SUARAM: Press Statement 30 May 2011 Launching of Ops Scorpene


SUARAM: Press Statement 30 May 2011

Launching of Ops Scorpene

1) SUARAM is a human rights organization, known to speak out fearlessly in defence of human rights, good governance and an open and accountable society. For over 20 years SUARAM has worked to expose corrupt practices, poor governance and champion the rights of people before profits.

2) On the 5th June 2002, the Malaysian Government signed an agreement with French DCNS and Spainish Navantia for the procurement of two Scorpene class submarines. The procurement contract was through direct negotiation with the manufacturing companies, said to be with the service of Perimekar Sdn Bhd. Razak Baginda is the owner of Perimekar.

3) According to the Government explanation, the contract was divided into two parts:
i. Cost of two Scorpene submarines together with the package that covers Integrated Logistic Support and training amounted to Euro 969.15m (however on 14 May 2008, Najib told the Parliament that this part cost Euro 999.15)
ii. Payment to Perimekar Sdn Bhd in the name of “coordination services” for a period of six years, the sum was Euro 114.96m.
iii. With the exchange rate at the time, the cost was equivalent to:
1. Payment for submarine cost between: RM 2.14b (Euro=RM3.2 in 2002) – RM 5.43b (Euro=RM5.6 in 2008) (now Euro=RM4.7)
2. Commission: probably about RM 540m (exchange rate at the time of payment)

4) On 23 December 2009, SUARAM through our networks in France linked up with leading human rights lawyers in France, to file a complaint with the French judicial system, with the hope that a preliminary investigation would be initiated. This was done to enable access to information, to the government contracts signed with PERIMEKAR and other information classified as government secrets in Malaysia.

5) In April 2010, the lawyers representing SUARAM, informed us that the courts had accepted the request to investigate the claim of corruption for a payment amounting to Euro 114 million made as commissions from DCNS to Perimekar.

6) The French, practising the Civil Law system where a judge assumes the role of an inquisitorial and investigative referee, has so far kept the findings of its investigations confidential.

7) Our lawyers however, have informed us that the investigation is coming to an end, and should move to full trial after it decides whether or not there is sufficient evidence to pursue the matter in open court.

8) Ops Scorpene is a fundraiser and awareness campaign to further pursue the case in the French courts as a national issue. It seeks to instil interest amongst Malaysians to question arms spending and transparency in arms procurement of the country.

9) Ops Scorpene aims to get RM100,000 via events planned during the visit of the French lawyers to Malaysia.

10) SUARAM will be organizing two events in Penang and Kuala Lumpur during their visit to give a chance to ordinary citizens and Civil Society Organisations to grasp the facts of the scandal that has shook the nation. At the same time, we are giving the opportunity to the people to play a role in supporting this struggle, by buying tickets to the Hi-Tea event in Penang on the 21st of July, and the dinner in KL on the 23rd of July.

11) The hi-tea will feature a dialogue with the lawyers, NGOs and political parties; while the dinner will feature William Bourdon, a well known French lawyer as keynote speaker. SUARAM secretariat and political leaders will be speaking in response to the information shared by him. There will also be a number of performances and booths for NGOs to get their message and campaign forward.

12) Donations can also be made to SUARAM via cheque or online transfer to Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd, Ac. No: 0300-0065-200, Hong Leong Bank Berhad.

13) SUARAM applauds the Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi for showing his enthusiasm by welcoming the probe by the French courts with open arms. We also thank his acknowledgement of SUARAM as a concerned civil
society non governmental association. However the probe and the case has nothing much to do with his ministry, and especially not him in his ministerial capacity. The commissions were not paid during his time as minister.

Thank you.

SUARAM

MEMORANDUM to the Australian High Commission in Malaysia on the Australia-Malaysia Agreement on the Transfer of Asylum Seekers

MEMORANDUM to the Australian High Commission in Malaysia on the Australia-Malaysia Agreement on the Transfer of Asylum Seekers

25 May 2011

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, wish to express our opposition to the proposed Australia-Malaysia bilateral agreement, in principle, to transfer the next 800 asylum seekers seeking asylum in Australia to Malaysia.

Although the terms of the joint agreement remain vague, we are of the view that the Australian Government is making a mistake in arranging this joint agreement with the Malaysian Government which is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (“Refugee Convention”). This proposed exchange is a misguided approach in dealing with a complex issue that will cause serious ramifications as Malaysia has a long record of abuse and mistreatment of people seeking protection. This arrangement, if implemented, may lead to the violation of the rights of transferred individuals to Malaysia.

Australia has ratified the Refugee Convention and is obliged to promote and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Under the convention, Australia may not transfer any refugee who is lawfully present in its territories. Australia may also not transfer refugees who are not lawfully present its country where the transfer may result in violation of the rights of those transferred refugees. Australia may only transfer refugees and asylum seekers to states where there are procedures for the recognition of their status and rights.

Malaysia has no domestic act to protect the rights and security of refugees and asylum seekers as well as no legal recognition of their status. This creates significant barriers in their livelihood options in accessing their right to work, education and health. Furthermore, asylum seekers and refugees live in constant fear of the authorities, in particular, the police, Immigration authorities and the People’s Volunteer Corps (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat, RELA). as they are treated as undocumented migrants and subjected to harsh immigration laws and policies. We question the Australian government’s silence towards Malaysia’s mistreatment of undocumented migrants and refugees while outsourcing its responsibility without seriously taking into consideration the rights, well being and safety of the refugees.

Even though the agreement will see the resettlement of 4,000 refugees from Malaysia to Australia, the agreement falls far from “burden sharing”, as mentioned by the Australian government. Instead, this move is more of a “burden transition” from Australia to Malaysia. The Australian Government should not show a bad example of treatment of asylum seekers and refugees to Malaysia and other states in the region that have not ratified the Refugee Convention.

We emphasise that the Australian Government must first urge the Malaysian Government to ratify the Refugee Convention before making any agreements with regards to refugees and asylum seekers.

We, the undersigned organizations, call upon the Australian government to;

• Immediately withdraw the asylum agreement.

• Urge the Malaysian Government to establish domestic legislation to promote and protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who are already in Malaysia and to ratify the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

• Respect its international obligations in relation to asylum seekers that enter its country. These obligations include Australia’s commitments under the Refugee Convention and a few other international instruments, including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

Increase its humanitarian programme, in particular, to resettle more refugees from Malaysia and the Southeast Asia region to Australia.

Endorsed by:
Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
TENAGANITA

Scorpenes: French lawyers to come to KL ahead of open court hearing

French lawyers acting for SUARAM are due to come to Kuala Lumpur in late June or July to brief their client on the latest development in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s high-cost purchase of three submarines from European arms-maker DCNS.

SUARAM had on behalf of Malaysian taxpayers filed a suit against DCNS in December 2009 at the courts in Paris for “active and passive corruption, trading of favours and abuse of corporate assets”.

The civil rights group had been concerned there was ‘hanky-panky’ in the deal, the cost of which would ultimately have to be borne by Malaysian taxpayers. SUARAM suspected kickbacks worth hundreds of millions of ringgit had been hidden in the transaction and called on the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to investigate, but to no avail.

Also, despite constant grilling, Najib has kept the details of the transaction top secret while other members of his administration have provided only fuzzy details, even to Parliament.

“The lawyers are due to arrive and brief their client on the latest ahead of the hearing which will take place in open court. Once that happens, you can imagine what is next. Everyone will be very busy and the international media will be all over the place,” the source told Malaysia Chronicle.

A Parisian court is due to hear the case and a hearing date was initially slated for May-June, but that may now have to be slightly delayed as SUARAM is applying for an investigative judge to preside.

Briefings at various venues

It is not clear if the lawyers coming to KL will include Joseph Breham who came last year. But according to the source, the French team will also give several briefings to concerned citizens at various venues throughout the nation.

There is enormous public interest in the case, not only because intertwined into the submarines acquisition was a murder most foul, but because the purchase was deemed to be extremely overpriced. There is also concern that the 2 Scorpenes do not work properly as in the weeks after arrival last year, they failed to dive. The third submarine is a second-hand Agosta.

Apart from that, when Najib first mooted the purchase in the early 2000s, Malaysians had protested, arguing that the submarines were not suitable for guarding the nation’s shallow coastline and the cost was also unjustifiable.

But the BN government hammered the deal through, and so far, it has cost Malaysia at least RM6.7 billion ringgit, excluding add-on service fees which could push the total acquisition package to above RM10 billion in the next few years.

The deal had been sanctioned by Najib – who was then Defense minister. He was accused of benefiting his close friend Razak Baginda with a 114 million euros commission.

Debauchery

The Malaysian prime minister and his wife Rosmah Mansor were also accused of being involved in the murder of a Mongolian translator, who had helped in the communications with DCNS. The 28-year old Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered in KL by two former bodguards of the Malaysian first couple.

Both men, who were members of an elite police squad, have been sentenced to hang but the nation is unconvinced as they had no motive to kill her. The question still raging in Malaysia is, who ordered the killing?

The Parisian hearing will not dwell on the Altantuya murder but DCNS is likely to be grilled on her role in the deal.

Altantuya, who was shot in head and exploded with military C4 explosives, has become an international icon symbolising the ruthlessness and desperation in the murky world of international arms wheeling-and-dealing. She is also a reflection of the level of debauchery amongst the Umno elite. Umno is Najib’s party and has ruled Malaysia for 5 decades.

Under the 2000 OECD convention of which France is a party, anyone French individual or company found to be involved in corrupt deals with foreign governments can be punished with 10 years imprisonment and a Euro 150,000 fine. This ruling provided the impetus for the SUARAM move to try and recover taxpayers’ money lost through improper transactions. – Malaysia Chronicle

source: http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=12962:scorpenes-french-lawyers-to-come-to-kl-ahead-of-open-court-hearing&Itemid=2

Statement of Civil Society Organisations in ASEAN to the ASEAN Senior Labour Officials Meeting and Labour Ministers Meeting in Penang 23-26 June 2011

Statement of Civil Society Organisations in ASEAN to the ASEAN Senior Labour Officials Meeting and Labour Ministers Meeting in Penang 23-26 June 2011

The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Malaysia reaffirming and echoing more than 1,300 Civil Society Organisation delegates who had gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia between 3-5 May 2011 at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF), urge the Senior Labour Officials Meeting and Labour Ministers to adopt and implement the recommendations at the ACSC/APF which was communicated and received by all ASEAN Heads of State. In relation to labour and migration;

ASEAN member states must eliminate the contract and labour outsourcing system and stop discrimination by giving all workers permanent employment status.

We urge ASEAN to adopt welfare state systems to ensure social security for all peoples in the region

ASEAN member states must allow all workers including migrants to establish independent and autonomous trade unions for the protection of labour rights. ASEAN member states must ensure that all migrant workers receive the full protection of labour laws in the countries, which they are working.

ASEAN must act against attempts by employers to disguise or evade employment relationships to the detriment of labour or worker’s rights.

ASEAN members must recognize domestic work as work and provide domestic workers full labour rights and legal protection. All ASEAN members should support and commit to the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers.

As ASEAN countries are members of the ILO, we urge ASEAN to respect ILO Core Convention 87 and 98.

As elaborated in Article 22 of the Declaration, we call on all state parties to make efforts to comply with the provision of the declaration; the Secretary General is to submit annual report cards in regard to the compliance of the state parties to the Declaration.

All ASEAN member states should work together to fast-track the process of adopting a legally-binding instrument that protects and promotes the rights of ALL migrant workers and members of their families. This process must be transparent and actively involve migrant associations, trade unions and other representatives of civil society. This is even more necessary and urgent in light of the failure of the ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers in its deliberations over 3 years to arrive at any agreement on the scope of coverage of the ASEAN Framework Instrument for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of migrant workers. As long as migrant workers had worked, they, irrespective of documentation status should have access to labour rights such as claiming for unpaid wages. Therefore, the scope of coverage should include undocumented migrant workers.

Recognising the increasing numbers of women migrant workers in the region who are working in precarious conditions, states parties should remove reservations to the CEDAW and the CRC. At the same time, it should also recognize CEDAW General Recommendation 26, adopted in November 2008. The instrument should reflect this commitment to address the specific working and living conditions of all women migrants.

All ASEAN member states must repeal policies of contractual termination and deportation on the ground s of pregnancy and communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.

States must provide social protection that includes provisions for health care and medical insurance, and that promote safe working environments for all migrant workers and their families.

12. Given the movement of migrants in the ASEAN region, ASEAN must support a residence-based (as opposed to a citizenship-based) health care system. This requires universality and a single, high standard of health services.

In addition, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the Malaysian Trade Union Congress over 2 years ago have recommended the following;

13. The Government should implement a National Retrenchment Scheme to aid retrenched workers. Similar to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), this would require financial contributions from both employers and employees.

14. The Government should establish a minimum wage policy to ensure that all workers enjoy a decent standard of living.

15. The Government should conduct a study to assess the actual need for foreign labour

16. The Government should ensure employers issue a clear contract of employment and breach of the contract would hold the parties liable before the law.

17. The Government should immediately revoke the licenses of errant outsourcing companies.

18. The Government should monitor labour disputes and ensure that both workers and employers have access to a resolution mechanism.

Endorsed by:
1. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) ( A regional network in Asia Pacific)
2. CARAM Asia ( A regional network on migration across Asia and Middle East)
3. CARAM Cambodia
4. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia
5. Dignity International (DI- A Global NGO on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
6. Peoples Service Organization , Selangor
7. Pusat KOMAS
8. Singapore Working Group on ASEAN Migrant Workers
9. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
10. Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers (TFAMW)
11. Tenaganita
12. Think Centre (Singapore)

MAKLUMAN MEDIA 26 May 2011

MAKLUMAN MEDIA
26 May 2011

Saudara-saudari Editor, Wartawan, Jurugambar dan Blogger,
Sidang Media SUARAM : PELANCARAN ‘OPS SCORPENE’
Adalah dimaklumkan bahawa satu sidang media mengenai perkara di atas akan diadakan seperti berikut:
Tarikh : 30 May 2011
Masa : 11:00 Pagi
Tempat : Auditorium Dewan Perhimpunan Cina KL, Selangor. (KLSCAH)

Sila maklum bahawa pendaftaran bagi media bermula pada 10:30 pagi.
Sekiranya saudara/saudari mempunyai sebarang pertanyaan, sila hubungi Saudara Izmil, di: 0173133609.
Kami berharap saudara/saudari atau wakil saudara/saudari dapat hadir untuk meliputi sidang media kami.
Sekian, terima kasih.

– – – – – – – –

MEDIA ADVISORY
26 April 2011

Dear Editors, Reporters/Journalists, Photographers/Cameramen and Bloggers,

Press Conference by SUARAM: Launching of ‘Ops Scorpene’.

This is to inform you that the above press conference will take place as follows:
Date : 30th May 2011
Time : 11:00 AM
Venue : Auditorium, KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

Please note that media registration for the above event will start at 10:30am.
If you have any queries, please feel free to contact Izmil, at: 0173133609.

We look forward to seeing you and/or your representatives at our press conference.
Thank you.