Archive for September 27th, 2007

Malaysia should support suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN/UN if there is another 1988 bloodbath in Burma

The Myanmar military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful protests in Burma has started with unconfirmed reports of several deaths and hundreds of arrests.

The Myanmese military junta is also shutting off communication with the outside world, closing Internet and telephone links, which through blogs and cell phone videos of the latest developments, had been the main source of information of what is happening in Burma to the outsides world.

Malaysia and ASEAN leaders must be in the international forefront to condemn the violent crackdown of monks-led peaceful protests in Burma and even to support suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN and United Nations if there is a repeat of the 1988 bloodbath where thousands were massacred.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said in the United Nations yesterday that Malaysia does not believe in imposing economic sanctions against Myanmar as this will not affect the targeted group but will usually hurt ordinary citizens more.

He said any hard or aggressive action would be counter-productive at this stage.

He said: “We think the best way of resolving the issue is to get the constitutional process on track, to get the reconciliation going.”

It is time for Syed Hamid and all ASEAN leaders to stop such platitudes and respond in a responsible and statemanlike manner to the Burmese crisis, with Burma on the cusp of another 1988 bloodbath. Read the rest of this entry »


Lingam Tape – “Unbecoming, irregular, improper” characterise latest developments

“Unbecoming, irregular and improper” are three adjectives which best characterize government and Independent Panel responses in the latest developments on the Lingam Tape scandal.

It was the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who was doubly “unbecoming” in launching a tirade against the Bar Council and Malaysian lawyers for their historic march for justice yesterday from the Palace of Justice to the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya despite unwarranted police obstructions and in dismissing the Bar Council’s memorandum to the Prime Minister calling for a Judicial Appointment Commission.

Nazri had alleged that the lawyers’ march in Putrajaya yesterday was “unbecoming” while proclaiming: “There is no crisis in our judiciary. No crisis, no problems. I don’t seen any scandal.”

What makes Nazri think it is beneath the station of lawyers to be involved in a march for justice?

The 2,000 lawyers and supporters of the cause of justice have done themselves and the nation and the 50th Merdeka anniversary proud in the March for Justice in Putrajaya yesterday, in the true tradition of the great marches in the struggle of humanity for justice and freedom, like Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930 to help free India from British colonial rule and Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Freedom in 1963 which culminated in his electrifying speech “I Have A Dream”.

Gandhi and Martin Luther King are now recognized by history and mankind for their great marches while their detractors, the Nazris of their era, have been forgotten!

It is also most unbecoming of Nazri to arrogate to himself the powers of the Prime Minister to dismiss offhand the Bar Council’s memorandum to the Prime Minister calling for a Judicial Appointments Commission or has Nazri been authorized to usurp the powers of the Prime Minister? Read the rest of this entry »


Amendment to Employment Act

by Raymond Lim
Petaling Jaya

I refer to the recent statement by the Minister for Human Resources, Dato’ Dr. Chan Fong Onn that the back-dated wages will be limited to 24 months in cases of wrongful dismissal by employers under the proposed
amendments to the Employment Act.

The Minister justified the proposed amendment by referring to Practice Note No. 1/1987 which was introduced by the Industrial Court on the said 24 months limitation. Practice Note No.1/1987 on 24 months cap on backdated wages created some confusion. Several Industrial Court decisions applied the 24 months limitation. However, many did not do so on the basis that it is merely a practice note but not legally binding and by doing so, they sought to give more protection to employees from unscrupulous employers.

It is instructive for Members of Parliament to note that the Federal Court, in one of its landmark decisions, had ruled that the “right to live” under the Federal Constitution included the “right to livelihood”. For this reason, many decisions in the Industrial Court took judicial notice of this ruling in their decisions and declined to follow Practice Note No. 1/1987 when dealing with wrongful dismissal cases involving breach of natural justice, mala fide, victimization or unfair labour practice. Put in a nutshell, Practice Note No.1/1987 will not achieve the said ruling of the said Federal Court, the highest Court in the land. As a matter of fact, Practice Note No.1/1987 should be withdrawn by the Industrial Court.

In this letter, I will submit that it is extremely unwise for our Government to approve the said amendment to the Employment Act.

By way of introduction, in the case of wrongful dismissal by an employer, the Industrial Court will order a reinstatement of the employee and payment of back-dated wages from the date of wrongful dismissal to the date of judgment. Since the hearing at the Industrial Court may take place 3-5 years later or even longer, the amount of back-dated wages can be a substantial amount. If the employer-employee relationship is such that it is no longer possible to be continued, the Industrial Court will order the employer to pay one month’s salary for every year of service in lieu of reinstatement.

As a lawyer for close to 20 years, I have encountered countless cases wherein employers were extremely high handed when handling the dismissal of employees. Such high-handedness borders on total disregard to the livelihood of employees, especially employees who have been loyal to their organizations and had given the best years of their lives to their employers. Most wronglful dismissals arose because many unconscionable employers simply have no respect for employees as human beings or have scant regard for the due process of natural justice. In many cases, employees were transferred to branches far away merely to make them resign or subjected to other forms of victimization or unfair labour practice. Against this background, it is therefore not surprising that the industrial relations law and the industrial courts are protecting the welfare of employees, much to the chagrin of employers. Read the rest of this entry »