Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Workers’ and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 2)

Workers’ and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 2)

Under this pro-business BN government, trade unions have been weakened and workers’bargaining powers eroded, writes Charles Hector.
Photograph: Jerit
As of January 2012, the employed labour force in Malaysia was about 12.4m. Out of this, only 798,941 workers (6.44 per cent) are members of trade unions, of which about 53 per cent are private sector workers, 38 per cent public sector workers, and 9 per cent workers of statutory bodies/local authorities, after more than 50 years of independence.

It is obvious that this Malaysian government has not been actively promoting the formation of trade unions. In fact, its more recent policies seem directed towards the weakening of trade unions. Electronic workers, for example, have still not yet been allowed to form a national union. The only concession made after years of struggle was when the BN allowed the formation of four regional unions in the Peninsula in 2010 (The Star, 1 May 2010).

The perception amongst workers is that this government has favoured unions that represent workers in the public sector, statutory bodies and local authorities, who have enjoyed wage increases, cost of living allowances (Cola) and other benefits. The primary motive, however, may not be acknowledgement of the rights and welfare of workers; instead, it is to woo these workers to support the Umno-led BN coalition. That said, the perks and ‘special treatment’of these workers just prior to elections does not necessarily translate into blind loyalty to the BN cause. For today, the people, including workers in the public sector, have awakened from their slumber, thanks to the availability of more information via the alternative media and exposure to the global media. Hence, they will vote in the upcoming elections as they please!

Another reason for the declining number of workers involved in the trade unions is the growing use of short-term contract employment, temporary and/or casual employees at the workplace. Such short-term and temporary employment which can be terminated by not renewing the employment contracts have made such workers disinclined to form, let alone join and actively participate in, trade unions. The fact that unions often hold general meetings and elect their leaders once every three years, further discourages short-term contract workers from active participation in the unions.

Trade union membership in Malaysia 2006-2012
Source: Department of Trade Union Affairs website
Compounded with this is the emergence of a new class of workers commonly known as ‘outsourced workers’, who are not considered employees of the principal or owner of the workplaces. As such, they are not allowed to join in-house unions or even regional/national unions. As well, they cannot resort to Collective Agreements, since these are agreements between employers and direct worker-employees. With no law limiting the percentage of ‘outsourced workers’working at a particular workplace, they can account for up to 50 per cent of total workers in some factories.

The Trade Union Act also provides that when a worker has been terminated, he/she automatically will cease to be a member of the trade union. At a time like this, when a worker really needs the support and assistance of the trade union, he/she is legally deprived of union membership.
In this regard, there have been an increasing number of cases wherein active union leaders have been dismissed. Often, the reason advanced by their employer is that they have brought disrepute and/or insulted the management of their employer-company – eg, Hata Wahari, the president of the National Union of Journalists, and more recently Chen Ka Fatt and Abdul Jamil Lalaludeen, respectively, honorary treasurer and vice-president of the National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) were dismissed. In the latter two cases, the Nube leaders apparently had participated in a rally outside the United Nations building in Geneva where they carried a banner declaring “Maybank robs poor Malaysian workers” (Harakah, 7 Feb 2012). Workers should not be terminated, save by reason of non-performance of their job and/or some infringement/breach at the workplace or related to work. It is wrong to start dismissing workers because they criticise their employers.

Erosion of the right to permanent employment

Permanent employment is a basic right, essential for the well being and welfare of workers and their families. One’s employment usually determines where one will settle-down, buy homes and land, where onefs children will go to school and even where onefs spouse will find employment. With short-term contracts increasingly the practice, it is stressful for the worker not knowing whether at the end of his contract period, he or she will still be employed at the workplace.

In our employment laws, what was clearly envisaged was permanent employment until retirement. Accordingly, the Employment Act 1955 contains clauses that provide for gradual increases in entitlements to annual leave, sick leave and even the calculation of termination and lay-off benefits.

Even when it comes to retrenchment, there was the Last In First Out (LIFO) policy, that protected workers with longer periods of service. Indeed, the law imposed the obligation on employers to first attempt to provide alternative employment within the workplace, before having to let an employee go.

This right to permanent employment has systematically been replaced with short-term or fixed duration contracts of employment, sometimes less than one year, with no guarantee or safeguard of a renewal of employment contract even if the employer still needs workers at the end of the contract period.

For those, who already are permanent employees, employers have used various means to destroy this relationship and to replace it with short-term contracts. One method used is the outsourcing of work to third parties: forcing employees to leave and to enter into a new contract with these new third party employers, or face retrenchment.

Another method employed in Malaysia is the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS). Ironically, many workers have lost permanent employment and only to be re-employed by the same employer, this time as short-term contract workers.

Public sector employees also lost permanent employment with pension rights when state entities were privatised and this continues to happen.

Employers now can very easily get rid of workers who are older, ‘problematic’ (because they are demanding rights or even getting involved in union activities), pregnant or partially disabled following an industrial accident. Or they may just not offer them a new contract of employment. This effectively diminishes significantly the workers’ ability to fight for better wages, working conditions and other employment benefits.

The provisions for employing temporary or casual workers also gives the Minister the power to reduce workersf rights guaranteed by the parent Act for these workers.

Having different classes of workers at the workplace strengthens the ability of employers to ‘divide and rule’workers – hence greater power to control workers while eroding the workers’ability to demand better rights.

‘Bonded’ migrant workers

Initially, the Malaysian government created Free Trade Zones near the bigger towns, and workers from all over the country came to work. As time passed and wages remained low while the cost of living rose and the quality of life declined, workers started moving back to their home towns and new workers were less inclined to come.

The government then allowed these factories to be established all over Malaysia, especially where the workers and their families resided. Today, there are over 200 industrial estates, free commercial zones and free industrial zones spread all over the country.

As time went on, Malaysian workers demanded higher wages and better working conditions. Instead of facilitating these demands, the Malaysian government came to the assistance of employers by bringing in more controllable and cheaper labour, namely, the migrant workers, who were obliged to work for one employer only which, invariably enabled employers to oppress these workers. After all, if the migrant workers were dissatisfied, the only choice they had was to quit and return to their home country. In fact, even this is not a real option – for these workers would have spent a lot of money and incurred debts when they chose to come to Malaysia as migrant workers.

Access to justice is available to migrant workers just like any other worker, but when they complain of rights violations or start using these legal mechanisms, the response of many employers is simply termination of their employment: work passes/visas would be cancelled, disallowing the workers to legally remain in the country. Hence, they would lose any right to pursue their claims in the Labour Courts or via other avenues. If they stay on in the country ‘illegally’, they risk being arrested, detained, charged in court, convicted, whipped, and thereafter deported. The fact that they have valid claims or have lodged complaints in relevant avenues for justice is irrelevant.

Hence, migrant workers became a preferred source of labour for many employers – bonded and forced to work for the one employer, so very easily forced to work overtime, denied rest days and even public holidays.

Fortunately, there has emerged some measure of workers’ solidarity and Malaysian workers and trade unions, including the MTUC began to accept migrant workers as workers, and started fighting for the rights of migrant workers too. The unions accepted migrant workers as members of trade unions, irrespective of the fact that one of the conditions of these migrant workers’work passes/visas denies them the freedom of association. The unions, including the MTUC, have been ready and willing to take the matter to court if any employer, or the Malaysian government, contests the right of migrant workers to join unions or to benefit from Collective Agreements.

Besides migrant workers, the Malaysian government also created other classes of workers – temporary and casual workers. Such different categories of workers kept them divided and prevented them from joining existing unions.

Using labour without entering into employment relationship

In fact, short-term contract workers, migrant workers or the other types of workers are employees of the factory and workplaces they work in. Hence, employers have duties and obligations to ensure that the rights and welfare of these worker-employees, as contained in existing national laws and in collective agreements, are provided for.

Alas, in 2005, the Malaysian government came up with a policy that allowed factories and workplaces to use workers, without having to enter into any employment relationship with these workers. A new entity was created called ‘outsourcing agents/companies’, who would be labour/manpower suppliers, who would be supplying workers to factories and workplaces.
Under the Private Employment Agencies Act 1971, private employment agencies are considered the employers of these workers, and will continue to be the employer of the workers even after they start working in particular factories and workplaces. These workers are commonly known as ‘outsourced workers’.

In contrast, the ‘outsourcing agencies/companies’ are not considered to be the employers of these outsourced workers. Significantly, it was not the Ministry of Human Resources but the Ministry of Home Affairs that issued the licence/permits to these ‘outsourcing agents/companies’.

In this regard, I believe that this new Act runs contrary to the spirit of existing laws and principles. In the beginning, this practice applied only to migrant workers. It was later extended to cover local workers too. Consequently, in some factories today, about 50 per cent of the workforce is made up of these ‘outsourced workers’ who are not employees of the factory and/or workplace. Accordingly, they cannot join workplace unions and/or benefit from Collective Agreements either.

The ‘outsourcing agents/companies’ set-up is a very profitable business with little or no risk, even from their ‘employees’, who even if they were to strike would not affect these labour suppliers (‘contractors for labour’). After all, they do not run factories; indeed, there is no work that needs to be performed in order to generate profits. This is a form of what might be called ‘rentier capitalism’!
In 2010, the Malaysian government took steps to give statutory recognition to this unjust employment practice and relationship. They wanted to give legal recognition to these ‘contractors for labour’ – these labour suppliers. They wanted to confirm that the ‘contractor for labour’ is the employer, and remains the employer of these ‘outsourced workers’ even after they start working in the workplaces of principals. All this was achieved, despite strong protests coming from workers, their unions, MTUC, civil society groups not just within Malaysia but also internationally. The amendments proposed was passed and came into effect on 1 April 2012.

The use of ‘outsourced workers’ or outside workers at workplaces by principals are growing, and it also happens in government-linked companies. For example, the TNB Junior Officers Union protested in early 2012 against the employment and use of eoutsourced workersf by TNB.
The Minister of Human Resources recently announced an exemption of some (but not all) of the recent amendments concerning ‘contractor for labour’ to all sectors except the agricultural sector. In fact, it was just a reaffirmation of ‘contractors for labour’ and the continued use of ‘outsourced workers’by principals who do not consider them as their employees.

There is no doubt that such arrangements run contrary to the sentiments and principles governing employment relationships of the International Labour Organization. Our own Employment Act also clearly states that ‘the person or class of persons employed, engaged or contracted with to carry out the work shall be deemed to be an employee or employees and (a) the principal or owner of the agricultural or industrial undertaking, constructional work, trade, business or place of work; or (b) the statutory body or local government authority, shall be deemed to be the employer’. Rightfully all involved in the business of finding and supplying workers must be private employment agencies, governed by the Private Employment Agencies Act 1971, who for their services will be paid a fixed one-time fee. They will thereafter have no other relationship, let alone employment relationships, with the workers after they are accepted and start working for the principal. The workers will then become the principalfs employees. Hence this provision for ‘contractors for labour’ is totally against the spirit of our own Employment Act!

The MTUC and workers have continued to protest against this provision for labour contractors. In 2012, the Malaysian Bar passed a Resolution unanimously calling for the maintenance of a two-party employment relationship between workers and the principal to the exclusion of all thid parties, especially the ‘contractor for labour’. Regardless of whether they are called labour/manpower suppliers or outsourcing companies/agents, there must be just one class of workers – all of whom are employees of the principal – who can join the unions at the workplace and fight as one for better workers’ rights and benefits.

The way forward

The BN government seems to have lost its way and abandoned its duties and obligations to improve the rights and welfare of persons, workers and their families. Slowly but surely workers’ and trade union rights have been eroded. The government needs to stop being pro-employer and pro-business, concerned only with big profits. It must do what is needed immediately to restore the rights of workers to permanent employment until retirement, to strengthen trade unions, which is an essential tool for the protection and improvement of the livelihood of workers, and most importantly to maintain the two-party employment relationship.

In the upcoming elections, Malaysian workers and their families will again have the opportunity to get rid of this BN government and let a new coalition form a new government in the hope that a new government will reverse this erosion of workersf and trade union rights. The choice ultimately rests with the people and the workers. Our concern must not be driven by self-interest based on workplace or sector, ethnicity, nationality, religion, culture or even current political affiliations, but by a concern for the future common good and best interest of all persons and their families – which includes the over 10 million workers in Malaysia.

Charles Hector is a human rights lawyer based in Temerloh. Part 1 of this article appeared in the previous issue of Aliran Monthly.

Source: ALIRAN Monthly

Worker and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 1)

Worker and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 1)

In the first of a two-part article, Charles Hector examines how a pro-business government has led to a steady weakening of workers’ rights and their welfare and livelihood.
Photograph: Jerit
Under the rule of the Umno-led coalition, today known as the Barisan Nasional (BN), worker and trade union rights have suffered significantly. 

‘Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest’ is a right that many workers in Malaysia have lost. Minimum wages, a norm in most developed and developing countries, is something that is still denied to Malaysian workers.

Existing worker rights in law have been slowly eroded and accesses to justice have not been made effective and simple for the workers. Even obligations as to rights provided in law are still being taken away by the granting of applications by employers whilst denying the fundamental right to be heard or objections before decisions are made. Minister’s decisions are held to be final and uncontestable in court. Workers are being weakened when union leaders are now allegedly being dismissed simply because they criticized their employers – not because of work performance or work-related misconduct. 

The right to permanent employment until retirement today is being replaced by short-term fixed duration employment relationships, whereby most of these short-term employment contracts are for one year or less, with no guarantee of renewal. Since 2005, with the emergence of the ‘outsourcing concept’ which started for migrant workers, now expanded to local workers, traditional just employment relationships between those that own and control the workplace, who have work and need workers to do the required work, is also being withered away with the introduction of manpower/labour suppliers who now supply workers whilst continuing to be the employers even after the said workers start working at, and for the workplaces, factories and offices of the principal.
In short, these new ‘employment relationship’ introduces a third party and allows principals and owners to now just utilize the labour free of employer obligations to the rights and welfare of the workers. We shall be looking briefly at the situation of worker and trade unions in Malaysia, but not all, to determine this current government’s performance when it comes to worker rights and welfare.

Right to ‘eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest’ eroded

Action taken by stonemasons on 21 April 1856, followed by many other worker struggles ultimately led to the establishment and maintenance of the Eight Hour Day, that is now recognized internationally, and this right was also given a high priority by the International Labour Organization (ILO) since its creation in 1919. The slogan ‘Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest’ captures the essence of this struggle.

Likewise in Malaysia, this right is to be found in our Employment Act 1955. Any work beyond 8 hours would be construed as overtime work, and this required the consent of the worker and also entitled the worker to be paid extra, at a rate usually not less than one and half times his hourly rate of pay (Section 60A 3(a) Employment Act 1955).

In 1989, the government amended the law (Employment (Amendment) Act 1989 Act A716) allowing for the Minister to waive these rights as to required hours of work, on the application of the employer, but retained the condition that no worker is required to work for more than forty-eight hours in one week, which subsequently was removed by yet another amendment in 1998 (Employment (Amendment) Act 1998 Act A1026).

What was obviously missing was the requirement of the prior agreement of the worker and/or the relevant union, let alone the right to be heard, before decision are made that allowed the employer to deny workers this long struggled for right that limits the required hours of work. The law now provides that after that decision is made, ‘… any person who is dissatisfied with any decision of the Director General … may, within thirty days of such decision being communicated to him, appeal in writing … to the Minister, and any decision or order of the Minister shall be final, thus shutting the door to judicial review – being the court’s authority to examine an executive or legislative act and to invalidate that act if it is contrary to constitutional principles and justice.

There is also an absence of clear provisions in law that requires the provision of any notice whatsoever to workers and/or their unions when the said applications are being made by employers to the Director General, and as such decisions are being made by the government without workers being given the right to be heard. At present such ‘permissions’ are not even publicly and openly disclosed even in the relevant Ministry’s website.

No guidelines and/or simple forms are provided for as to how workers can appeal these decisions, and given that the appeal must be in writing, there being no provision of any right to be heard orally, workers and/or unions, with no required language capabilities or knowledge in law are certainly prejudiced by this present procedure of protest and appeal. Remember, there are about 2 million migrant workers in Malaysia, most of whom do not have the capacity to read and write Bahasa Malaysia, let alone write to the Minister.

The employment law provides minimum rights for all workers in Malaysia, but these rights can so easily and ‘secretly’ be denied to workers as the Director General of Labour permits employers to do so, with no prior notice or right to be heard given to workers. Similar provisions are available all over the Acts providing for various worker rights to be taken away.

As it now stands, workers may be required to work long hours, even more than ten hours per day, and even more than 48 hours per week – so what exactly is the limit? The employers also can require their workers to work on rest days and even on public holidays. Some workers even have to work on May 1st, Workers’ Day!

Some companies do not stop operations, and workers are continuously working in their respective shifts and this also prevents workers from meeting and/or organizing unions and/or developing collective demands. Workers on day shifts, some starting at 8.00 am and ending at 8 pm would not even have the opportunity to go to the Labour Department to lodge complaints, and in Malaysia most of the avenues of complaints and justice for workers only operate during the usual working hours. The same is the case with national/regional unions and the MTUC office, National Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) and even the Legal Aid Centres operated by the Malaysian Bar.

Minimum wages

In most developed and in some developing countries, minimum wages for workers have long been fixed by governments and laws. India, for example has had a Minimum Wage Act since 1948. Other examples include Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Hong Kong, United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and United Kingdom

Fast track: Average wages and allowances for local workers
However, the Malaysian government has been avoiding the fixing of minimum wages, despite repeated calls being made by the Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) and workers for several decades. Even after August 2010, when the government’s own Human Resources Ministry’s study of 1.3 million Malaysian workers found that a shocking 34 percent earned below the poverty line income of RM750 per month (Malaysiakini, 5 August 2010), the government has failed to recommend a minimum wage.

At the same time, the government continued to implement measures, including reducing subsidies, that resulted in an even higher cost of living. Then suddenly, just before the upcoming 13th General Elections, the prime minister announced on Labour Day 2012, that he would be implementing a minimum wage policy.

The Malaysian government, obviously committed to neo liberalism and free trade is perceived to be pro-employer, inclined to ensure that cost of labour is kept low and workers in Malaysia are ‘problem-free’ – all this allegedly to keep Malaysia competitive so as to attract foreign direct investments into the country.

Paradoxically, the Malaysian government may have interfered with market forces that might have improved wages, work benefits and conditions of workers by the introduction of migrant workers, temporary and casual workers into the labour market. However, these workers related policies and laws might have had the effect of weakening the bargaining rights of workers and unions.

Stagnation of workers’ righrts and erosion of justice for workers

The Malaysian government seems to have failed to improve workers’ access to justice too. If an employer cheats the worker by non-payment of agreed wages, overtime and/or makes wrongful deductions, the worker who succeeds in the Labour Department or Court at the end of the day only gets the amount that he was deprived of, not even additional interest or cost including the cost of transportation, the cost of taking leave and hence loss of daily wages when he attends court, and the cost of a lawyer and/or union representatives. When workers want to meet and seek advice or help even from MTUC officials, workers allegedly have to pay them a nominal sum of about RM60 per meeting. At the end of the day, for the lowly paid worker, it becomes more practical that they do not claim their rights. Hence the errant employer gets off scot-free.

For employers, the law favors them for even when it is proven that they have violated worker rights, all that is required of them is to pay the worker what they should have originally paid their workers. As an example, section 100(1) of the Employment Act states:
Any employer who fails to pay any of his employees wages for work done by his employee on a rest day or pays wages less than the rate provided under section 60 commits an offence, and shall also, on conviction, be ordered by the court before which he is convicted to pay to the employee concerned the wages due for work done on every rest day at the rate provided under section 60, and the amount of such wages shall be recoverable as if it were a fine imposed by such court.
This certainly is not just and does not deter employers from breaking the law. It would have been more just and a deterrent if the errant employer is ordered to pay at least 3 times the sum that he cheated the worker.

In the Employment Act, there is also no provision that protects workers who complain or access the avenues of justices, from being terminated and/or discriminated by reason of the fact that he is claiming rights against the employer. It is thus not uncommon that workers who complain or claim rights are summarily terminated; for the migrant worker, it is worse! For a termination will also be the loss of the legal right to remain in the country to claim or to continue pursuing their claims compounded with the fact that migrant worker will also not be allowed to work with any other employer even if he is allowed to stay.

Discrimination based on gender also occurs as when the courts recently affirmed practice of a company that had different retirement ages for men and women workers. Indeed, the Government was silent despite the fact that this certainly goes against our own Federal Constitution which guarantees equality to men and women performing the same job.

Industrial courts – Only court which requires Minister’s permission

When it comes to workers claiming wrongful dismissal seeking reinstatement, they have to lodge their complaint at the Industrial Relations Department(IRD), and if the dispute cannot be resolved, it is then referred to the Minister who has the power to decide whether the case be referred to the Industrial Court for trial or not. The issue is: why should the Minister’s permission be needed? For when a matter cannot be resolved between employee and employer at the IRD, it should immediately br referred to the Industrial Court. An additional hurdle in a worker’s quest for justice is unnecessary; it may also be discriminatory.

The law also provides that if any party is dissatisfied with the decision of the Minister, they may go to the High Court to challenge that decision. But unlike the Labour Courts and Industrial Courts, the High Court will award cost against the losing party, and this can be high and for the ordinary worker, who has been wrongfully dismissed, this may be an added financial risk which is unaffordable. The pursuit of justice in any court, I believe, requires the removal of all monetary risks.

As of February 2008, workers successful in their claim for wrongful dismissal saw the entitlement to wages and benefits, drastically slashed when in lieu of reinstatement all they could get was limited to a maximum of 24 months wages, based on their last drawn salary, less a percentage of post-dismissal earnings. Prior to this, their entitlement was for wages and benefits from date of dismissal until judgment and other matters. This was certainly an anti-worker amendment to the Employment Act.

There is still no Industrial Courts in Pahang, Trengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor. Why did this government not ensure that there are Industrial Courts in all major and medium sized towns, preferably no further than 50 kilometers from the workplace to ensure easy access to justice for workers. Today, after 50 over years since independence, we see Industrial Courts only in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

Charles Hector, an Aliran member, is a human right lawyer based in Temerloh. Part 2 will appear in the next issue.

Source: ALIRAN


(From British Colonialism, Independence…)
- Charles Hector

In Malaysia, the trade union movement seems to be weakening and the number of unions and union membership has not only stagnated but is also decreasing. Of the about 14.6 million workers, there are only about 924,961 workers that are union members in 2017. In the private sector, union membership has been declining from about 376,362 in 2014, to about 354,313 in 2017.

Trade Unions have been controlled by laws, first imposed by the British colonial government, which was continued post-independence by UMNO dominated coalition government – today known as the Barisan Nasional.

Malaysian trade union and worker laws fall far short of minimum international standards, so much so when Malaysia wanted to be part of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), one of the pre-conditions was that Malaysia makes significant amendments to its existing labour laws to make it more at par with minimum human rights and worker rights standards. The TPPA may be no more, and still there has been no amendments done yet.

When there is a violation of worker/trade union rights, sadly Malaysian unions still do not choose to struggle through pickets, strikes or campaigns against employers – but rather choose to simply lodge complaints with the relevant government institutions, which leads to court actions, which may also go through the appeal process lasting for many years. Sometimes, even when workers and unions do win, the remedies are lame and it really has no impact on employers and/or instrumental in bringing changes in laws. Employers are very happy with the state of affairs, for this method of resolution of ‘industrial dispute’ do not really impact its business and profits – the only victims are workers and unions.

What has happened to the trade union movement is an acceptance of the ‘limitations’ imposed on them by the authorities, and a choice of surviving within that ‘limited space’ with a strong adherence to the law, even if that law is unjust. There is also very little effort to reach out to the Malaysian public and/or even Member of Parliaments, State Assemblypersons and/or Senators for help in the fight for justice.

Since 1998, Malaysians generally have become braver, and have started coming out in much larger numbers in peaceful assemblies to protest wrongdoings and demand changes – but alas, this has not moved the trade union movement or workers to do the same – despite the continued erosion of worker and trade union rights.

The absence of a progressive, dynamic and new breed of worker leaders may also be a factor. Current existing union leaders seem to have been compromised – worried more for about the de-registration of unions, or maybe really their own financial security and their union employees. Struggle for better rights and justice always will have an element of risk, and unless unions and their leaders are brave enough to fight for justice and rights, then things will not change.

Union leaders have also forgotten how to use their biggest asset, being the large numbers of workers acting in solidarity. Now, unions leaders today, many a time choose to act alone, in a representative capacity – but most employers and the government are really not at all worried because they believe that Malaysian unions are weak, and these leaders really do not have the capacity of even moving their membership to act collectively. Even when pickets are done, sadly the number of union members that come out and participate is such a small percentage of the union membership. The last few large pickets and/or protests that happened in Malaysia was done by migrant workers, and many of them were not even unionized.

What happened in Malaysian Airlines, when the company decided to get rid of about 6,000 workers is an indication of the state of the labour movement. These were all mostly unionized workers, and the union/s affected had more than 10,000 member(maybe even closer to 20,000), but there was not a single mass protest or picket involving thousands of union members that happened.

To appreciate what happened to the Malaysian trade union movement, which was at one time very strong, we need to recall the history of the labour movement in Malaya, particularly before the subjugation of the labour movement by the British.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), sadly is a creature of British manipulation, emerging after the stronger Unions, Federation of Unions and worker leaders were suppressed.  

One would after expected that the MTUC and the Malaysian labour movement would have resurrected after Malaysia gained independence from the British in 1957, but sadly that did not happen.

As time moves on, workers themselves forget the past, and how strong the labour movement was at one time in the history of Malaysia. This lack of historical knowledge, and lack of education and empowerment of workers and union members by existing ‘leaders’ keeps unions weak. For many workers today, union is simply a ‘subscription’ deducted automatically from their salary by employers and transmitted to their unions, and the little benefit that they get from Collective Bargaining Agreements, which are usually salary increments and bonuses.

Union now also seldom have regular meetings for its members, if at all, which has been proven to be essential for the strengthening of solidarity, enhancing knowledge of members and generally strengthening unions. The lack of involving members in decision making and union actions, has also developed in an overall lack of interest in unions. The lack of development of new leaders is problematic, and we find the same old people retaining union leadership position for years and years.

Things need to change, if unionism and the labour movement in Malaysia is to become stronger and effective, but standing in the way sadly are sometimes the existing leaders of unions. It is easy to blame government and existing laws, but if workers and unions are not ready to fight for better rights together as a union, then there will not be any improvement – and rights and ‘hurdles’ in law will simply continue to increase.

The union way must be the ‘union way’ – a struggle together with all workers standing together, and not a representative struggle of one or two leaders alone, without the participation or support of the rest of union members.

So, let us recall the history of the strong labour movement in Malaysia and what happened.


The fact that the Malaysian trade unions movement played a significant role in the political, economic and socio-cultural life of Malaysia has been forgotten by many. The labour movement did actively struggle for independence from the British colonial powers, and contributed significantly even in the determination of the future of Malaysia – including also the drafting of the Malaysian Constitution.

But alas, all that was in the past, and the trade unions have been systematically weakened and isolated from involvement in the life of the nation, first by the British colonial masters and thereafter by the UMNO-led coalition that has governed Malaysia since independence. This weakening, nay annihilation, of the labour movement still continues on today by the actions and/or omissions of a government that seem to not just have embraced neo-liberalism, but is also seen today as being pro-business. Government owned and controlled companies, of late, also is seen to be violating worker rights.

The future of the labour movement in Malaysia now depends on the workers and the trade unions, who really must appreciate the history of the Malaysian labour movement and decide whether they would want to struggle to make the labour movement once again strong and relevant, or just allow the slow withering away of not just the movement but also worker and trade union rights.  


Worker alone is weak but workers united are strong. Workers have always naturally come to a realization that only together as workers will they be able to fight and get better rights and justice at their workplace. As such, more likely than not, there have been organized worker solidarity actions in one form or another ever since there have been workers in Malaysia. 

For Malaysia, the advent of worker struggle would have been in the rubber plantations and the tin mines, whose labour was primarily workers of Indian and Chinese origins – a reality when then the Malay worker resisted working in such mines and plantations,  choosing rather self employment, small businesses, farming, fishing and the civil service. The majority of the workers in the civil service were Malay.

General Labour Unions (GLUs) and unions

The origin of organized labour in the form of worker unions in Malaysia dates back to the 1920s. Workers then, who were primarily of Chinese and Indian origins in the private sector and Malay workers in the civil service formed what was known as General Labour Unions (GLUs). The GLU membership was generally open to any worker, with no restrictions to any particular industry, sector or workplace, unlike what we have today in Malaysia. GLUs were generally formed in different geographical areas all around Malaya. It attracted many workers and was strong. In the struggle for rights, history shows that many actions were taken including strikes.

The labour movement then was not restricted to merely employer-employee matters, but also played an active role in the political, economic and socio cultural life of the country. The labour movement, together with other pro-independence groups, was also actively involved in the struggle for independence from the British.  They were also active in the struggle against Japanese occupation forces during World War II. 

An example of a union then was the Selangor Engineering Mechanics Association, which was registered in 1928, maybe one of the first registered trade union.

The GLUs and many of the unions also started coming together as coalitions and federations – and finally into the Pan Malayan General Labour Union(PMGLU) and the Singapore GLU.

British Moves to Weaken Labour Movement – Laws & Other Strategies

The British colonial powers, worried about the growing labour movement, decided to try to control and influence it. The British colonial government  were especially concerned about the perceived influence that the Malaysian Communist Party (MCP) and other pro-independence groups had in the labour movement. 

Methods the British employed to weaken and control the labour movement included the enactment of laws like the Trade Union Ordinance of 1940, and through the appointment of the Trade Union Advisor.

Trade Union Ordinance and Laws – Registration and Control

One of the primary objects of this Trade Union Ordinance was to stabilise the labour situation in the interest of increasing production to sustain Britain's economy and its war efforts. It was not concerned about worker or trade union rights.

The Malayan economy, at that time,  was geared to support the wartime needs of Britain. As such labour and trade union rights, and struggles for  better rights that existed, had to be suppressed and subordinated to what the British considered more important – Imperial Defence.  Malaya then was considered the ‘dollar arsenal’ for the British empire, and the 1940 Ordinance was enacted  for the purpose of ensuring a continued flow of revenue to the British empire.

The stated object in the title of this 1940 Ordinance was, ``An Enactment for the Registration and Control of Trade Unions''. Its declared purpose was the fostering of ``the right kind of responsible leadership amongst workers and at the same time to discourage or reduce such influence as the professional agitators may have had and to reduce the opportunities or the excuse for the activities of such persons.''[i] It was clearly to weaken the existing labour movement, and transform existing trade unions and union leadership into what the British wanted. 

The existing worker solidarity was to be destroyed, and a ‘divide and weaken’ policy was the object. Private sector workers were to be separated from public sector workers, and workers from different industry and sectors were to be kept apart. The role of unions were to be limited to simply ‘industrial relations’ matters – matters between workers and employers only. Unions were no longer allowed to be involved in matters concerning the nation – including the struggle for independence.

This new 1940 Trade Union Ordinance now required that unions in Malaya had to be registered (or rather re-registered), and this meant an application to the government, government approval and registration. This allowed the government not to re-register some of the stronger unions, and federation of unions across different sectors/industry. 

As such, the new law prevented government (or public sector) employees and private sector employees belonging to the same union. The affiliation of unions to other classes of unions was also prevented. Restriction was also imposed on the usage of union funds. 

The registration rules were somewhat restrictive; for instance government employees and non-government employees could not anymore belong to the same union or even to affiliate itself to unions of other classes of workers. Union funds usage was also restricted - it could no longer be used for a variety of other purposes including political purposes. Under these rules, all the existing GLUs (or even other Federation of Unions across different sectors, industry or occupation) were un-registerable and therefore could no longer operate legally.

The new Trade Union Ordinance and laws that came into force in 1946 effectively killed the GLUs, who could no longer be registered (or re-registered) under the new law, and as such could no more able to operate legally. It also killed off many stronger unions.

What is of interest was that this new policy and laws did not apply to the union movement in Britain and the United Kingdom, just for Malaysia. British unions to date are still involved in the political struggles, and even political parties like the Labour Party, in the United Kingdom.

Pan Malaysian General Labour Union (PMGLU) - Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU)

In 1947, the Pan Malayan General Labour Union, which was established in 1946, who later changed its name to Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU), boasted a membership of 263,598, and this represented more than half the total workforce in Malaysia. 85 percent of all existing unions were part of the PMFTU[ii]
The attitude of the Malayan worker was more assertive during this period; for instance, "A strike was reported of Chinese and Indian hospital workers because they no longer wanted to be addressed as 'boy' . . . .", and workers began to see their subjection to physical punishments as unacceptable.[iii] "Tamil trade unionists refused to suffer any longer the use of the derogatory term 'Kling'. Estate workers no longer dismounted from their bicycles when a dorai, or planter, passed by."[iv] In short, unions concern went beyond limited industrial relations matters or employee-employer matters concerning work rights and working conditions.

The British Colonial Government wanted to crush this this development, and the ever strengthening labour movement, decided to ‘reconstruct’ the organized labour movement in Malaysia and Singapore. 

While the Singapore Trade Union Adviser, S.P.Garett, allowed the Singapore GLU (SGLU) to reorganize as a Federation and operate legally without registering which led to the formation of the Singapore Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) in August 1946. 

In Malaya, however, the then Trade Union Adviser John Alfred  Brazier, did not want the same for Malaya – he did not want the PMGLU to be recognized or continue to exist. He ruled that all the branch unions had to register, and that thereafter there be no relationship between any of the newly registered unions with the PMGLU (that later came to be known as the PMFTU). The registered unions were not allowed to seek guidance or remit funds to PMFTU. This created problems for the PMFTU, that ultimately led to its demise.

The Trade Union Ordinance  required the registration(or re-registration) of Trade Unions according to sector or industry, and this allowed the government to deny registration to unions they considered strong, unacceptable and/or ‘militant unions’ 

Until the proclamation by the British colonial authorities of the state of "Emergency" in Malaya and Singapore in 1948, most of the plantation trade unions and federations of plantation trade unions in Malaya were affiliated to the PMFTU. It is of interest, that the British may have considered the PMFTU as a bigger threat than even the Communist Party of Malaya(CPM), for the PMFTU was outlawed even before the CPM was.

Trade Union Adviser 

Another method that was employed by the British, was to try and influence the Trade Unions, and to this end in 1945, a British Trade Unionist, John Alfred Brazier, was appointed by the government as Trade Union Adviser.  English educated middle class individuals were groomed and trained to replace the then existing progressive worker leadership of trade unions.  One of the targeted unions were the Plantation Worker Unions. 

The government appointed trade union adviser whose objective was not to strengthen but rather to weaken the labour movement in Malaya which included to eliminate its role in the political, socio-economic and cultural life of the nation, and narrowly restrict its activities to ‘industrial relations’, that is the disputes between employers and workers. 

This was unnatural development as workers are also citizens and human persons who live in the country. Who wins the Federal, State and Local government elections is material – the wrong people and parties may mean anti-worker and anti-trade union policies and laws. This restriction did lead to further erosion of worker rights and the power of negotiation for better terms. If water, basic amenity and the cost of living go up, it also has a direct impact on the lives of the worker and their families, and to bar unions and workers from taking up or speaking on such issues were absurd. 

It must not be forgotten that workers and their unions had played a very significant role in the struggle for independence of Malaya from the British colonial government. They also played a significant role in developing the Constitution of Malaya -  now Malaysia. 

The PMFTU, Clerical Unions of Penang, Malacca, Selangor and Perak, and the Peasant's Union were a part of the Pan-Malayan Council of Joint Action (PMCJA), with Tan Cheng Lock as chairman and Gerald de Cruz as Secretary-General, [v] who actively campaigned on matters concerning the Malaysian Constitution.

It must be reiterated that what the British did to the trade unions in Malaysia was contrary to the accepted position and role of trade unions in England. To this day, trade unions in the United Kingdom continue to play an active role in the political life until today, being still very much affiliated to the Labour Party. The manner in which the British treated the labour movement in Malaya and Singapore, was not at all the same the way they treated their own labour movement in Britain. In Malaysia, the object was clearly ‘union busting’ for the benefit of employers and businesses, most of which were British owned or controlled. 

Other Laws – Crackdown on the Labour Movement

Besides the new labour laws, The British colonial government also used other laws to suppress or carry out ‘union busting’, a term we use today.

In 1947, the ordinary trespassing law was used to keep union organisers from meeting and speaking with workers in plantations. For instance in late March 1947, a large police force came to the Dublin estate in Kedah to arrest a Federation of Trades Unions official for trespassing as he was speaking to a group of workers there. When the workers closed ranks around the official, the police opened fire, killing one worker and wounding five[vi].

In a clash at the Bedong estate on 3 March 1947, between police and workers, 21 workers were injured; whereby "the strike leader died of injuries received at the hands of the police a few days later". 61 of these workers were charged and sentenced to six months' imprisonment.[vii]

The existing law then was that workers could not be terminated just for exercising their right to strike – which was a worker’s right. But in October 1947, the Supreme Court in the case of three woman rubber tappers who were contesting in court that their dismissal for striking was wrong, the court ruled that striking was a breach of contract and that the dismissal was justified. This was a major change of law and policy.

Unionist were also convicted for intimidation. In November 1947 S. Appadurai, vice-president of the Penang Federation of Trade Unions and chairman of the Indian section of the Penang Harbour Labour Association was charged for having written to an employer warning him against using ‘blacklegs’. ‘Backlegs’ are persons who acts against the interests of a trade union by continuing to work during a strike, or taking over a striker's job during a strike. In law then and before this, it was wrong for employers to use ‘backlegs’ when workers are on strike. However, in this case, the said union leader was found guilty and sent to prison. 

In January 1948, K. Vanivellu, secretary of the Kedah Federation of Rubber Workers Unions was charged for having written to an employer asking him to reinstate 14 workers who had been dismissed for striking and suggesting that if he did not, the remaining workers might leave the job.

Hence, various other laws and the courts were also used wrongly, for the purpose of union busting pursuant to the new British policy to weaken the labour movement in Malaysia,

New Amendments to the Trade Union Ordinance - 1948

The Trade Union Ordinance, was again amended to weaken unions. New amendments to the Trade Union Ordinance were passed by the Federal Legislative Council on 31 May 1948. The amendments were in three parts. 

The first stipulated that a trade union official must have at least three years experience in the industry concerned. 

The second prohibited anyone convicted of certain criminal offenses (notably intimidation and extortion, which were common charges against unionists) from holding trade union office. 

The third stated that a Federation could only include workers from one trade or industry[viii]
The first provision was seen as  "a measure designed to exclude educated 'outsiders'.”, It also created problems because many workers worked different industry and sector because work then available during that time was not permanent – more of a seasonal or transient nature. It is like what is happening now, with the use of the precarious short term contracts, where after the end of contracts, workers have no choice to find another job – more often than not in a different industry and sector.

The third part that insisted that a Federation could only include workers from one trade or industry effectively killed the PMFTU and even the SFTU. This divided private sector workers further, and it also affected public sector workers – because it prevented workers from different sectors and industries from coming together and fighting for better rights and common issues.

PMFTU outlawed in June 1948

On 12 June 1948, the British colonial government finally outlawed PMFTU. This is interesting considering the fact that only later in July 1948, was the Malaysian Communist Party and other left wing groups made illegal. Can we say that for the British colonial government, the bigger concern or threat was the labour movement and unions - not the Communist party?  

Many of the leaders of the labour movement were arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced. S.A. Ganapathy, for example, who was the first President of the 300,000-strong Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU), was hanged by the British in May 1949. He was said to be on the way to the police to surrender a firearm he found, when he was arrested by the police and sentenced to hang in Pudu Jail.

Council of Trade Unions – Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)

Effectively, the British colonial government succeeded in crushing the labour movement in Malaya. With the requirement of registration, and the powers vested in the Registrar of Trade Unions, the government could now eliminate the stronger ‘trouble maker’ trade unionist and trade unions, and break up the labour movement according to sectors/industries – divide and rule.

In January 1949, there only remained 163 registered Trade Unions with a total membership of only 68,814. In comparison, PMFTU had a membership of about 263,598 – which represented more than 50% of the total workforce.

The Council of Trade Unions was formed and they organized the Conference of Malayan Trade Union Delegates on 27-28 February 1949, and this gave birth to what is today known as the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), 

Now, since the amended new trade union laws prohibited the formation of Federation of Trade Unions from different trades, sectors and industry, MTUC could not be registered as a Trade Union or a Federation of Trade Unions, and had to be registered under the Societies Act as a society.

1957 – Independent Malaya & Continued Weakening of the Labour Movement

On 31st August 1957, Malaya got its independence from the British but alas the position of the new UMNO-led coalition government that ruled since then until now did not defer much from their past British colonial masters. 

Malaysia may have gained independence, but alas workers and trade unions continued to be denied independence. They continued to be oppressed and suppressed, by the UMNO-led government – who adopted and continued the British ‘divide and rule’ policy and laws, and the restrictions and control with regard to trade union activities, trade union funds and even trade union leadership restrictions.

The struggle for independence of Malaysia took many forms ranging from armed struggle to diplomatic negotiations, and for some the handing over power to the UMNO-led coalition was not real independence, and some continued to struggle on. UMNO-BN government, and some leaders, continues to be confused as to who were fighting to gain our independence from – the British or the Communist Party of Malaya(and others). Members of the police and military serving the British colonial government are shockingly still seen as ‘heroes of independence’, and the recent invitation of 31 British army veterans to participate in the 2017 Independence Day celebration highlights this continued confusion.

Some suggest that the British choice in handing over power to the UMNO led coalition, a ‘friend’, was basically to ensure the protection of British owned companies and assets, and the continued flow of resources and profits from Malaysia to Britain. All these may not matter, as we now accept that Malaysia is an independent state. What matters is that workers, unions and the labour movement continue to be oppressed and/or stifled even many years after independence.

The role and influence of the labour movement in socio-economic and political life and future of the nation continues to be slowly eroded as the current government’s policy is perceived to be pro-businesses and employers. A greater concern seems to be to ensure smooth unhindered operation of business and profits, something that may not change soon as the government too now are employers in the growing number of government owned and/or controlled private businesses.

The Labour Movement today and in the future

Malaysia continues with a ‘divide and rule’ policy of the trade union movement – permitting only unions based on occupation, sector and industry, and disallowing the formation of unions or federation of unions across different sectors, industry and occupation. Private sector workers and public sector workers are still prevented from belonging to common unions. Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) and CUEPACS continue to be  registered as societies. 

Control of the trade union movement, union and worker rights and powers, was then justified as Malaysia needed to attract the foreign investor to set up factories, and hence make available more jobs and income for Malaysia. Low wages and a passive workforce makes Malaysia attractive, and the fact that there has been no strikes for almost 4 or more decades is seen as positive. 

Well, such justifications may be good for businesses and maybe even Malaysia, but it certainly is not helping workers – their wages still remain low, and their rights continue to be eroded. A perusal of laws, will see that the UMNO-BN government has been continuously eroding worker rights through various amendments of existing laws, and even new laws. In a previous article entitled, ‘Worker and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia’, I have dealt with this erosion of rights.

Worker rights education is also not a priority, and it is not even in our education curriculum. Hence, many workers are not even aware of existing rights in Malaysia, and more importantly how they can claim it. The government also is not bothered in the inspection and enforcement of worker and trade union rights, safe maybe occupational safety and health rights. 

A perusal of the regular Ministry of Human Resources Statistics on Employment and Labour (Statistik Pekerjaan dan Perburuhan) provides no figures of the number of inspection and enforcement of worker and trade union rights, save for matters concerning occupational safety and health, eventhough the law provides for the power of inspection and enforcement to these rights, and this sadly suggests that Malaysia may not even be interested in protecting existing worker and trade union rights. These inspection must be done randomly, and/or based on receipt of information. To not act until  worker victims to lodge formal complaints, in this Malaysian working environment, when many employers easily tend to terminate workers who lodge formal complaints is not reasonable – like other rights, inspection and enforcement must be done randomly or on receipt of information of alleged violations coming from any sources.

Union busting continues. Union Presidents and leaders are easily terminated for issuing public statements. Union members are terminated for sending memorandum to election candidates to get their commitment to struggle for better worker rights. Workers participating in legal pickets are arrested for ‘making noise’. Union registration, and ‘recognition’ processes are delayed, not expedited, not just by government bodies, but also by allowing long drawn out litigations initiated by employers in court challenging even Minister’s decisions. 

Malaysia finally introduced ‘Minimum Wage’, which today is RM1,000 a month, which is absurd when the government itself acknowledge that families with income less that RM4,000 are in need of government assistance, the BR1M(Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia). Logically, assuming a family unit has 2 income earners, the Minimum Wage should really be set at RM2,000. Again, even here, there was not only delays granted to employers, but also a lack of enforcement against errant employers.

Unions remain weak, for even when about 6,000 out of about 20,000 employees of the Malaysian Airlines, whereby the majority were unionized workers, were terminated, there was not even a single mass protest or legally permissible picket by these unions.

Hence, the labour movement in Malaysia may have successfully been weakened, and the reasons may not simply been the laws and government policies – but also a weak fearful union leadership and members. The unwillingness of workers and unions to stand for their rights and fight for better worker and trade union rights is a major problem – no struggle will mean no improvement. To depend solely on the government to bring about improvement of rights is foolish, when victims fail to highlight and campaign.

Malaysia’s worker and trade union laws, fall short of existing international standards. This became evident recently, when as a precondition of being the part of the TPPA(Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement), the United States of America insisted significant amendments to Malaysian worker and trade union laws. It is good that some countries, as a matter of policy and law, today have adopted a policy that they will not enter into agreements and/or trade agreements with countries that do not at the very least have a minimum standard of human rights and worker rights. In response, Malaysia started reviewing with the intending of amending labour laws, and it is hoped that this will still be done despite that fact the TPPA may be no more.
It is rather confusing, embarrassing and sad that some trade union leaders in Malaysia still consider Trade Union Adviser John Alfred  Brazier, one of the tools used by the  British to carry out ‘union busting’ of the Malaysian labour movement in the 1940s, as the father of Trade Unionism in Malaysia. But then, of late, some unions have gone beyond just focusing on employer-employee issues, into addressing other more pressing concerns of socio-economic, politic and cultural issues affecting the nation – like the increase of cost of living brought about by the introduction of new taxation law like the GST, and government failures possibly also kleptocracy and corruption that have caused significant losses of monies, and has also impacted the economy of the country. 

MTUC and other trade unions, also did in the past endorse and campaign for some candidates contesting in the General Elections, that saw the UMNO-BN government reacting and removing temporarily the MTUC from its position as the body representing workers in Malaysia and at the ILO(International Labour Organisation).
There will always be risks in the struggle for rights, and the question now is what will Malaysian workers and trade unions do – remain in the role that the British Colonial Government wanted, which seems also the same as what the present UMNO-BN government wants, or will they wake up and fight for better worker and trade union rights – and a re-emergence of a strong labour movement in Malaysia?

Without highlighting wrongs, violations and struggles for better rights, issues and concerns will not be known to others, so there will also be no pressure on government/s and employers to protect and improve worker and trade union rights in Malaysia. Will even the election manifestos and policy of the political parties in Malaysia contain any commitment to the improving of rights and the strengthening of the labour movement? Will workers and unions choose to continue to remain in the ‘restricted space’ provided for them by the British colonial government and now the UMNO-BN government, or will they finally break out and regain some their old glory, strength, power and relevance? 

There are about 14.6 million workers in a country of about 30 million plus, and as such they do have much power and say in not just the future of the labour movement, but also Malaysia. It is sad when just about 100,000 Felda setters and their families can make their rights and welfare a major national concern, and the so much more workers and union members cannot.

[i] The first of a two-part series on the trade union movement in Malaysia by Dr Leong Yee Fong
[ii] The Institutional Approach to Labour and Development  edited by Klárá Fóti, Laurids Lauridsen, Gerry Rodgers, Published by Frank Cass & Co Ltd
[iii] Morgan, p.168
[iv] Harper cites E.A. Ross, minute, 10 February 1946, and LAB/92/47
[v] Tribune Staff Reporter (23 December 1946). "K.L. Forms New 'Action Council'". The Malayan Tribune.
[vi] Morgan, p.178
[vii] Morgan, p.178. He cites Straits Times, 5 March and 8 March 1947.
[viii] The amendments are described in Morgan, pp.185,6; and Stenson, f.n., p.8. Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumstances_prior_to_the_Malayan_Emergency#cite_note-49