Migrant labour – what exactly is Malaysia’s policy?

While I’m writing this, Malaysia has been taking some steps with regard to migration and labour issues.

First off, Minister in Prime Minister’s Office Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim announced that the government has revoked the UNHCR’s right to issue identity cards for asylum seekers and refugees.

According to Shahidan, this was due to the fact that the number of refugees in Malaysia who are suddenly working in the country has gone over 60,000, mostly from Myanmar. In other words, what Shahidan is saying that people who were smuggled in through death camps like the one in his home state of Perlis, should not be working or even trying to work to earn a living.

Shahidan was also critical of the UNHCR not providing lodging for these refugees and asylum seekers, using the lack of funds as an issue.

I did bring up this matter of allowing more refugees into the country when boatloads of Rohingyans appeared on our shores just last year, in my column on The Malaysian Insider.

Thus, I’ll bring up the issue again – who exactly is supposed to pay for refugees and asylum seekers?

Should it be the United Nations, who ask to permit these peoples into our borders? Or the Malaysian taxpayers, which include all of us now that we have implemented the Goods and Services Tax (GST)?

Of course, we think of the most humane thing to do by letting them in, but what of after?

Do we issue them with identity cards and allow them work?

Yes, we should. After all, we have constantly been talking about ‘3D’ (dirty, difficult and dangerous) jobs that our Malaysian youth refuse to do, even though they are apparently “starving” in colleges.

But what about lodging, and even placement in hostels?

For the Rohingyan crisis in the late of last year, we placed them in national service camps which were not in use due to this year’s suspension of the programme. But what about future refugees?

Also, how long are we going to keep them in the middle of a camp placed nowhere near any place they can work to earn a living?

In the same breath, we are welcoming Syrian families who have been victims of a civil war in their own country. Yet, very few details are being revealed or asked about just how we will or are already treating them.

They’ve arrived on Malaysian shores two months ago, and yet we have no idea if they’ve been assimilated into the workforce, given proper lodging or even will be paying taxes once they have settled down.

In fact, these are the questions that the government should be addressing in terms of our migrant policy.

  1. Why aren’t we making them pay into the EPF?
    • No doubt, foreign workers are employees and yet they are not required to contribute to our Employee Provident Fund (EPF), something that Singapore makes mandatory with their CPF.
  2. Will they be paying taxes?
    • Foreign workers should be paying taxes for income gained in the country, shouldn’t they? After all, if this government and its ministers are so keen to take money from Uber and Grab, it should be equally keen to make the migrant workforce pay taxes just as equal as citizens.
  3. How much are we putting aside for asylum seekers and refugees?
    • As much as we want to help those in need of it, there must be a figure measured and reserved in which we can assist. After all, this federal government is keen on helping our own citizens, it should have a proper budget for those in our region who require the same assistance.
  4. Who defines refugees, asylum seekers and migrant labour?
    • This requires a lot of thinking, because we don’t recognise the UN Declaration on refugees or asylum seekers. Thus, we actually have no obligation to help them officially, which is a huge issue when it comes to these people being harassed by the authorities, as we saw in the report post Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein’s 6P programme.
  5. Finally, can all these be engraved in stone somewhere?
    • Not to say much, but insofar dealing with foreign workers, asylum seekers and even refugees, Malaysia is extremely whimsical with no proper framework in place. This needs to change as we become a mature nation, if not sooner.

Of course, I personally believe we should take in those less fortunate than ourselves, but it should not be done at the expense of our own poor and downtrodden, nor should it be seen more important than our own citizens’ welfare.

And honestly, it is time we settle this issue and answer our questions regarding what needs to be determined before we face yet another wave of migrants, find another death camp up North, or even find another flotilla of refugees fleeing violence.

If Shahidan is in charge of this issue from now on, then by all means, his ministry and those under his portfolio should think this through now.


Brain fart: Ugh, Malaysians *rolls eyes and sigh*

You have to ask yourselves whether the next generation will be up to scratch.

It is a changed world, with paedophiles grouping together and sharing kiddie porn on Telegram, while kids begin to get into awkward situations that borders being born with a lack of self preservation.

In the last few months, Malaysian kids have found themselves incapable of even using escalators – something the general population has been using for the past four decades and more. Continue reading “Brain fart: Ugh, Malaysians *rolls eyes and sigh*”

Brain fart: On Orlando

I’m starting a new series of articles called “Brain farts”. They are raw, unedited, unscripted writings on current topics.

The mass murder of over 50 Americans in a gay bar located in Orlando is shocking, and should be condemned by the highest level. The actions of the alleged shooter, Omar Mateen, calling 911 and declaring his actions in the name of the Islamic State, makes it an act of terrorism. Of course, it is also an act of homophobia as well.

Can homosexuals be homophobic? Of course they can. Continue reading “Brain fart: On Orlando”

Malaysians and international issues

There needs to be a conversation on just how badly Malaysia is in treating modern issues, because as a people we are lagging in dealing with issues faced by the rest of the world.

Firstly, this is not a “support Western standards” post when it comes to highlighting wrongs in Malaysian policies. This will be a piece on how the same issues faced in Malaysia, are similarly found across the world. Continue reading “Malaysians and international issues”

An MOF company without government backed guarantees?

It came as a rather weird revelation today in the The Edge’s Financial Daily that 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) did not have any letter of support for their debts.

In a written reply, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that the Ministry of Finance had no legal obligation to cover 1MDB’s US$3.5 bil bonds to International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) for giving the former US$1 bil last year.

If this is indeed true, then where does the debt stop? Who would in the end be responsible for settling the debt? Continue reading “An MOF company without government backed guarantees?”

The Heat Malaysia – A Civil War Imminent For PKR

A civil war imminent for PKR?By Hafidz Baharom

May 23, 2016 8:00 AM

News has now leaked that PKR’s own heralded whistleblower and secretary general Rafizi Ramli is about to expose graft within their own stronghold of Selangor headed by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali. Apparently, there have now been allegations that demands of cash and women when dealing with the state government.
At the same time, jailed PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has sent out a letter from prison calling the Citizen’s Declaration “flawed and inconsistent” with his idea of reform – for those who may not recall, PKR’s Azmin and Rafizi both signed the document.
Of course, apparently the letter is now said to have been a “private matter” or an internal one for PKR, even if it involved a declaration that involved every opposition party, a few non-government organisations and even some members from across the political aisle.
At the same time, the declaration has now garnered over a million signatories, right before the letter from Anwar was leaked. Perhaps there is a correlation between the two, perhaps not.
PKR President Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had not signed the document, argued by Rafizi to the media as a “safety valve”, just in case the party suddenly found itself no longer supporting the declaration.
Thus, it needs to be asked; is a civil war brewing between factions within the PKR?
At the same time, there are intra-party issues after what happened between the party and allies DAP in Sarawak which may or may not blow over.
But let’s be frank, the Pakatan Harapan no longer has a leader that could guarantee party unity, which was perhaps why some people went to the Citizen’s Declaration launch with placards asking Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed to be made interim Opposition de facto leader.
There would be too much strife between DAP and PKR, internal politicking within the latter as well as the total lack of recognition for Parti Amanah Negara’s ability to rally the Muslim vote. 
However, if a PKR civil war is true and happening, then there truly is a very likely chance that the Opposition will see itself too fractured to get themselves united towards the common goal of forming a proper functioning shadow cabinet, or even winning a general election in the next two years for that matter.
With all that is happening these days – from floods being dealt with ad hoc policies, national audit reports detailing continued leakages from government agencies and more recently, the blocking of anyone who has been critical of the government to leave the nation – one would have expected some suitable reaction by a united opposition calling for better governance.
Unfortunately, we will be stuck between a rock and a hard place, between a rather impertinent government and an Opposition which is unable to coalesce into finally becoming a single entity which would have a chance to run Putrajaya in give or take the next decade.
Chances are, the impertinent one will live on for another two elections simply because the Opposition is stuck in a see-saw of politics – they are unable to control themselves from spiralling out of control whenever they get too close to power.
You could call it arrogance, a total lack of ability in gelling together or just the fact that each and every individual political party within Pakatan Harapan believes at one point or another that sharing power without the ability to rule by a defining majority would be unacceptable.
So, where do we go from here? Can we still expect a united opposition simply for the fact to take over Putrajaya, regardless of how united they are in the past and the future?
Can we simply settle with them for the simple fact that we want to get rid of Umno and Barisan Nasional, regardless of how they run the Federal Government, even if it includes alleged blatant demands of cash and women with the hypocritical call of ending corruption?
I think the Malaysian public should know exactly what they are voting for thoroughly. 

The Malay Mail Online: Can Malaysian families afford a homemaker?

APRIL 29 — In the past week, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) once again raised the issue of how wives joining the workforce would neglect families.

For those who may not know, our labour figures show that 52 per cent of Malaysian women are participating in our workforce these days, with further encouragement by government agencies to increase that number further.

That being said, Isma’s argument is from the rationale that there needs to be someone to care for the family, particularly children require a mother to raise them.

This isn’t the first time they have raised this point and so, we could say their stance has been secure — as is my personal stance. And since the head of Isma’s women’s wing is in fact the daughter of economists, I am certain she understands the argument against women taking a passive role in economics.

It is a valid point to say that someone has to care for the kids, but to say that families need to single out moms as homemaker is wrong, particularly in current day realities where we have single parent families and are stuck in what Massachusetts junior senator Elizabeth Warren has explained as the “two-income trap”.

For the unfamiliar, Warren’s book details how the market was affected with women joining the workforce, thus the prices of assets increased to the point of normalising the need for two breadwinners for each family.

And in Malaysia, the economics of this argument rings true when you have official household incomes averaging more than RM6,000 and yet official wage figures averaging a lot less than that.

In simpler terms, our current economy — household income versus the cost of living — does not make it viable for a single income family to live a prosperous, less challenging life.

Of course, it is a worthy goal to aim for, no less, to have someone as a full-time homemaker, but it also raises multiple questions. For one, I would contend why the government would have to issue out scholarships and student loans to women who refuse to join the workforce since it would be counterproductive.

Unless, of course, Isma advocates wives to then start up cottage industries or micro-businesses for a secondary income stream instead of just depending on husbands to become sole breadwinners.

For myself personally, I believe both genders should be given the same consideration when it comes to parenting responsibilities. If the moms so chooses to join the workforce on flexible hours, then the fathers should receive the same.

Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with giving both parents paternity leave to learn how to care for a newborn.

This is the evolution of society itself these days in which there is no gender stereotyping of who can raise a child and take on the role of homemaker better. We have moved on from the concept of women knowing how to cook and clean while men go out and know how to earn money.

In fact I would contend that even in the history of the state of Kelantan and perhaps Negri Sembilan, for ages those roles were reversed.

But at the same time, if there are those with the belief that they should become dedicated homemakers, that is alright for them to do so as long as it doesn’t impact anyone else. That is basically liberalism — allowing such a choice.

Having been raised in a family where at times there was only a single income stream in the 1990s, even then it was not as easy as it sounds and sacrifices had to be made. And honestly I believe it will be tougher for this current new generation of families who have seen wages not tying up with the cost of living.

That being said, I wouldn’t advocate it in our country for a simple reason — women tend to be more level headed in Malaysia compared to men. We have a higher number of women entering and graduating from tertiary education, proving they’ve outperformed men from an intellectual standpoint.

I would like to see them fight for equal wages, breaking glass ceilings in the corporate world and still having the ability to multitask raising a family while still earning an income worthy of their contributions.

I have seen such women in action with awe, thriving in whatever they choose to do. And it is my personal belief that we need these individuals to lead us into the future back into prosperity.

And while Isma believes that there is no greater calling for married women than to become homemakers, I humbly disagree by believing women and men should have equal opportunities to prove they can be more than their gender stereotypes.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online. – See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/can-malaysian-families-afford-a-homemaker-hafidz-baharom#sthash.HmdI2fer.dpuf

Labour Day: Who keeps this country running?

Today is May 1st, the traditional Labour Day celebration both nationwide and also internationally recognised. For this year’s commemoration, I believe it is important for us to have a proper discussion on who truly keeps this country running.

And of course, this piece would not happen if it hadn’t been for those in our very quiet, very underappreciated statisticians in the civil service – particularly the National Statistics Department headed by Datuk Dr Haji Abdul Rahman Hassan and his team. Continue reading “Labour Day: Who keeps this country running?”