Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
BY NEVILLE SPYKERMAN
KUALA LUMPUR: Despite the chorus of protests from stakeholders, the Kuala Lumpur Industrial Court will be relocated to Wisma Perkeso in Jalan Tun Razak.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said after considering the alternatives, they decided to move the court from the Straits Trading Building in Jalan Lebur Pasar because of the lower rent offered by the Social Security Organisation (Perkeso).
The relocation was also necessary, he said, because of an order to vacate from the Heritage Building (next to the Straits Trading Building) which housed parts of the Industrial Court.
Riot said the court required about 60,000sq ft (5,575sq m) of space but only two-thirds the area was available at the current rented premises.
The Selangor government, which owns the Heritage Building, has given the ministry until Sept 1 to move out despite their appeals.
“The proposed location is also strategic, has good public transport and is located in the city centre ,” he said in a text message to The Star.
He said the concerns of the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) were taken into consideration.
In a joint letter to Riot on Aug 8, both MEF and MTUC again voiced objections to the move.
Besides poor accessibility due to the lack of public transport, they claimed RM14.5mil was spent on the installation of digital court facilities at the current premises.
The upgrades, which allowed for voice and video recordings of proceedings, were done barely two years ago and would be wasted, said MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan.
MTUC secretary-general N. Gopal Kishnam asked why money was spent if the ministry planned or knew the court would be relocated.
“I raised these issues with the minister in June and before Hari Raya. I was assured our views would be considered,” he said.
Riot claimed the cost for the digital system was “much lower” than that quoted by MTUC and MEF but did not reveal what it was.
“The system and some infrastructure will be reinstalled at the new premises,” he said in another text message.
Bar Council Industrial Law Committee and Employment Law Committee chairman Anand Ponnudurai said cost or cheaper rental cannot be the sole criteria for the relocation.
He noted the “horrendous traffic” on Jalan Tun Razak.
“Even Industrial Court staff have indicated their reluctance to move to Wisma Perkeso. I urge the ministry to listen to all stakeholders,” he said.
MTUC labour advocate Peter Kandiah described the move to relocate as “inconsiderate”, adding that “the interests of workers are being sidelined.”
In May, MTUC members gathered in front of Parliament to protest the relocation.
Address: Wisma MTUC,10-5, Jalan USJ 9/5T, 47620 Subang Jaya,Selangor | Tel: 03-80242953 | Fax: 03-80243225 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org