Friday, February 13, 2009

Inhumanity in Sri Damansara

I saw these similar situations in Dubai.

Inhumanity in Sri Damansara
LOCKED AND NO ROOM TO SLEEP: About 140 workers are stranded and jobless and placed in a shophouse unit at Bandar Sri DamansaraImagine this i f you can: 140 Bangladeshi workers are living, locked up, in a two-room, 1,000 sq ft apartment — usually a size that is home to a Malaysian family of four or less.

Their hostel (at least that’s what it is called) is a third-floor shophouse unit in Bandar Sri Damansara.

A visit to the “workers’ hostel” operated by Gateway Saujana Corporation Bhd at Jalan Cempaka SD/12/1, Persiaran Cempaka, revealed a horror house.

Even from the doorway, the heat and body odour generated by the 140 was palpable. Clearly, the windows were hardly enough to allow sufficient air circulation.

They share one toilet in the twobedroom unit. There are no beds; they are forced to sleep on the bare floor huddled up against each other.

“The situation has become worse since the gates were locked yesterday,” said Mohd Ashraffudin, 32, speaking in broken Bahasa Malaysia. “Previously, some of us could sleep on the staircaseoutside the unit. Now, we are forced to simply cram together or take turns sleeping.”

Food is also a problem. A woman would stop by every two days to supply rice and provisions. “We have to cook the food ourselves and, depending on the amount given, we sometimes have only one meal a day,” he added.

“I can’t even go out to pray since yesterday as the gate is locked,” complained Taffisurin, 27, who has been there for two months. “This is not the way to treat us as we have rights as well.”

While the Malay Mail photographer was taking pictures, a couple and a few other men arrived. They shouted furiously, pushed us and demanded that we leave immediately.

Escorting us out of the building, the angry group closed the ground floor entrance where six burly men then stood guard.

Complaints Bureau to visit workers
After being alerted to this foreign workers' plight, representatives from the Public Complaints Bureau under the Prime Minister's Department will be visiting this horrific "workers' hostel" in Bandar Sri Damansara at 10am today.

The group will be led by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator T. Murugiah, who also heads the bureau.

Meanwhile , Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said the Manpower Department would take legal action against the company for violating several conditions in the hiring of foreign workers.

He said the company, Gateway Saujana Corporation Sdn Bhd, was alleged to have not paid the salary of 74 workers from Bangladesh and also for failing to report to the authority on its recruitment of foreign workers.

"The work permits of some of the foreign workers expire tomorrow (today)," he said in a statement.

Officers from the Manpower Department and Immigration Department, who went to see the workers at their lodging, found that they were not paid their salaries, he added.

Human rights groups from within the country and abroad have long accused Malaysia of mistreating millions of foreign workers living here.

However, Foreign Affairs Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa yesterday said in Geneva that foreign workers are accorded the same rights as locals.

Going back not an option
February 13, 2009 Categories: News

Despite living in atrocious conditions, the 140 Bangladeshis kept “captive” in the “workers’ hostel” in Bandar Sri Damansara are reluctant to be repatriated to their home country.

“Each one of us had either borrowed a lot of money, sold our valuables or even sold houses to raise enough funds to work here in Malaysia,” said Mohd Ashraffudin, 32.

“Going back now will only make things worse for us and our families.”

He explained that many had raised between RM20,000 and RM50,000 to pay the middlemen who had promised them lucrative jobs here.

However, upon arrival, there were none of the promised jobs, said Mohd Ashraffudin, who had been living in a shophouse the past five months. He said some individuals there had been in Malaysia for as long as one year.

“As soon as I reached Malaysia three months ago, I was placed here and I did not have the opportunity to learn the language,” said Ashref, 21, who spoke through his friend who managed to speak a bit of Bahasa Malaysia.

It is learnt that all those forced to live in this “workers’ hostel” had no permanent jobs. Ever so often, some would be sent to work at a construction site for a few weeks, and would be returned to the unit once the stint was over.

Worse, some would not even see their wages and, as all their passports and work permits were held by the employment agency, these Bangladeshis are unable to seek employment elsewhere.

“We just want jobs and earn a living so that we can go back home and help our poor families,” said Mohd Ashraffudin.

Slumdog, scumdogs, underdogs, top dogs and hot dogs in Malaysia dog-eat-dog politics

I have to admit that I love this Slumdog Millionaire movie and this ‘fluke’ movie continues to rock. It is amazing that unlike most movies in this genre and class, it has had a dream run at the box office as well as managed to capture the imagination of stuffy critics. After winning five Critics’ Choice Awards and four Golden Globes, the movie has bagged seven out of 11 Bafta awards. 

Along the way, this young composer, AR Rahman has become the first Indian to win both Golden Globe and Bafta. And there’s more than a reasonable chance that the whiz kid will cap his rhapsody with the Oscars. So will the other men and women behind the phenomenon of Slumdog Millionaire. 
The movie has landed itself 10 Oscar nominations, another feat for an Indian movie.

This is a rare moment of pride for the world’s largest democracy and all that it celebrates and epitomises. 
A billion plus Indians are justifiably proud of this historic success of their own. Even cynics amongst those Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) here in the UAE cannot resist joining 
in the celebrations. 
Me too feel good about this underdog phenomenon as I love to see the real heroes come out to beat those evil doers

As in reality, the rags to riches story of a Muslim boy growing up in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum, could be a metaphor for modern India. Like Jamal the young protagonist, the country dreams big and thinks king size despite its myriad limitations and issues. It’s a land where anything is possible, just as Jamal’s 
impossible windfall on a television game show inspired by Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

I would say in India or anywhere else, including our beloved tanahair, open, honest and often ruthless competition can ensure only the best, la crème de la crème, survive in the race. Muslims do well in the Bollywood because it’s still a fair and even field out there. They do not have to battle impossible quotas based on caste or inherent biases and prejudices of a system that barely tolerates them.

As a Muslim from one of the poorest and most squalid neighbourhoods in the country, Jamal is the ultimate underdog. Yet he takes on and beats the system. The Indian Muslims or Malaysian Muslims will have to learn from Jamal and the never-say-die-spirit of resilience that his character embodies if they really want to change their lot. It’s not enough for them to be good. They will have to be better than the best to win.

Therefore, Slumdog Millionaire reminds me of those scumdogs, underdogs, top dogs, old dogs and hot dogs in Malaysia dog-eat-dog politics especially in the United Malays National Organisation ‘circus’, as the most corrupt political party, if not in the world, it is in Malaysia.

The situation is not different from George Orwell’s Animal Farm that ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS!

Derhaka sebagai hukum adat yang kurafat

Seorang rakyat Malaysia yang berhijrah ke UAE sewaktu Mahathir jadi PM memberitahu bagaimana beliau terkejut melihat bagaimana rakyat biasa menemui Presiden UAE dan raja Abu Dhabi, aruah Sheikh Zayed.

Dia terkejut kerana rakyat yang datang tiada pula membuat ‘mohon sembah’ dengan mengangkat tangan. Rakyat sekadar salam atau berpeluk dan gesel hidung sebagai budaya Arab.

Lantas rakyat Malaysia berketurunan Cina itu bertanya dirinya sendiri, “Yang mana satu ajaran Islam? Cara menyembah raja di Malaysia atau cara orang Arab bertemu raja yang langsung tiada protokol?”

Dari apa yang dilihat membuat rakyat Malaysia yang masih menetap di UAE itu (sudah 28 tahun) mahu tahu mengenai Islam dan memeluk Islam sekeluarga kemudiannya! Isinya di sini, adat kita dalam mengadap atau menyembah raja barangkali termasuk dalam hukum haram.

Sewaktu saya bertandang ke Mesir dan melihat kesan-kesan sejarah Firaun, memang Allah mahu kita belajar dari sejarah dengan tidak melupuskan kehebatan raja Mesir kuno itu. Memang hebat para Firaun sehingga mereka mati beribu tahun, kita masih terpaksa tunduk untuk masuk ke kubur mereka!

Lantas teringat juga kata-kata aruah ayah, yang pernah menjadi khadi dan pernah enggan untuk naik pangkat kerana tidak mahu mengikut telunjuk raja. Aruah pernah berkata kepada saya dalam bercerita mengenai kariernya sebagai khadi, “zaman dulu, siapa jahatlah yang jadi raja...bukan yang paling baik!”

Dalam sistem feudal Melayu, perkataan-perkataan seperti baginda, santap, titah, semayam, derhaka, beradu, bersiram dsbnya hanyalah sekadar untuk membedakan raja dengan rakyat. Apa yang dilakukan sama sahaja. Kalau berak masih mencangkung. Raja dalam apapun definisi, adalah manusia biasa, maka tidak pasti ada perkataan lain untuk berak, kentut dsbnya bagi perbuatan raja.

Dalam isu derhaka yang didakwa oleh United Malays National Organisation kepada Nizar, mungkin ada beza antara derhaka kepada raja dan derhaka kepada keputusan raja yang tidak adil.
Bukankah pepatah Melayu sendiri ada berkata, Raja adil raja disembah (ini pun tidak betul...sembah...hanya Allah yang boleh disembah), raja adil raja disanggah.

Malah kalau derhaka diganti dengan perkatan lain seperti ingkar, tidak bersetuju dan enggan pun masih boleh digunakan. Cuma United Malays National Organisation mahu menutup tahi mereka setelah menggulingkan kerajaan Perak melalui pintu belakang dengan memperkudakan raja.

Raja melayu tidak sehebat raja Arab, India, Cina, Inggeris, Sepanyol mahupun Firaun, begitupun raja-raja Melayu masih diperlukan sebagai sisa simbol kuasa yang sudah dihakis oleh Mahathir dan United Malays National Organisation dalam tahun 80han dahulu.

Walauapapun kata mufti Perak dan pemimpin serta balaci United Malays National Organisation, menghukum orang lain derhaka juga boleh dianggap kurafat tanpa mengadilinya secara saksama, kalau sekadar bertempik dalam media kepunyaan sendiri dan membuat lapuran polis yang dibawah telunjuk...itu bukan jantan, kalau jantan adakan semula pilihanraya!

Itu pendapat 2 fils (sen) saya.

Lelaki Melayu Bernama Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah