Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

Speaker says did not see middle finger gesture due to eye problem

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun (pic) says he is unable to make a ruling on allegations that a deputy minister had showed the middle finger towards Opposition MPs in the House on Tuesday (Dec 1).

Azhar explained that he is still unsure on the details, despite going through videos of the alleged incident that have since gone viral.

The Speaker said he did not make an official ruling on the incident on Tuesday as he was unclear about the situation.

“I honestly did not see what happened because I am having some problems with my eyesight.

“I even asked the deputy minister to explain and he denied showing such gestures.

“I also saw the videos that went viral many times, even in slow motion, but I am still unable to tell if (the alleged gesture) happened or not.

“My decision is, I cannot determine if the incident did take place or not,” said Azhar in reply to Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) who asked if the ruling made by the Speaker on Tuesday was final.

Azhar said those who are unhappy with the alleged actions by Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Willie Mongin could write a motion to refer him to the Rights and Privileges Committee for him to defend himself.

“I truthfully cannot determine if this incident took place or not, although there are differing arguments from both sides of the House on this issue,” said Azhar.

Some Opposition lawmakers said Azhar should watch the Dewan’s CCTV footage, to which, the Speaker said he has done so.

“I watched the CCTV but it was from the back so I couldn’t see it clearly,” he said.

Khoo then said he has a clear video of the alleged incident and would happily show that to the Speaker.

Azhar then invited Khoo to come to his office later so he can look at it as well.

Datin Paduka Dr Tan Yee Kew (PH-Wangsa Maju) also interjected and said she witnessed Mongin’s alleged gestures clearly.

“I am sitting right in front of Puncak Borneo (Mongin), I saw it very clearly,” she said.

Azhar said he needs to determine all the facts in order for him to make a decision.

“Both sides are saying different things so I need to look into this.

“Kota Melaka, thank you for volunteering, please come and see me later,” said Azhar.

On Tuesday, Parliament descended into chaos following Mongin’s gesture towards Opposition MPs in the House after a bloc vote was called.

The issue began right after bloc voting was called in the House as MPs from both sides of the political divide then started taunting each other before having their microphones muted.

Pakatan Harapan MPs could be heard chanting “pengkhianat” (traitor), while banging on their respective tables.

It was at that point that Mongin had allegedly showed the middle finger.

Several Opposition lawmakers demanded that Mongin apologise to the House.

Azhar had then asked Mongin if he had made the alleged gesture.

In response, Mongin denied that he showed the middle finger in the House, saying that MPs might have mislooked.


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13 metric tons of medical waste pile up in Sabah daily

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
Sabah Covid-19 spokesperson Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the medical waste originates from, among others, 45 quarantine centres scattered throughout the state. - NSTP/ AVILA GERALDINESabah Covid-19 spokesperson Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the medical waste originates from, among others, 45 quarantine centres scattered throughout the state. – NSTP/ AVILA GERALDINE

KOTA KINABALU: Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, a waste disposal contractor in Sabah has the unenviable task of disposing of six to 13 metric tons of clinical waste daily.

Sabah Covid-19 spokesperson Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the medical waste originates from, among others, 45 quarantine centres scattered throughout the state.

This is based on daily monitoring conducted by the state’s Department of Environment’s (DoE) waste disposal contractor, Sedafiat Sdn Bhd, since the outbreak in March.

Masidi noted that Sedafiat is the only company licensed by the state DoE to treat and dispose of medical waste throughout Sabah.

“From inspections, there is an increase in clinical waste due to the spike in Covid-19 cases in the state.

“To expedite the disposal of the clinical waste, the state government ensures the management of clinical waste carried out by the company is in accordance with existing guidelines,” he said during an online press conference here, today.

He noted that the company is required to adhere to the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005, Guidelines on the Handling and Management of Clinical Wastes in Malaysia, and prescribed standard operating procedures.

Masidi was responding to a question on whether the state government is monitoring medical waste management by the company, based in the Lok Kawi industrial area, following public complaints that clinical waste is piling up at their compounds and along road shoulders.

He stressed that the state government has also ordered the company to expedite the construction of an incinerator in Sabah, adding that the state DoE has also given the green light for the company to dispose of clinical waste by sending it for treatment in Peninsular Malaysia.

“The Ministry of Health (MoH) has been asked to inform the port authority as well as customs authority to facilitate and expedite the shipment of these clinical waste containers for immediate treatment.

“The company was also instructed to find a more effective clinical waste packaging method to speed up the loading of jumbo bags containing clinical waste into containers and reduce the accumulation of clinical waste outside its premises,” he said.

Today, Sabah registered 326 new Covid-19 cases and one death, while 2,214 patients are still receiving treatment.

Masidi noted that 459 patients had recovered and were discharged from hospitals in Sabah today, bringing the cumulative number of cured cases to 25,567 people.

When asked about the treatment period of a recovered patient in Sabah, he said the shortest period was 10 days.

“Those undergoing treatment for a longer period are usually due to existing health problem factors such as kidney disease, heart disease and so on.

“Patients with chronic diseases like these are likely to require ventilator and dialysis during treatment as a result of complications that arise,” he said.

By Avila Geraldine.

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Immigration officers arrest a big blow to country

Monday, November 30th, 2020
This Nov 27 pic shows three Immigration Dept officers being led by MACC officers at the Putrajaya Courts Complex. This Nov 27 pic shows three Immigration Dept officers being led by MACC officers at the Putrajaya Courts Complex.

Recent media reports on Ops Selat (a sting operation carried out by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in collaboration with the Immigration Department) and the 2020 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report on Malaysia by the US State Department (available online) leads me to conclude that our Immigration officers – responsible for keeping our borders safe – are complicit in the global crime of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

The media reports stated that MACC had busted a criminal syndicate involved in human trafficking and migrant smuggling with the arrest of 46 suspects, including 27 Immigration Department officers. They were arrested in several locations including Putrajaya, Selangor, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.

The syndicate had been operating at our nation’s exit and entry points – KLIA, klia2, and the Sultan Ismail Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) complex building in Johor Baru. Informed sources told the media that the syndicate had two modus operandi:

First, syndicate agents would assist foreign workers who entered the country on social visas (but were working illegally in bars and massage centres) by collecting their passports and have them stamped (by immigration offices) to indicate that they had left the country after three months and had then re-entered legally.

Second, the syndicate members would arrange a “special counter” (manned by Immigration officers working in collusion with the syndiate) for migrants who had been blacklisted for immigration offences. They would be processed at these counters and be allowed entry.

By November 21, the number of suspects arrested had increased to 53 people, including 33 Immigration officers. According to a media report yesterday (29 November), the total number of suspects nabbed under Ops Selat is 65 people – comprising 39 Immigration officers, 17 agents and 9 members of the public.

In July 2020, two Immigration officers, including an assistant director, were among five people charged in court with multiple counts of migrant smuggling. They were accused of smuggling in eight Indonesian migrants at the Pasir Gudang ferry terminal on June 15, 2020. The charges were under section 26A of Act 670.

In January 2017, the then Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali told the media that a passport fee scam that cost the department more than RM1 million in Selangor alone was only small part of much larger corruption in the agency.

Human trafficking is a modern slavery, affecting over 40 million men, women, and children trapped in a web of forced labor, sexual exploitation, and coerced marriage, now the second most lucrative crime in the world, generating more than US$150 billion a year. About 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Malaysia is not only a country of destination, but also a country of origin and a transit country.

According to the 2020 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report for Malaysia, issued by the US State Department: “The Government of Malaysia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” although it is making “significant efforts to do so”. The government also “did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts” compared to the previous year (2019).

The TIP Report in its final paragraph, concludes: “Corrupt immigration officials facilitate trafficking by accepting bribes from brokers and smugglers at border crossings, including at airports. Some government officials profit from bribes and direct involvement in extortion from and exploitation of migrants.


Malaysia is now placed at Tier Two, The Watch List, for the third consecutive year – a position we cannot be proud of. If the situation does not improve soon, Malaysia may drop to the lowest ranking (Tier 3), with Afghanistan, Algeria, Burma, Burundi, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Venezuela.

It leaves me wondering whether our Anti-Trafficking In Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (Act 670) has any bite at all. Under section 12 of the Act, the offence of trafficking in persons is punishable with the prison term of 15 years. If the offence is committed by means of threat, abduction, fraud, deception or abuse of power, the penalty is 20 years imprisonment.

The irony is that Malaysia was aiming to reach the top spot (Tier 1) by 2020. Taking into account the arrests, it was perhaps mere wishful thinking.

By Salleh Buang.

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2,000kg garbage collected in trash for food program

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

NGO volunteers exchanging food baskets for garbage bags during the program on Pulau Gaya.

KOTA KINABALU: Two thousand kilograms (2,000 kg) of garbage collected from Pulau Gaya have been exchanged for food baskets, in a unique program organised by NGOs and private companies from Kota Kinabalu.

The ‘Trash 4 Food’ program saw 463 families in Pulau Gaya collect two tons or 2,000 kg of garbage from the island for the past couple of days.

Persatuan Skuad Komuniti Prihatin Sabah (KPS) chairman  Mohd Taufik Ismail said the  Misi Jelajah Kasih Pulau Gaya program is an initiative by nine NGOs, private companies and individuals  from Kota Kinabalu.

“The idea of turning garbage bags into food baskets was a joint collaboration by NGOs, private companies and individuals involved in the program.

“Apart from giving food baskets, our main aim is to educate the community to always maintain a clean and healthy environment both on land and sea.

“We choose Pulau Gaya for this program as the island has six villages, namely  Kampung Siasih, Kg Bas-Bas, Kg Lodnongan, Kg Lok Baru, Kg Pasir Putih and Kg Pondo.

“When they give us a garbage bag, we will repay them with a food basket. This is also another way for us to help City Hall in collecting garbage from Pulau Gaya in the hopes that the island will be free from garbage,” he said when met during the program in Pulau Gaya yesterday.

Mohd Taufik said about 400 sacks, 25 kg per sack, of garbage were collected in the program, which brings the total to two tons or  2,000 kg of garbage collected.

A total of 30 volunteers representing the nine NGOs were also involved in the program.

The nine NGOs are Persatuan Skuad Komuniti Prihatin Sabah, Amanah Hawi AlKhairat Sabah, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) Sabah, Yayasan Ikram Malaysia, Sahabat Amal Care, Helping Orang Pedalaman (HOPe), Malaysia For Syria Care, Majlis Belia Sabah and Global Peace Malaysia.

Majlis Perkhidmatan Masyarakat Sabah also donated 1,000  sheets of fabric face masks  to the families involved in yesterday’s program.

Others that made donations were  Jetsin Sdn Bhd  which donated 1.4 tonnes of chicken, K2 company donated isotonic and energy drinks and City Hall (DBKK) provided  personal protective equipment (PPE).

Also present were Kota Kinabalu deputy police chief Superintendent George Abdul Rakman and  Jetsin Sdn Bhd Managing Director Koh Chung Jade.

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Party’s over: Cops break up private party, arrest 19 in Serdang

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

Serdang OCPD ACP Razali Abu Samah looking at some of the suspects arrested after police raided a private party at Seri Kembangan on Friday night.

SERI KEMBANGAN: Police arrested eight local men and 11 Vietnamese women who were holding a private party at an abandoned spa at Persiaran Serdang Perdana.

Serdang OCPD Asst Comm Razali Abu Samah said police personnel raided the premises at around 11.30pm on Friday (Nov 27) and added that those arrested would also be slapped with RM1,000 compounds for violating the conditional movement control order (MCO).

“They walked into the premises and knew something was amiss, as the air-conditioning system was turned on but no one was there. We also found a bucket containing alcoholic beverages in one of the rooms,” he said.

ACP Razali added that the police at the scene began knocking on walls, looking for a trap door and found a two foot opening in one of the walls.

Speaking to reporters at the scene on Saturday (Nov 28), he said that police personnel went through the opening and squeezed through a narrow path which led them to a small room.

“They found empty racks there but no one could be seen and continued knocking and pushing at the walls looking for another escape route. When they pushed one of the racks they found a trap door which led to a stairwell,” he said.

ACP Razali said that the 19 people were found hiding in the stairwell, adding that the investigation has revealed that they contacted an agent to use the premises.

“We believe the group was also involved in immoral activities as we found condoms there,” he said.

UN experts sound alarm over AI-enhanced racial profiling

Friday, November 27th, 2020

ERD, which monitors compliance by 182 signatory countries to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, raised particular concern over the use of AI algorithms for so-called ‘predictive policing’ and ‘risk assessment’. — TNS

GENEVA: Countries must do more to combat racial profiling, UN rights experts said on Nov 26, warning that artificial intelligence programmes like facial recognition and predictive policing risked reinforcing the harmful practice.

Racial profiling is not new but the technologies once seen as tools for bringing more objectivity and fairness to policing appear in many places to be making the problem worse.

“There is a great risk that (AI technologies will) reproduce and reinforce biases and aggravate or lead to discriminatory practices,” Jamaican human rights expert Verene Shepherd told AFP.

She is one of the 18 independent experts who make up the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which on Thursday published guidance on how countries worldwide should work to end racial profiling by law enforcement.

The committee, which monitors compliance by 182 signatory countries to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, raised particular concern over the use of AI algorithms for so-called “predictive policing” and “risk assessment”.

The systems have been touted to help make better use of limited police budgets, but research suggests it can increase deployments to communities which have already been identified, rightly or wrongly, as high-crime zones.

‘Dangerous feedback loop’

“Historical arrest data about a neighbourhood may reflect racially biased policing practices,” Shepherd warned.

“Such data will deepen the risk of over-policing in the same neighbourhood, which in turn may lead to more arrests, creating a dangerous feedback loop.”

When artificial intelligence and algorithms use biased historical data, their profiling predictions will reflect that.

“Bad data in, bad results out,” Shepherd said.

“We are concerned about what goes into making those assumptions and those predictions.”

The CERD recommendations also take issue with the growing use of facial recognition and surveillance technologies in policing.

Shepherd said the committee had received a number of complaints about misidentification by such technologies, sometimes with dire consequences, but did not provide specific examples.

The issue came to the forefront with the wrongful arrest in Detroit earlier this year of an African American man, Robert Williams, based on a flawed algorithm which identified him as a robbery suspect.

Various studies show facial recognition systems developed in Western countries are far less accurate in distinguishing darker-skinned faces, perhaps because they rely on databases containing more white, male faces.


“We have had complaints of such misidentification because of where the technologies are coming from, who is making them, and what samples they have in their system,” Shepherd said.

“It is a real concern.”

CERD is calling for countries to regulate private companies that develop, sell or operate algorithmic profiling systems for law enforcement.

Countries have a responsibility to ensure that such systems comply with international human rights law, it said, stressing the importance of transparency in design and application.

The committee insisted the public should be informed when such systems are being used and told how they work, what data sets are being used and what safeguards are in place to prevent rights abuses.

The recommendations meanwhile go beyond the impact of new technologies, urging countries to introduce laws against all forms of racial discrimination by law enforcement.

“Racial profiling precedes these technologies,” Shepherd said.

She said 2020 – a year marked by surging racial tensions in many parts of the world – was a good time to present the new guidelines.

The committee, she said, “hopes that the intensification and globalisation of Black Lives Matter… and other campaigns calling for attention to discrimination against certain vulnerable groups will help (underline) the importance of the recommendations”.

by AFP.

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Work Matters! Why do you work?

Friday, November 27th, 2020
Everyone needs money. If you are dissatisfied with your salary, it is really hard to like your job. Many people think they are being underpaid, and they feel they deserve more.  Everyone needs money. If you are dissatisfied with your salary, it is really hard to like your job. Many people think they are being underpaid, and they feel they deserve more.

“Why do you work?” The easiest answer is that you work for money. I suppose this is true at a rudimentary level, for all of us. You need money to survive and generate your life, family, desires, and passions. I have the same needs.

Is this ultimate reason?

If that is the case, as you earn more money, you become more satisfied. And in turn, you become more in love with your job or what you do. Because it’s about the money, right?

But here’s the thing. In 2018, a Gallup Poll showed that 85% of people are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces.

In some countries like China and Japan, an astounding 94% of the workforce is not engaged.

Stress, clinical burnout and ensuing suicide rates are so alarming. This even prompted the Japanese government to intervene with a new occupational health policy called the Stress Check Program in order to screen workers with high psychosocial stress in the workplace.

Overall, Gallup found that only 15% of workers felt engaged by their jobs.

According to Forbes, the business magazine, if you are “engaged” in your job, it means you have “passion” and a “deep connection” with your work. Therefore, you spend time “driving innovation and moving your company forward.”

62% of employees polled were described as “not engaged”. These are those workers who were unhappy, but not drastically so. They are like sleepwalkers who put little energy into their work.

And, 23% of workers were “actively disengaged”, meaning they vigorously hated their jobs.

In the poll, Gallup asks participants to respond to the following 12 statements simply by declaring them as true or false. This forms the bench-markers for engagement levels.

• I know what is expected of me at work.

• I have the material and equipment I need to do my work right.

• At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

• In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

• My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

• There is someone at work who encourages my development.

• At work, my opinions seem to count.

• The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

• My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

• I have a best friend at work.

• In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

• This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

According to the survey, those who fall in the “engaged” category value communication, praise and encouragement. If you are clear with people about what you expect; offer up praise if they do well; and positively encourage them to learn and grow, you get engaged employees.

So, this brings me back to the original question. Why do you work?

Everyone needs money. If you are dissatisfied with your salary, it is really hard to like your job. Many people think they are being underpaid, and they feel they deserve more.

I am not naïve to think that feeling underpaid is not a major cause of disconnection.

But I also know, through my training and leadership coaching experience that not getting enough money is only part of the story. In fact, it often is the smaller part of that disengagement narrative.

The majority of the people I work with, especially white-collar workers, do see money as their ultimate goal. And they might have opted for a job only for the salary, and not because of any enthusiasm for the work itself.

The dilemma they then have, is that they feel empty, even when they hit their coveted income.

So, what then really motivates, and keeps someone at work?

I am a fan of Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. Pink is an American author with 6 books, of which 4 became New York Times bestsellers.

Pink’s theory in this book is drawn from research by psychologists Harry Harlow and Edward Deci in 1971, which was further reinforced by another study carried out by professors at MIT in 2017.

He says that the intrinsic motivational drivers for anyone are: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Autonomy is the need to direct your own life and work. To be fully motivated, you must be able to control what you do, when you do it, and who you do it with.

Mastery is the desire to improve. If you are motivated by mastery, you’ll likely see your potential as being unlimited, and you’ll constantly seek to improve your skills through learning and practice.

Purpose is the bigger picture. Those who believe that they are working towards something larger and more important than themselves, are often the most hard-working, productive and engaged people.

Remember, even when you get paid handsomely, you might not be motivated. Of course, you’ll go to work for the money. But what you really crave for is autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Don’t be blinded by the coinage.

By Shankar R. Santhiram.

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Glove manufacturer’s workers’ quarters in Ipoh ‘overcrowded’ and ‘filthy’, says Labour Dept

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

IPOH: Authorities who raided hostels for workers of a glove manufacturer here found these places to be overcrowded and filthy.

Labour Department director Mohd Asri Abdul Wahab said the company had failed to adhere to the Workers’ Minimum Standard of Housing and Amenities Act 1990.

“Each hostel is supposed to have from 10 to 12 workers, however, we found that some units housed 15 to 20 workers each.

“During our inspection in all 13 hostels, which are double-storey houses, we discovered that mattress and beds were in the dining and living areas,” he told reporters after visiting the hostels located in Tasek here Thursday (Nov 26).

The operation was conducted following a surge in Covid-19 cases linked to the company’s factory in Selangor.

Mohd Asri said the operation was assisted by the Perak Labour Department and state Health Department.

“We are also conducting similar operations in Johor, Kelantan, Kedah, and Negri Sembilan, involving subsidiary factories of the same company.

“During the raid, we found that the company had failed to maintain cleanliness in the houses.

“There were cooking gas cylinders and clothes scattered everywhere,” he said.

He added that under the law, a double-storey house with three to four rooms can only accommodate 10 to 12 people and workers are only allowed to sleep in rooms if the hostel is a terrace house.

“It will take us about two weeks to complete the investigation as we need to check the hostel’s size and get the details of each worker who is staying in the hostels.

“At the moment, we have recorded statements from the employer and several workers.

“If the company is found guilty, the employer could be fined a maximum of RM50,000 per worker,” he said, adding that the government had given the company a grace period for compliance until Sept 1.

“We are already in November, therefore by right, all employers should be aware of the Act and apply for an accommodation acknowledgement certificate that can be done via online in our website,” he said, adding that the company did not have the certificate.

Separately, Perak Health Department inspector and law unit chief Ahmad Fakurazi Abu Bakar said the hostel would also undergo a sanitisation process.

On Nov 24, the factory workers’ dormitory and surrounding areas in Kapar, Klang were placed under an enhanced movement control order (MCO).


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World must speak out against religious violence

Thursday, November 26th, 2020
 In this file photo taken on April 25, 2018, taken from Maungdaw district, Myanmar's Rakhine state on April 25, 2018 shows Rohingya refugees gathering behind a barbed-wire fence in a temporary settlement setup in a "no man's land" border zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh. -AFP picIn this file photo taken on April 25, 2018, taken from Maungdaw district, Myanmar’s Rakhine state on April 25, 2018 shows Rohingya refugees gathering behind a barbed-wire fence in a temporary settlement setup in a “no man’s land” border zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh. -AFP pic

All over the world, we are witnessing rising levels of violent hate crime inspired by religious ideology for which there seems to be no lasting and sustainable solutions.

For example, India is now one of the top five countries in the world known for physical hostility against religious minorities, according to Pew Research.

For a start, the call should be to increase awareness of the phenomenon, as well as cultivate a sense of empathy with victims of religious violence and persecuted minorities who are not our co-religionists or compatriots.

Specific examples of religious violence around the world include ethno-religious cleansing of the Rohingya by the Buddhist Burmese majority; lynching of Muslims by Hindutva supremacists in India; vigilante persecution of non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan; communal and terrorist attacks on the Copts in Egypt; sporadic inter-ethnic and inter-religious violence in parts of Indonesia such as Sulawesi and West Papua/Irian Jaya; militant Buddhists in Sri Lanka targeting religious minorities, especially Muslims; acts of terrorism by Boko Haram against Nigerian Christians; and continuing oppression of Palestinian Muslims and Christians by Zionists (whose Jewishness or DNA credentials could well be dubious and), justified (wrongly so) by an appeal to a fantasy notion of biblical legacy.

It’s submitted that the roots of religious violence lie deeper than just religious fanaticism. Religious identity only provides that ideological cloak for the competing and contestation of rival political, social or economic interests.

FIRSTLY, we have to be sensitive and empathetic to the plight of our fellow human beings in other parts of the world suffering from genocide and violent persecution irrespective of ethnicity and religion.

SECONDLY, we should be moved to take some form of concrete action, however small, in terms of that which is outside our society (that is, regional, international) which directly relates to these situations.

The kind of practical action we can take might be:

SPREADING the word to others such as neighbours, colleagues, co-religionists;

INVOLVEMENT with non-governmental organisations as members or volunteers/supporters in organising roadshows, public talks, seminars and so on to create awareness and explore concrete measures to address religious violence, etc;

COLLECTIVE prayers at mosques, churches, temples; and,

PETITIONING the relevant authorities such as Wisma Putra, and international bodies such as the United Nations, Asean, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League, etc.s to pressure and assist host governments to combat the scourge of religion-based terrorism.

We at EMIR Research pride ourselves in taking the central or middle ground of moderation and rejecting extremes on both sides of the spectrum or polar opposites. It, therefore, behoves us to speak up about such issues with the view of promoting solidarity, sympathy and support for the affected communities (just as in the case of the Palestinians) in the name of humanity and universal values.

Whether these communities suffer from internal displacement due to ethno-religious conflict and cleansing or intense and institutional persecution by both state and society, all of us have a role to play in standing up to violence done in the name of our religion (whichever it is).

Not to mention, too, that so-called religion-inspired violence too often leaves behind a trail of destruction (infrastructural, environmental) that sets back the sustainability and liveability of these zones of conflagration. Thus, violence in the name religion also interlocks with environmental and sustainable development issues as embodied by theUN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

In conclusion, in our effort to build a better, and more just, equitable, progressive and peaceful world, we certainly cannot avoid highlighting these issues, sensitive though it may be to a few. Speaking and standing up against religious violence should perhaps be on top of our agenda for the 21st century, among other policy challenges.

May we and our government have that resolve to articulate forcefully on this subject — beyond just the Palestine issue — on behalf of oppressed Muslims and non-Muslims alike as part of the common challenges we face as the human race.

By Jason Loh Seong Wei.

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Making the RM21 million allocated for domestic violence count

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
The allocation must be part of a comprehensive and targeted approach to addressing the issue of domestic violence. - NST/file pic. The allocation must be part of a comprehensive and targeted approach to addressing the issue of domestic violence. – NST/file pic.

LETTER: ENGENDER Consultancy and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) view positively the RM21 million allocation for domestic violence ‘local social support centres,’ as well as the MySTEP allocation for short term social workers and medical officers in Budget 2021.

We thank the National Budget Office of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) for engaging in dialogue with civil society and considering input, to improve the lives of domestic violence survivors.

This specific allocation to respond to domestic violence is a welcome step.

Nonetheless, responding to domestic violence requires a holistic approach. To ensure that the aim of the allocation – to improve the lives of domestic violence survivors – is achieved, we further recommend these five steps:

1. Ensure the allocation is implemented well, monitored, and evaluated for impact.

As critical to creating a budget allocation for domestic violence shelters is ensuring that such allocation is properly implemented and monitored, and its impact evaluated. In order to do this, a committee should be created, led by the National Committee on Domestic Violence under KPWKM, and including representatives from government and civil society.

Such a committee could help ensure that the funds are disbursed in a way that maximises the availability and accessibility of domestic violence shelters for survivors. The committee could also conduct monitoring and evaluation to assess the impact of the allocation and distribution to inform future federal and state budget cycles.

2. Ensure domestic violence shelters adhere to good practices and standards (for example as outlined in the Domestic Violence Shelter Standards and Toolkit, created by WAO and KPWKM).

Currently, there is a lack of uniform standards for domestic violence shelters throughout the country. As a result, significant disparities exist in the scope of services provided by shelters and the level of security, among other aspects, and survivors’ experiences vary widely depending on the shelter to which they are referred or the one geographically accessible to them.

To address this issue and remedy disparities, it is critical that the government adopt uniform shelter standards at the federal level. Such standards are outlined in the Domestic Violence Shelter Standards and Toolkit created by WAO and KPWKM.

Adoption of these standards at the federal level – and required adherence by organisations receiving federal funding- could help ensure that key aspects of women’s experiences are consistent and uniform regardless of where they seek shelter.

3. Ensure other essential domestic violence services – like crisis hotlines – are resourced.

Critical to making domestic violence shelters accessible to survivors in need is the availability of complementary resources such as crisis hotlines. Such hotlines are often an entry point for survivors to seek advice and obtain information about what options are available to them – including where they can go in the event they are in imminent danger or are otherwise prepared to leave their abusive home.

Hotlines such as WAO’s 24-7 telephone and SMS/WhatsApp hotline and KPWKM’s Talian Kasih allow survivors to access help any time of day or night, and make immediate assistance available to survivors who may be geographically isolated or who do not have a means of leaving their home and getting to a shelter without assistance.

As important as ensuring there are adequate numbers of sufficiently-resourced domestic violence shelters is ensuring that existing crisis hotlines are sufficiently resourced with staff sensitised to the needs of gender-based violence survivors and knowledgeable about available support.

4. Ensure investment for domestic violence response is regular.

Unfortunately, domestic violence is not a sudden or temporary phenomenon, and requires dedicated and ongoing investment by society to address. As such, investment into domestic violence response and infrastructure must be a key component of every annual budget allocation at the federal and state level, and various aspects of the survivor’s experience must be taken into account.

For example, while shelter is critical to survivors during the crisis stage when they first leave the abusive home, survivors often require continued support to get back on their feet and become financially independent. Thus, allocations for low-cost transitional housing for survivors after they leave the shelter, as well as for affordable childcare are also vital for the survivor’s long-term well-being and stability.

The proposed committee to conduct monitoring and evaluation of the RM 21 million allocation could also help assess the other areas of survivors’ needs and make recommendations to the government for future budget cycles.

5. Develop a coordinated domestic violence action plan through the National Committee on Domestic Violence

The allocation must be part of a comprehensive and targeted approach to addressing the issue of domestic violence. Such a coordinated action plan could be created and implemented by the National Committee on Domestic Violence.

This would complement the monitoring and evaluation of the allocation by contributing to an understanding of domestic violence survivors’ needs at various stages, and ensuring that these needs are adequately served through federal and state budget allocations – not only through dedicated allocations for shelters and other crisis support services, but through allocations for the police, welfare officers, and hospitals, all of whom play a critical role in domestic violence response.


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