMB finds itself in is testament to that," Razak said.

He said an audit conducted in 2011 showed that the company suffered RM100 million in losses, which nearly tripled to RM280 million in 2012.

"The sacking is not justifiable because we were participating in one of RUM's activities," Razak said.

"Under Section 4 of Act 177 of the Industrial Relations Act 1967, it is clearly stated that no person shall interfere or coerce a workman from participating in union activities.

"We were clearly carrying out RUM activities during our picketing to agitate for the removal of Elias as KTMB president," he told The Malaysian Insider.

Razak pointed out that between 1961 and 1963, KTMB workers picketed for 23 days, bringing the railway operations to a complete halt.

"Nobody was sacked or subjected to disciplinary action during the picket. It was a rough time for KTMB.

"Our picketing was mild compared to what had occurred almost 50 years ago. So what is KTMB's justification for sacking me and Subramaniam?"

Razak claimed that the safety of workers, train crews and passengers were at an all-time low, with the KTMB locomotives overdue for an overhaul.

"If you use a car for 10 to 15 years, even the engine would give way eventually. But KTMB has only carried out minor repairs on the locomotives."

Razak said it was the same for the passenger coaches and the power generator cars, all of which were long overdue for major repairs.

He said the railway tracks were also in a bad shape, which forced trains to travel at the minimum speed.

Razak did not rule out the possibility that Elias's actions may have been related to the proposed privatisation of KTMB by MMC Corp Bhd, owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.

"Subramaniam and I have filed complaints over our controversial sacking with the Industrial Relations Department. There is no justification for our termination by KTMB."

The loss-making KTMB has been the target of several companies keen to take it private, including MMC and Gamuda Bhd.

Earlier this year, MMC had been keen to form a joint venture with Gamuda to take over KTMB in a deal worth more than RM5 billion but the deal did not materialise.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/ktmb-sacks-top-union-leaders-110-other-railwaymen-await-fate#sthash.X3AEqTnL.dpuf

112 KTMB workers terminated? Why? For a Union organised picket?

112 Railway employees SACKED? Railwaymen’s Union of Malaya (RUM) president and his Deputy sacked? And, it looks like there was not even a Domestic Inquiry - a right for workers accussed of a misconduct by the employer to defend themselves?

Furthermore, what is this all about - because the workers participated in a picket organized by their UNION? And in Malaysia, workers have a right to picket, and even go on a strike...

So, this termination of the 112 is wrong - but will there be justice? Well, workers can file a complaint at the Industrial Relations Department claiming reinstatement by reason of wrongful dismissal. Then, if the conciliation process does not work. The case is referred to the Minister, who then MAY refer the matter to the Industrial Court, and then the case starts... but alas, it takes a long time...several years and at the end of the day, nowadays even if the Industrial Court finds that the it was a wrongful dismissal - the court is most likely going to order compensation in lieu of reinstatement(thanks to an amendment of the law, this would not be more than 24 months baackwages...) 

So at the end of the day, this is not JUSTICE...and so easily employers can terminate Union leaders and those workers who even try to fight for justice... so wrong...so wrong. 

Now, the Railway workers will all be filled with fear...and without their leaders, more likely than not...they will be 'silenced'...no more struggling for rights...no more pickets and protest. We already see that unlike other countries, which would have seen a massive protests by the Union and workers --- things are 'silent' after the dismissal of the Union President and 111 fellow workers... 

Can we sit back, and allow this? Union Busting? ...

3:57PM Sep 3, 2014

KTMB sacks top unionists over picket

Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) has sacked two top unionists  over involvement in May 9 picket urging the resignation of KTMB president Elias Kadir due to poor performance.

Railwaymen’s Union of Malaya (RUM) president Abdul Razak Md Hassan (left) said 110 other KTMB staff were also sacked for the same reason.

Abdul Razak and his deputy received termination letters last Friday.

“My deputy and I were sacked without notice effective immediately on Aug 29. The letter was issued to us on Aug 29 and I was sacked the same day,” he said when contacted.

According to Abdul Razak, the management’s “union-busting” measure breaches Section 4 of the Industrial Relations Act.

“It was the union which arranged the picket, so why take action against the workers? Elias’ actions are wrong.

“It is as if he is trying to kill the union. What laws are they using? This is law of the jungle, not national legislation,” he said.

Abdul Razak said that he had lodged a complaint with the Industrial Relations Department and is awaiting a hearing.

“We will do all we can to oppose Elias who we feel is acting like a dictator,” he stressed. - Malaysiakini, 3/9/2014,
KTMB sacks top unionists over picket

Friday, September 05, 2014

2.9 million documented migrant workers out of a total of 5.8million migrant workers

5.8 million migrant workers of which 2.9 million documented in Malaysia

Finally, the Minister has acknowledged that there are 5.8 million migrant workers in Malaysia, but I believe that it is much more..

Malaysia now has 2.9 million documented migrant workers...

Is it a question that Malaysian workers are choosy or is it a question that employers in Malaysia are choosy... If employers do not want to pay just wages, have decent working hours [8 hours per day], regular employment that ensures employment security - not short-term contracts, ...then maybe more local workers would want to work. Local workers will not work or continue to work in oppressive or unjust employment situations - they will leave but alas migrant workers, as the system is at present, really do not have much of a choice...Many employers now want workers to work long hours, sometimes 10 or even more and local workers who have families and social life do not want to be only working and sleeping. The government, I believe, may be considering extending the 'overtime' limits to enable workers to work overtime for about 5 hours per day - and, workers today have not much choice to refuse to work overtime... Work climate needs to be improved by the government. If a factory is operating more than 16 hours, then it must be made mandatory that there be 3 shifts - not 2 shifts with workers forced to work overtime 4 to 5 hours.

Is it because of Malaysian government's policy? Is it because of the 'contractor for labour' being persons with no jobs of their own being allowed to bring in migrant workers? Previously, the employers(only being owners/operators of workplace) were allowed to bring in migrant workers after they have shown that they have tried to get local workers and failed, and the employer had to show that he had specific job positions that needed workers.

There is also no limit on the number of migrant workers per workplace. I am sure locals will want to work in petrol stations, shopping malls, etc in their towns ... but when the Malaysian government allows employers to hire migrant workers, the government should not blame local workers..

We seldom see signs/banners advertising and inviting local workers to come apply for work... So, when local workers are unaware of jobs ...how will they even apply. 

Malaysian government need to re-visit their policy on employers, jobs and workers...

Malaysian Workers Should Not Be Choosy Over Jobs - Riot

2 September 2014 
PUTRAJAYA, Sept 2 (Bernama) – Malaysian workers need to their attitude by not be choosy over jobs or just want to work in the public sector.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem said Malaysia has so many jobs in various sectors, but mostly are filled by foreign workers.
Malaysians should seize job opportunities provided by the 600,000 small and medium enterprises (SME), he told a press conference after a briefing on Human Capital Development Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRI), here today.
Riot said the dumping of foreign workers in Malaysia is worrying as they are some 5.8 million of whom only 2.9 million are legal workers.
The public are invited to attend Fiesta Kerjaya JobsMalaysia and Azam Kerja 1Malaysia 2014 at Mid Valley Exhibition Centre from Sept 5 to 7 to seize the 10,000 job vacancies in various sectors.
Among the activities held are open interviews, career fairs, career guidance talks, registration with JobsMalaysia Online and the Public Service Commission
Earlier, Riot said Human Capital Development Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRI) has in four years, enhanced the nation’s workforce and supported the needs of the Economic Transformation Programme’s (ETP) 12 National Key Economic Areas.
SRI is focused on modernising labour legislation, upskilling and upgrading the workforce, strengthening human resource management for SME’s, leveraging women’s talent and undertaking labour market analysis. — BERNAMA
Source: Bernama
Source: MTUC Website

Lambakan 5.8 Juta Pekerja Asing Membimbangkan - Riot

2 September 2014 
PUTRAJAYA, 2 Sept (Bernama) — Menteri Sumber Manusia Datuk Seri Richard Riot hari ini menarik perhatian terhadap lambakan pekerja asing dalam negara ketika ini iaitu kira-kira 5.8 juta orang.
Katanya, hanya separuh dari jumlah itu, atau kira-kira 2.9 juta adalah pekerja sah, dan ini merupakan situasi yang agak merisaukan.
Beliau bercakap pada sidang akhbar selepas taklimat mengenai Human Capital Development Strategic Reform Initiatives di sini hari ini.
Sehubungan dengan itu, beliau menggesa rakyat di negara ini agar mengikis sikap memilih pekerjaan atau hanya mahu bekerja di sektor awam.
Riot berkata Malaysia menyediakan begitu banyak peluang pekerjaan dalam pelbagai sektor, namun adalah menyedihkan kebanyakannya diisi oleh pekerja asing.
Beliau berkata bekerja di kira-kira 600,000 syarikat Industri Kecil dan Sederhana merupakan antara peluang kerjaya yang boleh dicuba rakyat tempatan.
Sementara itu, beliau menyeru orang ramai menghadiri Fiesta Kerjaya JobsMalaysia Dan Azam Kerja 1Malaysia 2014 Peringkat Kebangsaan di Mid Valley Exhibition Centre mulai 5 hingga 7 Sept untuk merebut 10,000 kekosongan jawatan pelbagai sektor.
Antara aktiviti di majlis itu ialah temuduga terbuka, pameran kerjaya, ceramah bimbingan kerjaya dan pendaftaran Online JobsMalaysia dan Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Awam. – BERNAMA
Sumber: Bernama