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LETTER | 'Elegant silence' on workers' plight

Callistus Antony D’Angelus

Published

LETTER | A succession of Malaysian governments has failed to report on certain requests by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), pertaining to employment relationship, harassment and violence since 2006. This would place the BN, Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional governments as responsible for such a failure.

The hope that was placed in the Pakatan Harapan government for better governance makes its failure during its tenure to be particularly disappointing. It should have addressed the matter publicly during its stint in government.

Given its pathetic record, we cannot expect the BN or what is left of it to even so much as attempt to disclose what happened when the coalition was at the helm.

That the governments at various points saw it fit to ignore such requests speaks volumes of the attitude towards workers and the common people – without whom they would not have been in power.

Current Human Resources Minister M Saravanan must actually think that the Malaysian people are so ignorant to believe his story that the delay to submit such reports has to do with the prorogation of Parliament. Was he intending for the reports to be tabled in Parliament to be debated?

Perhaps, he could convince his boss, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, to reconvene Parliament for this purpose.

The total failure to be transparent about matters regarding basic elements of human rights involving employment relationship, harassment and violence gives rise to the question of what the government is hiding.

We cannot expect a government which lacks moral legitimacy to be interested to answer such a question.

Workers and the common people of Malaysia have long been subjected to the unfortunate consequences of a corrupt and unholy alliance between political and business interests.

A review of how government-linked companies have been set up and run throughout the past few decades will provide the public with a clear idea of how the taxpayers have been shortchanged.

The entire employment construct in the country needs an overhaul, and I suppose this can only happen when we have a government elected by the people. Globally, it is evident that the global citizenry has lost confidence in the current international trade, economic and political order, which has benefited the one percent at the expense of the 99 percent. This is no different in Malaysia.

Workers in Malaysia need more rights that can be enforced and better representation. What is also interesting is the deafening silence of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) on this issue as well as other matters afflicting workers.

Perhaps, MTUC is adopting a novel approach of staying “elegantly silent” in order for the backdoor government to do something good for the workers.

The people and workers need to know about the stand of the MTUC on matters impacting workers in the country. A socially distanced approach from the affairs of the workers is not right. For all the criticisms levelled against the MTUC over the past decades, it has never been afraid to take a position on matters such as these.

The MTUC needs to be careful so as not to become a pliant tool of the government.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin should step in to address the matter of the reports to the ILO, and also make a summary of it available to be scrutinised by the Malaysian public.


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