Deafening silence from Malaysia regarding Myanmar Cyclone?

Deafening silence from Malaysia regarding Myanmar Cyclone?

 

First of all I wish to apologize if I am wrong.

 

If Malaysian Government had already sent the condolence note to Myanmar, I am sorry for writing this.

 

If Malaysian Government, GLCs (government Linked companies), NST, TV3, NTV7, RTM and NGOs (esp. government affiliated) had already started a campaign to help Myanmar, please accept my  apology for wrongly writing this posting.

 

If you all haven’t done anything, it is shame on you.

 

We don’t want a cent from you Kaisu Malaysia!

 

 

We know that we are not Orang Puteh (Whiteman) , no Arab blood and have no Malay-Indonesian blood. We are ALWAYS discriminated in your country.

 

Never mind if you do not wish to recognize the undocumented workers/migrants and asylum seekers.

 

During the great disaster in Myanmar, I hope if Malaysian government could do the followings to help us without spending a cent.

 

Please announce amnesty on all the Myanmar/Burmese undocumented workers/migrants and asylum seekers including those already in the detention camp. (At least if they could work and earn, they could help their families, relatives and friends.)

 

You could put a time limit for example six months to one year.

It is shameful that you are heartless to continue arresting and some of your agents are harassing them daily.

 

Dr San Oo Aung

 

17 Myanmar Illegal Immigrants Held In Kelantan

BERNAMA, RANTAU PANJANG, May 6 (Bernama) — The Anti- Smuggling Unit (UPP) Tuesday arrested 17 Myanmar nationals without valid travel documents in Kampung Kempas, Machang, as they were being smuggled into the country by a syndicate.

Kelantan UPP commander Mazlan Che Hamid said the Myanmar nationals, aged between 16 and 30 years, had been turned over to the Immigration authorities.

He said the van driver, a Malaysian, stopped the vehicle by the roadside and fled after realising that it was being tailed by UPP personnel at 4.30 am.

The UPP personnel had followed the van from Kampung Kedap here, some 40 km from Machang, he said.

— BERNAMA

Use Olympic Games to educate China

Use Olympic Games to educate China

Concerned Netizen in Malaysiakini

I refer to the Malaysiakini article Fire on the roof of the world.

I am quite alarmed at China’s response to protests held in Tibet and surrounding regions. Daily we see protests about it along the Olympic torch run, and I wonder why we don’t hear more protests here in Malaysia. The Olympic games lend an excellent opportunity for the world to pressure China to do better in its treatment of others.

Some say that such a move is politicising the Olympic games when they are only about sport. But I beg to differ as there has always been a political element in the games. That’s why countries fight so hard to host them; so that they can show off their might and economic wealth on the world stage.

That’s why these games mean so much to the Chinese government today. From the moment they were granted the right to host the games, it has been a political issue for them. It’s not really about having a good natured contest between countries.

It’s about showing off economic clout, national power and glory. Good sportsmanship, peace and harmony are a very distant second. It’s China’s coming out party and they don’t want anyone to rain on it.

If China continues to go down the path of repression and violence, I don’t believe I can honestly turn on my television set and watch the games. It would be like taking part in a glamorous party while crowds of people outside are beaten, jailed and tortured.

It simply sickens me that we can go on with these games as if nothing is happening. Which to me is giving China the message that it can continue to have it’s cake (persecuting others or support persecution) and eat it too (world influence and ascendancy).

It’s as though that many countries and athletes in the world are saying that it doesn’t matter how China conducts itself as a nation, we will continue to support them and applaud them. I sincerely hope that heads of state will boycott the opening and closing ceremonies and that athletes will take a stand and not participate in the games.

It’s definitely a sacrifice on their part, but it sends a strong and clear message that human life is valued above fame and glory. If there are other ways to apply pressure, then we should do so. Nothing will change unless there is some pain on the part of the Chinese government. A loss of ‘face’ along with economic pain just might be the catalyst to make a difference in the lives of those who face persecution daily.

I used think it was a mistake that China was given the chance to host the games, now I believe it’s a golden opportunity for world to make a difference. If we miss this opportunity, it frightens me about what things China might demand of or take from the rest of the world as they gain more economic and military might.

I’m not so sure I want a country like China to become a world power if they continue to believe that they don’t have to shoulder any of the responsibilities that come with being a world power. Do we really need another world power with the potential to abuse the rest of the world?

Fire on the roof of the World

Sim Kwang Yang in Malaysiakini

Judging from some public commentaries and private conversations among Malaysians of Chinese ethnic persuasion on the issue of Tibet, more than a few of them have embraced the monolithic narrative of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) hook, line, and sinker.

According to them, the Tibet upheaval is a matter of law and order, a series of riots by criminal elements among the local ethnic Tibetans who have been organised, trained, supervised, and probably funded by the Dalai Lama’s government in exile. In this tale, the Dalai Lama is en evil liar who would stoop so low as to tarnish the image of the Beijing Olympics just to further his cause of independence for Tibet.

This official narrative will also accuse ‘Western media” like the BBC and the CNN of trying to spread lies throughout the world about the PRC and the Tibet issue, in order to give their political masters a leverage over the PRC in all kinds of international negotiations.

Meanwhile, the whole media machinery in the PRC from the official Xinhua News Agency, the People’s Dailies, to the various CCTV stations will bombard the international airwaves with the real “facts” about China and Tibet.

Why many Malaysian Chinese will embrace such an account so uncritically is curious in itself, but that is not my concern for the moment. My central question is this: how are we going to make sense of the Tibet issue at all?

Proud coming-out party

First, we must have a standpoint, a perspective from which we can examine the whole controversy. I suggest we have to forget for the moment that we are members of any ethnic community, and forget that we may have cultural, historical, or even social relation with any nation-state of the world. This would be after the fashion of what John Rawl’s would call his “veil of ignorance”.

When we look at China thus, we find a member of the international community of nation states, fast emerging as the third largest economy of the world, with military strength to match its economic prowess, and with obvious aspiration to become a top-notch superpower of the world. The Beijing Olympic Games is their proud coming-out party.

We also find a one party state with hard totalitarian rule by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over her 1.2 billion citizens. Like all totalitarian one party states past and present, the ruling party is equated with the government and the state.

Naturally, any criticism of the government or the ruling party is regarded as an act of treason in China. As I write, news has just reached us that the dissident Hu Jia has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison. His crime consists of giving interviews to foreign press and publishing a few articles purportedly criticising the government.

It is an understatement to say that there is little freedom of expression in the PRC. Strict censorship and the ubiquitous secret police are probably the norms.

Patriotic Chinese nationals and their sympathisers in the global Chinese Diasporas may argue that human rights and freedom of speech are not what China needs. They may further posit the view that given the convoluted historical background of modern China, their large territory, and their very complex demographical composition, they need a strong centralised government to hold everything together. The benevolent dictatorship of the CCP is the key to the economic miracle of the PRC in the last three decades.

That may, or may not, be entirely true. It does not seem that this argument can be true for eternity. But I would not get into an argument about this point, yet.

One obvious difficulty with the lack of freedom of expression in China is both immediate and critical on the issue of Tibet though.

Natural fairness

With no alternative or independent media reporting from Tibet, how are we going to verify or falsify the Chinese official version of what has happened in that relatively isolated province sitting on top of the roof of the world?

Unlike passionately patriotic Chinese citizens and their sympathisers throughout the global Chinese Diasporas, people like me around the world cannot take the words of any government in any country on their face value on mere trust alone.

There must also be many people like me who subscribe to some notion of natural fairness. In any quarrel, wither between two neighbours, or between any government and some of their people, the views of both contending parties must be given equal time and equal space in the media. The party accused of wrong doing must then enjoy their natural right for full reply in their self-defence.

That the media is dominated by the ruling BN coalition in Malaysia is the reason why I and my friends in Malaysiakini have been labouring and chiselling away at this bamboo curtain of unfair reporting. If the newly formed Pakatan Rakyat turns out to be as bad as the BN, I am sure we will also criticise them without fear or favour.

In the case of the Tibet crisis, is it not a little strange that we have heard nothing at all from those parties allegedly doing the public protests and the rioting? Is it not strange that even when a group of foreign media organisations were invited to a guided and rigidly orchestrated tour of Tibet recently, monks were still risking their lives to scream for justice for Tibetans in front of foreign cameras?

If you want to find out the other side of the story, you can go to the internet, and simply type “Tibet” on http://www.google.com. There you will find other versions of the Tibet story, especially events leading to the escape into exile of the Dalai Lama in 1959.

On March 12, 1959, when protesters marched through the streets of Lhasa, demanding Tibetan independence from Chinese rule, Chinese troops moved in. According to the Office of Tibet in London, 86,000 Tibetans were killed that day. In the days that followed, thousands of monks were executed or arrested, while many monasteries and temples were destroyed.

The overseas Tibetan websites also give many accounts of the intervening decades since then describing how the mass migration of Han Chinese into Tibet has made the Tibetans a minority in their homeland. They have described how the PRC efforts to assimilate ethnic Tibetans into the Han culture have endangered their ancient religious, social and cultural legacies.

These stories are the other side of the Tibetan coin that we hear so little about. They may or may not be entirely true, but they give us balance in our view of the current situation in Tibet. They raise the question of whether the Tibetan disturbances in recent weeks are riots or rebellions. They raise doubt that perhaps the disturbances there are not merely criminal acts threatening law and order, but courageous acts of political statement.

Much respected

Meanwhile, we have the Dalai Lama declaring that he is not seeking independence of Tibet from Chinese rule. Rather he is hoping for some degree of autonomy. He has repeatedly requested for some kind of dialogue with the Chinese government, but they seem to have brushed aside this proposal with a great show of contempt.

All along, the Dalai Lama has propagated his idea of non-violence in this political impasse. He is much respected outside China. Why, he has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and of all things Western, the Nobel Award is one of the more credible institutions to the non-Chinese world. To paint him as the head of a terrorist organisation may work in the closed society within the PRC, but such demonising propaganda is a little hard for me to swallow.

The ocean of official statements and public opinions issuing forth from Mainland smacks of Cold War rhetoric. Their tone and the argument are coarse, displaying a kind of outdated worldview that borders on the hegemonic.

Lastly, there is this argument about Tibet being the internal affair of China, and the outside world has no business pitting their nose where it does not belong. I am thinking of the holocaust in Germany during WWII. Could the Nazi regime then also make a similar claim, morally?

The hard fact is that we live in an inter-connected world. China is gaining influence on the international stage. The Chinese political-economic juggernaut is spreading its wings to all parts of the developing world, scouring the globe for precious fuel and natural resources to satisfy its ravenous hunger for economic growth.

The PRC is also clamouring for a bigger say in international forum such as the many agencies of the United Nations. With greater prestige and power, comes greater responsibility, to answer to mankind for their handling of the Tibetan dilemma, and a whole host of other issues. Like all other nations on Earth, China cannot claim absolute sovereignty,

China may have looked like a First World nation in her cities like Shanghai and Beijing. But under the veneer of modernity in the coastal developed provinces, China has not yet stepped over the threshold of a Third World nation, if the handling of the Tibet crisis is anything to go by.

Help, not crush, Myanmar Military (to reform)

Help, not crush, Myanmar Military

(to reform)

Malaysiakini news by Soon Li Tsin

Dear Malaysiakini, reporter and Malaysiakini readers, please may all of you kindly allow me to dream as if this event is about Burma, Burmese researcher writing a book on Myanmar Military e.t.c.. I have dreamt about having an interview with DSAI and wrote more than half a dozen of articles on that subject. Please, kindly allow me to continue to dream on . . .

Modified and edited the news, “Author: Help, not crush, Umno” by Soon Li Tsin in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original news article. I hope that Soon Li Tsin 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.

Author and academician Dr Ooi Kee Beng said Myanmar Military should be assisted (to reform) and not crushed in its attempt to reform itself.

Launching his book entitled ‘Lost in Transition: Myanmar under Military Dictatorship’ yesterday, Ooi (photo) expressed concern over the future of Myanmar Military which may resort to fascism.

“Myanmar Military is like (Taiwan’s) Kuomintang (KMT) and other parties in the region who were responsible for independence and a lot of these parties had to reform itself like the KMT – a once dictatorial party is a totally a new party today with the same name.

“It is not given that if Myanmar Military reforms itself, it would reform like how KMT did – meaning liberalize and play the democratic game. Fascism is always close at hand.

“We don’t want that to be encouraged. We should work to not crush Myanmar Military but help it along in its reforming process,” he told the audience.

The book is a compilation of articles written by Ooi – who is a fellow at the Institute of South East Asian studies in Singapore – on SPDC Myanmar Military Junta’s governance in the last twenty years.

It is a follow up to his 2006 book, ‘Era of Transition: Myanmar After General Ne Win’ which analysed Myanmar Military and tests faced by SPDC Junta Senior General Than Shwe after taking over his predecessors General Ne Win and General Saw Maung.

Asked to explain the message in his new book, he said: “It was what I felt when I put the book together at the end of last year, that something very important was lost.

“There was hope that Myanmar could develop itself in a proper manner and we were actually already on the slippery slope and we did not see any force that could stop it,” he described.

Two main challenges

During the panel discussion, Centre for Public Initiatives Director Dr Lim Teck Ghee highlighted two main challenges for Sr General Than Shwe in light of the recent Safron Revolution and the alleged internal feud currently taking place in Myanmar Military.

“One that is most crucial is that he has to battle and isolate the extremists elements within Myanmar Military and its many faceless supporters in the Kyant Phut, Swan Arrshin, ex-Military associations, the civil service and the Myanmar community.

“These are elements that are paved with revenge – launched in a campaign that is sometimes quiet and sometimes quite loud – racial-baiting and incitement,” he explained.

“(The) second challenge is to move firmly and quickly on building a good working relationship with the NLD, Ethnic Minorities, Religious Minorities and together in taking on the scourge of corruption,” he added.

The former World Bank economist noted that Myanmar Military Generals should declare their assets, introduce policy reforms and a merit-based system in order to change the country’s economic performance.

“In theory these they should lead the way to an economic revitalization for Myanmar. The Military and ex-military (U Paine) hold more than 60 per cent of the gross national product (GNP). Investors all over the world place importance on transparency, accountability and efficiency, once they could form an Interim Government with the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led opposition.” he said.

However he warned that the Myanmar Military can derail the true democratization by using military and its affiliated associations’ machinery, state funding and the civil service to play the “revenge, obstructionist or spoilers game”.

“I’m worried. So far the Myanmar Military has used it’s military apparatus and resources and are bent on punishing the opposition as we’ve seen from the 8888 Revolution, Depayin Massacre and Saffron Revolution to the arresting of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led NLD leaders, Ethnic Minority leaders, 88 Generation Student leaders, monks and unarmed protesting civilians” he said.

Meanwhile, Ong said he would deliberate on setting up the fair and square, truly democratic election system despite calls from the opposition to boycott it.

Lim was joined by Malaysiakini’s editor-in-chief Steven Gan and Ooi during the panel discussion.

The book launch was officiated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and was attended by about 8888 people.

Selfishness leads to search and hit the softspots

 Selfishness leads to search and hit the softspots

“Think of national interests”, Suaram told by

unjust leader from the Justice Party

On the protest voiced by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) on the Selangor-levy plan, he said local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like Suaram must place priority on national interests and not champion universal human rights and attack the state government for looking after its residents in their own homeland.

Yes, do not champion universal human rights but just look at your party’s name.

Do you stupidly still think that  your party is established for justice to DSAI alone? BUT not for the UNIVERSAL JUSTICE?

Dear DSAI and Datin Seri Dr Wan Aziza, please give an intensive course on Democracy, Human Rights, Justice, Rule of Law, UN Human Right Decleration on this shortsighted person.

If not this MB is morbidly suffering from Myopic astigmatism, a condition in which his eye is affected with myopia (Shortsightedness) in one meridian only: that is on foreigners.

He will later start an anti-Foreigner campaigns_

Now he said foreigners took the work of locals and buy the houses.

Soon he will propose to shut down the Kelang Port to stop exporting goods and petroleum so that Malaysian citizens could enjoy the surplus, unsold, exports. Sure, commodity prices would go down because of unsold, un-exported goods.

Soon he would stop all foreign tourists from entering Selangor to reduce traffic congestion and to give more hotel rooms available to local tourists. Hotel room rates would go down up to the level affordable to all the Malaysian citizens.

Soon he would stop all foreign direct investment to give more opportunity to the locals.

Selfish politicians like him would never think globally.

Selfish politicians usually use national interests as a smokeshield to disguise their cruel deeds.

Selfish and weak politicians always try to exploit or hit the soft spots. Khalid dare not exploit on Malaysian old pendatangs so he is looking the blood of fresh pendatangs.

(Sorry Malaysian Chinese and Malaysian Indians for using this insulting words. I myself was labled like that in my own country and here we all are treated unfairly and unjustly as 10th. Grade foreigners amongst fresh pendatangs)

Selfish politicians always use the (Ultra) Nationalistic sentiments to incite or exploit against Foreigners.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim should be controlled by DSAI and Datin Seri Dr Wan Aziza.

Justice Party (I hope Justice for all and not for selected races and citizens only) leader, new Chief Minister Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said foreign workers living and working in Selangor enjoyed all the state’s infrastructure, like good schools, health facilities and roads and the state was just calling for them contribute something in return.

I sensed a déjà vu phenomena while reading Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s words_

Former PM Tun Mahathier had also reported to utter these words as a lame excuse when he imposed increased medical fees for the foreigners.

  • Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim  is ignorant that legal foreign workers’ children are not allowed at all in any government schools!
  • Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim  is ignorant that the government had built 3000 schools only for the illegal immigrants from Indonesia. (According to NST front page news and photograph of a school)

Even PR holders are denied the good faculties in Public or Government Universities nowadays.

  • Local students are subsidized using part of our levies and income-taxes.
  • Even in the expensive private universities, locals are supported using the foreigners’ levies and income-taxes.
  • Adding salt to that do you know that we need to pay  more then locals? And one idiot is asking to charge more on foreigners in the local universities. Is this the Justice?

Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim should open his eyes and fight for that injustices and then I am sure the foreign workers would be willing to pay even hundred times more than he proposed.

He is ignorant that Government health facilities always charge THREE TIMES first clast fees to the foreigners while keeping them in the Third Class.

  • He should fight to charge same rate as locals at hospitals if he wish to charge again in his state.
  • He came from Justice party: after charging those levies (when the locals earning the same salary are usually exempted from paying income-tax because of low earning.)
  • Afterall those foreign workers are working for your country, your countrymen’s companies that your citizens owned at least 30% and for your citizens. Where is “Justice” if the workers your citizens employed are forced to pay extra charges or sometimes denied medical treatment?

Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim  should be banned from claiming that he is from Justice Party if he continue to deny justice for all.

Using state Roads?

  • Foreigners also pay income-tax or levies.

  • Even if they use the taxis or busses, they paid the fees that is inclusive of all the Road Tax, Import Duty, Sales Tax, AP Fees, Tool fees etc.
  • If the Foreigners buy cars are they exempted from above?

So don’t give lame excuses Tun and Tan Seri, this is your country and State. If you want to discriminate on poor foreign workers, just do whatever you like. But don’t give those lame silly excuses. Just Hit the Soft Spots!” It is safer than exploiting the same citizens.

By the way, your “zero tolerance on squatters” is also targetting the poor. 

Please read the following news_

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in the Star Online news 

BANTING: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) should take a more national approach to foreign worker issues and not attack the state government, says Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Khalid said the state government’s proposal to collect RM9 monthly from all migrant workers in the state was aimed at setting up a fund to help provide re-training for local unemployed youths so they could land better jobs.

He said foreign workers living and working in Selangor enjoyed all the state’s infrastructure, like good schools, health facilities and roads and the state was just calling for them contribute something in return.

Well done: Khalid, you have darken your party and opposition.

“Suaram feels that bringing in foreign workers is one of the solutions to human rights problems but they should understand we have to help our own people, too.

“This is a democracy, so we can open up and discuss the matter,” he told reporters after officiating at the closing ceremony of the training for local authorities’ enforcement officers at the Selangor Enforcement Training Centre (Pulapes) in Jugra here yesterday.

On Monday, Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng hit out at the state government’s proposal, calling it unjust as foreign workers received low wages and were often exploited by employers or recruitment agencies with non-payment, unjust deduction of salary, long working hours and unfair dismissals.

He added that migrant workers were barely surviving and probably in debt after paying exorbitant fees to come to work in Malaysia.

Khalid meanwhile said the RM4,000 in levy and agency charges migrant workers paid was too large a sum, and the state planned to call on the Federal Government to reduce the amount.

He also proposed that a centralised information system be set up to keep an accurate record of foreign workers in the state.

“I was among the people involved in the corporatisation of the system for foreign workers and I can show ways to keep tabs on even the illegal workers,” he said.

Khalid also said the Federal Government should not cast aside suggestions just because they came from opposition parties and should accept the good

“We want to show the federal government how to keep records on illegal workers (Have you use illegals in your old palmoil company?) by having the state levy. I will set up a centralised information system to keep correct records on those who come and work in the state,” he said.

Abdul Khalid said the RM3,000 to RM4,000 charged by migrant worker agencies was high and that for the Selangor government this was not reasonable.

(Then you have heart to extort extra RM 9.00, that will definitely pass onto the poor workers.)

(Have your old company pay the levies for your workers.  Afterall Tun said that levies were meant to made the employers expensive to hire foreigners but Tun and all of you close your eyes and look other way round when the poor foreign workers have to pay those money.)

If you are man enough demand part of the levies to be paid to state governments from the immigration or MOF.

He said millions of ringgit were paid by foreign workers to recruiting agencies that brought them to the country and the Malaysian government collected a levy but eventually the agents concerned did not know where the workers were and this “flood of foreign workers” created problems for society.

Although migrant workers, especially the illegal ones, were eventually repatriated by the government, the problem did not seem to end as they returned to the country and the ones who benefited were the travel agents and migrant workers recruitment agencies, Abdul Khalid said.
 

See this great Malaysiakini news,

  1. Permas: New MB’s statements ‘chilling’ by Soon Li Tsin 

The community residents’ association of Selangor and Federal Territory (Permas) is disappointed with Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s decision to continue with the ‘zero squatters’ policy.   

Opposition leader Wan Azizah unveils bold agenda

The nation’s first female parliamentary opposition leader, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, today unveiled an ambitious agenda to boost economic growth and fight corruption.

Access to equal opportunities

Strengthening race relations

Withdraw Monthly Fee

on Migrant Workers

Wednesday, 26 March 2008 
Suaram is deeply disturbed with the plan of the Selangor state government to collect RM10 monthly fee from all migrant workers in the state of Selangor. The new policy was announced by the Chief Minister of the newly formed Selangor state government, Khalid Ibrahim recently during a press interview with Chinese press.

According to the Chief Minister, the money collected will be used for the purpose of setting up a re-training fund for unemployed youths. It aims to equip them with more skills and in a long run reduce the reliance on migrant workers. 

The migrant workers community is

  • one of the most exploited
  • and most marginalized groups in the society.
  • They work in conditions described as 3-Ds – dirty, demeaning and dangerous,
  • and theirs are jobs which the locals shun off.
  • They receive low wages
  • and are often exploited by employers
  • or recruitment agencies for non-payment,
  • unjust deduction of salary,
  • long working hours,
  • unfair dismissal etc.

By taxing the migrant workers

  • who are barely surviving
  • and probably in debt in order to pay the exorbitant fees to come to work in Malaysia ,
  • an extra heavy burden is added on the migrant workers and their families.

And to use the money collected from the migrant workers to re-train local unemployed youth and eventually replace the migrant workers, is scandalous, to say the least.

Even if the monthly fee is to be paid by the employer and not the migrant workers, we are concerned that eventually this fee will be deducted from the migrant worker’s wages one way or another.

The new policy reflects how unsensitized Malaysian political parties,

  • be they in the opposition

  • or the government,

are to the plight of migrant workers.

The Parti Rakyat Keadilan (PKR) has espoused the principle of justice and won a huge victory with the pledge to the people to fight against the widening income gap between the “have” and the “have-nots”.

Certainly, taxing the poor migrant workers to assist local unemployed youth, do not measure up to the principle and spirit of justice.

Suaram calls on Chief Minister Khalid Ibrahim to immediately withdraw this unjust policy. We also urge the Chief Minister to consult civil society organizations who are working on migrant workers issues before making any policy decisions in the future.

Yap Swee Seng
Executive Director

 

 

Gambari diplomatically hiding his failure

 Gambari diplomatically hiding his failure

Note: The heading is my own idea. But the following newspaper’s facts and idea are not contrary to my heading. 

From what he has said and from what the military junta expressed to him during his third visit, United Nations Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari is unlikely to have achieved anything toward national reconciliation and democracy in military run Burma.

The Nation, Published on March 13, 2008

Gambari finished his latest visit to the troubled country on Monday, making a brief stopover in Singapore – but without meeting any officials of the current Asean chair, or the media. The reaction after the visit was different from his usual routine following his previous trips. For Burma affairs, nothing is top secret for the UN representative, unless he has nothing to say or nothing has been achieved.

Gambari met many people during his stay in Burma from last Thursday to Monday, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he met twice this time, on Sunday and Monday. However, the details of their discussion are not yet known. Previously, Gambari rushed to tell the media whenever he got a statement from Aung San Suu Kyi that she was ready to talk with the junta over political reconciliation. The UN envoy then shuttled around the globe to tell the same thing to world leaders whom he expected to help him bring about a dialogue between Burma and those in Bangkok, Beijing and New Delhi.

This time Gambari got a very tough assignment from his boss, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, to achieve a substantive dialogue between the junta and the opposition. Actually the authorities in the Burmese capital, Napyidaw were originally scheduled to welcome Gambari in April, but the secretary-general made a request to have his special envoy visit early.

Gambari was allowed in, with permission for an extended stay, but the visit lasted only five days, as many of his requests for meetings were rejected.

Prior to Gambari’s visit, UN chief Ban sent a letter in February to the paramount Burmese leader, Than Shwe requesting a five-point cooperation deal to help his special envoy achieve his mission. The junta later decided to dump all UN requests and even burnt them in public, allowing only the government mouthpiece, the New Light of Myanmar, to publicise the substance of the meeting between the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) spokesman Kyaw Hsan and Gambari over the weekend. Kyaw Hsan told Gambari that the Burmese government would arrange for UN visitors at any time as proposed, but the establishment of a special office in Rangoon for Gambari was unnecessary since the UN already had many representatives in the country through whom Gambari could work.

The second point, which Gambari championed before his visit, was to have inclusive participation in Burmese politics. But this was also dismissed by the junta. Kyaw Hsan said the new Burmese constitution had already been drafted and would not be amended any further. The draft bars those who are married to foreigners from participating in politics. More precisely, it prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from having any hope of being elected as the next Burmese leader.

“It was Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy who decided not to participate in the constitution drafting. There cannot be any more ‘all-inclusiveness’ in this process,” Kyaw Hsan told Gambari.

On the third point, Ban asked to have a credible, timeframe and all-inclusive discussion between the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi, including support by the UN.

Kyaw Hsan simply replied that the National Convention – the constitution drafting body – is the most credible and all-inclusive political discussion forum.

Now, discussions between the Minister for Information and Aung San Suu Kyi are under way in accordance with UN wishes. Than Shwe even could meet the opposition leader if Suu Kyi agrees to drop her demands for the continuance and extension of international sanctions against the junta. But as long as Aung San Suu Kyi maintains this stance, the dialogue cannot be productive, Kyaw Hsan said.

On the demands for the release of political prisoners, the junta simply said that it has no political prisoners, but that those who are serving jail terms or are under other restrictions, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have violated the laws.

The final UN point, a request to have an inclusive National Economic Forum for addressing economic and social affairs, and a cooperative mechanism for humanitarian assistance, was simply rejected as being “useless”, Kyaw San said.

“If Your Excellency helps to lift economic sanctions, allow aid into the country, and approve loans, it might be more effective than the Economic Forum you propose. Giving assistance for poverty reduction while imposing sanctions will never produce the right solution,” he said.

Kyaw Hsan also pointed out to Gambari that democracy developed in accordance with different contexts in different countries. He compared his constitution-making process with neighbouring Thailand.

“Now, the Thai people have approved and started to practice a new constitution for Thailand. But none of the candidates of the People Power Party and the opposition Democrat Party had the right to participate in the [drafting] process. To make it clearer, in Iraq, Shi’ite militants who oppose the US, and Sunni militants who have links with al-Qaeda had no right to participate in the process of drafting a constitution. Similarly, in Afghanistan, the Taleban had no right to draft the constitution. We haven’t heard any objection to these events by those persons and organisations who are objecting to us. But with the drafting of the constitution in our country, many are criticising us and pointing out that certain persons are not among the representatives in the process. It is not reasonable,” he said.

Gambari has no argument, as the UN has nothing to bargain with. He simply said he would convey the message to his boss, whom he would meet in Senegal this week.

Supalak Ganjanakhundee

The Nation

Read United Nations Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari ‘s report here.

Persistence and patience

don’t pay in Burma

The Nation: Regional neighbours need to exert more pressure on the junta to achieve political reconciliation

When dealing with the Burmese junta, concerned parties, especially the UN and its special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, must be prepared for long and often futile negotiations and continual setbacks. Since 1988, those who have engaged Burma have had their faces slapped by the generals. Indeed, Gambari was snubbed again by the junta just a week ago. This has increasingly become the typical pattern of engagement with Burma. If anything, there is also a realisation that the junta is calling the shots and nothing can progress without its agreement. This is the saddest development since last September, when violence broke out on the streets of Rangoon and other cities. The whole world witnessed more atrocities committed by Burmese troops, who gunned down monks and other peaceful protestors. The international community led by the Western countries suddenly became more vociferous. The UN Security Council managed to talk a lot but there was no solution to the situation. Since then, Gambari has visited Burma three times but without any substantial progress being made. The junta leaders know the game plan very well. They know how to manipulate both Gambari and the good offices of the UN.

Recently, the junta surprised the world with its announcement that there would be a national referendum on the new constitution in May, followed by a general election in 2010. But the electoral law bars any possible participation by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. With such a “roadmap”, the junta’s supporters have extra ammunition to further bolster the regime. Already, China and Asean have expressed support for this roadmap. Thailand is the most enthusiastic. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej went out of his way last week to accommodate the regime, without knowing the full implications for Thailand.

Without Thai support, the political reconciliation process in Burma will continue to stall – and thus work in favour of the junta. During the Surayud government, relations between the two countries were frozen. There were no new activities in the political or economic fields. However, with the formation of a new Thai government, the friendship has returned to normal. Severed economic links have been restored and Thailand is again willing to play second fiddle to Burma. With such an attitude, Thailand’s role in the Burmese crisis is turning into a travesty. Samak praised the regime after his visit to Rangoon. His comments revealed Thailand’s naivete and its leader’s foul mouth. Foreign Minister Noppadon Patama was no better. He said the situation in Burma is an internal matter and that Thailand does not support sanctions.

Apparently, the UN is the only hope. But the treatment of Gambari during his last visit was unwarranted. While the UN is still the best hope to help end the impasse, it lacks teeth. One of the problems is that UNSC members are not acting together. Both Russia and China support the Burmese junta. Their positive contributions to the six-party peace talks have yet to be seen. The UNSC must now bridge the gap and come together with a unified view that the Burmese situation is a threat to regional peace and security. 

It is interesting to note that all Thai leaders, including former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the current premier, are willing to make trade-offs with the Burmese generals. Given the current stalemate, there should be new initiatives to bolster the UN position. Within Asean, countries like Indonesia and Vietnam could do more. At one time, Indonesia under Suharto was considered an ideal model by the Burmese regime. But democratisation since 1998 has made Indonesia less attractive to the generals. Vietnam’s engagement with the West, and its successful economic development in the past two decades, has attracted the junta’s attention. Together with the UN, these countries could make a new impression on the junta. During the height of the Cambodian conflict in the 1980s, Indonesia helped break the deadlock, which subsequently led to the Paris peace talks. Maybe with a right combination of actors exerting pressure, things could move ahead in Burma.  

The Nation

Boycott China Olympics in support of Tibet

Boycott China Olympics

in support of Tibet

Copied part of CNN politics*com, Cafferty File, Jack’s blog
ALT TEXT
A burning car sits on a street in the Tibetan capital Lhasa after violent protests broke out on March 14, 2008. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

Dalai Lama 'to resign' if violence worsens

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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said China’s response to the protests in Tibet has been restrained.

  

art.lhasashops.afp.gi.jpg

Pedestrians walk past shops damaged by fire in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. 

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A video image of Chinese police carrying out door-to-door searches in Lhasa. 

FROM CNN’s Jack Cafferty:

China has been hoping to boost its image in the eyes of the world as it gets ready to host the Summer Olympics in Beijing, but the Chinese government’s crackdown on protesters in Tibet is not helping.

What began a week ago as mostly peaceful protests by monks has spiraled into violent clashes, with Tibetans attacking the Chinese and burning their businesses. The Chinese government is now vowing to protect its territory and issued a midnight deadline that’s now passed for protesters to either surrender or face harsh consequences.

There are reports of Chinese authorities parading handcuffed Tibetan prisoners in the capital of Lhasa. Chinese police are going house-to-house checking id cards and residence permits. The Chinese government puts the death toll at 16, with dozens injured. But the Dalai Lama’s exiled government says 80 people have been killed.

Meanwhile, the protests that started in Tibet have spilled into three neighboring provinces and even to Beijing. And sympathy protests are also going on around the world.

China insists the violence won’t harm the upcoming Olympic games. The U.S. has called on China to show restraint.

However, it’s getting support from who else but Russia – another beacon of human rights. The Russian government says it hopes China will take “all necessary measures to stop illegal actions.” It adds that any efforts to boycott the Olympics are “unacceptable.”

Olympic officials also say they are opposed to a boycott because of the violence in Tibet.

Here’s my question to you: Should countries boycott the Olympic Games in light of China’s crackdown on protesters in Tibet?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

 

Jeff from Carmel, New York writes:
It’s a travesty. We stomp around the world fighting for freedom except when the offender is someone like China, whose money we desperately need. The world should rise up and boycott everything Chinese until the people of Tibet regain their freedom. These are the most peaceful people on earth; they should be role models for all of us. They deserve better.

Terry writes:
I remember in 6th grade participating in a school debate over boycotting the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. I supported that boycott, but today’s world is different, as is my opinion. Go to China, enjoy the games, and take your digital cameras. The citizens will be putting on a display for you. Send your pictures to CNN. Don’t get caught. Sunshine in China may be the best thing to happen to them. If you want to boycott something to really hurt China, stay out of Wal-Mart.

Brian from Redondo Beach, California writes:
Yes, boycott. China reminds one of Germany in the 30s. Will our people be safe there? And will the judging be fair even if we do attend? Hit them economically, which is what a boycott would accomplish.

James from Canada writes:
Given Guantanamo, rendition, Abu Ghraib, waterboarding, etc., the U.S. is hardly in any position to lead a human rights boycott of the Olympics.

Krake writes:
Boycotting will be a late and inadequate reaction. Allowing China to have the Olympics was the big mistake, especially since it was already known that the Chinese government is a human rights abuser and cruel regime. The violence in Tibet simply highlights what was already known.

Troy writes:
I would rather see our athletes wear “Free Tibet” T-shirts in Beijing during the opening ceremony. Oh Mao goodness.

Filed under: Beijing Olympics • China • Tibet

Read more in Cafferty File

Singaporean, 10 firms under US Myanmar sanctions

Singaporean, 10 firms

under US Myanmar sanctions

SINGAPORE (AFP) – A Singaporean citizen and 10 of her companies have been targeted under fresh US sanctions aimed at the Myanmar junta, adding to a list of city-state firms hit by US sanctions.

Cecilia Ng is the wife of Steven Law, whose father Lo Hsing Han is “known as the ‘Godfather of Heroin’,” according to the US Treasury Department.

The department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) named the three individuals on Monday under additional economic sanctions against supporters of Myanmar’s military regime, which the US accuses of grave human rights abuses.

The OFAC notice says Ng, born in 1958, is a Singaporean citizen who owns 10 companies including Golden Aaron Pte Ltd.

State media in Myanmar reported in December 2004 that Singapore’s Golden Aaron Pte Ltd was part of a consortium that signed an oil and natural gas exploration contract with military-ruled Myanmar.

OFAC listed Ng’s other companies as: G A Ardmore Pte Ltd, G A Capital Pte Ltd, G A Foodstuffs Pte Ltd, G A Land Pte Ltd, G A Resort Pte Ltd, G A Sentosa Pte Ltd, G A Treasure Pte Ltd, G A Whitehouse Pte Ltd, and S H Ng Trading Pte Ltd.

The Treasury Department accused Law and Lo Hsing Han of a history of involvement in illicit activities.

“Lo Hsing Han, known as the ‘Godfather of Heroin,’ has been one of the world’s key heroin traffickers dating back to the early 1970s,” it said.

“Steven Law joined his father’s drug empire in the 1990s and has since become one of the wealthiest individuals in Burma.”

Ng could not be immediately contacted for comment on the allegations.

A woman who opened the locked door at Ng’s offices in Singapore’s business district said she was not there. A plaque visible through the door listed Golden Aaron, S H Ng Trading and another firm, Kokang Singapore Pte Ltd.

Attempts to locate Ng at the condominium complex listed as her residence were also unsuccessful.

Singapore strongly denies allegations that it allows banks based here to keep illicit funds on behalf of Myanmar’s secretive generals.

Asked for comment, the foreign affairs ministry referred AFP to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) which said the city-state, like all other leading financial centres, operates “a strict and rigorous regime” against money laundering.

“Banks and financial institutions in Singapore are required to institute strict procedures, including the need to identify and know their customers, and monitor and report any suspicious transactions,” MAS said.

“Our rules are vigorously enforced. Should there be links with illicit activity, MAS will not hesitate to take necessary action.”

In early February the US named Singaporean resident U Kyaw Thein, 60, as among those targeted under sanctions aimed at Tay Za, who the Treasury Department called an alleged “henchman” and arms dealer for Myanmar’s junta.

A Singaporean company, Pavo Aircraft Leasing Pte Ltd, was also named.

US President George W. Bush last year named three other firms with offices in Singapore as among those targeted under initial sanctions that followed the junta’s deadly September crackdown on protests led by Buddhist monks.

The city-state led regional criticism of the crackdown but rights activists accused it of not taking economic action against the regime.

The US action freezes any assets the individuals and firms have under US jurisdiction and bars Americans from conducting business with them at the risk of heavy fines and prison sentences.