Subject: re ET workers for Malaysia

from East Timor Press Review 3 September, 2002

· Secretary of State for Labour and Solidarity, Arsenio Bano announced that about 5,000 East Timorese will join the labor force overseas, namely, Malaysia, Korea and Singapore.

Be careful, the following extracts should caution the state about sending workers to Malaysia. Also the ISA can apply.

highlight: "In Malaysia the right to social security, right to work and fair pay for work, right to equal consideration before the law, right to social order assuring human rights and so on are also violated."

extracts of article: "Sustainable development based on human rights"

Opinion by Kohila Tue Sep 3rd, 2002, Malaysiakini

"Development cannot be attained in the absence of…respect for all human rights." (Agenda for Development, UN General Assembly, June 1997)

Human rights is the basic human dignity of every human being in the world. The right to live, right to food, right to clean water, right to adequate housing, right to fresh air, right to education, right to clean environment, right to standard health care, right to equality and so on are every person's natural-born right that must be guaranteed and protected by all the states in the world. It has to be ensured that any form of development executed in any locale must not violate human rights and undermine the dignity of any person. ........

Even in Malaysia, people are still directly or indirectly deprived of their rights to a decent life. Forced eviction is a common occurrence in Malaysia especially in the plantation sector and also in urban settlements due to development projects such as building of new townships, golf clubs, condominiums and luxury houses.

More homeless people

Until May 2002, 9,542 families in Selangor were forcefully evicted from their homes. People who have been forcefully evicted most of the time are not provided with alternative houses causing them further hardship. In addition to that, the government has failed to make available or build enough units of low-cost houses with affordable prices for the poor.

With such a situation, we can expect more people to be homeless particularly in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by the year 2005, as the state government is pushing hard to ensure that both these places are ‘squatter free' by the year 2005.

Another issue that infringes the rights of the people in Malaysia is the privatisation of basic amenities such as water, electricity, road, sanitation services and soon it will be the health and education services. Privatisation of basic amenities has caused the cost of living of the Malaysian people to increase and in some areas especially in the rural areas, water and electricity are unaffordable hence becoming luxury items.

Middle-class workers and low-paid workers are suffering to make ends meet, as livelihood has become a burden with the rising cost of living. Basic amenities which is supposed be the responsibility of the government have been commercialised to private companies to make huge profits.

Further on, the right to social security, right to work and fair pay for work, right to equal consideration before the law, right to social order assuring human rights and so on are also violated.

Laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA), Trade Unions Act, Industrial Relations Act, Police Act, Emergency Ordinance and so on deprive the people of their human rights. A fear culture is created among the people in order to ensure they do not demand for their rights and can be easily suppressed so that the government of the day can remain in power and corporations can make huge profits.

Environment degradation

Environment is another area that has been neglected in Malaysia. Air pollution and water pollution is widespread due to industrial activities. Furthermore forest areas and large plantations are cleared for development projects. At times even forest reserve areas are also taken over for development projects causing ecological imbalance. ...........

KOHILA is an economist, now working on the People Before Profits project in Suaram. She is actively involved in the Community Development Centre, an NGO that fights for the rights of squatters and estate workers. "SUARAM" <>

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