Sarawak air quality hits hazardous levels as forest fires rage

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Sarawak’s forests are renowned for being home to eight out of the world’s 54 species of hornbills and the fires in Miri are likely to last a week. – Reuters file pic, February 22, 2016.

Sarawak’s forests are renowned for being home to eight out of the world’s 54 species of hornbills and the fires in Miri are likely to last a week. – Reuters file pic, February 22, 2016.

Forest fires spread more than 202ha in the north of Sarawak have raised air pollution to hazardous levels today in areas close to the inferno, government data showed.

The fires have spurred an emergency response from the state Fire and Rescue Department, which is at the same time scrambling to manage nearly 8,000 people displaced by floods in Sarawak’s southern region as of this morning, according to national news agency Bernama.

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Why rehire, arrest illegal foreign workers at the same time, asks Tenaganita

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Tenaganita says foreign workers fear that they will be arrested if their application under the rehiring programme is unsuccessful. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 22, 2016.

Why is the government promoting the rehiring of undocumented foreign workers while going on a massive scale of arrest and deportation exercise, rights group Tenaganita asked today.

Its director, Aegile Fernandez, said this would only cause undocumented foreign workers to stay away from registering under the rehiring programme for fear they would be arrested if their application was unsuccessful.

Putrajaya embarked on the Rehiring Programme for Illegal Workers on February 15, to run untill December 31, with the objective of legalising foreign workers and assess the actual number of workers needed by industries.

Employers who have hired undocumented foreign labour, would have to pay RM1,200 to legalise each worker.

Fernandez told The Malaysian Insider today that Tenaganita had been receiving calls from employers and migrants who were concerned that workers would be arrested if they were not accepted under the programme. Read more

Bersih 4 t-shirt ban underestimates people’s wisdom – Khoo Ying Hooi

Source: The Malaysian Insider

BY KHOO YING HOOI

Last week, the Shah Alam High Court upheld the government’s decision to ban Bersih 4 t-shirts and related printed materials. The decision comes after Bersih 4 organisers filed a judicial review against the government’s ban on the yellow Bersih 4 t-shirts.

In his judgment, Judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa said that the order by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was valid, as the minister had the discretion to make such decisions on the basis of preserving the peace in a multi-racial country like Malaysia.

I quote, “The minister has taken the relevant consideration in making the said order. I take judicial notice that Malaysia is multi-racial and multi-religious, thus puts a heavy responsibility to the minister to maintain and preserve peace, notwithstanding the Federal Constitution confers rights of assembly (and) freedom of expression. Read more

Putrajaya hiding truth about foreign worker recruitment, says MTUC

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) says Putrajaya’s recent U-turn on the hiring of 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers shows that it is not telling the whole truth. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 22, 2016.

Putrajaya’s recent statement that Malaysia would not take in all 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers proved it was not telling the whole truth on the issue, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) said today.

“The only question came to our mind was why the sudden U-turn in the government’s stand.

“The latest statement clearly shows that government is not telling the true picture about recruitment of foreign workers,” the trade union federation said in a statement.

MTUC was referring to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot’s statement that the 1.5 million figure was the number of workers registered with Bangladesh authorities to be sent to different countries. Read more

Kumpulan hak asasi antarabangsa gesa universiti Malaysia henti halang mahasiswa bersuara

Sumber: The Malaysian Insider

A group of Universiti Malaya students protesting campus authorities' clampdown on free speech in July 2014. Human Rights Watch Asia says local varsities should encourage debate among students. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 22, 2016.

A group of Universiti Malaya students protesting campus authorities’ clampdown on free speech in July 2014. Human Rights Watch Asia says local varsities should encourage debate among students. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 22, 2016.

Universiti di Malaysia digesa menghentikan penggunaan tindakan disiplin untuk menghalang mahasiswa bersuara dan mengehadkan perdebatan, kata kumpulan hak asasi berpangkalan di New York Human Rights Watch (HRW) susulan kes 6 pelajar didapati bersalah kerana mengadakan sidang media tanpa kebenaran.

Timbalan Pengarah HRW Asia Phil Robertson berkata, universiti sepatutnya menjadi medan untuk perbincangan terbuka dan perdebatan.

“Pelajar tidak wajar didenda kerana bersuara secara aman di bawah penguatkuasaan disiplin universiti,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan hari ini. Read more

Citing justice, Shariah court says will wait for Federal Court’s decision on Kassim Ahmad

Source: The Malay Mail Online

In March 2014, Kassim was charged at the Shariah High Court in Putrajaya with insulting Islam and defying religious authorities at a seminar in February that was officiated by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. — File pic

In March 2014, Kassim was charged at the Shariah High Court in Putrajaya with insulting Islam and defying religious authorities at a seminar in February that was officiated by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. — File pic

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 22 — The Putrajaya Shariah court said today it will defer its ruling on whether to drop Muslim intellectual Kassim Ahmad’s charges of insulting Islam and defying religious authorities until a final decision by the Federal Court is reached.

Putrajaya Syariah High Court judge Azzeman Omar noted that both the civil High Court and Court of Appeal have given their respective decisions in Kassim’s case, with the former favouring Islamic prosecutors and the latter favouring Kassim, but the Federal Court has yet to dispose of the matter.

“Therefore, the court finds that all decisions made before this — whether in the High Court or Court of Appeal, there is no final decision yet.

“Therefore, for the sake of justice, the court postpones the decision until the case at the Federal Court is decided,” he said. Read more

Close to 8,000 in Sarawak flood relief centres

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The number of flood victims in Sarawak has risen to 7,931 comprising 2,033 families, compared to 5,769 from 1,527 families, last night.

Sarawak Civil Defence officer Siti Huzaimah Ibrahim said the number of relief centres also been increased to 47, from 31 yesterday.

As of 6am today, the Kuching Division has opened 24 relief centres in Kuching district compared to eight last night, and nine in Bau district.

Seven relief centres remained open in Serian district and one in Padawan district, while six remained open in Kota Samarahan district.

Siti Huzaimah said weather had improved as of this morning, compared to the last three days. – Bernama, February 22, 2016.

Pertimbangan akal tewaskan rasa takut Azmi Sharom

Sumber: The Malaysian Insider

Pensyarah undang-undang Prof Madya Dr Azmi Sharom yang didakwa mengikut Akta Hasutan mengakui sangat takut tetapi mengatasi perasaan itu dengan terus berjuang memberi ceramah dan menyertai forum. – Gambar The Malaysian Insider oleh Seth Akmal, 22 Februari, 2016.

Biarpun selama ini lantang mengkritik, pensyarah undang-undang Prof Madya Dr Azmi Sharom mengakui beliau berasa sangat takut ketika pertama kali didakwa mengikut Akta Hasutan 1948, 2 tahun lalu, yang boleh menyebabkan hukuman penjara.

Azmi bimbang dipecat dari Universiti Malaya (UM), sebuah universiti awam yang pasti akan memaksa beliau meletak jawatan sebagai pensyarah kanan jika disabitkan atas kesalahan jenayah.

Namun, pensyarah berusia 44 tahun itu mengatasi ketakutan itu.

Walaupun berdepan dakwaan, beliau terus menganjurkan ceramah dan mengambil bahagian dalam forum di mana beliau akan memberikan pandangan mengenai undang-undang dan hak asasi di Malaysia.

“Hasutan satu jenayah. Dan saya bekerja di sebuah universiti awam. Kerana itu, satu jenayah, tidak kira betapa zalimnya undang-undang itu, pasti akan menjadi alasan untuk mereka memecat saya jika mereka mahu,” katanya. Read more

Scarred by trafficking abuses, Rohingyas stay put in Myanmar camps

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Waves of Rohingya Muslims have escaped sectarian violence and apartheid-like conditions in Myanmar in recent years. – Reuters pic, February 22, 2016.

After Husaina’s 20-year-old son boarded a boat to escape poverty and discrimination in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, she heard nothing from him for seven months.

Then, in a shocking phone call, she was told the young Rohingya Muslim was in the hands of people smugglers in Thailand, and had fallen severely ill. The only way for him to be released was to somehow find the money to pay a ransom.

“The man said: ‘If you don’t pay money, he will die… I was so upset. How did he get into the hands of the brokers? How did he become so ill?'” she said, sitting in her dank and crumbling one-room temporary home in Thet Kel Pyin displacement camp, a few kilometres from the Rakhine state capital of Sittwe. Read more