Penduduk Kampung Segambut Permai yang diusir akan dapat rumah alternatif

Penduduk Kampung Segambut Permai yang diusir akan dapat rumah alternatif

KUALA LUMPUR: 33 buah keluarga di Kampung Segambut Permai dapat berasa lega seketika selepas pelaksanaan notis pengusiran terhadap mereka telah ditangguhkan selama dua minggu sementara Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan telah berjanji untuk mengaturkan perumahan alternatif untuk penduduk yang terlibat.

Kampung Segambut Permai menghadapi pengusiran paksa pada 9 Disember 2019 apabila wakil pemaju Kemasekutu Sdn Bhd datang ke kampung tersebut dengan notis pengusiran dan jentolak. Namun, penduduk kampung telah membuat sekatan jalan untuk menghalang perobohan rumah.

Aktivis Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), termasuk A. Sivarajan selaku Setiausaha Agung PSM dan Soh Sook Hwa selaku Bendahari PSM, telah hadir di situ untuk bersolidariti dengan penduduk Kampung Segambut Permai yang melawan pengusiran paksa. Hannah Yeoh, selaku Ahli Parlimen Kawasan Segambut yang juga merupakan Timbalan Menteri Wanita dan Pembangunan Keluarga, turut berada di situ bersama dengan wakil daripada Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan.

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Setelah rundingan di tapak kampung, wakil pihak pemaju telah bersetuju untuk menangguhkan pelaksanaan notis pengusiran selama 2 minggu, sementara Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan akan mengatur rumah alternatif untuk penduduk kampung yang terjejas oleh pengusiran.

Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan telah mengeluarkan satu surat pada 9 Disember 2019 juga, memberi akujanji untuk menyediakan perumahan alternatif bagi penduduk-penduduk yang terjejas dalam tempoh masa dua minggu dari tarikh surat tersebut.

“Terima kasih kepada pihak Menteri kerana dapat mendesak tuan tanah untuk tangguhkan dua minggu lagi sehingga Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan mengatur rumah ganti untuk orang kampung. Namun, masalah pokoknya belum selesai. Kenapa peneroka bandar yang telah berusaha membangunkan tanah selama 40 tahun dinafikan hak mereka?” kata A. Sivarajan selepas pengusiran ditangguhkan.

Sivarajan menegaskan, “Kerajaan Pakatan Harapan perlu menggubal undang-undang yang mengiktiraf dan melindungi hak peneroka bandar. Daripada pengalaman hari ini, diharapkan Menteri-menteri dan wakil-wakil rakyat dapat berusaha menuju ke arah itu. Jika tidak, satu lagi peristiwa perobohan rumah kampung peneroka bandar menanti pada masa terdekat.”

Kampung Segambut Permai, dahulunya dikenali sebagai Kampung Ayam, telah diteroka dan didiami penduduk sejak tahun 1960-an. Pada tahun 1981, Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS) telah mendapat hak pemilikan pajakan tanah Kampung Segambut Permai tanpa pengetahuan peneroka asal. Perkara ini hanya terbongkar apabila seorang penduduk kampung cuba memohon lot tanah Segambut Permai di Pejabat Tanah Wilayah pada tahun 2000. Pada tahun 2002, pemilikan pajakan tanah dipindahmilik daripada PKNS kepada Kemasekutu Sdn Bhd tanpa pengetahuan penduduk asal sekali lagi. Penduduk kampung mula menerima notis pengusiran yang dikeluarkan oleh Kemasekutu Sdn Bhd pada tahun 2012. Satu Penghakiman Persetujuan yang bertarikh 17 Oktober 2013 menyatakan persetujuan penduduk untuk mengosongkan premis masing-masing, tetapi perkara itu berlaku tanpa pengetahuan penduduk. Sejak itu, penduduk asal kampung ini telah diancam pengusiran paksa.

UEM Edgenta: A Government Linked Company and a Union Buster?

UEM Edgenta: A Government Linked Company and a Union Buster?

by A. Sivarajan

PSM condemns the actions of government owned company UEM Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd (100% owned by UEM Edgenta) for ill-treating its workers who work as cleaners in government hospitals. Yesterday nearly 150 workers from government hospital cleaning services submitted a memorandum to YB Dr Dzulkefly Health Minister, complaining about UEM Edgenta. The company, being a government GLC owned by Khazanah Nasional should be ashamed of behaving like a ‘union buster’. Government hospital cleaners who were government staff previously had a change in fate when cleaning, laundry and maintenance services were privatized in the mid 1990’s.

The Health Ministry then gave away privatized concessions to companies for a period of 20-30 years approximately, divided into northern, central and southern regions. UEM Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd has been the concessionaire for the northern region for 15 years from 2010 to 2025. managing government hospitals in Perak, Penang etc. UEM Edgenta Mediserve then appoints several sub-contractors to employ these workers in cleaning services.

Lately, UEM Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd through its subsidiary Edgenta UEMS Sdn Bhd (UEMS) has been reported to be harassing the workers to resign and sign up as new employees with them. Most of these workers have a long record of service of more than 20 years and UEMS is maliciously trying to break the continuity of service and the workers’ union. UEMS Site supervisors have been recorded to have threatened the workers with termination if they refuse to resign and apply afresh.

UEMS too has declared that they refuse to follow the ongoing Collective Agreement signed by the National Union of Workers in Hospitals Support and Allied Services when they take over, effective 1st January, 2020.

While the Human Resources Ministry has made the right move to amend the Industrial Relations Act 1967 to remove hurdles to unionization and collective bargaining , a wholly government owned company UEM Edgenta is behaving like a union buster. PSM acknowledges that the system of privatization of cleaning services that has led to the work insecurity and loss of benefits of the workers today was the doing of the previous BN regime. Nevertheless, Dr Dzulkefly the PH Health Minister has the responsibility to correct the many wrongs and reevaluate these concession agreements given out to union busting employers.

Government owned GLCs should instead practice healthy industrial relations with unions and workers to set an example for employers in the private sector, but UEM Edgenta is clearly out to destroy the union and trample upon workers rights. Their concession agreement should not be renewed if they fail to buck up and respect workers’ rights.

A.Sivarajan
PSM Secretary General

3rd December 2019

Hari Hak Asasi Manusia Sedunia: Jaminan Hidup Rakyat Bermaruah

Hari Hak Asasi Manusia Sedunia: Jaminan Hidup Rakyat Bermaruah

10 Disember setiap tahun ialah Hari Hak Asasi Manusia Sedunia. Hari ini disambut untuk memperingati penerimaan Perisytiharan Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat pada 10 Disember 1948 oleh Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (PBB). Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat merupakan dokumen pertama yang diterima di peringkat global untuk menggariskan hak asasi manusia yang merentasi sempadan negara. Kelahiran Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat juga salah satu pencapaian penting pada awal PBB yang ditubuhkan pada penghujung Perang Dunia II, sebagai usaha untuk mewujudkan keamanan di dunia. Walaupun Perisytiharan Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat sendiri bukannya sebuah dokumen tiada kuasa undang-undang yang mengikat negara-negara anggota PBB, tetapi ia telah membentuk sebahagian daripada undang-undang adat antarabangsa, di mana prinsip yang digariskannya telah menjadi asas kepada banyak perjanjian konvensyen antarabangsa. Hak asasi manusia yang termaktub dalam Perisytiharan tersebut telah menjadi garis panduan untuk perlindungan hak asasi manusia di seluruh dunia, sama ada dalam konvensyen antarabangsa ataupun kerangka undang-undang dalam sesebuah negara, seperti Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia.

Sambutan Hari Hak Asasi Sedunia telah diterima secara rasminya oleh PBB pada 4 Disember 1950 melalui Resolusi 423(V) dalam Persidangan Agung PBB. Sejak itu, rakyat di seluruh dunia menyambut hari yang penuh bermakna ini dengan cara masing-masing.

Perjuangan untuk melindungi dan merealisasikan hak asasi manusia adalah satu proses sejarah yang berpanjangan. Hak asasi manusia yang dinikmati oleh ramai orang pada hari ini bukannya jatuh dari langit secara sendiri tetapi merupakan hasil perjuangan rakyat yang berterusan. Jika tiada perjuangan untuk hak asasi manusia pada masa yang lampau, kita tidak mungkin akan menikmati hak untuk kebebasan bersuara, hak untuk kerja, hak untuk pendidikan dan sebagainya. Namun, hak asasi manusia sentiasa diancam oleh mereka yang ingin merampasnya untuk memperkukuhkan kekuasaan pemerintah ataupun kepentingan diri sendiri. Oleh itu, kita perlu sentiasa berwaspada dengan ancaman terhadap hak asasi manusia dan bersedia untuk mempertahankan segala hak asasi daripada dihakis. 

Sejarah ringkas hak asasi manusia zaman moden 

Pemikiran tentang kebebasan individu sebagai hak asasi manusia mula berkembang selari dengan kemunculan masyarakat borjuasi dan perjuangan menentang sistem feudal. Ahli-ahli falsafah di Eropah pada abad ke-17 dan ke-18, seperti John Locke (1632-1704), mula membangunkan konsep hak semulajadi yang menganggap setiap orang dilahirkan bebas dan samarata. Perakuan Hak England 1689 (English Bill of Rights) merupakan salah satu dokumen awal yang menggariskan sebahagian hak asasi sivil, termasuk kebebasan daripada hukuman yang zalim. Kemudiannya dua revolusi penting pada abad ke-18, telah melahirkan dokumen undang-undang yang membawa idea hak asasi manusia. Perisytiharan Kemerdekaan Amerika Syarikat pada tahun 1776, telah memasukkan konsep hak semulajadi yang menyatakan bahawa “semua orang dicipta secara samarata, bahawa mereka dikurniakan oleh Pencipta mereka dengan hak-hak tertentu yang tidak boleh dipisahkan; antaranya Hidup, Kebebasan dan Pengejaran untuk Kebahagiaan”. Revolusi Perancis pada tahun 1789 pula melahirkan Perisytiharan Hak Manusia dan Warganegara menaktrifkan satu set hak individu dan kolektif rakyat. Hak yang dimaksudkan dalam dokumen ini adalah universal, bukan sahaja untuk warganegara Perancis, tetapi untuk semua orang tanpa pengecualian. Namun, perjuangan untuk menjadikan hak asasi manusia diiktiraf sebagai sesuatu yang universal, adalah proses yang berpanjangan dan penuh cabaran.

Berikutan tamatnya Perang Dunia I, Liga Bangsa ditubuhkan pada tahun 1919 ketika rundingan damai untuk Perjanjian Versailles. Matlamat penubuhan Liga Bangsa termasuk pelucutan senjata, mengelakkan peperangan melalui keselamatan kolektif, menyelesaikan perbalahan antara negara melalui perundingan atau diplomasi, serta mempertingkatkan kebajikan sedunia; namun matlamat ini tidak membawa apa-apa makna kerana persaingan antara kuasa-kuasa imperialis untuk kepentingan kelas pemerintahan kapitalis berterusan, malah akhirnya mengakibatkan Perang Dunia II yang jauh lebih dahsyat. Pertubuhan Buruh Antarabangsa (ILO) ditubuhkan pada tahun 1919 sebagai agensi di bawah Liga Bangsa (dan sekarang menjadi sebahagian daripada PBB), telah diberi mandat untuk memperkembangkan dan melindungi hak-hak pekerja.

Selepas Perang Dunia II, PBB yang ditubuhkan bertujuan untuk mengelakkan satu lagi perang peringkat global yang menjahanamkan seluruh masyarakat dunia. Salah satu usaha awal PBB yang penting adalah mengemukakan dan meluluskan Perisytiharan Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat pada tahun 1948. Selepas itu, beberapa instrumen hak asasi manusia antarabangsa telah diwujudkan, termasuk:

  • Kovenan Antarabangsa Mengenai Hak Sivil dan Politik (ICCPR), 1966
  • Kovenan Antarabangsa Mengenai Hak Ekonomi, Sosial dan Budaya (ICESCR), 1966
  • Konvensyen Mengenai Penghapusan Segala Bentuk Diskriminasi Terhadap Wanita (CEDAW), 1979
  • Konvensyen Hak Kanak-kanak (CRC), 1989
  • Konvensyen Menentang Penyeksaan (CAT), 1984
  • Konvensyen Antarabangsa Mengenai Penghapusan Semua Bentuk Diskriminasi Kaum (ICERD), 1969
  • Konvensyen Berkaitan Status Pelarian, 1951

Apa itu hak asasi manusia?

Hak asasi manusia ialah satu set prinsip dan piawaian amalan masyarakat yang bertujuan untuk menjadi kehidupan manusia di mana segala keperluan hidupnya dapat dipenuhi secara bermaruah dan bebas daripada sebarang bentuk ancaman. Hak asasi manusia adalah bersifat universal dan tidak boleh dipisahkan antara satu hak dengan satu hak yang lain. Misalnya, tiada sesiapa boleh dinafikan hak untuk bersuara secara bebas kerana untuk mendapatkan hak untuk makanan atau hak untuk bebas daripada kelaparan.

Setiap kerajaan patut mengambil langkah-langkah yang proaktif untuk memastikan setiap orang rakyat menikmati hak asasi manusia. Apabila kita menikmati hak asasi manusia, kita juga perlu menghormati hak asasi manusia untuk orang lain.

Hak asasi manusia secara kasarnya boleh dibahagikan kepada 3 kategori utama. Kategori hak asasi manusia ini boleh dicerminkan dalam cogan kata yang popular dalam Revolusi Perancis, iaitu “Kebebasan, Kesamarataan, Persaudaraan” (Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité). Karel Vasak (1929-2015), seorang pakar hak asasi manusia dari Czech, pernah membahagikan hak asasi manusia kepada “3 generasi”:

  • Hak asasi manusia generasi pertama – hak sivil dan politik: Konsep hak asasi manusia yang dibangunkan semasa revolusi demokratik borjuis yang menumpu kepada “kebebasan individu”, merangkumi hak untuk hidup, kebebasan bersuara, kebebasan beragama, hak untuk mengundi, kesamarataan di bawah undang-undang, kebebasan berhimpun dan sebagainya. Hak-hak ini disenaraikan dalam Perkara 3 hingga 21 dalam Perisytiharan Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat.
  • Hak asasi manusia generasi kedua – hak ekonomi, sosial dan budaya: Konsep hak asasi manusia yang dibangunkan secara utamanya dalam gerakan kelas pekerja untuk menuntut pengagihan kekayaan yang samarata, kesejahteraan bersama dan keadilan sosial, merangkumi hak untuk bekerja di bawah keadaan yang bersesuaian, hak untuk makanan, hak untuk perumahan, hak untuk kesihatan, hak untuk pendidikan, hak untuk perlindungan kebajikan sosial dan sebagainya. Hak-hak ini termaktub dalam Perkara 22 hingga 28 dalam Perisytiharan Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat.
  • Hak asasi manusia generasi ketiga – spektrum hak yang luas melangkaui hak sivil dan sosial yang “tradisional”: Konsep yang dibangunkan secara utamanya dalam gerakan pembebasan nasional pasca Perang Dunia II dan juga gerakan sosial baru yang memperjuangkan isu seperti penyahjajahan, keadilan alam sekitar dan sebagainya, merangkumi hak untuk sesuatu bangsa menentukan nasib sendiri, hak untuk pembangunan, hak untuk sumber asli, hak untuk persekitaran yang sihat, hak untuk komunikasi, hak untuk penyertaan dalam warisan budaya, hak untuk ekuiti antara-generasi dan sebagainya.

2019: Anak muda bangkit untuk hak asasi manusia 

Tema sambutan Hari Hak Asasi Manusia Sedunia tahun ini yang diperkenalkan oleh Pejabat Pesuruhjaya Tinggi untuk Hak Asasi Manusia PBB (OHCHR), ialah “Anak Muda Bangkit untuk Hak Asasi Manusia”, dengan hasrat meraikan potensi anak muda sebagai agen konstruktik dalam perubahan demi mempromosikan dan melindungi hak asasi manusia.

Sepanjang setahun yang lalu, kita dapat menyaksikan kebangkitan anak muda yang hebat di banyak negara untuk mempertahankan hak mereka demi masa hadapan yang lebih terjamin untuk semua. Dari Algeria ke Chile, dari Catalonia ke Hong Kong, dari Sudan ke Ecuador, rakyat termasuk ramai anak muda beraksi di jalanan untuk melawan kezaliman pemerintah dan dasar kerajaan yang menghakis hak rakyat. Ini jelas menunjukkan bahawa perjuangan untuk mempertahankan hak asasi manusia jauh daripada berakhir, malah perlu diteruskan dalam usaha membina masa hadapan yang lebih bebas, adil, samarata dan sejahtera untuk semua.

Di negara Malaysia, walaupun kita telah melalui perubahan kuasa pemerintahan dari Barisan Nasional ke Pakatan Harapan pada tahun 2018, tetapi komitmen kerajaan Pakatan Harapan dalam melindungi hak asasi manusia masih belum ditunaikan sepenuhnya, malah pencabulan hak asasi berterusan, termasuk penahanan tanpa bicara yang menggunakan Akta Kesalahan Keselamatan (Langkah-langkah Khas) 2012 (atau dikenali sebagai SOSMA). Aktivis sosial dan pelindung hak asasi manusia masih disoal siasat oleh polis hanya kerana menyuarakan kritikan mereka terhadap kerajaan ataupun mengadakan aksi protes.

Kita perlu melipatgandakan usaha kita untuk mendesak pembaharuan institusi dan memperjuangkan jaminan hak asasi manusia untuk semua sekiranya ingin mewujudkan Malaysia Baru yang sebenar. Perlindungan hak asasi manusia adalah jaminan untuk kehidupan yang bermaruah untuk rakyat tanpa mengira kaum, agama, gender dan latar belakang.

An open letter to Ninian Mogan, CEO, MBF Holdings

An open letter to Ninian Mogan, CEO, MBF Holdings

Source: Malaysiakini

I have been constrained to resort to an open letter to you as your staff at the MBF headquarters at Menara MBF, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur refused to accept this letter when it was sent to them by hand on May 27. Subsequently, I tried to post it to you via registered post but the letter was returned to me a few weeks later by Pos Malaysia.

We really need your assistance to resolve a long-standing labour issue in Padang Meha Estate in Padang Serai, Kedah. I hope you will spare a little time to read this letter.

The problem began in 1994 when the East Asiatic Company sold 5,000 acres of plantation land to MBF Holdings Berhad. A total of 460 workers were retrenched. Slightly more than half of them accepted the retrenchment benefits of 20 days of wages per year of service as mandated by the Employment Act and vacated their quarters. However, as this only came to about RM8,000 for a worker with 20 years of service, and since they were not only losing their jobs but also their homes as well, the remaining 207 workers said that they were not moving out until they got better compensation.

MBF Holdings had registered the land it had bought from East Asiatic under MBF Country Homes & Resort Sdn Bhd (later renamed as Alamanda Development Sdn Bhd), a fully-owned subsidiary of MBF, to develop the land into a new township. Alamanda initiated eviction proceedings but the Alor Setar High Court ruled in favour of the workers. Alamanda then negotiated a settlement with the workers and promised to:

a. pay an extra RM200 per year of service in addition to the retrenchment benefits mandated by law;

b. build 240 low-cost houses for the workers and sell these to them at RM12,500 each;

c. Allow the workers to continue staying in their current estate houses until the construction of the alternative houses was completed.

This was in 1997. However, despite some meetings with the local Land Office during which the issue of an alternative housing scheme was discussed, the compensation was not executed. (Appendix One: Copy of settlement agreement between MBF and a former worker).

Around the same time, MBf took East Asiatic to court for not handing over vacant possession of the estate to MBF. This was settled via a payment of RM7.055 million to MBF – RM3.6 million as damages for non-delivery of vacant possession and the remainder for retrenchment benefits and a re-allocation grant to be paid to the ex-workers. East Asiatic handed over a list of all 207 workers with the amounts due to each of them. (Appendix Two: Letter from the liquidator to MBF Holdings).

However, there was no progress at all in the construction of the low-cost houses for the workers. So in 2003 (six years later), the workers took Alamanda to court. The court proceeding started in August 2003 with the help of CAP lawyers, Tetuan Meena Raman & Partners and the workers won again – the court agreed that the ex-workers should be awarded an additional RM22,500 (in addition to the retrenchment benefits and the ex gratia) as Alamanda had failed to provide low-cost houses at half-price. (Appendix Three: Copy of court order, with the list of the 207 workers to be compensated with the amounts for each worker).

But then Alamanda applied for voluntary winding up in 2005 and two liquidators (Mustapha Raj and Jeyaraj Ratnasamy) were appointed. The workers were told that they would have to wait until the assets of Alamanda were sold before they could be given the compensation due to them from Alamanda. Neither the workers nor their lawyers were invited to the several meetings that the liquidators called with the other creditors. The unsold portions of the estate land were subsequently transferred to MBF or Vintage Developers Sdn Bhd, another fully-owned subsidiary of MBf Holdings, but the obligations to the ex-workers remained parked under Alamanda.

The ex-workers sent many letters to various parties to solve this long-festering issue. Some groups, both from the government and the opposition, intervened to try and settle the problem but there was no progress. Finally, in 2016, the ex-workers decided to take the matter to the court again. They engaged law firm Hakem Arabi, which agreed to represent them pro bono. A case was filed against six parties – the two liquidators, Alamanda Development Sdn Bhd, MBf Holdings Berhad, MBf Equities Sdn Bhd and Vintage Developers Sdn Bhd.

The lawyers for the liquidators said that they were prepared to pay the ex-workers a total sum of RM1.03 million immediately with a promise that an additional RM0.64 million would also be paid if funds could be mobilised from the liquidation of remaining Alamanda assets. This was recorded as a consent agreement between the workers and the liquidators in April 2018. (Appendix Four: Consent order with liquidators.)

The lawyers for MBF Holdings and its subsidiaries argued that the case against them should be thrown out as the six-year limitation period had long passed. The lawyers for the workers, Hakem Arabi, discovered from the documents filed by the liquidators that East Asiatic Company Berhad had paid RM7.06 million to MBF Holdings in 1995 to help defray the costs of compensating the former workers. MBF’s lawyers argued that the entire sum of RM3.3 million for the ex-workers had been passed to Alamanda. However, this assertion was contested by the liquidators who presented documents that established that Alamanda did not receive the RM3.359 million. (Appendix Two)

Hakem Arabi further argued the payment of RM3.359 million to MBF by the East Asiatic Company in 1995 had created a “trust” in favour of the former workers and that the six-year limitation rule for contracts did not cover trusts. The Kuala Lumpur High Court judge was sympathetic but ruled that he was not convinced that a “trust” had indeed been created in favour of the former workers and he dismissed the plaintiff’s claims and allowed MBF’s counter-claim against the workers that they should vacate their estate quarters within two years from the date of the judgement.

Hakem Arabi appealed to the Court of Appeal. There, the judges ruled that a trust had indeed been created and that the RM3.359 million should be paid to the workers. This will work out to RM16,306 per worker when divided 206 ways. The appeals court also ruled that the workers should vacate their quarters within six months of receiving the cash compensation. (Appendix Five – Appeals Court judgement).

Many of the workers were unhappy that the quantum of compensation was much lower than the RM22,500 that Alor Setar High Court ordered in 2011. They are also unhappy that there was no order as to interest on the RM3.359 million although it had been held by MBF for more than 20 years.

Although the Appeals Court had given the workers six months from the settlement of their compensation to vacate their premises (around 70 of them are still staying in the old labour lines), Vintage Developers Sdn Bhd got the Kedah Water Board to cut off water supply barely five days after the Appeals Court judgement. The affected workers have since managed to reconnect the water. Barely a week later, the electricity sub-station burnt down plunging all the houses into darkness. The workers have got a contractor to reconnect supplies and have made police reports asking the authorities to rule out arson.

This, then, is the situation.

I believe this issue can be resolved fairly easily. MBF and Vintage Developers Sdn Bhd now own several hundred acres of the former estate land. If a 35-acre plot of land could be transferred to the workers, the workers can negotiate with the state or federal government for a low-cost housing scheme for them to rent-to-own. However Vintage and MBF are not prepared to even consider this option.

This is why I am writing to you. We need your intervention to resolve a long-festering problem. The 200 or so families who will benefit are all families of former estate workers, and they are part of the bottom quintile of the Malaysian population. A resolution of their housing problems will be a great help to them and would free financial resources for them to better educate their children and grandchildren. MBF and Vintage have several hundred acres of former estate land in their possession – so setting aside 35 acres for this purpose is doable. But I think this will require your intervention.

I know that you were not the owner of MBF from 1994 to 1997 and not responsible for what happened then. However, as the current owner of MBF, you are in a position to resolve the issue in a fair manner. I really hope you will look into this matter. I can send you the appendices mentioned in this letter if you would like to see them and am prepared to help out in whichever way I can. I can be contacted via my handphone number +6019 5616807 or through e-mail [email protected]

 

Don’t blame the poor for their poverty

Don’t blame the poor for their poverty

by Darren C. Ong

The English author C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia is one of my favourite writers. His stepson, Douglas Gresham once shared this anecdote, one that has had a profound influence on my views on poverty. This story appeared in the Spring 1998 edition of the Southern Cross Quarterly, published by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. Here, C.S. Lewis goes by the name “Jack”:

“Jack and a friend were walking to a meeting one day when they were approached by a beggar. The beggar asked them for some spare change whereupon Jack gave him everything he had. Once the beggar had gone, his friend said, “You shouldn’t have given that man all that money Jack, he’ll only spend it on drink.” Jack’s reply – “Well, if I’d kept it, I would have only spent it on drink.”

I think this story has a lot of lessons to teach us in Malaysia as we grapple with questions of poverty and inequality in our country.

Like Jack’s friend in the story, we as a society always assume moral failings on the poor, with little if any justification. We assume that the poor as a group are lazy, entitled, alcoholics, thieves, drug or drug addicts. Sometimes these insults just come out in the open- as when Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, told journalists “not to behave like estate people”. But more often these insinuations come out in a very subtle way, and this can be even more damaging. Consider how, whenever workers and activists demand an increase in the minimum wage, the forces opposed to it bring up Malaysian workers’ supposed low productivity to justify their low pay. This claim is completely unjustified, of course, and Bank Negara released a report last year (http://www.bnm.gov.my/files/publication/ar/en/2018/ar2018_book.pdf) concluding that “Malaysian workers are still being paid less than workers in benchmark economies, even after accounting for the different productivity levels across countries”. But this falsehood reflects the assumption that poor Malaysians are poor because they are unproductive and lazy, an assumption that so many of us make with zero evidence.

 

I must confess that I have made similar false assumptions too. I was once visited a friend of mine who ran a centre in a Jakarta slum that gave the children living there free tuition. He and his family moved to the slum too, to be closer to the people they are serving. I asked if it was safe to live in this community- and he replied that he felt it was safer there than in a middle-class neighbourhood, because people in slums need to depend on each other, and so the community is a lot more tight-knit and watches out for one another, whereas in rich neighbourhood nobody knows or cares about their neighbours. I had never considered this perspective on life in the slums- and I wonder now if the many stereotypes we have for the poor are grounded in reality? And more tragically, how often government and social policy toward the poor is formed based on these false stereotypes, based on an ignorance of their true living situation?

These unfounded assumptions hinder our ability to move forward with real solutions for poverty. We are so concerned with poor people misusing or wasting the assistance given them, that we toss aside solutions that will make a real difference in peoples’ lives. I especially love C.S. Lewis’ humility in his last comment- “I would have only spent it on drink”- rich people waste money on wasteful and frivolous things too, and often in more damaging ways than a beggar buying a lottery ticket or a can of beer. Perhaps us Malaysians in the upper and middle classes should consider that maybe poor people are poor not because of their moral failings, but because of ours- because we have failed to listen to their concerns, because we assume that they are untrustworthy or immoral without evidence, because we care more for our own comfort than the survival of our neighbours.

Mogok “rider” foodpanda: Manifestasi kemelut pekerja ekonomi gig

Mogok “rider” foodpanda: Manifestasi kemelut pekerja ekonomi gig

Ramai penghantar makanan (rider) syarikat penghantaran makanan atas talian Foodpanda yang bekerja di luar Lembah Klang telah mengadakan mogok selama 3 hari dari 30 September hingga 2 Oktober 2019, untuk membantah skim pembayaran baru yang menghapuskan bayaran tetap RM4 sejam kepada mereka.

Mogok ini telah mendapat perhatian ramai termasuk pihak kerajaan. Kabinet telah mendengar isu mogok penghantar makanan Foodpanda dalam mesyuarat mingguannya, dan membuat keputusan untuk menubuhkan sebuah jawatankuasa khas yang dianggotai oleh tiga kementerian dengan tujuan mengkaji lebih mendalam mengenai isu “ekonomi gig” dengan lebih mendalam. Tiga kementerian yang terlibat ialah ialah Kementerian Sumber Manusia, Kementerian Belia dan Sukan serta Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri dan Hal Ehwal Pengguna.

Menurut Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman selaku Menteri Belia dan Sukan, Kerajaan menyarankan syarikat Foodpanda untuk mengembalikan skim pembayaran asal untuk menjamin kebajikan para penghantar makanan.

Menteri Sumber Manusia M. Kula Segaran pula berkata bahawa kementeriannya sudah bertemu dengan wakil syarikat Foodpanda Malaysia berhubung isu mogok penghantar makanan Foodpanda. Kula Segaran mengatakan bahawa syarikat Foodpanda mengesahkan bahawa ia akan memantau skim gaji baru yang dilaksanakan di beberapa negeri sebelum memutuskan sama ada boleh kembali ke skim lama atau tidak.

Mogok penghantar makanan Foodpanda telah mendapat perhatian pihak kerajaan dan sedang dalam usaha mencari jalan penyelesaian, adalah sesuatu yang positif. Namun, adalah menjadi persoalan sama ada Kerajaan kita hari ini memahami isu pokoknya dalam perkara berkaitan dengan ekonomi gig atau tidak.

Syed Saddiq dalam kenyataannya berkata bahawa “kerajaan percaya kepada persaingan pasaran bebas, tetapi ia tidak boleh mengorbankan nasib pekerja”. Bunyinya seperti boleh mewujudkan situasi “menang-menang”, tetapi hakikatnya realiti ekonomi gig hari ini jauh lebih berbeza.

Masalah yang dihadapi oleh penghantar makanan Foodpanda, adalah sebahagian daripada masalah lebih besar yang dihadapi oleh semua golongan pekerja yang sedang mencari rezeki di bawah ekonomi gig.

Ekonomi gig menjadi satu trend yang sedang menular di seluruh dunia, termasuklah Malaysia, bukannya sebab anak muda hari ini sukakan “kebebasan” maka memilih kerja yang bersifat lebih “fleksibel”; sebaliknya adalah disebabkan logik pengumpulan modal yang berterusan melalui pemaksimuman keuntungan syarikat pemodal membawa kepada “inovasi” sistem ekonomi yang melemahkan perlindungan hak dan jaminan kerja untuk golongan pekerja. Syarikat korporat dan pemodal besar mahukan keuntungan lumayan, tetapi bagi mereka sistem kerja tetap yang sedia ada dengan pekerja dilindungi dengan jaminan kerja (iaitu tidak boleh dipecat sewenang-wenang) dan hak pekerja (seperti hak untuk menubuhkan kesatuan sekerja, menikmati kebajikan pekerja dan sebagainya) dianggap sebagai penghalang kepada pemaksimuman keuntungan. Sistem kerja yang “fleksibel” atau bersifat kontrak di bawah ekonomi gig, amat seiras dengan motif korporat terus menjana keuntungan dengan mengurangkan tanggungjawabnya terhadap kebajikan pekerja.

Oleh itu, adakah “kepercayaan kepada persaingan pasaran bebas” daripada Kerajaan itu sejenis kepercayaan sepenuhnya kepada golongan korporat yang sentiasa mencari jalan untuk memaksimumkan keuntungan tanpa mempedulikan akibatnya?

Jika kerajaan serius dalam mengendalikan isu ekonomi gig, maka jawatankuasa khas yang terdiri daripada tiga kementerian itu perlu mengkaji kerangka undang-undang baru untuk membendung masalah ekonomi gig yang mengkaburkan hubungan “majikan-pekerja”. Pekerja-pekerja yang diupah sebagai “kontraktor”, “vendor” atau “pekerja bebas” (freelancer) oleh pemilik platform perkhidmatan atas talian, walaupun namanya sedap didengar dan ganjarannya untuk kerja sesuatu tempoh mungkin lebih menarik berbanding seorang pekerja tetap yang diupah di bawah ekonomi “tradisional”, tetapi mereka tidak mempunyai jaminan kerja seperti pekerja sepenuh masa dan mudah terjerumus dalam perangkap kemiskinan dalam era keadaan ekonomi yang tidak menentu kerana krisis ekonomi boleh berlaku bila-bila masa.

Mogok pekerja Foodpanda terbaru ini sekali lagi menunjukkan bahawa aksi mogok ialah senjata yang paling berkesan untuk golongan pekerja menyuarakan tuntutan mereka. Jika adanya organisasi pekerja atau kesatuan sekerja yang lebih tersusun, sudah pastinya pencapaian mogok akan jauh lebih hebat.

Laporan sebelum ini: Pekerja foodpanda mogok untuk jaminan pendapatan

Amnesty slams PSM activist’s arrest under Sedition Act

Amnesty slams PSM activist’s arrest under Sedition Act

Source: Malaysiakini

Amnesty International Malaysia has criticised yesterday’s arrest of PSM activist Khalid Ismath under the Sedition Act 1948, a law which the Pakatan Harapan government has promised to abolish.

“Amnesty International Malaysia is dismayed with the continued use of the Sedition Act, this time against Khalid Ismath when he was arrested on Sept 13.

“Once again, the repeated use and the wide nature of the Sedition Act signals a stagnation of the efforts to improve freedom of expression in the country.

“Despite repeated promises to do away with the Sedition Act, the Pakatan Harapan government has failed to live up to its word,” Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said in a statement.

Shamini said Putrajaya must follow through its promise to abolish the Sedition Act in the upcoming Dewan Rakyat sitting next month.

“Along with the call for the Sedition Act’s full abolition, we are urging the government to drop all pending charges under this repressive law immediately and without condition,” she said.

PSM deputy chairperson S Arutchelvan, in a separate statement, confirmed Khalid’s arrest at around 10.30pm.

He said Khalid, who is the former PSM Youth chief, was arrested at his home in Klang under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act over Twitter postings he allegedly made against Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

‘Form of intimidation’

Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act concerns the utterance of seditious words that carries a fine of up to RM5,000 or imprisonment up to three years or both for the first offence.

“PSM is of the opinion that the arrest at his home at night was a form of intimidation.

“If police needed (his statement), it can ask him to present himself at the police station and he would have cooperated,” Arutcelvan said.

He noted that the Permaisuri Agong had also urged people not to make police reports against those who are critical of her.

Artuchelvan added that Khalid has denied making the Twitter postings against the Permaisuri Agong.

He said the continued use of the Sedition Act must stop in line with Putrajaya’s promise to abolish the law.

“PSM calls for Khalid’s immediate release,” he said.

Khalid was brought to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters and is expected to be remanded.

‘Worrying trend of social media policing’

Meanwhile, Lawyers for Liberty director Melissa Sasidaran said the recent surge in online policing of social media posts was worrying.

“These arrests are a serious assault on our freedom of speech which is guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

“This fundamental right has a high threshold which also covers the freedom to speak about sensitive issues in Malaysia.

“While it is clear that freedom of speech is not absolute, it is only in limited circumstances, when it is absolutely necessary that the authorities may act, in a proportionate manner, against social media posts which carry a real issue of incitement, public disorder or security,” she said in a statement.

She added that the vagueness of laws, such as Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, has aggravated the problem.

“The Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission must publish clear, consistent and fair guidelines on what constitutes offensive online communication. Without such guidance, citizens are unable to regulate their own actions to ensure they do not unwittingly cross the threshold of a possible criminal offence.

“Furthermore, comments should not be deemed criminal just because they touch on the royalty.

“It is for this reason that the Sedition Act must be abolished as the law is overly broad and vague where almost anything controversial can be construed as seditious,” she said.

She added that arrest over social media posts was a “shameful and common practice” under the previous government and should not happen today.

Arrest of activist Khalid Ismath a form of intimidation, says PSM

Arrest of activist Khalid Ismath a form of intimidation, says PSM

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Sosialis Malaysia is urging authorities to not detain its former party youth chief, activist Khalid Ismath, and views his arrest as a form of intimidation.

PSM deputy chairman S. Arutchelvan (pic) said the party condemns Khalid’s arrest, saying it was against the Criminal Procedure Code.

“We are made to understand that he will be remanded on Saturday (Sept 14) but remanding someone before investigations are carried out goes against the Criminal Procedure Code,” he said in a statement.

Arutchelvan said Khalid, 29, was arrested around 10.30pm on Friday (Sept 13) at his home in Klang by three officers from the D5 unit in Bukit Aman under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act for allegedly posting a seditious tweet aimed at Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

It is learned that Khalid was picked up at his home as soon as he returned from dinner with his family and calmly followed police instructions.

He also requested not to be handcuffed as his four-year-old daughter was with him when he was taken.

Arutchelvan said Khalid’s arrest was a form of unnecessary intimidation.

“They could have asked him to go to the police station and he would have complied and cooperated willingly.

“Her Majesty had already expressed her stand about the tweet and has not linked anyone to it,” he said, adding that Khalid had earlier denied that he had posted anything against the Queen.

Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Mohd Fahmi Visuvanathan Abdullah confirmed Khalid’s arrest.

Khalid’s arrest happened hours after the Queen posted on Instagram telling the public that she had left Twitter for personal reasons and there was no need to lodge any police reports.

Her posting was shared by her daughter Tengku Puteri Afzan Aminah Hafizatullah Al-Sultan Abdullah, who reposted it on her own Twitter account, @tengkuafzan1.

Many of the Queen’s followers had earlier believed that she had left Twitter because of cyberbullying.

Since she left Twitter, a Twitter user, whose tweets were screenshot and circulated on the Internet, has issued a public apology to Tunku Azizah for earlier remarks he made about her.

In a string of tweets, which have since been deleted, Twitter user Firdaus Asraf commented on the popularity of Tunku Azizah and the following that she has gained on social media.

He later posted a formal apology on his account, saying that he regrets his actions and he hopes that Tunku Azizah will accept his apology.

Cancelling pension scheme: Is government losing the plot?

Cancelling pension scheme: Is government losing the plot?

Source: The Leaders Online

The recent statements emanating from top civil servants, namely Datuk Seri Borhan Dolah the Director General of the Public Services Department and Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Hj Bakar, the Chief Secretary to the Government, indicate that the proposal to phase out the pension scheme for government servants is being seriously considered at the highest levels of government.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir weighed into the controversy on 7/9/2019 saying that the total pension bill of RM28 billion per year currently (amounting to about 10% of the federal budget) has become a burden to the country. But he did add that no decision has been taken as yet on the issue of pension.

The casualisation of labour is a global trend that has many negative consequences. It increases insecurity and leads to underemployment and poverty. It also makes people anxious about their own future and therefore more focused on securing themselves and reduces any inclination in helping others.

When applied within the civil service it will lead to a reduction in the civil servant’s commitment and pride in serving the nation and might shift their focus to please their superiors (so that their contracts are renewed) or start preparing for alternative carriers while still in government service.

Removal of pension scheme is part of the neoliberal agenda to trim and squeeze the state apparatus driving it to inefficiency, thus justifying further privatisation of essential services to the people .

The PSM is against any policies that will undermine social security and make the lives of our people more precarious. We are strongly against dismantling the government pension system. On the contrary, we believe that the way forward for Malaysia is to introduce a Universal Pensions System for our elderly.

It is high time Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders reflect seriously – Why do we have government in the first place? What is your role as government leaders? Of course, maintaining law and order is an important function. So too is making sure that the economy functions smoothly such that goods and services are provided to the people and employment opportunities are generated.

But it appears to us that the PH government has become too focused on making Malaysia seem “business friendly” and on trimming the budget deficit so as to impress the International Credit Rating Agencies.

The PH Government seems to have forgotten that one of the most important responsibilities of government is to ensure that no one is left behind – that our society does not become too unequal and therefore unjust. Surely the PH recognises that in many instances the free market will not meet the basic needs of certain sectors – especially sectors that do not have much buying power.

In other words, the market mechanism may fail to provide adequately for the basic needs of the bottom 40% (B40) of society. Also, PH leaders should take cognizance of the fact that corporations augment their profits by keeping wages down. In these circumstances, a responsible government needs to intervene to ensure that the B40 are not pushed deeper into poverty by 1) legislating a decent minimum wage and 2) by building a robust safety net for all Malaysians. In both of these important matters the PH government is not meeting the mark!

The recent proposal from the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (Star online 1/9/2019) that the retirement age should be shifted from 60 to 65 years should be seen as a cry for help on the part of the working population. Official statistics reveal that 68% of Employment Provident Fund contributors aged 54 years have less than RM50,000 in their EPF accounts and most retirees use up this amount within a few years of retirement (Star Online 25/10/17).

Many Malaysians face old age without any savings and when over 70 years of age, are totally reliant on family members who might also be struggling to meet the needs of their own families. This is the backdrop to MTUC’s proposal.

This is why the PSM has long been advocating that Malaysia implements a pension scheme for all Malaysian citizens above 70 years of age who do not have government or social security (SOCSO) pension. Our suggestion is that we start at a pension of RM300 per month. As there are approximately 800,000 people in this age bracket who are not receiving any pension currently, the total bill will be RM 2.9 billion per year. This is about the same quantum as the BSH program, and is less than 1 % of the total federal budget. Although RM 300 is not enough for an elderly person to live on his or her own, it will be a big help to the family looking after him/her and certainly add to the dignity of his/her life.

Detractors will argue that our federal budget is already stretched and it would be imprudent to start a scheme that will become more expensive over time as the number of the above-70 group increases. We disagree. One of the principal responsibilities of government is to ensure that the wealth of our country is shared equitably. We already hold down wages in Malaysia so that we can compete for FDI and so that our exports can compete in the international market.

In other words, we keep asking our working people to accept low wages for the national good. This is the main reason why many of our retirees are not able to accumulate enough savings for their old age. Isn’t it only fair that we collect part of the wealth generated by the effort and sacrifice of our workers to strengthen the social net and provide a bit of help to them when they are above 70 years of age?

Are these detractors aware that government expenditure has dropped from 43.8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1983 to 21.6% in 2019. This decrease is due to several factors including, the race to the bottom in corporate tax rates among the ASEAN countries engendered by their desperation to attract foreign direct investment – our corporate tax rate was 40% of corporate profits in the 1980s. It is now 24% of profits and falling!

Another factor is the financial liberalisation brought about by WTO rules and the Free Trade Agreements ne have signed on to. These rules enable large corporations to siphon out their handsome profits to tax havens through Transfer Pricing – thus avoiding paying taxes in Malaysia. Low corporate tax rates and tax avoidance are not ordained by the almighty! They are the result of the overwhelming power of the richest corporations in formulating trade and financial rules. They are man-made and can be, by men unmade! This decrease in government revenue is a major reason why the PH government is now talking of phasing out the pension scheme for government employees.

PSM believes that it is the duty of government to address the issues of tax avoidance and the race-to-the bottom among ASEAN countries. Then the government will have the funds to expand social expenditure on pension, improving health care, increasing the budget of the welfare department, improving public transport, financing greener sources of energy, etc.

Of course, this will require a multi-national effort and cannot be accomplished overnight. But has the PH government embarked on this course of action? Has it even contemplated it?

Currently PH’s knee-jerk response to any proposal to increase social expenditure is to say “Sorry, no funds. Our deficit is already too big”. This knee-jerk response is simply not acceptable. The government must apply itself to the task of retaining a larger share of the wealth that Malaysia is contributing to the global economy and use this fund to make Malaysia a more equitable society.

This is the responsibility of government. Please fulfill it!

Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj is the PSM national chairperson