Saturday, September 27, 2008

Inflation and standard of living

Reading this news on Malaysia inflation rate has jumped to a 27-year high of 8.5 percent in August and wondering how does inflation impact our life and how is impact life of migrant worker?

Surely the inflation will hurt our standard of living because we have to pay more and more for the same goods and services. If our income doesn't increase at the same rate as inflation, we will find our standard of living declining even though we are making more. Also, inflation doesn't impact everything equally, so that some things (such as gas prices) can double while other things (our home) may lose value. For worker who earn monthly income if the wages not increase according to the costs of living , standard of living is most likely to be affected .

For migrant workers who is actually earn income lower than local worker or not even get pay after the reduction of all the employment fees &charges .When migrant workers did not get fair wages and how could they be able to afford their basic needs..

Inflation jumps to 27-year high Sep 24, 08 5:16pm

The inflation rate has jumped to a 27-year high of 8.5 percent in August, driven by the escalating cost of food and fuel, according to official data released today.

"The result was slightly higher than expected but the central Bank Negara would not raise interest rates to ensure growth," said Wan Suhaimi Saidi, an economist with Kenanga Investment Bank.

"It is slightly above my expectation. I was looking at 8.4 percent. I don't think the government will increase the key interest rates. It will be maintained at 3.50 percent till the year-end to support growth," he told AFP.

The Department of Statistics revised downwards the inflation figure for July to 8.3 percent. It had earlier stated that the figure was 8.5 percent.

It said the cost of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose 11.7 percent in August compared to a year ago. The high inflation is already hurting consumers with many Malaysians cutting down on their food bill.

"The increase (in inflation for August) was shown in the selected main groups, namely food and non-alcoholic," it said in a statement.

Escalating food, transport prices

The August data showed escalating prices in most categories, including transport which jumped 21.8 percent, and restaurants and hotels which rose 6.5 percent.

The government hiked the fuel price by 41 percent in June, in a move to rein in the ballooning cost of subsidies but it has indicated prices could be lowered soon.

High inflation was one of the factors that led to an unprecedented humiliation at March general elections for the ruling coalition, which lost five states and a third of parliamentary seats.

Bank Negara has said it expects inflation to moderate in the second half of 2008 as economic growth is likely to slow down.

Shahrir: Inflation to remain high

After releasing August's Consumer Price Index (CPI), Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shahrir Samad said he does not expect September's inflation to be much lower.

"Although, the full effects of the petrol price reductions in August and now have not been fully factored in yet, September CPI may not be much lower.

"The lower petrol prices is expected to be offset by the increase spending during Hari Raya holidays and the 30 percent surcharge on public transportation," said Shahrir.

But the minister does expect the CPI to have peaked.

On a positive note, Shahrir said that inflation seems to have stabilised as the month-to-month increase was only 0.2 percent. However, overall inflation for the year is expected to hover around 4.8 percent.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

RELA:- Making money seems to be the priority

Apart from the demanding the Malaysian government to immediately abolish RELA, we need also push for the development of clear standards and procedures concerning the arrest, detention and deportation.

These should be in line with the international standard of UN and human rights institution like Human rights commission ,if they have good one !

We have to also monitor why state like to declare crackdown against undocumented migrants. Has it got anything to do with security, or is it just pure business.

Transparency is an important aspect of good governance and it seems that it has far to go …

03-09-2008: AG’s Report: Rela vehicles bought without following financial rules

PETALING JAYA: The home ministry has bought 313 vehicles costing RM16.87 million for Rela, the voluntary security corps, but only a quarter of the mileage chalked up was for conducting operations to arrest illegal immigrants.

This was revealed in the Auditor-General’s (AG) 2007 Report, which was released last Friday. The vehicles were used for 52 of the 312 days that operations against illegal immigrant were held from 2004 to 2007. It had only chalked up 16,646 km or 25.9% in mileage for the operations from 64,258km.

“The auditors could not determine the accuracy of log books for mileage, usage of vehicles and fuel, especially in district Rela offices,” said the report.

Furthermore, the ministry has no special allocations for purchase of vehicles, but used the leftovers from the development allocations from 2004 to 2007, auditors found.

“The ministry should stop the practice of using leftover development allocations to purchase vehicles because it is not in accordance with financial rules in contract management,” said the report.

The ministry would have to prepare a special allocation for purchases like these so that there would be planning and proper execution, it said.

According to the report, Rela had only 68 vehicles until 2003. It had then proposed to acquire more vehicles from 2004 to 2006, following the government’s decision to engage Rela in operations to arrest illegal immigrants.

However, the audit check showed that Rela had only raised the matter generally without justifying the intended purchases by showing actual need and ensuring that the vehicles were suitable for their intended purpose. The report also found that Rela had decided at the headquarters level on the types of vehicles and the number of units without consultation with the states.

The report further said that the proposal should have been supported by schedules for the planning and execution of activities. It should also specify the types of cars with current market prices, road tax, insurance, sales commission and the prices of optional accessories.

The report found that the ministry’s chief secretary had applied to the Ministry of Finance to buy the vehicles through negotiation instead of open tender due to Rela’s urgent need.

“However, the appointment of the suppliers did not take into account the ability of the company to supply the vehicles. It was found that the company could not supply three of the vehicles at the agreed time because they were out of stock,” the report said.

It also revealed that four Toyota Fortuner SUVs and two Toyota Hilux pick-ups that were not in the proposal were supplied while 125 units of Kia Pregio vans were purchased instead of the 18 units planned.

The AG’s report also could not find the basis for the distribution of the vehicles and was of the opinion that Rela should have stated it in the written form so that there would be no disputes.

It also found that 49 vehicles from the headquarters and the Sabah branch were not used in the operations at all from 2004 to 2007.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pakatan Rakyat will protect Migrant rights....??

Anwar is talking about solving migrant workers' problems - how exactly he does not tell us. A typical politician - make nice sounding promises without giving any specifics.

He only states that he will abolish caning - and that is good, for all forms of corporal punishment and the death penalty needs to removed from the laws of Malaysia.

Talking about Migrant Workers - I have yet to see the 5 Pakatan Rakyat states coming out with any Migrant Worker policy, something that will

What about education for migrant children? What about access to public health care and facilities paying the same rate as other Malaysians - not the current exorbitant rate?

Pakatan Rakyat will NOT allow enforcement by RELA - and RELA will not be able to fuction in Pakatan Rakyat states - Anwar did not say anything about this as well..

Anwar`s promise on solving migrant workers` problem gives new hope to RI

By Eliswan Azly

Jakarta (ANTARA News(8/9/2008) - The promise voiced by Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to improve relations with Indonesia if he is in power by putting the problem of illegal Indonesian migrant workers on his agenda of reforms gives a new hope to this world largest archipelagic country.

Why not, because illegal Indonesian migrant workers who are poorly paid and protected have actually helped make a great contribution to Malaysia`development especially in the sector of construction and plantations. But still inhuman treatment is still haunting them merely because they entered Malaysia illegally (without papers).

In fact, the Malaysian Employers` Federation as reported by Asia Times admitted that about half of the construction industry`s labor force was made up of illegal workers. Building firms also feared that a failure to meet contractual obligations, because of a diminished labor force, could spell financial disaster for them in court proceedingss.

It is this respect, Said Nizar. SH.LLM, an expert on international law at the Hassanuddin University in a phone call on Sunday, said Anwar`s statement on his agenda to put priority on solving illegal Indonesian migrant workers` problems, which in the past had posed an stumbling obstacle in the two countries` bilateral relations because inhuman treatment of migrant workers especially domestic helpers, was deemed a fresh wind by Indonesia.

Earlier on Saturday, Anwar Ibrahim after a cordial get-together with Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Union (ICMI) figures told the press one of his main agendas was to improve relations with neighboring countries including Indonesia and addressing the illegal Indonesian workers problem is necessary.

Anwar also promised that he would abolish the caning punishment in Malaysia, saying it was an inhuman way of punishing wrongdoers.

Relations with Indonesia, including with the country`s Muslim organizations, were important. "Don`t think, I feel humiliated when I am associated with Indonesia," Anwar said.

He also expressed thanks to the foreign media, including Indonesian media, for the support they had given him at a time when Malaysian media had put him in a tight spot.

Anwar said if someday he came to power in Malaysia, he would also revoke discriminatory policies which had put Muslim Malays in a controversial position.

Another thing he would dismantle was the New Economic Policy (NEP) launched in the early 1970s, and replace it with a system that would empower all poor Malaysians regardless of whether they belonged to the Malay majority or the ethnic Chinese or Indian minorities.

Nizar saw that Malaysia needed a voice for change to improve a number of degenerated systems and to eliminate ethnic tensions after learning Anwar`s explanation to the press.

According to Nizar, Anwar was a reformist in Malaysia who saw such injustice in many Malaysian policies on migrant workers and economy on account of discrimitory contents.

In Indonesia, where most of Malaysia`s illegal immigrants come from, there is little sympathy for worried Malaysian businessmen, who are seen to have exploited cheap labor from poor neighboring countries to build the country`s monuments to economic success.

"To a certain extent, the Malaysian government should thank the illegal workers. They have had a hand in developing Malaysian businesses. Malaysian businessmen also take advantage of this situation because they don`t have to pay tax," Nizar said.

Another expert on International law, Dr Sofyan Siregar, also saw Anwar`s statement as a good momentum toward better relations in the employment of foreign labour in that neighboring country, thus lowering labor torture and ill-treatment-related frictions and tension in the future.

In the latest flare-up in the two countries` relations, thousands of young Indonesians burned Malaysian flags and demonstrated in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta and consulates elsewhere after the physical assault of an Indonesian karate coach by Malaysian police. The fact that the police were hunting for illegal Indonesian immigrants at the time has also inflamed tensions in Indonesia.

Donald Luther Kolobita, 47, was part of the Indonesian team competing in the Asian Karate Championships in Kuala Lumpur on August 24, 2007 when he was confronted by four plainclothes police officers late at night outside his hotel. Thinking they were trying to rob him, Kolobita put up a fight before he was overpowered, handcuffed and taken to the police station, where he was savagely assaulted.

Kolobita returned to Jakarta in a wheelchair and the Indonesian team withdrew from the championship. The Speaker of Indonesia`s parliament, Agung Laksono, called the attack "an arrogant act on the part of the Malaysian police against an Indonesian citizen".

According to Sofyan, this episode represented the latest in a series of complaints about the ill-treatment of Indonesians in Malaysia, especially among migrant workers. There are almost 600,000 officially documented Indonesian workers in Malaysia based on unofficial estimates.

"During the boom years of the 1990s, low-wage laborers from abroad helped Malaysia achieve remarkable rates of economic growth, but migrant laborers are now being looked down upon - and this is creating bitterness between the two Southeast Asian neighbors," he said.

"If Malaysia does not cooperate, Indonesia can send more illegal workers, or will take them all out of the country, both legal and illegal ones," Sofyan said in a phone call.

However, the rampant abuse of migrant workers in Malaysia -- most of whom are Indonesians -- was directly related to the two countries` lack of laws protecting workers.

Earlier, Yunus Yamani, chairman of Wali Amanah, a private social security agency for Indonesian migrant workers, said relevant authorities were lacked coordination in preventing Indonesians from working abroad illegally.

Yunus urged Kuala Lumpur to take harsh measures against Malaysians who employed illegal workers to curb the number of labor abuse cases. "Malaysian employers recruit many illegal migrants to harvest palm oil on their plantations, then ask security personnel to deport them after harvest season."

Hence, Anwar`s main agenda to solve the issue on illegal Indonesian migrant workers was regarded as a breakthrough toward building harmonious relations between the two countries which share share the same Malay cultural roots and Islamic faith.

Anwar, a former deputy prime minister and finance minister who was sacked and jailed a decade ago, has vowed to wrest power from the current government with the help of parliament members who have defected to his camp.

After an absence of 10 years from the Malayian parliament, Anwar was formally sworn in in August as a legislator again by Malaysian House Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia. Ibrahim was at the same time named leader of the opposition in the Malaysian parliament. (*)