Sunday, June 27, 2010

Exploited abused migrant workers are building the King's new palace

Exploited abused workers building Malaysia's new Palace?? Shameful that UMNO-led BN government is allowing this...

Workers building the new palace for the Malaysian King are being exploited...this is an embarrassment. (see media reports below.)

UMNO-led BN government is, I believe, really pro-employer pro-big businesses ....and not pro-workers. Over the years, this government has, by their actions and omissions, demonstrated that they are not concerned about worker rights or welfare. Under present laws and policies, it makes it so easy for employers to not only exploit workers.. but to get away scot-free. This applies to all workers in Malaysia - both local and migrant workers. We have a law that when a unionized worker gets wrongfully terminated by the employer, that worker is no longer a member of the union - and as such cannot hope for the assistance of the workers' union at the time the worker most needs it. [The Malaysian Trade Union Congress have been long campaigning for a repeal of this unjust provision in law.]

Labour suppliers....sub-contractors...outsourcing companies... - this has all made workers weak...unable to unite against a common employer. Further, it also 'blurs' the worker-employer relationship as currently enshrined in labour laws... ["...more than 1,000 migrant workers from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Vietnam hired by more than 130 sub-contractors..." This means less than 10 workers per 'employer', in fact about 7.69 per 'employer' - is this number even enough to form a trade union? Divide...and oppress.

In the construction industry, it may make sense having to sub-contract different parts of the contract, i.e. one for the electrical people, one for the water/sewage systems, one for the elevators/lifts, one for those doing the tiling works, etc... but sadly the same thing is happening in the factories as well.

The factory owners...or the main contractor...just turns around and say that they are not the employers...and that they own no obligations to the sad workers. What about occupational health and safety...?

Living conditions of workers - Malaysia still does not have any law that stipulates the minimum standard of temporary housing for workers at construction sites... or even housings that is provided by employers in factories..for workers (migrant workers usually)... Why don't we have a regulation/law stipulating minimum housing standards...and food requirements? We have needed such laws for a very long time now...

Even, when there are laws stipulating worker rights - what happens when the worker tries to claim his/her rights - they lose their jobs... and, in the case of migrant workers, they may even get arrested, detained and deported without getting paid their wages, etc... [Unscrupulous employers call the police, RELA...and they come arrest the migrant workers. Why? Because the migrant workers cannot show their passports and/or their immigration work their employer (or sub-contractors...or agents) are wrongfully holding on to these documents. Since the worker is a trouble maker for claiming rights, the employer just do not go get them out...and they languish in the detention centers,...sometime even get whipped...and deported.]. See recent media statement about this:- STOP PENALIZING WORKERS WHO WANT TO GET JUSTICE - MAXTER GLOVE SHOULD REINSTATE BURMESE MIGRANT WORKER WHO COMPLAINED TO LABOUR DEPARTMENT

Shouldn't Labour Department officials be making spot-checks at places of work to ensure that worker rights are being protected...and that employers are following the law. They do not generally ... but if they do, then more likely workers may get their rights reducing the risk of being terminated..discriminated against when they themselves go and make the complaint. Now, in this palace case....the Minister has assured us that he will investigate. Will they?

KUALA LUMPUR: Many foreign workers hired to build the new RM800mil Istana Negara claim they have not been paid over the last three months despite working seven days a week.

Living in fear and frustration, the workers alleged they were exploited and cheated and held to ransom by their employers because many of them do not have work permits.

There are more than 1,000 migrant workers from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Vietnam hired by more than 130 sub-contractors who are involved in the Jalan Duta palace project.

Most of them stay in kongsi or long wooden houses near the construction site.
Eating sparingly: Workers having a meal at a stall in the kongsi during lunch time. Some claim they only have one meal a day.

According to workers interviewed by The Star, some employers threatened to call the police when they persisted in asking for their wages.

Several workers even claimed they were harassed by the police and Rela officers and that their possessions like mobile phones, cigarettes and canned drinks were confiscated.

When contacted, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said he would ask the Labour Department to investigate the matter and take immediate action.

Indonesian Punawi, 32, who does plastering work, said he had not been paid for five months and barely had any money left for food.

“I only manage with one meal a day and that’s because the foodstall owner allows me to eat on credit. My work permit has expired and I don’t have RM3,000 to renew it,” he added.
Jatim, 37, said their employer would hold back their wages for three to four months and they would subsequently be paid a month’s salary.

Some employers, he claimed, would extend loans of RM50 to RM100 per week to the workers, leaving them in debt.

Jatim’s wife, Salimah, 32, who lives with him at the kongsi near the construction site with their five-month-old baby, said they often lived in fear of police raids.

“Each time there is a raid, I grab my baby and run. Some of us have to spend the night in the jungle to escape the authorities.”

Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said the last police raid took place several months ago to flush out illegals squatting in the jungles.

“Perhaps another agency was involved in the recent raids. If the allegations are true, the workers can come and see me and I will do what I can to help,” Wan Abdul Bari said.

Bukit Aman CID Director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said police would take take stern action against the employers if the workers’ claims were found to be true.

“We will also investigate the workers’ claim that policemen roughed them up during raids,” he said.

He urged the workers to come out of hiding and lodge police reports in order for justice to be done. - Star, 27/6/2010, Migrant workers claim they’re being held to ransom by bosses

KUALA LUMPUR: Many foreign workers hired to build the RM800mil Istana Negara claim that they have not received three months’ wages from some project sub-contractors.

There are over 1,000 migrant workers hired by 130 sub-contractors working at the project site.

The Star, responding to an SOS call, visited the site in Jalan Duta and found the workers living in frustration and fear as many do not have work permits or cannot afford to renew their permits which have expired.
Foreign workers seen at the construction site of the new palace in Kuala Lumpur recently. The workers allege that they are being exploited and held to ransom by their employers because many of them do not have work permits. — SAMUEL ONG / The Star

The project’s main contractor, Maya Maju Sdn Bhd, said it is the responsibility of the sub-contractors to pay their workers.

The Human Resources Ministry has asked the Labour Department to investigate the matter and take immediate action while the police has asked the workers to come forward to lodge complaints. - Star, 27/6/2010, Foreigners hired to build palace claim they have not been paid
KUALA LUMPUR: The main contractor for the new Istana Negara project claims it is the responsibility of the sub-contractors to pay their workers.

When The Star visited Maya Maju Sdn Bhd’s site office in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, project manager Abdul Razak Mat Yunus said they paid their contractors on time and it was up to them to pay their workers.

Maya Maju’s contract is worth almost RM650mil, while the building of an elevated highway to the main entrance of the palace, awarded to Ahmad Zaki Sdn Bhd, costs RM130mil.

Abdul Razak referred the matter to the Public Works Department, adding that only the department could give an official comment on the issue.

At the PWD site office, construction manager Aidzil Adzahar Ahmad, however, said Maya Maju was responsible for the workers and the department was merely overseeing the project on behalf of the Government.

“It is their project,” he said, adding that he was unaware of workers being abused and not getting paid.

Human rights lawyer N. Surendran said these migrant workers were “tied” to their employers who would hold on to their passports.

“Such workers do not have much say or means to complain if they are not given what has been promised to them,” he said.

He said that if a worker dared to question his boss, his employment could be easily terminated and he could be sent back to his home country. The worker, he said, would have spent a lot of money to come here to work.

“Many are desperate to earn money and help their families back home. For fear of deportation, they are forced to abide by the circumstances that they are in.”

Although, the Malaysian labour law also applies to foreigners, there is always the practical problem.

“They are put in a tight situation. Lodge a complaint and the employer cracks down on you, terminates your employment and you’re sent back to your country. So there is no real protection.

“Eventually there is no one to turn to and that is why workers put up with the conditions they are in.” - Star, 27/6/2010, Firm: Workers usually paid by sub-contractors

Saturday, June 26, 2010

No right for reinstatement after wrongful termination for those with fixed-term contract, who worked less than 1 year...

There has been a lot of protest about the proposed amendments to the labour law - but unfortunately not much information as to what these proposed amendments are. The Bar Council's statement gives us some idea of what these proposals are. It would be good if some one post in the said proposed amendments...MTUC website should really have this information (but apparently it is not there)

Migrant workers( and many local workers) are on fixed-term contracts....and, their right to claim reinstatement/compensation in lieu when employers terminate them wrongfully will be lost....

There is no justification for allowing employers to wrongfully dismiss workers that have worked less than a year...

Press Release

Malaysian Bar opposes proposed amendments to Labour Laws

The Malaysian Bar is concerned that the amendments being proposed to various labour laws will be detrimental to workers at large, and will give employers an unbridled hand to dismiss employees with impunity. The Bar Council is surprised that it has not been consulted about these proposals despite having had numerous dialogues with the Minister for Human Resources.

The key proposals are aimed at restricting the access of certain categories of employees to redress in the Industrial Court, and will effectively further erode the safeguards against wrongful dismissal by employers. Employees who have fixed-term contracts, have less than one year of service, earn a basic salary of RM 10,000 or more, or who are past retirement age, will be prohibited from seeking relief, such as reinstatement, back wages and/or compensation, under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act 1967.

There is no justification for removing the current protections for such employees. By giving employers vast powers to dismiss employees at will, the proposed amendments will be open to abuse. Employers will discriminate against vulnerable workers by reclassifying their workforce to come within these exceptions, in order to escape from their duties and obligations.

We would hasten to add that a vast majority of employers are responsible and do ensure that their employees are well taken care of. The current safeguards only apply to a very small number of employers who are taken to the Industrial Court for exploiting or victimising their employees.

The proposed reforms are wholly pro-employer and are at the expense of public interest and social responsibility. They are not significant in attracting foreign investments, as most cases filed in the Industrial Court involve local companies. The proposals will deprive several hundred employees per year of any remedy in the Industrial Court, which is the only court that can order reinstatement. The sole recourse for them will be in the civil courts, which offer very limited redress according to the terms of the employment contracts, which always favour the employers because of their stronger bargaining position.

The proposals will defeat the purpose of the current social legislation, which was introduced by Parliament to prevent exploitation, and in recognition of the imbalance in the relative bargaining position between employers and employees. They will negate the rationale for the establishment of the Industrial Court, which was to provide members of the workforce with relief from the harshness of the civil courts in relation to employment terminations.

Our labour laws cannot be reformed purely by reference to the laws of developed nations, which are strong welfare-based states that have specific benefits to cater for the needs of workers who are unemployed or have been terminated. The suggested amendments are altogether misconceived, and will sanction the statutory victimisation of employees.

The Malaysian Bar is also opposed to the proposal that human resource consultants be permitted to represent parties in the Industrial Court, as such consultants will not possess the necessary qualifications to practise in a court of law. Furthermore, they are not governed by a regulatory regime, unlike lawyers, who are bound by strict rules on ethics to govern professional conduct and are subject to disciplinary proceedings if they breach these rules. Lawyers are also covered by a mandatory professional indemnity scheme set in place to protect a client’s interest in the event of a claim of negligence against a lawyer.

Employees have far less bargaining power than employers and should be given additional protection. The proposed amendments, however, will further tip the balance of power in favour of employers. We urge the Government to make security of tenure, which is a fundamental tenet of industrial relations, the paramount consideration, and to not bow to the self-serving interests of the private sector.

Note: The Bar Council intends to organise a public forum on 24 July 2010 to seek views from stakeholders and members of the public on these amendments.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

23 June 2010


Monday, June 21, 2010

无理开除争取员工权利外 劳 65组织联署谴责Maxter公司 (MAXTER GLOVE SHOULD REINSTATE BURMESE MIGRANT WORKER...was reported in Merdeka Review (Chinese)

无理开除争取 员工权利外 劳 65组织联署谴责Maxter公司


It is hoped that we get more coverage in the media as this is a fundamental issue that concerns all workers in Malaysia. What use is rights enshrined in law, when the worker gets terminated/discriminated against the moment he takes steps to claim his rights using the proper channels as provided by law. There must be law protecting workers from termination, etc...when they exercise their labour rights.

When a worker makes unlawful deduction of wages, fail to pay overtime, etc and the worker complains - at the end of the day, if the worker is successful, what he gets is what his employer should have given the worker but did not. This is bad, as 'smart' employers will continue to cheat workers knowing always that even if the worker complains, what the employer has to fork out at the end of the day is only what he should have but did not pay. There should be a further large fine imposed on the employer by the State, and maybe also an additional award of damages of a significant sum that the employer should pay the worker. That would deter employers from cheating workers.

无理开除争取员 工权利外 劳

作者/本刊记者 Jun 11, 2010 04:41:32 pm
【本刊记者撰述】65个关注外 劳和工人权利的海内外组织团体,联署谴责Maxter手套制造私人有限公司无理开除争取员工权利的缅甸籍外劳,并呼吁政府修改宪法,保障员工利益。

这65个联署组 织包括国民醒觉运动(Aliran)、马来西亚职工总会(MTUC)、马来西亚人民之声(SUARAM)、马来西亚人民党(PRM)、雪兰莪自强协会 (EMPOWER)、雪兰莪及联邦直辖区社会协会(PERMAS)等。

他们在联署声明中所指,本地上市公司速伯玛(Supermax)旗下 位于雪兰莪州巴生的独资子公司Maxter手套制造私人有限公司(Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd),开除一名为了争取工人权利而勇于向劳工部投诉的缅甸籍外劳杜茂(Thu Maung)。

65个联署团体指出,在马来西亚,前往劳 工部投诉雇主不当对待和争取员工权利,是合理与合法程序,雇主不应该个别对待或甚至开除行使法律权利的员工,更不能够在员工权利受侵犯时,阻止抑或威胁员 工寻求法律途径解决问题。

Maxter手套制造私人有限公司是一家手套制造商,出口有粉乳胶检验手套、 无粉氯化乳胶手套、丁腈半浸手套(Nitrile gloves)和无菌手术手套。母公司速伯玛为主板上市公司,每年生产160亿片胶手套,去年税后盈利达1亿2600万元。

三 度投诉雇主剥削员工
(一) 从员工薪水中无理扣除雇主聘请外劳原需支付的征款。


(三)不合法保留两个月薪 水。



(六)要求员工超时工作(有时候一天内超过13小时),甚至包含公共假期 和休息日,同时没有依据法定费率支付超时和假日工作的薪水。

当天,他们两人亦曾向马来西亚人权委员会(SUHAKAM)投诉。过后在4月 12日,杜茂前往万挠劳工局作了详细投诉,而该劳工局因雇主地址位于巴生区,而把此事转交到巴生港口的劳工局处理。

据杜茂的说法,向梳邦再 也劳工局作出投诉大约一个月后,公司的代表们开始威胁个别员工,要他们说出谁到劳工局投诉,以及他们是否随行者。

联署组织谴责雇主威胁员工 的手法令人气愤,足以对员工造成恐慌和阻止他们索求自身员工权利。

在4月28日,杜茂的公司主管突然要杜茂交还员工证件,并叫他不需要再来 上班。

他 们表示,当员工是一名外劳,开除就意味取消工作签证,并要遣返回国,而这也意味他们无法到劳工局、劳工法庭、工业关系部门、工业法庭或民事法庭追讨他们的 权利,因为投诉者已经不在。

据悉,马来西亚采用于超过200万名外劳的现 有法律未经修改,无法保障索取本身权利的员工,是否受到不合理开除和遣返。

在《1967年工业关系法令》(Industrial Relations Act 1967)的第五条款言明,若员工有意组成、加入或鼓励其他员工加入职工会,雇主不能够偏袒、威胁、开除或不合理对待员工。
可 是,没有类似清楚说明的法律条款,保障透过劳工部或其他相关机构索求本身权利的员工。

“针对杜茂的事 件,我们要求他在没有任何利益损失的前提下马上获得复职。我们呼吁速伯玛执行主席兼集团董事经理郑金森,确保旗下子公司Maxter手套制造私人有限公 司,对待杜茂及其他与员工的错误行为能够告一段落。”

联署组织也要求,该公司支付员工之前不当扣除、无理保留及超时的薪水。同时,他们还呼 吁马来西亚政府进行所需的法律修改,避免雇主剥削员工,并保障员工可以索偿其权利。

“我们亦呼吁马来西亚政府,确保所有外劳可以继续合法留 在国内工作,直到他们在劳工部、劳工法庭、工业关系部门、工业法庭或民事法庭的案件和上诉获得处理。”

Findings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention - Malaysia

"...At the Lenggeng Detention Centre, the Working Group found overcrowding, poor sanitation and inadequate medical care...The Working Group would like to remind the Govemment of Malaysia of its obligation to guarantee the right to safety of all foreigners, particularly when deprived of their liberty..."

Findings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention - Malaysia

Well, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was in Malaysia from 7-18 June 2010, and they made a statement on the last day of their visit, which I believe should be an interesting read. [I copied the test from their pdf statement, and there were some changes in format/etc that had to be made to correct the errors in copying - I hope that I have not missed anything, and the statement below is the same as what they issued in pdf.]

Some points that I would like to highlight

* recommends that the four preventive laws [..Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960; the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance; the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act and the Restricted Residence Act] be repealed or, if amended, ensure they are in conformity with article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

*observe that conditions in prisons and in Simpang Renggam Detention Centre are considerable better than those at the Immigration Detention Centres, which are in a deplorable state.

* considers that detention of immigrants should be decided upon by a court of law, on a case by case basis, and pursuant to clearly and exhaustively defined criteria in legislation, under which detention may be resorted to. Immigrants should have an effective remedy to challenge the necessity and legality of their detention at any time. Additionally, immigration detention should not be applied to refugees, asylum-seekers and vulnerable groups of migrants, including unaccompanied minors, families with minor children, pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers,elderly persons, persons with disabilities, or people with serious and/or chronic physical or mental health problems.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations Human Rights Council conducted a countrymission to Malaysia from the 7tr of June 2010until today, followin g an invitation from the Govemment.The delegation was headed by myself, as the Working Group Chair-Rapporteur,ffid composed by one of the Working Group's members,Mr. Roberto Garetom and by two members of the Working Group's Secretaiat from the United Nations Office at Geneva.

First of all I would like to express my gratitude to the Government of Malaysia for its invitation and for the full cooperation extendedto the Working Group in the conduct of its mission. During the entire visit, the Working Group enjoyed the fullest cooperation from the Government, including all the authoritiesit met with, who providedthe delegation with all the necessary information and arranged all the meetings it requested. The delegation was able to conduct visits to detention facilities andto interview detainees in confidence. The Working Groupwould also like to thank the representativesof the Malaysian civil society, as well as representatives of international organizations, particularly the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP), for its support during the mission.

During its fact-finding mission, the Working Group met with senior Government authorities from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches,including the Minister andthe Secretary General of Home Affairs, the Deputy Minister and the Deputy SecretaryGeneralII of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Chief of Justice,the Afforney General of Malaysia, the Commissioner General of Prisons and Director-General of Ikatan Relawan Rakyat(RELA). It also held meetingswith the Advisory Board on PreventiveLaws, the National Human Rights Institution SUHAKAM, the Bar Council andcivil society representatives,as well as with former
detainees.The Working Group also met with representatives from the United Nations Country Team and other United Nations Agencies.

During its official visit the Working Group visited Lenggeng Detention Centre, Kajang Prison, including the Women's Prison and the Drug Rehabilitation Centre,the Psychiatric Department at the General Hospital; Puncak Borneo Prison,the Women's Prison and the Integnty School in Kuching; Pengkalan Chepa Prison, the Women's Prison and the Rehabilitation Programme in Kota Bharu; Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping and Simpang Renggam Detention Centre in Johor Bahru.The Working Group interviewed prisoners and detainees in private in all of these facilities.The Working Group alsoconducted a surprise visit to the Simpang Renggam Police Station.

The Working Group would like to highlight the good conditions in all the prisons visited, including the recent construction and renovation, as well as the good rapport between the detainees and the guards.The Working Group did not receive any allegations of abuse of power or ill-treatment from prison guards. In addition, the Working Group was pleased to learn that the number of detainees under the Internal Security Act has decreased in recent times, and was able to interview all 15 persons who are currently in detention under this legislation. In this regard, the Working Group was informed about the ongoing revision of the preventive laws, focused mainly on five areas. Furthermore, the Working Group welcomes the fact that the SUHAKAM Commissioners have been recently appointed.

During the mission, the Working Group received information that during the period between 2003 and 2007, 1,535 persons died in prisons, rehabilitation centres and immigration detention centres. 85 other persons died in police custody. Most of those deaths occurred in hospitals and they include a high number of persons affected by HIV/AIDS. The Working Group was also informed that deaths in police custody had been investigated by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operations and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police. However, the Working Group considers that investigations by external, independent bodies are also necessary, and inquests should be conducted on each case as soon the death takes places.

At the Lenggeng Detention Centre, the Working Group found overcrowding, poor sanitation and inadequate medical care. Allegations were received of inadequate food and a lack of ventilation. The unsanitary and overcrowded facilities have also given place to the transmission of communicable diseases, particularly skin diseases. Some detainees also stated that the overcrowding led to confrontations and fighting between the detainees, with very limited or no intervention from the security guards. The Working Group would like to remind the Govemment of Malaysia of its obligation to guarantee the right to safety of all foreigners, particularly when deprived of their liberty.

Excessive powers attributed to the Police and to the volunteer organization RELA facilitate the arrest and detention of numerous individuals in immigration detentioncentres. This even includes refugees who are in possession of identity cards issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees due to their status, as well as Malaysian nationals. Once the detainees have served prison sentences as a result of their illegal presence in Malaysian territory, they are held in immigration detention centres during an indefinite period, while awaiting deportation to their countries of origin. Citizens of countries with a strong consular presence can be more or less easily deported. However, those nationals whose countries do not have a consulate in Malaysia, or whose Governments refuse to intervene, may stay in detention indefinitely, in contravention of international law and the Working Group's jurisprudence. The Working Group calls on the Government of Malaysia to ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

The Working Group is seriously concerned about the Preventive Laws in force in Malaysia, mainly: The Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960; the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance; the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act and the Restricted Residence Act. These laws establish investigative detention to prevent a suspect from fleeing, destroying evidence or preventing him or her from committing a future crime. These laws deny the detainee the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, consecrated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other principles of international customary law. They also severely restrict detainees' access to legal counsel.

These Preventive Laws allow State institutions, particularly the Police and the Attorney General's Office, to elude the normal penal procedure for common crimes and offences.They also give the Minister of Home Affairs excessive powers to keep people in detention indefinitely, without the need to sustain.evidence in court or to prove criminal responsibility. In the detention centres reserved for detainees under these laws, the delegation found people charged with common offences which should in principle be treated under the regular penal procedure.

In this regard, the Working Group was informed that the Penal Code had been amended to establish the commission and financing of terrorist acts and hostage taking as specific offences under Malaysian law. However, suspected terrorists are still being detained under the ISA 1960. The ISA allows the Police to arrest people without a judicial arrest warrant and hold them for up to 60 days in special police remand centres. People can be held in detention during this period without the right to see their relatives or legal counsel and without being taken before a judicial court, resulting in incommunicado detention. Afterwards, the Minister of Home Affairs may authorize further detention for up to two years, a period which may be extended for an unlimited number of times. Once released, detainees are often subjected to restricted conditions, usually limiting freedom of residence in the national territory, freedom of travel inside and outside the country and even freedom of opinion, expression and association.

Although detainees may appeal every six months to the Advisory Board on Preventive Laws, its recommendations are not binding, nor are they made public. The Working Group could observe that the detainees are not notified of its recommendations.Also worrying is the fact that ISA decisions cannot be reviewed by any court. Detainees may file habeas colpus applications, based only on procedural issues, and not on merits. Nevertheless, even when a writ of habeas corpus is granted and the detainee is released, he or she is frequently rearrested immediately after the release. The Working Group was also informed that ISA was used in 2008 to detain a Member of Parliament, a blogger and a journalist for exercising their rights.

The Government justifies the need for these laws based on its obligation to guarantee national security and the security of its citizens. Nevertheless, detention without trial and without charges, for flexible and extendable term limits, at the will of the authorities, affects not only the rights to personal freedom, free trial and presumption of innocence, but also the right to security of person,which guarantees the right to liberty for all persons if they have not committed any crime.

The Working Group notes with concern that thousands of people are detained under the Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs Act. Lr this regard, the Minister of Home
Affairs may issue a detention order for up to two years, if he considers that such a measure is necessary for the protection of the public order; the suppression of violence or the prevention of offences involving violence. Suspected drug traffickers may be detained for up to 60 days before the Minister for Home Affairs issue a detention order. Afterwards, the suspect may be held for successive two-year periods, with periodical review by the Advisory Board. In this case, the opinion of the Advisory Board is binding for the Minister.

Appearances before the Advisory Board, regardless of which legislation the person has been detained under, do not fulfill the minimal fair tnal guarantees. Defence lawyers may appear on behalf of the detainee, but attend the hearing without access to all the documentation, including evidence, and have no right to call witnesses. Ultimately, the Advisory Board is not a decision-making body, and may only make recommendations.

In the regular penal procedure, the limit to the initial police detention is24 hours. However, this is usually extended by a magistrate for up to two weeks. It is of concern to the Working Group that in some cases, the Police may arrest individuals without a warrant. It is also worrying that the extension of the 24-hourperiod is conceded by magistrates in practically all cases. The Working Group was informed that, although in some cases magistrates reduced the term of the extensions requested by the Police, they still granted the extensions to assure further investigations. Many detainees, especially those detained under the preventive laws,
told the Working Group that they were not informed of their rights while in police detention, particularly the right to contact their relatives or to consult a lawyer. Some of them reported that police officers even told them that to consult a lawyer would make their situation more complicated.

Additionally,virtually all detainees interviewed, especially those detained under the preventive laws, indicated that they had been subjected to torture or ill-treatment in order to obtain confessions or evidence in police detention. This is facilitated by the fact that many are held in incommunicado detention, at least initially.

Based on the above, the Working Group recommends that the four preventive laws be repealed or, if amended, ensure they are in conformity with article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On the other hand, the Working Group did not receiveany complaints concerning the treatment by the guards in prisons and detention centres.The Group could observe that conditions in prisons and in Simpang Renggam Detention Centre are considerable better than those at the Immigration Detention Centres, which are in a deplorable state.

The ratio in prisons between people in pre-trial detention and those convicted seems proportional and adequate, with approximately a third of detainees on remand. However, the interviews with detainees showed that pre-trial detentionis considerably long, mainly due to a large backlog of cases in the courts. Additionally, most of the prisoners and detainees interviewed stated that they did not have defence lawyers, mostly as a result of the lack of financial resources to pay for them. In some cases, prisoners and detainees did seem not to understand the importance or the benefits of having a lawyer. The Working Group was informed that a legal aid system for the regular penal procedure does not exist, with the exceptionof those persons charged with crimes that can be sentenced to the death penalty.The Bar Associations in Peninsular Malaysia and in Borneo Island are fulfilling the role of the State on this issue, granting legal aid on a pro bono basis to thousands of detainees.

The situation of detentionin Malaysia would improve if the judiciary were fully independent, based on the principle of separation of powers, and composed of independent and impartial
judges and magistrates. In that sense, the Working Group was informed that the amendment to Article 121 of the Constitution, which eliminated the term 'Judicial power", seriously affected the hierarchy between the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.A$ a result, recourse to judicial review has been severely restricted,in spite of the fact that Article 128 of the Federal Constitution foresees judicial review againstgovefitmentalactions on constifutional grounds.

The Working Group considers that detention of immigrants should be decided upon by a court of law, on a case by case basis, and pursuant to clearly and exhaustively defined criteria in legislation, under which detention may be resorted to. Immigrants should have an effective remedy to challenge the necessity and legality of their detention at any time. AdditionaIIy, immigration detention should not be applied to refugees, asylum-seekers and vulnerable groups of migrants, including unaccompanied minors, families with minor children, pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers,elderly persons, persons with disabilities, or people with serious and/or chronic physical or mental health problems.

The Working Group also recommends strengthening the status, powers and functions of SUHAKAM, in accordance with the Paris Principles. It also calls upon the State to take all necessary measures to ensure that it maintains its "A status" accreditation before the lrternational Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

A final report on the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2011.

Thank you.

The former Commission on HumanRights establfshed the five-member Working Group in 1991 to investigate allegations of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was extended in 1997 to cover the issue of administrative custody of immigrants and asylum-seekers. The other three members are Ms. Shaheen SardarAli (from Pakistan); Mr.Mads Andenas(from Norway) and Mr. Wadtmir Tochilovslcy(from Ukraine).

For further information on the Working Group,please visit the following webpage:
http:/ /www /detention/ or consult 6 en.pdf

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Mr. Miguel de la Lama (+41 79 752 04BI; at
m.delalama@ohchr. org or wgad@ohcltr. ord.
Abuse of detainees in police custody in Malaysia pose a major concern, according to preliminary findings by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

“From 2003 to 2007, 85 people died in police custody. The systematic absence of lawyers' representation might contribute to the rampant abuse,” the working group's chairperson-rapporteur El Hadji Malick Sow said.
Only a few people, he added, had access to lawyers because of the lack of financial means and awareness of their rights.

Although deaths in police custody had been investigated by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operations and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police, the working group considers investigations by external, independent bodies as also necessary, with the inquest into each case conducted as soon as death occurred.

Another major concern of the working group, which has been in the country since June 7, is the situation of migrants in Malaysia.

Malaysia is yet to rectify the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, Malick told a press conference at Wisma UN today.

“The detention of refugees is systematic. They are condemned by the court and often put in prison. They are not even given a chance to challenge the detention,” he explained, adding that no exception was given, even to refugees who have been identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

NONEDelegate Roberto Garretón (right), from Chile, said there appeared to be no culture of human rights in Malaysia.

“Few lawyers have used human rights and international conventions in their arguments in court. Judges have also confided to us that they do not take those arguments into account in their judgments,” he explained.

Things not all that bad

However, Malick did reveal some positive aspects of the government in the findings.

“We were invited by the government. Throughout our visit, they gave us full cooperation and we managed to speak to everyone, including senior government authorities from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, civil societies and detainees,” he said, adding that the government was open to dialogue to improve the condition of human rights.

The delegates, whose visited to Malaysia is from June 7 until today, found conditions in the majority of prisons to be good and conducive for the inmates.- Malaysiakini,18/6/2010,UN group: Abuse in police custody worrying

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Can refugees work? Can migrant children get education in Malaysia? The government answers

Still thinking - whether education for all, refugee can work?

In Malaysia, there were more than 2 million documented migrants, and, in my estimate, more that 5 million undocumented migrants, of which only about 200,000 at most may be asylum seekers and/or refugees. Whilst the majority of undocumented migrants are from neighbouring Indonesia, it is estimated that there are about 700,000 undocumented migrants from Burma.

Given this fact, one must be more concerned about these undocumented migrants, their children and families. What about their healthcare, education, etc...?

Of late, there has been talk that the Malaysian government is considering to allow asylum seekers/refugees to work in Malaysia whilst they await their departure to the 3rd country, and Member of Parliament for Seputeh asked some relevant questions and have gotten some answers. I have pasted the relevant posting from her blog, and have taken the liberty to do a rough translation of the question asked by her, and the answers from the Malaysian government. The rough translation is in bold red colour.

From my reading of the answers:-

* Malaysia does not recognize refugees - there are undocumented migrants.

* Malaysia has no specific laws for refugees - and as such asylum seekers/refugees are all dealt as document migrants or undocumented migrants under the Immigration Act - maybe besides asking for the ratification of the UN Convention, we could ask Malaysia to have a specific Malaysian law to govern asylum seekers/refugees and their families/dependents. The Malaysian government can have their own procedure and standards on conferring a person the status of asylum seeker (temporary or permanent), or even refugee status.

* Can refugees work? Well, the government is still studying the possibility

* Can children of refugees/undocumented migrants get education? No chance for formal education in government schools, etc BUT the government is ready to work with other in providing " alternative education" - very vague answer.

The Foreign Ministry’s response to my Parliament question shows us how little the Government cares for the refugees in Malaysia. Not surprising that just three days ago, a report released by Amnesty said that Malaysia is a “dangerous” place for refugees who were often often abused, arrested and “treated like criminals”.

Once again, I urge the Ministry of Human Resource to give temporary work permits to the refugees in Malaysia. This will not only help them survive while they are being processed by UNHCR, but will also help ease Malaysia’s labour shortage which is ultimately to our own benefit. Enough of the “masih mengkaji” excuse!
Pertanyaan: Bagi Jawab Lisan [Question for an Oral Answer]
Daripada: YB Puan Teresa Kok Suh Sim [Seputeh]
Tarikh: 9 Jun 2010
Soalan: YB Puan Teresa Kok Suh Sim minta Menteri Luar Negeri Menyatakan bilakah kerajaan akan membenarkan orang pelarian negara asing di Malaysia untuk bekerja di Malaysia? Apakah langkah diambil oleh kerajaan untuk memberi pendidikan kepada golongan generasi kedua orang pelarian tersebut?
Member of Parliament Teresa Kok Suh Sim asks the Minister of Foreign Affairs to state when the government will allow foreign refugees in Malaysia to work in Malaysia? What are the steps taken by the government to provide education for the 2nmd generation of these refugees?
Tuan Yang Di Pertua,
Saya mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Yang Berhormat Seputeh ke atas soalan yang dikemukakan.

Tuan Yang Di Pertua,
2. (sic) Untuk makluman Dewan sekalian, Malaysia bukan merupakan negara pihak kepada Konvensyen Berkaitan Status Orang-Orang Pelarian 1951 dan Protokolnya 1967 (Convention Relation to the Status of Refugees 1951 and its Protocol 1967), yang menjadi asas bagi menentukan taraf pelarian bagi seseorang individu. Kerajaan berpendapat sekiranya Malaysia menjadi negara pihak Konvensyen tersebut, dan disoking oleh faktor kedudukan geografi Malaysia yang strategik di rantau Asia Tenggara, ianya akan menjadi faktor penrik kepada individu-individu datang ke Malaysia dan menuntut taraf sebagai orang pelarian, padahal, mereka sebenarnya datang ke Malaysia atas alasan mencari nafkah.
For the information of this House, Malaysia is not a party of the Convention Relation to the Status of Refugees 1951 and its 1967 Protocol, which forms the basis of determination of refugee status of an individual. The government, is of opinion, that if Malaysia becomes a party to that Convention, and considering the factor of Malaysia's geographical location that is strategic is South East Asia, it will certainly be a pull factor for individuals to come to Malaysia and claim refugee status, when in fact, they really come to Malaysia to earn a living.

3. Oleh kerana tidak ada undang-undang khas bagi orang pelarian di negara ini, isu orang pelarian adalah tertakluk di bawah Akta Imigresen 1959/63 (Pindaan 2002), di mana ke semua mereka dianggap sebagai Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin (PATI).
Since there is no specific laws for refugees in this country, the refugee issue comes under the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Ammended 2002), whereby they are all considered Foreign Migrants Without Permission (PATI)
4. Memandangkan orang-orang pelarian ini dianggap sebagai Pendatang Tanpa Izin (PATI), dan dengan ketiadaan dokumen pengenalan diri yang sah, ini menyukarkan pendatang tanpa izin ini memasuki alam pekerjaan. Dokumen pengenalan diri yang dikeluarkan oleh pihak UNHCR tidak diiktiraf oleh pihak Kerajaan kerana Malaysia bukan merupakan negara pihak kepada Konvensyen Berkaitan Status Orang-Orang Pelarian 1951 dan Protokolnya 1967.
Considering the fact that these refugees are considered as Foreign Immigrants Without Permission (PATI), and in the absence of valid identification documents, it is difficult for these Foreign Migrants Without Permission (PATI) to enter into employment. Identification documents issued by the UNHCR is not recognized by the government since Malaysia is not a party to the Convention Regarding Status of Refugees 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.
5. Saya difahamkan bahawa Kementerian Sumber Manusia masih mengkaji dengan teliti cadangan membenarkan PATI yang mendaftar dengan pihak UNHCR di negara ini bekerja secara sah di Malaysia. Ini memandangkan terdapat beberapa isu perlu dikupas seperti pentapan sektor yang benar-benar sesuai dengan mereka yang berkenaan yang terdiri daripada pelbagai warganegara, agar tidak menjejaskan peluang untuk rakyat tempatan mendapatkan peluang pekerjaan.
I am given to understand that the Ministry of Human Resources is still studying thoroughly the proposal of allowing Foreign Migrants Without Permission(PATI) registered with the UNHCR to work legally in Malaysia. This is because there are several issues that have to be considered thoroughly such as the determination of the sectors that is truly suitable for them that come from various nationalities, so that it does not affect the opportunities of local citizens from getting jobs.
6. Mengenai pendidikan untuk generasi kedua PATI yang mendaftar dengan pihak UNHCR pula, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia tidak mempunyai dasar bagi memberi pendidikan formal kepada generasi kedua PATI yang telah mendaftar dengan pihak UNJCR memandangkan mereka tidak mempunyaiu dokumen pengenalan diri yang sah. Walau bagaimanapun, selaras dengan usaha memberi pendidikan untuk semua, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia sentiasa bekerjasama dengan pelbagai agensi sama ada dalam kerajaan, pihak swasta dan badan-badan bukan kerajaan (NGOs) dalam menyediakan pendidikan alternatif kepada generasi kedua pendatang-pendatang yang berkenaan.
On education for the second generation of Foreign Migrants Without Permission (PATI)which have been registered with the UNHCR, the Education Ministry have no policy for providing education for the 2nd generation of PATI registered with the UNHCR given the fact that do not have valid self identification documentation. However, in line with the effort to provide education for all, the Malaysian Education Ministry is always ready to cooperate with various agencies be they in government or not, the private sector and non-governments; organizations(NGOs) in providing alternative education to the 2nd generation of these migrants.
Sekian, terima kasih.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Media Statement – 11/6/2010


We, the undersigned 66 organizations, groups and networks, concerned about migrant and worker rights, are appalled at the treatment of workers at Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (229862-H), at its factory at Lot 6070, Jalan Haji Abdul Manan, 6th Miles off Jalan Meru, Klang, Selangor, Malaysia.

We are appalled at the dismissal of Thu Maung, a Burmese migrant worker, who courageously lodged a complaint at the Labour Department to claim his rights as a worker. Claiming worker rights by lodging complaints against errant employers at the Labour Department is the proper and legally recognized procedure in Malaysia. It is very wrong for employers to discriminate against and/or terminate workers who are exercising their legal rights. It is also wrong for employers to discourage and/or threaten workers from seeking justice, when worker rights are being violated.

Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of Supermax Corporation Berhad. Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd is a gloves manufacturer that makes Latex Powdered Examination gloves, Clorinated & Polymer Coated Latex Powder Free gloves, Nitrile Gloves and Sterile surgical gloves which is also exported overseas. Supermax Corporation Berhad is an established company, that according to their 2009 Annual Report made an after-tax profit of about RM126 million.

On 23rd March 2010, Thu Maung and another Burmese migrant worker from Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd lodged a complaint at the Subang Jaya Labour Department. Their complaints, amongst others, was that the employer:-

a. had wrongfully deducted levy, that employers have to pay when they employ migrant workers, from the worker’s wages,

b. had unlawfully deducted the medical check-up fees of RM1000 from the worker’s wages,

c. had wrongfully withheld 2 months wages,

d. had failed to provide the migrant worker with accommodation,

e. had not been giving the workers one rest day per week,

f. had made the workers work overtime(sometimes up to 13 hours per day), and also on public holidays and rest days, and had thereafter failed to pay overtime wages and wages for working on rest days and/or public holidays at the statutorily stipulated rates.

On 23rd March, Thu Maung and another had also lodged a complaint at the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM).

On 12 April 2010, Thu Maung went again to the Labour Department in Rawang and gave a detailed complaint, whereby the Rawang Labour Department did record the complaint and forward the same to the Labour Department office in Port Klang, because they said that the Port Klang Labour Office, has the requisite jurisdiction since the employer, Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, is in Klang.

According to Thu Maung, after about 1 month since the lodging of the complaint at the Subang Jaya Labour office, company’s representatives started intimidating workers individually by asking them who had complained to the Labour Department, and whether they were also going to complain to the Labour Department. This form of intimidation of workers is deplorable. This kind of actions by employers has the tendency of instilling fear and preventing workers from claiming their legally recognized labour rights.

On 28 April 2010, Thu Maung’s supervisor at the company, for no reason, suddenly asked him to return the worker’s pass and not to come back to work. Thu Maung was wrongfully terminated, and he verily believes that this was done just because he had complained to the Labour Department, and was perceived as the leader of the workers who wanted to claim their rights.

It is even worse when the worker is a migrant worker, for a termination will usually mean a cancellation of the work visa, and deportation back to their home country. This also would mean that they would not be able to even pursue their claims at the Labour Department, Labour Courts, Industrial Relations Department, Industrial Courts and/or Civil Courts as the physical presence of the complainant and/or litigant is necessary for the continuation of process of claiming rights.

The practice of terminating, cancellation of work visa and immediate deportation is a blatant disregard of the laws in Malaysia that exist to protect worker rights.

Work passes in Malaysia allow workers to work only for a specific employer – and hence a termination would leave the worker with no ability to work and earn a living legally in Malaysia, while he awaits the determination of the process that may give the worker justice. Cancellation of the work pass also makes his stay in Malaysia illegal, and he risk being arrested, detained and deported.

It is sad that the current laws and practices of Malaysia, which used to employ more than 2 million migrant workers have not been amended yet to ensure that workers who claim their rights are not wrongfully terminated and sent back.

Whilst there is a clear provision in the Industrial Relations Act 1967, that is section 5, which explicitly prohibits employers (or persons acting on behalf of employers) from discriminating, threatening, dismissing or acting negatively against workers who are interested in forming, joining, and/or encouraging other workers to join trade unions, there is no similar clear provision in law protecting workers who want to claim their worker rights through the Labour Departments and other available avenues. As an example, section 5(1)(c) and (d) of the Industrial Relations Act 1967is as follows:-

(1) No employer or trade union of employers, and no person action on behalf of an employer or such trade union shall -

…. (c) discriminate against any person in regard to employment, promotion, any condition of employment or working conditions on the ground that he is or is not a member or officer of a trade union;

(d) dismiss or threaten to dismiss a workman, injure or threaten to injure him in his employment or alter or threaten to alter his position to his prejudice by reason that the workman -
(i) is or proposes to become, or seeks to persuade any other person to become,
a member or officer of a trade union; or
(ii) participates in the promotion, formation or activities of a trade union; or…

There should be a similar clear provision in law that will prevent employers from harassing, threatening, discriminating and/or dismissing workers that claim their worker rights using existing avenues of complaints and remedies. The act of employers impeding, dismissing (or threathening to dismiss) workers who claim their worker rights should also be made an offence with a hefty fine. Workers should also receive a significant sum in exemplary damages, over and above their claim. Deterrence is needed to stop this unhealthy practice of employers violating worker rights, and preventing them access to justice.

In the case of Thu Maung, we call for the immediate reinstatement of Thu Maung without any loss of benefits.

We call on Dato' Seri Stanley Thai, Executive Chairman cum Group Managing Director of Supermax Corporation Berhad, to ensure that the wrong done by their subsidiary, Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, to Thu Maung and other workers in the said company is ended, and that all workers are paid forthwith what has been wrongly deducted from their wages, monies that have wrongly been withheld returned, outstanding overtime payments, and that all legitimate claims are settled.

We call on the government of Malaysia to do the needful, including enacting laws that will deter employers in Malaysia from exploiting workers, and also protect workers that claim their worker rights from the negative acts of repercussion and/or ‘revenge’ by some bad employers.

We also call on the government of Malaysia to ensure that all migrant workers can continue to stay and work legally in Malaysia until their cases in the Labour Department, Labour Courts, Industrial Relations Department, Industrial Courts and/or Civil Courts, and appeals thereafter are completed.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the following 66 organizations

ALIRAN, Malaysia

Alliance of Health Workers Philippines

Arakan League for Democracy (ALD-LA-MALAYSIA)

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)

Asian Migrant Centre (AMC)

Asian Migrants Coordinating Body-Hong Kong (AMCB)

Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in HK (ATKI-HK)


BOMSA, Dhaka, Bangladesh


Burma Campaign, Malaysia

Burma Partnership

Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (Vancouver, BC Canada)

Center for Japanese-Filipino Families

Clean Clothes Campaign -International Secretariat

Committee for Asian Women (CAW)

Communication Union of Australia (Vic Branch)

Empower, Chiang Mai

Filipino Migrant Center

Frank-Hubner-Scholl Resistance Movement of the White Rose

Free Burma Campaign Singapore (FBCSG)

Friends of Burma, Malaysia


IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh

Institute for National and Democratic Studies of Indonesia (INDIES)

Interfaith Cooperation Forum

KAFIN-Migrante (Saitama)

Kafin Migrant Center, Japan

Labour Behind the Label, United Kingdom

MADPET - Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)

May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights, USA

Mekong Migration Network (MMN)

Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand

Migrante B.C. (Canada)

Migrante Denmark

Migrante Europe

Migrante International

Migrante-Middle East

Migrante Nagoya

Migrante Taiwan

Migrante UK.

Migranteng Ilonggo sa Taiwan

National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), U.S.

Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)

PAN Asia and the Pacific

Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

Persatuan Masyarakat Malaysia & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)

Philippines Australia Union

Philippine Society in Japan

PINAY (Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec)

Pusat Komas

Rights Jessore, India

Shan Refugee Organization, Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)

The Best Friend Library - Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Hong Kong Coalition for Free Burma Campaign

Think Centre Singapore

United Indonesians against Overcharging (PILAR)

United Filipinos in Hong Kong

Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)

YASANTI, Indonesia

ZOMI National Congress- Malaysia

Saturday, June 5, 2010

'Riot' at Ajil Detention Centre for Undocumented Migrants - Independent Inquiry/Investigation Needed

Why it the cause of this 'trouble' at yet another of Malaysia's Detention Centre for undocumented migrants? (Just last July, we remember that was some 'trouble' at another detention centre - the Semenyih Detention Centre)

Were the detainees protesting inadequate healthcare, poor food & living conditions,....?
Were they protesting torture by camp authorities?

The newspaper report labels it a 'riot' - but this is most likely based on information obtained from the camp authorities. What do the detained migrants say? [Israel said that they used violence and killed persons in that humanitarian flotilla because they were really 'terrorists' with arms who attacked the Israeli soldiers, and that the soldiers opened fire in defence. Later, we hear from the victims a totally different story.)

Likewise, we need to have an independent get to the truth. Media should also be trying to get information from the undocumented migrants (and maybe even some asylum seekers, refugees and documented persons who are being detained there). Maybe even, some Malaysians... [see earlier posts:-Pregnant Malaysian mum wrongfully detained in Migrant Detention Centre for 11+ months ,

Hopefully, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) has already visited this Detention Centre, and commenced their own investigation. Or is SUHAKAM waiting for a formal complaint? There must be no cover-up, and the real reason for the said 'riot'/protest must be disclosed to the public

KUALA BERANG: Some 200 illegal immigrants from Vietnam and Myanmar went on a riot at the Ajil detention camp late last night.

It is believed that the immigrants had tried to torch the main administration building at the camp at around 9.15pm, sparking a melee.

It is also learnt that several of the immigrants were also injured during the incident and had been warded at the Hulu Terengganu Hospital.

Smoke from the detention camp could be seen some distance away from the town.

Several teams of Federal Reserve Unit personnel in anti-riot gear were also rushed to the scene to quell the riot from their headquarters in Kuala Terengganu.

Three fire engines from the Hulu Terengganu and Kuala Terengganu Fire and Rescue Department also rushed to the scene and managed to bring the fire under control in 10 minutes.

Ambulances were also seen entering the premise and ferrying out the injured. The detainees were believed to have used newspaper and other combustible materials to set the camp on fire.

It is not known however if the authorities had used tear gas to quell the riots but at press time, the area was still being condorned off and the police were still manning roadblocks on the road leading towards the camp.

As at press time, no reason had been given for the riot and police officers were seen at the site still negotiating with the group inside.

Stall owners near the detention centre had also been advised by Immigration authorities to immediately clear the area for fear of the riot spilling over onto the streets.

In 2005, 131 Thai Muslims who were seeking temporary shelter from unrest in Southern Thailand were housed in Ajil camp.

While on July 1 last year, 700 Myanmar illegals had caused a ruckus at Semenyih camp.- Star, 6/6/2010, 200 illegal immigrants stage riot at Ajil detention camp
In the last 'riot' in July 2009, the riot started allegedly when the camp authorities started beating some of detainees...

Eight Burmese detainees were wounded after a small riot broke out at the Semenyih Immigration camp near Kajang Township, in Malaysia on Wednesday.

Speaking clandestinely to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, one of the detainees involved in the riot at the camp said the trouble started at 8pm after camp authorities beat 30 detainees who were refusing to board a truck that was to take them to another camp.

The detainees began breaking up the walls of their rooms and throwing plates at security officers, demanding prison authorities release the 30 people who had been loaded onto the truck.

The police used tear gas to break up the riot.

“We are very angry after we heard they had beaten and forced fellow prisoners to get on a truck and be moved another camp. When they came for them they said it was only to meet officials from the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees],” he said.

The detainee was in hiding as he talked to The Irrawaddy by phone from the camp. Camp authorities ban the use of mobile phones.

“On Tuesday, two Burmese detainees were also seriously beaten when they went to the clinic to ask for medicine. One detainee was beaten around the eyes,” the detainee said.

“We don’t know if he will regain his vision because his eyes are filled with blood. At the moment he can’t see,” he said. “The other detainee suffered cigarette burns on his body and is in serious condition now.”

Yante Ismail, a spokesperson for the UNHCR based in Kuala Lumpur told The Irrawaddy, Thursday, that a group from UNHCR left for the camp that morning to investigate the riot.

She said that she was unable to provide any further details on what happened at the camp.
The Malaysian National News Agency announced on their Bernama website that no one was injured during the riot and that the situation was under control.

According to Burmese rights groups in Malaysia, there are about 700 Burmese detainees at the Semenyih Immigration camp. They are accusing camp authorities of keeping people who have already served sentences in detention.

Roi Mon, a member of the Mon Refugees Organization based in Malaysia, said that inmates do not have enough food and water, and the camp is crowded because the authorities have refused to release detainees.

Meanwhile, in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 released in June, the US State Department put Malaysia back on the Tier 3 blacklist for its record of abuse and exploitation of migrant workers. Malaysia joins 16 other countries including Burma, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe on the blacklist.

The report accused Malaysia authorities of deporting Burmese detainees to the Thai-Malaysia border and selling them to human traffickers, who then demanded ransoms for their release.

If payments were not made, the victims would be forced to work as slave labor on fishing boats in Thailand and Indonesia, and women could be forced to work as prostitutes in brothels.

Malaysian authorities have disputed the report’s conclusions.

According to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee, about 500,000 Burmese migrants work in Malaysia, legally and illegally. - Irrawady, 2/7/2009, Burmese Injured in Malaysian Camp Riots
The relocation of Burmese refugees in Malaysia could lead to worse human rights abuses as they would be isolated from outside world, rights advocacy groups in Malaysia said.

According to the rights groups, the Malaysia immigration authorities moved 598 Burmese refugees including women and children who were detained at Semenyih Immigration camp near Malaysia’s Kajang Township on Friday.

The move was likely due to the Malaysia authorities wanting to isolate the refugees from the outside world, while other sources said it was due to the riot between Burmese refugees and Malaysia camp authorities on July 1.

The riot broke out after camp authorities beat 30 detainees who were refusing to board a truck that was to take them to another camp. Eight Burmese detainees were wounded in the riot.

Aung Naing Thu, general secretary of the Malaysia-based rights advocacy group known as the Burma Youth of Nationalists Association said, “Now the Burmese refugees have been relocated to other places, they will be isolated, and the authorities will be able to do whatever the want, even torture them.”

Forty-eight out of more then 600 Burmese refugees who were detained in Semenyih detention camp were released on Monday, but 598 of them remained. Many of the remaining refugees are undocumented, said rights groups.

The released detainees said there had been many human rights abuses while they were in the camp. Months-old children and women and pregnant women were the most vulnerable, as the meals distributed in the detention camp lack nutrition, they said.

Thant Zin, a Burmese refugee who was released on Monday, said that only ten sick people are allowed to receive medical treatment per week.

“Many people who feel sick in the camp go without medical treatment. They are not allowed to see doctors,” said Thant Zin.

The drinking water and the water used in the toilet come from the same source,” he added.

“If they find communication materials such as mobile phones, they brutally beat you,” said Thant Zin.

Immigration authorities regularly beat the detained Burmese refugees during inspections. Last week, two Burmese detainees were seriously beaten when they went to the clinic to ask for medicine.

One detainee was beaten around the eyes till they filled with blood and he became unable to see. The other detainee suffered from cigarette burns on his body and was said to be in serious condition.

A delegation from the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees in Malaysia is now investigating the riot, according to Yante Ismail, a spokesperson for the UNHCR, in Kuala Lumpur.

There are 22 detention camps in Malaysia, some of which are located in isolated areas on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Some refugees have spent years in the detention camps.

About 500,000 Burmese migrants work in Malaysia, legally and illegally, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee.- Irrawady, 11/7/2009, Burmese Detainees in Danger,