The true purveyors of power – the people of Burma

  The true purveyors of power – the people of Burma

Modified and edited the original letter in Malaysiakini written by Naragan.

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that  Naragan and Malaysiakini could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

When we have to move the mountain there is only one way – that is through synergy, the type of synergy achieved on 8888 and during Safron Revolution was through the People Power. We have taken that first step in working collectively as a block to deny the legitimacy to the Myanmar Military Governments so as to check their arrogance.

I must congratulate the Burmese citizens for this wonderful exercise in synergy. If any military leader tries to play around with the people, the people are going to send them packing before too long. If they choose not to listen to the people and insist on playing the race card and hope to promote their interest by the old divide and rule policy, they can see what will happen – the race card is not working any more.

Look at NLD’s phenomenal success in the 1990 elections. This is a learning experience for us, the people, and is clearly writing on the wall for the Tatmadaw leaders who persist in continuing to play the race card.

If Than Shwe, Maung Aye, Shwe Man, Thein Sein and all the other Tatmadaw leaders do not start to come clean from here onwards, the end surely awaits them the next time around. I really do not expect that they will come clean, so surely the next step for the people is to force them totally out by the People’s Power Movement.

To Than Shwe, when you use unjust laws to suppress caring and sensitive people who try to raise genuine grievances, this is what you will get – a kick in a very painful place. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction is an old adage.

To the racist Tatmadaw generals, you must realise the futility of the repeated racial riots in your playing of the race card.

Kyant Phut and Swan Arrshin, stop your petty gangsterism, the days of such tactics are gone – we live in a more complex world.

And Kyaw San, do not think you can do whatever you want or say whatever you want and get away with it. Look back at the verdict of the people. Where is the racism in these elections other than what you have been pushing?

Those SPDC Generals remaining in power should by now understand the people indeed are the true and ultimate purveyors of power. If you do not acknowledge this and do not adjust your behaviour appropriately, the worst is yet to come for you. 1990 election spoke for itself. United the people stand and united the people will act.

Myanmar Newsrooms operating beyond the realm of sanity

  Myanmar Newsrooms operating beyond the realm of sanity

Modified and edited the original letter in Malaysiakini written by A Concerned Citizen.

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that  A Concerned Citizen and Malaysiakini could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the people our SPDC Junta employed to manage and control the information that was disseminated out of his administration were so good at what they did. So good were they that he started to believe that his country was in good hands, and he continued to administer the nation with the somnambulistic confidence that he had become accustomed to.

That the hands in charge were his own was secondary to the primary fact that he was told every day, with painfully blatant headlines, that he was doing a fantastic job as the commander-in-chief.

Surely the first rule of spin-doctoring must be for one no to be misled by one’s own spin?

What is more disconcerting is that the clowns in the administration’s PR circus have continued to entertain despite the fact that the audience left to vote in elections that produced record losses for the ruling military afflicted parties.

The results however have done nothing to stop these clowns from continuing to perform their lame tricks, with the Tatmadaw seemingly the only excited spectator.

Since 1990, various government controlled newspapers have shamelessly claimed that Tatmadaw remains the right party to lead the country. They insisted that the record defeat at the polls means nothing as the aim of the election was to draw a new constitution. But curiously, the Myanmar military started to arrest the new MPs or members of Parliament or candidates who won the election.

And when there were voices of dissent, the reports were spinned to such an extent that the dissenters became supporters. Really now, the discussions that took place in the editorial rooms that lead to this interpretation must be beyond the realms of anybody’s sanity.

Its time the lies stopped. The spinning has failed desperately. Nobody is buying the lies and neither are they buying the newspapers. Even Hitler’s Information Minister Gobbles had to kill his own children when the spin petered out.

So, New Light of Myanmar (Myanmar Alin), the Daily Mirror(Kyae Hmon), Bo Tathaung and all the Myanmar newspapers, please stop entertaining us with the low quality propaganda and start reporting with your heads.

Tesco foreign workers exploited in Malaysia

 Tesco foreign workers exploited in Malaysia

Posted by kasee

Supermarket giant Tesco today pledged to investigate claims that some of its overseas workers earn just 8p an hour.    

Supermarket giant Tesco today pledged to investigate claims that some of its overseas workers earn just 8p an hour.

Job agencies are reportedly charging migrants up to £1,500 to place them in Tesco jobs in Malaysia on the promise that they will earn between £180 and £215 a month.

The workers then find themselves subcontracted to work up to 360 hours a month for between £20 and £50, after various deductions have been made, according to reports.

Tesco today promised to investigate the claims, saying in a statement: “Doing business in some overseas markets can be challenging as local laws and customs sometimes appear to conflict with the high expectations we have here in the UK and elsewhere in the international community.

“However, wherever we operate we insist on the highest standards of welfare for workers, both our own and – as in this case – those employed by contractors working for us.

“We take allegations such as these very seriously and have launched an immediate investigation with our contractors.

“Whilst we do not believe that they are deliberately seeking to disadvantage their workers, if improvements need to be made we will not hesitate to make them.”

One Bangladeshi migrant who was taken on as a cleaner at a supermarket in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur had paid a labour agent in Bangladesh more than £1,500 to find him a job in Malaysia.

The 26-year-old, who asked not to be named, said he has ended up having to share a one-bedroom flat with 12 fellow Bangladeshis, taking it in turn to use the beds.

Even with these cost-cutting measures, they cannot hope to recoup the £1,500 they spent on getting their jobs.

He said: “I decided to come to Malaysia so I could earn more money and feed my family properly.

“I had savings of about £250, I raised another £375 by selling some land, and the rest I borrowed from friends and neighbours or from money-lenders.”

He told the Daily Telegraph: “The agent promised that we would be paid 25,000 to 30,000 Bangladesh taka [£180 to £215] per month.”

However, migrant workers such as Tesco floor cleaners rarely earn much more than 750 Malaysian ringgit (£117) for a month – £20 to £50 per month following deductions, many of which the workers cannot understand. – DAILY MAIL

Comments in Malaysia Today

written by batsman, March 24, 2008 | 09:26:36

Blood-sucking big business also driving small sundry shops out of business

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written by Taufique, March 24, 2008 | 10:53:35
This problem is rampant and those who are at fault are at both ends, the migrant worker country end and the country where the worker is going to. Corrupt agents, in cohorts with ministerial ppl wanting to make a quick buck, make the whole thing 10 times worse.

eg, 100 workers needed, but 500 positions submitted, and these 500 positions need to be approved on both ends, and obviously, those with that power gets it “done”, of course for a fee, and with several levels to be paid off, govt. officers, manpower resource agents, and their sub agents who recruit poor people off the villages. In the end, the whole cost trickles down to the poor worker, who are simple naive ppl. They are promised all sorts of monies, which eventually does not hold true. Based on the example, only those 100 actual needed workers gets their job, but the rest of those who came by “legal” means for fraudulent companies, well.. get stranded like what happened in KLIA some months ago…

Multiply this problem by a couple of hundred times and you’ll get the picture of whats really happening (at least in Malaysia, trust me, i know a couple of manpower related folks). For the purpose of this article, I wouldnt be blaming Tesco all the way, but they should be more proactive in their workers’ welfare, but the whole deal boils down to corruption and cash to be made.

These are near actual figures. To bring down a Bangladeshi worker, Malaysian govt. has officially worked out a cost and it comes up to about 80,000 – 90,000 taka, which is roughly about 4 to 4.5K RM. But workers are paying on average from 200,000 to 250,000 taka in total, which is about 10 – 12.5K RM. Of course, all this extra monies are shared by the various levels of unscrupulous ppl, at both ends. These naive, poor sods, given ample promises, come with big hope but find out that they’re at a massive loss.

with full of pity,

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written by Sagaladoola, March 24, 2008 | 11:09:25
What can we expect when most Malaysians are even underpaid? Minimum wage RM900 also this government cannot give….

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written by drpolitic, March 24, 2008 | 11:36:28
This is normal in Malaysia mah….Now they said they will investigate…ha ha..thats all…after 2 weeks everyone forget about this thing and they will continue to do the same thing…

The person that suppose to see all this problem will make his pocket full now…This is the reality of Malaysia.

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written by SCANNERLAMA, March 24, 2008 | 12:17:54
However, migrant workers such as Tesco floor cleaners rarely earn much more than 750 Malaysian ringgit (£117) for a month – £20 to £50 per month following deductions, many of which the workers cannot understand.


but then.. how much do you think local people make for such job? Rm3000/month?

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written by joeawk, March 24, 2008 | 12:33:25
Want to make money as immigrant workers, Malaysia is a tough place. RM750.00 is not overly bad but there is simply too much exploitation by agents and the immigration.

RM750.00 less permit and recruitment charges leaves very little. Employers should pay for recruitment and permit charges and what employees are paid as salary should be net take home after compulsory deductions,if there is any.

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written by teo siew chin, March 24, 2008 | 12:49:02
Dear Taufique

Thanks for your informative comments.
How can giant corporations deal with such problems?
Does giant corporations contribute to such problems?

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written by wildbil, March 24, 2008 | 13:28:10
This type of scam is not new anymore. It is very common for those foreign worker cheated by the agent and the representative from the big companies. This is a real life story from a Indonesian lady…..

She was recruited by an agent in Indonesia to work in a Rubber related factory (RLF) near Klang. This RLF representative also presented thier company portfolio and monthly salary (RM600 plus overtime payment)to those interested to work in this RLF. Those interested have to pay Rupia one millions as an agency fees. When they came to work in RLF, they only got RM180 per month. When ask the RLF payrol dept., they were told the RLF have to reduct their agency and the accommodation fees.

The real problem is… eirther the company (or the company staff) was working with the employee agency to cheat the foreign workers. This is not new anymore more……

Imaging, how much money had all these so call agency and the company respresentation scam-off from the foreign workers? AND the worst is …. these companies knowing the problem but do nothing.

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written by tano, March 24, 2008 | 13:28:18
did ask some bangladeshi workers years ago how much do they get…they said perday they are paid rm15 but after potong makan n all they only get rm5-8 only. itupun they are worried if they tt the money to their hometown, cos the bank there will cilok the money and if they go back to their country, they will be robbed (org kaya what?)

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written by Taufique, March 24, 2008 | 13:37:10
I can’t say much for these giant corporations, heck even our local companies ill treat their workers (Malaysian workers included). But at least, most of us have homes to go back to with a decent amount of amenities.

Some corporations, dont even provide proper lodging for these folks. How’d you like to be stuffed in a shoplot with 80 other guys, sleep on the bare floor, sharing ONE toilet. This was one such situation that I know of somewhere near Pasar Borong Selayang (my dad, being a doctor, was asked to help one of the workers in that location who was very ill, and had no money, so my dad went to assist out of kindness).

Of course I can’t really comment on the low wages, heck even the minimum wage is very low, and obviously theres tons of companies out there who’d save money by hiring these workers. Cheaper maa! Well, not all blame goes to them. Plenty malaysians dont wanna do menial jobs, so theres a demand for this type of work, n it will no doubt be filled up by foreigners.

Well I suppose one way the corporations can solve these problems is to ensure a decent remuneration (net take back pay), decent lodging. If large companies can find in their budget to give a decent pay, Im sure those needy malaysians will also fill the jobs, thus alleviating the need to bring in more workers. That, im sure will not happen, unfortunately.

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written by Anak Desa, March 24, 2008 | 14:15:52
Most of the Bangladesh and Indian workers can earn the same salaries in their respective countries as both countries are growing after the new govt. These people never learn. The cows grazing this side of the river,always see greener at the other side of the river… Some of these workers who come over,are graduates who like to see the world and dont want to work. They started to give problems to employers and asked them to send back at the employers’ cost.

Tibet: the West can use the Olympics as a weapon against Beijing

Tibet: the West can use the Olympics

as a weapon against Beijing

Excerpts from Michael Portillo, The Sunday Times

Adolf Hitler’s glee at exploiting the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a showcase for Nazism turned to fury when the black American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals. The Chinese leadership must by now be wondering whether staging the Games in Beijing will bring the regime more accolades than brickbats. Be careful what you wish for, as Confucius probably said.

In defence of the Olympic movement, Berlin had been selected before the Nazis came to power. No such excuse covers the decision to award the coveted prize to Beijing. In 1989 the Chinese government crushed the peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square as the world looked on in horror. China still secured the Olympics and a propaganda triumph and has looked forward to showing off to the world.

The authorities must have reflected that other governments are rarely brave enough to boycott the Olympics. The Berlin Games proceeded even though the Nazis had by then implemented the infamous Nuremberg laws that deprived German Jews of basic human rights.

Admittedly the Americans led a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics because Soviet troops had stormed Afghanistan (Russian invasion bad, American invasion good). China knew that, short of marching into neighbouring territory, nothing it did would put its show at risk.

All the indicators suggested that China would be given a soft ride. When President Jiang Zemin visited Tony Blair in 1999 the Metropolitan police treated pro-Tibet demonstrators roughly. Double-decker buses were used to shield the protest from Jiang’s sensitive eyes. As Washington became embroiled in the scandals of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and extraordinary rendition, not to mention the tremendous loss of civilian life in Iraq and Afghanistan, Premier Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, must have been confident that America would avoid dialogue on human rights.

In any case we are all in awe of China’s economic power. When Gordon Brown toured there last month, he talked of business opportunities. Prime ministers loathe being asked to raise human rights issues that threaten to interrupt the smiles, handshakes and toasts by which the success of visits are measured. Brown probably limited himself to the vaguest urging of reform.

China’s economic sway is such that it has undermined US foreign policy with impunity. America aims to use its muscle to shape a world that embraces western values.

In developing countries it insists that governments respect the rule of law and reduce corruption as a condition for trade and aid. China, on the other hand, has extended the hand of friendship to gruesome regimes (including Sudan’s). Beijing’s requirement for natural resources is its only consideration. Maybe it has enjoyed thwarting America’s attempts to export its liberal values.

So China had every reason to expect a trouble-free Olympics that would show its best face to the world. In Berlin the anti-Jewish notices were taken down in the weeks preceding the Games. In Beijing the use of cars has been restricted to reduce air pollution.

In the modern world governments are not the only players. Steven Spielberg, the film director, withdrew as artistic adviser to the Games’ ceremonies, remarking that his conscience did not allow him to continue while “unspeakable crimes” were being committed in Darfur.

His decision has transformed the situation. In that moment the Beijing Olympics flipped from being an opportunity for the Chinese government and became a threat. China’s deep concern that the Games should be a success provides those who oppose its policies with a narrow window of opportunity. It delivers leverage both to domestic dissidents and to the outside world, unparalleled since Tiananmen.

With the news blackout imposed by China on the country’s interior we cannot know whether the Tibetan protests are opportunistically linked to the forthcoming Games. But the Olympics are a political factor and the situation is dynamic. The eyes of the world are turned disapprovingly on Chinese policies.

“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China and the Chinese in Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak out on human rights,” declared Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, before cheering crowds of Tibetans in northern India, where she had gone to meet the Dalai Lama. Such outbursts had not featured in China’s “script” for the Olympics.

Pope provokes Muslim anger by baptising controversial journalist

Pope provokes Muslim anger

by baptising controversial journalist

Excerpts and my remarks put into Times Online


Magdi Allam, who converted to Catholicism from Islam, is baptised by Pope Benedict XV
Magdi Allam is baptised by Pope Benedict XVI

Richard Owen of The Times, in Rome 

Pope Benedict XVI has risked (more appropriate to use provoked) a renewed rift with the Muslim world by baptising a converted Muslim born journalist who describes Islam as intrinsically violent and characterised by “hate and intolerance” rather than “love and respect for others”.

In a surprise move at the Easter vigil at St Peter’s on Saturday night, the Pope baptised Magdi Allam, 55, an outspoken Egyptian-born critic of Islamic extremism and supporter of Israel.

Mr Allam’s conversion was kept secret until less than an hour before the service. He took the middle name “Christian” for his baptism.

After the baptism, the Pope said that faith “is a force for peace and reconciliation in the world: distances between people are overcome, in the Lord we have become close (in Christianity).”

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However the move revived memories of the Muslim fury which greeted Pope Benedict’s speech at Regensburg University in German in 2006 in which he branded Islam as inherently violent, inhumane and irrational by quoting a Byzantine emperor.

However, in a combative article for Corriere della Sera, the Italian paper of which he is a deputy editor, Mr Allam – who has lived in Italy most of his adult life and has a Catholic wife . . . .

Mr Allam, who was educated at a Salesian Catholic school in Egypt and was one of seven adults baptised during the Easter vigil, which is traditionally used for adult conversion ceremonies.

He said that by baptising him publicly the Pope had “sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too cautious in the conversion of Muslims because of the fear of being unable to protect the converted, who are condemned to death for apostasy”.

Muslim groups in Italy said Mr Allam would have done better to have undergone a low key conversion at a local parish. “What amazes me is the high profile the Vatican has given this conversion,” said Yaha Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, deputy head of the Italian Islamic Religious Community.

Today, Pope Benedict celebrated Easter Mass on St Peter’s Square, calling for an end to “(MUTUAL) injustice, (MUTUAL) hatred and (MUTUAL) violence.”

The Pope called for “solutions that will safeguard peace and the common good in Tibet, the Middle East and African regions such as Darfur and Somalia.

He deplored “the many wounds (including you, Pope, had inflicted now on Muslims) that continue to disfigure humanity in our own day. These are the scourges of humanity, open and festering in every corner of the planet, (at St Peter’s on Saturday night) , although they are often ignored and sometimes deliberately concealed; wounds (including this that Pope himself had inflicted) that torture the souls and bodies of countless of our brothers and sisters“.

He called for “an active commitment to justice (from your Christian point of view) in areas bloodied by conflict and wherever the dignity of the human person (dignity of Islam not included) continues to be scorned and trampled”.

Last week, the Pope broke his silence on Tibet, calling for for an end to violence and urging “dialogue and tolerance.” But Beijing brushed off the appeal, declaring there was “no tolerance for criminals, who will be punished by the law.” Neither the Easter message nor the Good Friday meditations specifically mentioned China, a reflection of the Vatican’s desire not to upset its dialogue with Beijing over the fate of the country’s Catholics.