Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Who's in charge in Malaysia? One minister says Indian workers banned, another says no.

In the Indian history idiom, this state of affairs is called Tuglak durbar. I hope PM Badawi does not go down in history drawing a comparison with Mohammad Bin Tuglak who shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. Together with the banning of visas for non-muslim priests, Badawi is being misled by wahhabi groups into turning Malaysia into an islamist state. All ethnic communities of Malaysia, Beware ! Malaysia is no longer the pluralist, multi-ethnic society that made its citizens proud as Malaysians, a nation almost reminding one of the continent of Asia, hence the name Malaysia. PM Badawi will do well to release the Hindraf 5 and start a national reconciliation dialogue. That will get him a place in history; else, he will not even become a footnote in Malaysian history. The choice is his.


Malaysia denies ban on India and Bangladesh workers
Tue Jan 8, 2008 1:35pm GMT

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A Malaysian minister denied on Tuesday that his government had suspended the recruitment of workers from India and Bangladesh.

"I just spoke to my prime minister ... There is no truth in the statement released by Reuters ... It's not true means everything is status quo," Works Minister S. Samy Vellu, the only ethnic Indian member of the cabinet, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in New Delhi.

"Indian workers are already there. When it is needed, they are welcome."

Earlier, a Malaysian Home Ministry official told Reuters that the cabinet had decided about two weeks ago to freeze the intake of workers from India and Bangladesh. Other ministry officials had then confirmed the ban but gave no reason.
About an hour before his denial, Vellu had said the country had enough foreign workers.

"The government decided it is enough and we don't want to recruit any more because we have enough workers," he told Reuters at the conference. "Is it wrong?"
The minister's press secretary later said those comments should be "disregarded", saying they were made before the minister had adequate information.

Relations between India and Malaysia have been hurt by recent allegations of discrimination against the ethnic Indian community in this Southeast Asian country.
ethnic Indians staged a mass anti-government protest in November, alleging that the authorities had sidelined the community under an affirmative action policy that favours the majority ethnic Malays.

Some Indian politicians, including Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, voiced concern for the ethnic Indians.

Around 7 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people are ethnic Indians, whose forefathers were brought over as labourers by British colonial rulers.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen and Unni Krishnan; additional reporting by Jalil Hamid, Naveen Thukral and Liau Y-Sing in Kuala Lumpur; editing by Roger Crabb)

Malaysia puts freeze on Indian workers

Source: CNBC TV18 8 Jan. 2008 17:44 hrs

On a day the PM stressed on the need for freer movement of professionals across labour markets in the world, the Malaysian government has banned the recruitment of Indian and Bangladeshi workers. It is a fallout of the violence in Malaysia few weeks ago, reports CNBC-TV18’s Abhijit Neogi.

Even as the Prime Minister was addressing the low key gathering of NRIs and PIOs, at the launch of the 6th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in the capital, news trickled in that the Malaysian government has banned recruitment of Indian priests, sculptors and musicians.

Sources say the move could be in response to the recent protests by ethnic Indians against the alleged marginalisation of the community there. An Association of the non-Muslim community in Malaysia has now appealed to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, to ask the immigration authorities to revoke the ban.

Its not yet clear whether the ban would apply to other classes of Indian professionals, but work permits issued to Indian priests, sculptors and musicians would be revoked within a period of 1 week to 6 months. This flies opposite the Prime Minister's vision articulated in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, of free movement of Indian professionals, across labour markets.

“The Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs has started a skill upgradation programme. This will help create a strong cadre of highly skilled workers, who will then be best placed to fill the large labour supply gaps emerging in the Western world,” said Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

But with a protectionist outlook on the rise, Indian professionals are finding it increasingly difficult to penetrate markets, even where there is demand for skilled labour and expertise. In fact, the recent violence in Kenya and Malaysia may have led the PM to express unusual concern over the security of Indian living abroad

“The security and welfare of Indian residents living abroad is a top priority of our diplomatic missions. I urge community leaders to develop better liaison and coordination with our missions to better serve our non resident communities,” added Manmohan Singh.

Freer movement of professionals and workers is an issue that India has raised time and again in the WTO Forum. With the latest crisis, the Indian political leadership surely has testing times ahead.


Press Trust Of India
Kuala Lumpur, January 08, 2008

Last Updated: 17:34 IST(8/1/2008)

Malaysia freezes recruitment of Indian workers

Malaysia has frozen the recruitment of Indian workers, including temple priests, sculptors and musicians, a move apparently linked to the recent mass protests by the ethnic Indians in Kuala Lumpur against their alleged marginalisation.

Workers from India will not be recruited, according to an official circular. But, it is not clear if the ban applies to professionals as well.

The decision was taken by the Malaysian government on December 18 but made public on Tuesday when Defence Minister A K Antony ended his three-day visit to Malaysia. It follows mass protests by the ethnic Indians, led by non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Forum (Hindraf), against the alleged marginalisation of the community.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) said it is shocked that the Immigration Department has suddenly ceased to issue work permits to new applications for foreign priests, temple musicians and sculptors.

The department has extended the visa by only six months for priests, three months only for temple musicians and one week only for sculptors.

In a statement, MCCBCHST said the Immigration Department had stated that after this period there would be no further renewal.

"This sudden decision without any dialogue or consultation with MCCBCHST is unprecedented because previously the department has always had discussions with council before any change in the system," the statement said.

The MCCBCHST has appealed to the prime minister requesting him to reconsider this sudden change in the policy of the government that has become a very highly sensitive issue to the non-Muslim community, the statement said.

"We hope that the prime minister will be able to immediately request the authorities to dialogue with the MCCBCHST and find an amicable settlement," the statement added.


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