Blog Page 319

The more things change, the more they remain the same in Malaysian politics. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has failed to get a court to strike out a sodomy charge against him, which means the controversial trial that threatens to bump him from politics and land him in prison is set to begin on 25 January.

It will represent the second time Anwar faces charges of sodomy, which is considered a criminal act in Malaysia’s Muslim majority society. This time, he faces charges of sodomizing his 24-year-old former personal aide at a condominium in Kuala Lumpur in mid-2008.

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Nizar Jamaluddin speaks to Penangites at the Caring Society Complex.

Some 700 Penangites attended the talk and hung on to Nizar’s every word – Photos by Jong. (Click on icon on bottom right of box to toggle to full-screen slideshow mode.)

<a href=”;task=viewaltcast&#038;altcast_code=96877bcd0f” mce_href=”;task=viewaltcast&amp;altcast_code=96877bcd0f” >LIVE: Nizar speaks to Penangites</a>

The descendants of settlers from Kwangchow have been waiting a dozen years for the compensation they were promised after they were forced to vacate their family homes along Jalan Raja Uda in Butterworth to make way for a major property development project.

Photos by Anil Netto – click icon on bottom right to toggle to full-screen slideshow mode

Today, their temporary concrete and zinc-roofed homes are rapidly decaying while the elusive agreed compensation – 800 sq ft three-bedroom medium-cost apartments – is nowhere in sight.

Since the mid-1990s, over 300 households scattered over 50 acres have lost their family homes to the Raja Uda Commercial Centre project in Butterworth. This project comprises rows of new shophouses, each priced at between RM500,000 to RM1 million, fronting both sides of a one-kilometre stretch of Jalan Raja Uda towards the intersection with Jalan Telaga Air/Jalan Siram.

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When Aliran put up an article on workers’ rights on its website, little did it expect a string of queries on some of the common problems that workers across the country face.

These queries reflect the lack of education they receive on their rights as employees. They also indicates the low level of unionisation among Malaysian workers (only a small minority are trade union members) and our relatively weak labour and union protection laws.

So if you readers have the answers and could share with us, I am sure many workers in similar difficult situations would be grateful. Or if you have an exploitative situation or a violation of workers’ rights at your own workplace, why not share with us as well?

Noor Aini – Dr | |2008-12-30 12:41:45

Can an employer make it a regulation that all employees must pay their income tax thru’ PCB and manage tax calculation for the employees automatically every mth?

For a long time, activists had believed that rainforests in the vast northwest Borneo state of Sarawak were being logged unsustainably, rapidly making way for tree (acacia) plantations, oil palm plantations, dams and secondary growth. But few listened.

Their position was confirmed when the country’s auditor-general presented to Parliament in October its 2008 annual report criticising forestry management in Malaysia’s largest state as “unsatisfactory”. The Sarawak state authorities have denied the auditor-general’s findings.

Many of us would think that the concern about hill-slope degradation in Penang and warnings of climate change are a fairly new development which began in the 1980s and 1990s.

jamesloganWrong. James Richardson Logan – the man who coined the name ‘Indonesia’ and who is honoured at the Logan Memorial outside the Penang High Court and buried in the nearby Protestant Cemetery – expressed such concern in the mid-19th century in the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, which he edited. The brilliant Logan, who was ahead of his time, was a member of the Asiatic Society, corresponding member of the Ethnological Society of London and of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences.

Here are some excerpts from the Journal Vol II, printed in 1848:

It was remarked that the whole of the eastern front of the range [of a mountain in Pinang] has within a few years been denuded of its forest…. In Singapore the present zealous Governor has, in an enlightened spirit … absolutely prohibited the further destruction of forests on the summits of hills…. Climate concerns the whole community and its protection from injury is one of the duties of Government….

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The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has reportedly detected government projects in Sarawak where up to 60 per cent of the funding was diverted.

“Based on the investigations the Sarawak MACC carried out on specific and real cases (projects), only about 40 per cent of the allocations were spent while the remaining 60 per cent is ‘bocor’ (leaked out),” MACC deputy chief commissioner (prevention) Zakaria Jaffar was quoted as saying.

These projects included roads, low-cost houses and mosques.

A group of rich Germans has launched a petition calling for higher taxes on the rich to help their country recover from its economic crisis.

The campaign – “Vermoegende für eine Vermoegensabgabe” (Wealthy people in favour of a wealth tax) – proposes a five per cent wealth tax for two years followed by a reduction to one per cent for those with a personal fortune of more than 500,000 euros (US$750,000).

This is in sharp contrast to Malaysia’s move over the years to a regressive taxation model – reducing taxes for corporations and the rich, and now shifting the tax burden to the larger public, including the low-income group (currently exempted from income tax), through a new Goods and Services Tax (GST). Corporate tax has been progressively reduced from 40 per cent in 1988 to 26 per cent now, and now GST will be imposed probably at 4 per cent – for a start.