Rich Malaysian … Poor Malaysian – The Merdeka gap

Rich Malaysian … Poor Malaysian – The Merdeka gap

by S.Arutchelvan

In recent weeks, we have been occupied with the question of whether the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston’s claim is correct or false. Alston concluded that Malaysia’s absolute poverty rate cannot be 0.4 percent but was closer to 15 percent. Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali immediately dismissed the report as unacceptable and irresponsible while Prime Minister Dr Mahathir said the government will study the claim and may review the figures. Nevertheless Mahathir also ridiculed the report by saying, “It is not as bad as what is pointed out by the people who come here for one day, stay in a big hotel and then pass judgement”.

Let me talk about my interaction with around 70 cleaners who attended a retreat in Camp Perasaan near Taiping last weekend. This was not a venue of a 5 star hotel but a low budget resort. I was one of the resource persons and the group who attended were all hospital cleaners who work in Government Hospitals. These are the same people who work and keep our overcrowded Government Hospitals clean. When I asked them what are their salaries, they said that they are paid RM 1,100. When I asked the most senior person in the group who has worked for 30 years, the shocking answer was that his salary was also RM1100.

They receive the minimum wage irrespective of their years in service. They are employed through a Contractor employed by the Government. PSM has always taken a position in opposing contract work for permanent workers. This is an abuse of the system and a manipulation. It goes against the norms of job security enshrined in our constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Then I made a comparison to their salaries and top salaries or income earned by CEOs in Malaysia in the year 2017. When I shared these figures, they were shocked.

Obscene Salaries of CEOs

These figures were taken from publicly published reports and FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI index list (accurate as of May 31, 2018). The report looked at the very top companies. To put the record straight, these are 2017 income figures and not the top ten richest persons data which would be definitely be much higher. One can oneself search this on google.

Just for those who think that these are pre GE14 wages. Let me also state that the earnings of top earners in 2018 are higher than 2017. I take the 2017 salaries as comparison because the report does mention salaries and bonuses paid unlike the 2018 report.

Now we take Sime Darby Plantation – a GLC – CEO Dato’ Mohd Bakke Salleh’s salary for 2017. His total salary and remunerations was RM7.8 million in 2017. That would work out to RM 652,416 a month. Now can someone dare to compare this with the earning of a plantation worker under Sime Darby?

Now let’s take another Government linked company(GLC), Petronas. Petronas Chemicals Group CEO Datuk Sazali Hamzah was paid RM1,013,352 for his services to the company for the year 2017. That would work out to a monthly income of RM 84,446.

Now let’s see what two other GLCs pay their CEOs. In 2017, Malayan Banking Berhad paid its CEO Datuk Abdul Farid Alias a salary of RM2,400,000 and bonuses alone amounting to RM4,300,000. Now the report says his total earning was RM8.7million and if I break this down to monthly income, it works out to RM727,916 a month and if I further break down to a daily wage it would be around RM 24k.

What about the CEO of Tenaga Nasional who has proposed a bill hike?. This is yet another GLC where the CEO Datuk Seri Ir. Azman bin Mohd total salary and bonuses for 2017 were RM3,494,120 and RM3,000,000 respectively. With other benefits added, his total annual income was reported as RM7,247,219. Now that works out to a total monhly income of RM 603,935 and an estimated daily earning of RM 20,131.

Now let’s look at the top earner of 2017, Public Bank CEO Tan Sri Dato’ Tay Ah Lek. He earned RM27 million in 2017. The current top earning for 2018 is RM 80.6 million from Genting Berhad. The Public Bank CEO’s salary was RM11,079,000 and he got a bonus of almost RM16 million (RM15,974,000). His total income for 2017 was put at 27.8 million. That means if we break down the total income, it will work out to 2.3 million monthly and RM77k daily. If we break this down to 24 hours though no one works 24 hours, his salary would be around RM 3,200 an hour. That is almost three times our minimum wage.

Now let’s compare the top CEO’s one day income with the monthly income of our cleaners at the Government hospitals. It will take our cleaners almost 6 years to get the CEO’s one day salary and it will them around 174 years to get his one month salary .

Isn’t this obscene? Every time when we want to raise the minimum wage, there is massive opposition as if these poor workers are going wreak havoc on the economy. Most of the top multimillion ringgit earners in Malaysia are GLC companies. If this is not daylight robbery, what do we call it?

Looking at these figures, one wonders whether it is actually necessary to debate on our poverty rate. We talk about racial divisions yet the rich-poor gap remains unbridgeable.

May the workers get real freedom from poverty and low wages. Happy Merdeka!

S.Arutchelvan
PSM Deputy Chairperson
30-8-2019

Tibanya masa laksana pembaharuan undang-undang yang jamin hak berkesatuan untuk pekerja – PSM sambut baik cadangan pindaan terhadap Akta Kesatuan Sekerja 1959 dan Akta Perhubungan Perusahaan 1967

Tibanya masa laksana pembaharuan undang-undang yang jamin hak berkesatuan untuk pekerja – PSM sambut baik cadangan pindaan terhadap Akta Kesatuan Sekerja 1959 dan Akta Perhubungan Perusahaan 1967

oleh M. Sivaranjani

Pada 22 Ogos 2019, satu sesi taklimat telah dianjurkan oleh Jabatan Hal Ehwal Kesatuan Sekerja dan Jabatan Perhubungan Perusahaan (JPP) Selangor untuk membentangkan cadangan pindaan terhadap Akta Kesatuan Sekerja 1959 dan Akta Perhubungan Perusahaan 1967.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) menyambut baik cadangan pindaan tersebut kerana pindaan-pindaan ini akan membantu pekerja dalam menubuhkan kesatuan sekerja di tempat kerja mereka dan menghalang pemangsaan ahli-ahli kesatuan. Pada masa sekarang, dengan hanya 6% pekerja menganggotai kesatuan, warga pekerja mempunyai kuasa tawar-menawar yang sangat rendah, dan ini menyebabkan mereka kekal dengan gaJi yang rendah, faedah pekerjaan yang minimum dan terus kehilangan hak-hak asas seorang pekerja.

Dalam situasi sekarang, kebanyakan pekerja, terutamanya dalam sektor perkhidmatan dan informal, sukar diorganisasikan untuk membentuk kesatuan kerana terma kerja, kontrak tempoh tetap, bilangan pekerja yang kecil, lokasi kerja , penyumberan luar (outsourcing) kerja dan sebagainya . Dengan pindaan ini, sesebuah kesatuan kerja umum boleh ditubuhkan untuk mewakili pekerja dari pelbagai sektor dan tred (pekerjaan). Apabila mereka diwakili oleh kesatuan, maka kejadian eksploitasi oleh majikan dapat dicabar dan hak mereka akan terpelihara.

Pindaan yang dicadangkan dalam Akta Kesatuan Sekerja 1959, iaitu mengurangkan kuasa Menteri dan Ketua Pengarah Kesatuan Sekerja (KPKS) dalam isu-isu penubuhan kesatuan dan penolakan pendaftaran kesatuan, akan menggalakkan lebih ramai pekerja datang ke hadapan untuk menubuhkan kesatuan. Birokrasi Jabatan Hal Ehwal Kesatuan Sekerja atau kuasa budi bicara KPKS dan Menteri dicadangkan untuk dimansuhkan.

Pindaan juga dilakukan supaya lebih dari satu kesatuan boleh ditubuhkan di suatu tempat pekerjaan. Maka, cadangan pindaan untuk membenarkan penubuhan lebih daripada satu kesatuan akan menggalakkan pekerja menolak kesatuan yang tidak berjuang untuk mereka dan menubuhkan kesatuan yang baru. Dalam suasana persaingan yang sihat ini, kesatuan yang betul-betul berjuang untuk kepentingan pekerja akan mendapat sokongan. Selaras dengan standard Pertubuhan Buruh Antarabangsa (ILO), pihak Kementerian Sumber Manusia membawa pindaan-pindaan tersebut selaras dengan prinsip hak kebebasan untuk menganjurkan dan menyertai kesatuan.

Cadangan pindaan dalam Akta Kesatuan Sekerja 1959 yang lain adalah seperti berikut:

  • Syarat untuk melancarkan mogok dan tutup pintu (lock down) dilonggarkan dan hukuman untuk pelanggarannya dipinda. Dalam Akta Kesatuan Sekerja sekarang, jika didapati tidak mengikut syarat, maka pekerja boleh dihukum penjara dan perkara ini memang menghalang pekerja untuk mengorganisasi mogok atau tutup pintu apabila majikan bertindak tidak adil di tempat kerja. Dalam cadangan pindaan terbaru, hukuman penjara dimansuhkan. Hanya denda akan dikenakan.
  • Keanggotaan kesatuan sekerja diperluaskan kepada mereka yang telah bersara, digantung kerja dan berhentikan kerja. Ini akan membolehkan ahli kesatuan bergiat aktif dalam aktiviti sehingga mereka dapat keadilan daripada pemangsaan majikan.
  • Pekerja yang menganggotai mana-mana parti politik dibenarkan untuk menjadi pegawai kesatuan sekerja. Cadangan ini baik untuk menghindari diskriminasi pekerja yang merupakan ahli parti politik daripada menjadi pegawai kesatuan sepertimana wujud sekarang.
  • Kesatuan sekerja dibenarkan untuk bergabung dengan mana-mana kesatuan sekerja lain tanpa tertakluk pada sekatan keserupaan (similarity).
  • Kesatuan sekerja dibenarkan memindahkan perjanjian-perjanjian (transfer of engagements) kepada mana-mana kesatuan lain tanpa tertakluk pada sekatan keserupaan.
  • Syarat pindaan peraturan yang melibatkan kenaikan yuran bulanan dan mengurangkan faedah anggota kesatuan dilonggarkan kepada lebih daripada separuh undi yang dipulangkan bersetuju terhadap pindaan.
  • Penubuhan persekutuan kesatuan sekerja tidak lagi tertakluk kepada prinsip keserupaan tred, pekerjaan atau industri.

Seterusnya, beberapa cadangan pindaan untuk Akta Perhububungan Perusahaan 1967 juga dibentang. Salah satunya adalah mewujudkan Mahkamah Rayuan Pekerjaan (EAC). Apabila pekerja kalah di Mahkamah Perusahaan, keputusan tersebut boleh dicabar di Mahkamah Rayuan Pekerjaan. Sekarang, pekerja harus melalui proses Mahkamah Sivil yang memakan kos yang tinggi. Bagi membantu pekerja dalam hal berkaitan kos dan mempercepatkan penyelesaian, Mahkamah Rayuan Pekerjaan dicadangkan. PSM berpendapat ini adalah satu langkah yang akan memanfaatkan pekerja yang sentiasa dimangsakan dan kebanyakan masa mereka berputus asa kerana tidak dapat menampung kos atau sanggup mengharungi tempoh masa yang lama sehingga kes selesai.

Cadangan pindaan seterusnya adalah mewujudkan satu peruntukan baru di bawah Seksyen 12A, iaitu “preference ballot” (undi pilihan). Dalam keadaan wujud lebih daripada satu kesatuan sekerja di suatu tempat pekerjaan, hanya satu kesatuan sekerja dibenarkan membuat perjanjian bersama (CA) dengan majikan. Bagi memilih satu kesatuan yang layak untuk membuat CA, sistem “preference ballot” akan digunakan. Ini bermaksud kesatuan yang mendapat sokongan undi tertinggi akan berhak mewakili pekerja dalam perundingan kolektif.

Selain itu, terdapat cadangan pindaan terdapat Akta Perhubungan Perusahaan 1967 dalam Seksyen 13(3), di mana kesatuan sekerja dibenarkan untuk berbincang dengan majikan semasa perundingan kolektif secara umum tentang hal kenaikan pangkat, pertukaran, pengambilan pekerja, penamatan perkhidmatan akibat lebihan tenaga kerja, pembuangan kerja dan pemulihan kerja serta agihan tugas. Kesatuan sekerja sekarang ini tiada hak untuk merundingkan hal-hal ini yang sebelum ini dianggap sebagai budi bicara dan kuasa mutlak majikan.

Berikut adalah pindaan-pindaan lain yang dicadangkan di bawah Akta Perhubungan Perusahaan 1967:

  1. Kuasa budi bicara Menteri untuk merujuk atau tidak merujuk sesuatu kes pembuangan akan dipindahkan kepada Ketua Pengarah Perhubungan Perusahaan (KPPP). Kuasa Menteri untuk memutuskan isu pengiktirafan kesatuan sekerja akan dipindahkan kepada KPPP.
  1. Kes pertikaian perusahaan mengenai keengganan majikan memulakan perjanjian kolektif hanya boleh dirujuk ke Mahkamah Perusahaan atas persetujuan bersama pihak yang terlibat kecuali dalam 4 keadaan, iaitu:
  • Kes yang melibatkan perjanjian kolektif yang pertama;
  • Kes yang melibatkan perkhidmatan perlu (Jaduan Pertama);
  • Kes yang menyebabkan “acute crisis” jika tidak diselesaikan segera;
  • Pihak yang terlibat tidak bertindak secara “good faith” dalam menyelesaikan pertikaian yang perlu.
  1. Memberi kuasa kepada Mahkamah Perusahaan
  • Untuk mendengar dan memutuskan tarikh pembuangan kerja sebenar sekiranya tarikh pembuangan kerja yang dirujuk oleh KPPP kepada Mahkamah dipertikaikan oleh pihak yang terlibat di bawah Seksyen 29.
  • Mengenakan faedah ke atas award yang melibatkan kewangan (maksimum 8% setahun) – Seksyen 30 (1A)
  • Mahkamah Perusahaan tidak terikat kepada Jadual Kedua sekiranya sesuatu kes pembuangan kerja melibatkan perlanggaran terhadap Seksyen 4, 5 atau 7 – Seksyen 30 (6A)
  • Memansuhkan peruntukan di bawah subseksyen 30(7) bagi memberi kuasa budi bicara kepada Mahkamah Perusahaan untuk menetapkan tarikh ke belakang sesuatu award tanpa terikat lagi kepada tempoh maksimum 6 bulan – Seksyen 30(7).
  1. Membenarkan pekerja-pekerja Badan Berkanun Persekutuan (BBP) mengemukakan representasi pemulihan kerja di bawah Seksyen 20. Cadangan pindaan ini akan membenarkan pekerja-pekerja dalam 7 buah agensi Badan Berkanun Persekutuan berikut untuk mengemukakan tuntutan di bawah Seksyen 20:
  • Lembaga Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja
  • Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri
  • Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera
  • Lembaga Tabung Haji
  • Pertubuhan Keselamatan Sosial
  • Bank Simpanan Nasional
  • Perbadanan Hal Ehwal Bekas Angkatan Tentera (PERHEBAT)
  1. Waris terdekat boleh menikmati bayaran pampasan yang diputuskan oleh Mahkamah Perusahaan. Memberi kuasa kepada Mahkamah untuk memerintahkan gaji ke belakang atau pampasan sebagai ganti kepada pemulihan kerja dibayar kepada waris terdekat apabila pekerja meninggal dunia – Seksyen 30(6B).

Secara keseluruhannya, PSM mengucapkan tahniah kepada pihak Kementerian Sumber Manusia yang berani membawa cadangan pindaan undang-undang ini yang akan membuka ruang kepada lebih ramai pekerja menubuhkan kesatuan dan secara bersama mereka boleh bersuara dengan berani apabila berlaku penindasan di tempat kerja. Kami amat berharap pindaan-pindaan ini akan dibawa ke Parlimen secepat mungkin dan dilaksanakan secepat mungkin.

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M. Sivaranjani ialah Ahli Jawatankuasa Pusat Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) merangkap Penyelaras Biro Pekerja PSM.

New housing scheme only fattens developers, not helping buyers

New housing scheme only fattens developers, not helping buyers

Source: The Leaders Online

PUCHONG: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) today slammed Bank Negara for not addressing the fundamental issue revolving around the lack of home ownership among Malaysians.

In a statement today, PSM secretary general A Sivarajan said that the main reason why many could not own a house was due to low wages and exorbitant prices of homes.

“The government data itself recommends that if a family earns RM3,000 a month, they can only afford to buy a house three times their pay, or about RM108,000.

“But instead of addressing the issue of low wages and skyrocketing house prices, Bank Negara is only easing loan application for the people. This will not solve the problem. It will only fatten developers’ bank accounts,” he said.

Recently, Bank Negara expanded the eligibility criteria for those seeking to purchase property under the RM1 billion Fund for Affordable Homes.

Effective Sept 1, individuals planning to apply for financing to purchase affordable houses would be eligible to do so if they have a maximum monthly household income of RM4,360, up 86% from the earlier threshold income level of RM2,300 per month.

Plus, the maximum property price will be increased to RM300,000 from RM150,000. These new terms would help buyers from this income group to obtain financing to purchase their first house.

Hurling brickbats on the new initiative, Sivarajan said that the new move would put house buyers in further debt, especially those under the B40 group.

He also said the new initiative would only help the middle class, who can afford to purchase a house worth RM300,000.

“The RM 1 billion allocation will not help the lower income people, who only earn a paltry sum between RM1,100 and RM2,000,” he said.

Sivarajan also accused the government of only helping the developers,  in order to help the latter sell their homes at exorbitant price.

“Bank Negara itself had said that 68% of the houses built remain unsold due to mismatch between supply and demand as developers continue to sell them at exorbitant prices.

“This new move will only embolden developers, as it will not provide any incentive for them to reduce their prices.

“As a result, developers will continue building homes which are out of reach for Malaysians, especially among the B40 group,” he said.

As a solution, the PSM leader urged Bank Negara to focus on building homes worth RM100,000 and below; and get government linked companies such as Khazanah Nasional Berhad to embark on such projects.

“And stop helping private developers who only think about making money and failed to commit themselves in providing affordable homes for Malaysians.

‘The government should not lose their focus; which is to help working class Malaysians to own quality homes at affordable price,” said Sivarajan.

By G Vinod

The Meaning of Empowerment

The Meaning of Empowerment

By Arveent Kathirtchelvan

I had the express pleasure of working with the Allied Aeronautics Training Centre Students’ Union (AATCSU) from when it was only a concept in the minds of a few proactive, socially conscious students, until it was established properly and, now, it has grown to win in its struggle through negotiations between student leaders, the Ministry of Human Resources and the AATC management. This was my first experience in handling a social case with the Parti Sosialis Malaysia and I am grateful that I could learn the process from the capable hands of comrade Sharan Raj, a central committee member of the party.

Reflecting on the past few months, there are a few points that stand out to me with regards to how the party helps those in need and, more interestingly, how they help themselves. As socialists, the prevailing thought at the forefront of our consciousness is the empowerment of groups who are suppressed. However, those new to the process, as I am, are sometimes not really clear on what empowerment means. Seeing it unfold in front of my eyes taught me how it is supposed to look, and the mentality necessary for those trying to help these groups.

The AATCSU Experience

In the beginning of PSM’s involvement with what will eventually become the AATCSU, several AATC students approached PSM seeking assistance. The main issue was that the college management promised to arrange for PTPK loans to pay for the students’ fees. The students, most of whom are from a lower income bracket, relied on this guarantee to enrol as the interest rate and the payback instalment amount are low for these loans. Years on and 6 batches of student intakes later, the whole cohort had studied without paying a single sen, but the loans weren’t coming. The college management then asked for students to apply for Affin Bank Personal Loans with a near 8% interest rate. This was an unacceptable arrangement for the students and they began to look for a way out of it.

We saw that the students were interested in a holistic solution. There was no division based on race or religion, nor did the students look out only for their individual benefit. They considered themselves to be a united front, each equal to the other, and were willing to fight for what was promised to them. A preliminary organization structure was laid out, with the initial small group of students spreading out to talk to their classmates, batch by batch. Week by week, the number of students committed to organization grew. After a while, the leadership structure of the growing union solidified, from chairperson to secretary to committee members assigned to their respective batches.

Soon, the time came to call a town hall discussion. The first attempt was a failure. The number of students who came were not more than half of the entire cohort. For those who did, Sharan led a post-mortem that identified challenges in reaching out to the other students and how much work really needs to be done in explaining to them what the union represented. The students were resolved to go back to square one. More organizing and more ground work were undertaken. The committee more seriously focused on getting the attendance numbers up. A date was fixed for the next town hall.

When it came, as I pulled-up to the venue, the crowd was burgeoning. Already, the total number of students seemed to easily double that of the first town hall. There was a desk prepared with registers listing those who had agreed to attend, being ticked-off one-by-one as they came in. When the meeting started, the target of getting more than half of the entire AATC student body to attend was easily achieved. This group seemed clear on their intentions. They were there to stand as one to solve their problems together. The preliminary committee was pulled up in front of the attendees and were voted on. Some of the committee was replaced, new positions were added and the composition of the committee, in terms of race and gender, was made diverse.

Following this success, a letter was drafted to the management detailing the students’ demands. Amongst these were the preparation of the PTPK loans and discontinuation of the lack of engagement with students before decision-making on the part of the management. A meeting was requested by the student union with the management to begin negotiations on these matters. When the letter was hand-delivered, the management received it and asked for a few days to go through it before responding.

The following Monday, both the chairperson and secretary of the union were dismissed from AATC. The rest of the union were informed of this that morning. Afternoon came and over 90 students went to the ground to protest this decision. They occupied their training centre and demanded for their fellow students to be reinstated. The unity shown by the union members was shocking and refreshing. Weeks of talking about each other as part of the same class struggle was realized in an instant when the might of the management was exerted. It was awe-inspiring.

More so when some of them were taken to the Kelana Jaya Police Station, the rest of the students gathered in front and waited for hours until they were released. Students of all races coming together with the sole intention of getting their own released. Even when there were certain outside forces trying to inject a racial perspective into them at that time, the students stayed firm. Close to 10 pm, the detained students, alongside Sharan, were released. The students rejoiced.

Members of the AATC Student Union meeting with Human Resources Minister, M. Kulasegaran

Two days later, a meeting was arranged between the students, AATC management and the Ministry of Human Resources. Minister M. Kulasegaran acted in favour of the students and assisted them to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. The students asked for the reinstatement of their dismissed chairperson and secretary, the arrangement of PTPK loans for them and the re-enrollment of fellow students who had earlier left AATC due to the lack of a good financing option. All three demands were agreed to. The student union had won.

An Analysis

So, to review, how do we analyse the experience of this union? Oftentimes, we judge society to be filled with racially-biased individuals who can never be united. However, this togetherness is clear in the AATC Students’ Union which is multiracial but moves as one. We need to understand that the type of organization is key. What I mean by this is, they union was organized around a class struggle. There was an oppressive class in the management and an oppressed class in the students. This was understood clearly. Race was nowhere near the foundations of this union.

There is also the perception that students and other suppressed social classes, like lorry drivers and plantation workers, are not capable of organizing themselves. Our experience with the AATCSU proves this wrong. Most of the work was done by the students themselves, from explaining their stance to other students, ensuring the racial divide does not set in until getting students to come to the ground to openly protest.

This was no radicalization. This was realization of the innate talents of the students themselves. They were determined and worked hard to prepare themselves to solve their own problems. This is empowerment. You don’t have to give hand-outs, just a conducive environment for affected individuals to organize and find amicable solutions to their issues. This approach is clear in PSM’s other work as well. From unfairly retrenched workers to plantation workers being evicted from their houses, PSM’s approach in class-based organization isn’t only effective but is sustainable as there is true ownership of those being organized themselves in the process.

As we near Merdeka, many quarters throughout the nation are calling it the least joyful of all. Political parties and NGOs instigate racial sentiments, the people are beginning to tire of the deep cracks within our society. Yet, in AATCSU, we can see hope burning brightly. Their model uplifted their community effectively, their unity forged far from the deep clutches of racial sentiments. Proof, again, that through a class-based approach, not only can we stand against oppressors and achieve what we seek but we can do it as a united front with no division between us. AATCSU has taught all of us a lesson in these trying times. Will we care to listen? Happy Merdeka, Malaysia.

Arveent Kathirtchelvan is a committee member of Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Youth Wing

Peparu dunia sedang dibakar

Peparu dunia sedang dibakar

Hutan Amazon, hutan hujan tropika terbesar di dunia yang meliputi meliputi kawasan yang meluas di negara Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana dan Suriname, sedang dilanda kebakaran yang serius, khususnya di kawasan hutan yang terletak di dalam negara Brazil. Kebakaran Huutan Amazon di Brazil, bukan sahaja memberi impak kepada alam sekitar di benua Amerika Latin, tetapi juga sedang mengancam bumi kita yang sudah pun menghadapi krisis iklim yang membimbangkan.

Pada ketika ini, beribu kebakaran sedang terjadi di kawasan Hutan Amazon, dengan negeri-negeri di bahagian utara Brazil seperti Roraima, Acre, Rondônia dan Amazonas, mengalami kesan yang paling teruk akibat daripada kebakaran-kebakaran ini.

Menurut angka rasmi, lebih 75,000 kebakaran hutan telah direkodkan di Brazil untuk 8 bulan pertama tahun ini, satu angka yang paling tinggi sejak tahun 2013, dan jauh tinggi berbanding 40,000 kebakaran dalam tempoh yang sama pada tahun 2018. Kebakaran hutan di kawasan Amazon adalah sesuatu yang biasa ketika musim kemarau dari bulan Julai hingga Oktober setiap tahun. Kebakaran ini boleh berpunca daripada alam semulajadi seperti sambaran kilat, tetapi juga boleh disebabkan oleh aktiviti pembalakan dan pembukaan tanah untuk pertanian. Presiden Brazil Jair Bolsonaro yang mengambilalih kuasa sejak 1 Januari 2019 telah memainkan peranan aktif dalam menggalakkan aktiviti penebangan pokok di kawasan Amazon.

Kebakaran hebat di Hutan Amazon, bukan sahaja sedang memusnahkan khazanah alam yang begitu kaya di Bumi kita, tetapi juga sedang melepaskan karbon yang begitu banyak ke dalam atmosfera Bumi kita dan “menyumbang” kepada krisis iklim yang semakin teruk.

Bolonaro, seorang ahli politik pelampau kanan yang mempermainkan sentimen perkauman dan politik kebencian untuk berkuasa, telah melaksanakan dasar yang mengancam alam sekitar dan kehidupan masyarakat orang asal di Brazil. Kerajaan pimpinan Bolsorano telah menarik balik langkah-langkah penguatkuasaan terhadap pembukaan hutan secara haram di kawasan hutan terlindung.

Malah, ketika berkempen untuk Pilihanraya Presiden pada tahun lepas lagi, Bolsonaro telah mengatakan bahawa tanah hutan perlindungan yang luas merupakan halangan kepada pertumbuhan ekonomi dan berjanji untuk membukannya bagi eksploitasi komersial.

Dasar yang dibawa oleh Bolsonaro adalah menukar tanah awam yang sepatutnya untuk kepentingan semua orang kepada tanah swasta yang menguntungkan segelintir kecil kapitalis. Kebanyakan tanah awam di Brazil terletak di Hutan Amazon, termasuk tanah awam di mana masyarakat orang asal berhak untuk menggunakaannya dan tanah kegunaan kolektif oleh quilombola (orang keturunan hamba dari Afrika yang berjaya memenangkan hak tanah mereka). Kerajaan Bolsonaro sedang meningkatkan usaha untuk membuka tanah yang diduduki oleh masyarakat orang asli dan kawasan perlindungan hutan, untuk menjadikan tanah yang luas ini sebagai ladang penternakan, ladang tanaman soya dan lombong mineral. Bolsonaro langsung tidak mempedulikan alam sekitar dan masyarakat akar umbi, kerana hasratnya adalah mempertahankan kepentingan golongan kapitalis Brazil dengan apa jua cara, termasuk menghancurkan paru-paru hijau yang terbesar di dunia.

Kebakaran yang sedang memusnahkan hutan di Brazil sekarang ini, bukannya sesuatu yang semula jadi, tetapi adalah produk dasar kerajaan Brazil yang mengetepikan alam sekitar. Amat ternyata sekali, Bolsonaro bukan sahaja ancaman kepada rakyat Brazil, tetapi ancaman hebat kepada Bumi kita!

20190823 - amazonia

PSM: Don’t mobilise based on race and religion

PSM: Don’t mobilise based on race and religion

Source: Malaysiakini
Parti Sosialis Malaysia is strongly urging Malaysians not to rally behind causes which are based on race or religion.

“It is our opinion that all parties pushing for a single ethnic or religion mobilisation in the coming weeks should take one step back because these actions are not going to do anything good for the future of Malaysia,” said PSM deputy chairperson S Arutchelvan (photo, above) in a statement today.

“Single ethnic-religious mobilisation will only result in people attacking each other and then calling others racist. This will further divide and widen the gap. PSM will not encourage its members to participate in this mobilisation,” he said.

In recent weeks, a number of polarising issues have surfaced including the continued presence of wanted preacher Dr Zakir Naik who has been accused of making racially-charged speeches.

There was also a fierce debate over the proposed introduction of the khat script for vernacular schools and plans to amend the Selangor constitution to allow for the unilateral conversion of minors.

In this heated environment, Syahredzan Johan, an aide to DAP leader Lim Kit Siang, even received a death threat on Wednesday night after calling for Zakir Naik’s permanent resident status to be revoked.

“We should be advocating for mobilisation of all races and religious groups in one rally towards peace or common interests.”

“It is better for our energy to be preserved to fight for issues which concern all of us on the issues of job security, affordable houses and climate emergency,” said Arutchelvan.

Has Pakatan Harapan learned in a year what Barisan Nasional has mastered in 60 years?

Has Pakatan Harapan learned in a year what Barisan Nasional has mastered in 60 years?

Source: ThinkLeft

Looks like controversial preacher Zakir Naik is strategically completing his mission to further divide and cause hatred amongst our fragile society. After earning the wrath of the Malaysian Indian community for some time now, he has shifted his target to the Chinese with his disparaging remarks. He is reported to have quoted that the Malaysian Chinese are also guests here, and if they want him (Zakir Naik) to be sent back to India then, the Chinese should also be asked to go back!

Coming from a recently granted PR card holder, Zakir Naik is not talking from his ignorance of Malaysian history. He is specifically serving his purpose as a tool to divide our country along racial and religious lines.

While it was no surprise that he received an honorary welcome in Kelantan from the PAS led government, as PAS needs people like Zakir Naik to push their religious and political agenda, but it was very disappointing to see even certain moderate Pakatan Harapan Muslim leaders also cozying up to him.

Do they also share his views on his version of Islam? Or more dangerously, have the Pakatan leaders identified him as a key tool to divide and rule society to be used whenever necessary?

Has Pakatan Harapan learned in a year what Barisan Nasional has mastered in 60 years? That is using individuals and issues to keep our society fighting on racial and religious lines.

Thus, if we are still waiting for politicians to say the right things and show the way, it will not happen. The rakyat has to see through these evil political maneuvers and refused to be influenced by them. From the ‘Khat’ issue, the Selangor single parent conversion bill, Dong Zhong to Zakir Naik, these issues have only led to mobilizations and exchanges of heated statements between Muslims and non-Muslims. Seems like there is a deep state within Pakatan Harapan, executing its agenda in the interest of unknown political forces.

PSM calls on the rakyat to mobilise across all races and religions to call for an end to these never ending hate exchanges between communities. Where our politicians have failed, the rakyat will have to show great maturity and understanding to nip these racial tensions in the bud. The working class Malay Muslims, Chinese and Indians have so much in common compared to our religious and political elite. Let’s not allow these tools of destruction orchestrated by certain quarters destroy our racial harmony and class solidarity.

Sivarajan.
PSM Secretary General.

Gabungan masyarakat sivil baru dilancarkan untuk menggerakkan pemulihan pilihanraya tempatan

Gabungan masyarakat sivil baru dilancarkan untuk menggerakkan pemulihan pilihanraya tempatan

Source: Sosialis

Gabungan Demokrasi Tempatan (DEKAT) dilancarkan pada 17 Ogos 2019, sebagai inisiatif terbaru masyarakat sivil Malaysia untuk menggerakkan pemulihan pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan di negara kita. Pelancaran tersebut diadakan dalam satu forum khas bertemakan “Pilihanraya Tempatan: Siapa Untung? Siapa Rugi?” yang turut dihadiri Zuraida Kamaruddin selaku Menteri Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan dan Jagdeep Singh Deo selaku Ahli Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang untuk Perumahan, Kerajaan Tempatan dan Perancangan Bandar dan Desa.

Zuraida Kamaruddin telah menyatakan komitmennya untuk mengembalikan pilihanraya tempatan dalam tempoh 3 tahun. Menurutnya, satu kumpulan kerja teknikal di bawah Kementeriannya akan bekerjasama dengan beberapa pihak termasuk masyarakat sivil untuk menyediakan cadangan model atau kerangka yang sesuai bagi pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan di Malaysia, dan dijangka akan dibawa kepada kabinet sebelum dibentangkan dalam parlimen dalam tempoh masa 3 tahun.

Zuraida berkata, “Tiada orang akan rugi apabila pilihanraya tempatan dilaksanakan. Walaupun terdapat beberapa isu perlu diatasai, tetapi pilihanraya tempatan memang sesuatu yang boleh dilaksanakan.”

Ketika menjawab persoalan bahawa Perdana Menteri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad telah menyatakan pendiriannya yang menolak pilihanraya tempatan, Zuraida berkata, “Sebagai seorang Menteri, adalah menjadi tugas dan tanggungjawab saya untuk menyakinkan beliau bahawa rakyat kita sudah bersedia untuk pilihanraya tempatan!”

Sementara itu, Kerajaan Pulau Pinang walaupun menyatakan sokongannya yang sepenuh kepada pemulihan pilihanraya tempatan, tetapi telah menendang bola kepada Kerajaan Persekutuan untuk mengalihkan segala rintangan untuk pelaksanaan pilihanraya tempatan.

Forum “Pilihanraya Tempatan: Siapa Untung? Siapa Rugi?” diadakan oleh Kumpulan Kerja Pilihanraya Tempatan Pulau Pinang (PLCEWAG). Ahli-ahli panel yang membentang idea dalam forum ini termasuk Ehsan Salam (aktivis kumpulan masyarakat Petaling Jaya MyPJ), Dr. Prema Devaraj (Presiden ALIRAN), Thomas Fann (Pengerusi BERSIH 2.0) dan Wong Chin Huat (Penganalisis Politik). Ahli-ahli panel telah menyampaikan pembentangan mereka merangkumi aspek-aspek seperti sejarah, keterangkuman kumpulan masyarakat terpinggir dalam proses demokrasi, keperluan untuk mengembalikan pilihanraya dan sistem pilihanraya yang sesuai dengan situasi di Malaysia.

PLCEWAG yang ditubuhkan sejak bulan April 2019 terdiri daripada individu dan organisasi yang berhasrat untuk meningkatkan tahap penyertaan demokrasi di kalangan rakyat melalui usaha untuk memulihkan demokrasi tempatan melalui undi ketiga. Forum yang diadakan pada 17 Ogoos lalu adalah aktiviti yang pertama daripada siri program yang akan dianjurkan untuk menyokong pemulihan pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan.

PLCEWAG berpandangan bahawa pendidikan dan penyertaan awam adalah sangat penting untuk membantu rakyat memahami hak dan keperluan mereka sebagai pengundi ketiga, dalam proses pemulihan pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan. Oleh yang demikian, PLCEWG merancang untuk mengadakan beberapa siri program dengan komuniti untuk bersama membincang dan memahami isu-isu yang dihadapi oleh masyarakat.

Gabungan Demokrasi Tempatan (DEKAT) yang dilancarkan pada 17 Ogos 2019, diasaskan secara bersama oleh kumpulan-kumpulan masyarakat sivil dari seluruh negara, termasuk Penang Forum, PLCEWAG, Selamatkan Kuala LumpurMyPJPusat Memerangi Rasuah dan Kronisme (C4) dan BERSIH 2.0.

PLCEWAG menyeru Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang untuk meneruskan usaha memulihkan pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan kerana ia berkait rapat dengan sejarah Pulau Pinang. Mengikut sejarah, George Town ialah bandar pertama yang mengadakan pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan pada tahun 1857, di mana tiga daripada lima orang pesuruhjaya perbandaran dipilih melalui proses tersebut. Selepas satu tempoh penggantungan, Pulau Pinang sekali lagi menjadi negeri yang pertama memilih sembilan daripada 15 pesuruhjaya perbandaran pada tahun 1951. Pada tahun 1956, Majlis Perbandaran George Town telah menjadi kerajaan tempatan yang pertama yang melaksanakan pemilihan sepenuhnya.

PLCEWAG juga menyeru Kerajaan Malaysia untuk mempercepatkan proses pembuatan keputusan di Parlimen supaya membolehkan pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan dapat dilaksanakan di negara kita.

PSM concerned about divisive policies, moots review committee

PSM concerned about divisive policies, moots review committee

Source: Malaysiakini; Published:   |  Modified: 

Pakatan Harapan should set-up a high level committee to vet government policies before announcing them to the public, urges PSM.

Its chairperson Jeyakumar Devaraj (above) said policies and government initiatives that touch on language, religion and education issues must go through this committee first before Harapan ministers are allowed to make an announcement.

The suggestion came as Harapan ruling coalition is now facing protests following recent announcement on implementation of khat in school syllabus, and Selangor government’s plan to table a law that would pave way to unilateral conversion in the state.

He said that while PSM supported the idea of Malaysians from different racial backgrounds learning each other’s culture, the decision on the khat issue without prior consultation could deepen divisions between ethnic groups.

“Doesn’t (Education Minister) YB Maszlee Malik (below) know that many non-Malay parents are anxious that there is a tendency to Islamise non-Malay children attending public schools? Taken against this backdrop, the Khat proposal just heightens suspicions among some that the government is trying to “Islamise” society even further.

 

“Then, as if to up the ante, the Selangor Government attempted to introduce a Bill allowing the conversion of children unilaterally by one of the parents. Though this problem has only affected about half a dozen couples in the past 10 years, it is an issue that has been widely publicized and is an emotive one,” Jeyakumar said in a statement.

He added that this was disappointing, given that Harapan was voted into power by the rakyat who hoped that they would build “a just and more harmonious society”.

“What is going on Pakatan? Some people speculate that this stirring of ethnic issues is being done on purpose to weaken certain coalition partners, and/or to distract attention from issues involving certain leaders.

“Pakatan, too, has come into power with the promise of enhancing our racial integration and equality, so why betray your constituents?

“PSM would like to advise the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council to set up a high level committee to vet all new policies and initiatives touching on language, religion and education before permitting the ministers concerned to announce these.”

In the same statement, Jeyakumar also called for the public who are protesting the two initiatives by Education Ministry and Selangor state government to also toe the line.

He said it does not give anyone the license to lash out at any race or religious group.