Thursday, November 20, 2014
Born and jailed in Malaysia: A refugee's fear
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Sin Sin, left, one of a number of asylum seekers detained after giving birth this year [Kate Mayberry/Al Jazeera]
|Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Still elated by the birth of their first child, the couple prepared to leave the maternity ward of Kuala Lumpur General Hospital. But when Sin Sin, 29, and her husband Za Tim, 32, stepped out of the hospital lift with their two-day-old son, immigration officers were waiting.|
"I can't express what was going through my mind," Sin Sin recalled in an interview with Al Jazeera, her now six-month old son, chubby legged, smiling and curious, secured on her hip with a blue sarong.
"I was crying, the baby was crying. It was very traumatic."
Sin Sin is just one of a number of asylum seekers of different nationalities detained here after giving birth since the start of the year.
"It is shocking," said Katrina Maliamauv, who works with refugee and migrant women at Tenaganita, a Malaysian NGO. "There's already fear within many communities. This could encourage women to give birth in unsafe conditions."
Illegal and vulnerable
Malaysian immigration law makes no distinction between undocumented migrants, asylum seekers or refugees; all are considered illegal and vulnerable to detention and deportation.
Nor is Malaysia a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. As foreigners, most are expected to pay full fees for medical care, although those registered as refugees with the UNHCR are able to get a 50 percent discount.
Sin Sin left her village in Myanmar's remote Chin state in 2013 to join her husband, who'd fled to Malaysia to escape a life portering for the military. The couple had asked the UN to add Sin Sin to her husband's card and was waiting for an appointment.
"I felt great pain in my heart," Za Tim said as he recalled the day his wife and son were taken away from him.
While in lock-up, Sin Sin had no clothing or nappies for her son. Instead, she wrapped him in a longyi - a Burmese-style sarong - she'd brought with her to the hospital for the birth. They slept together on the concrete floor of the cell they shared with a group of Indonesian women. After four days, she was transferred to the Bukit Jalil Detention Centre on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
Although it is considered one of the country's more modern immigration detention facilities, Sin Sin said conditions were poor. Detainees were expected to buy food and, with no money of her own, Sin Sin relied on the kindness of the women with whom she was sharing a cell.
Her husband, a wiry man who has a job servicing air conditioners, was distraught.
"I was so worried," he said in an interview in the apartment they share with two other families in the city centre. "I couldn't think. I couldn't eat or sleep."
In the end, he sought the help of people in his community, who then contacted the UN. It took another month-and-a-half before his family was finally released.
Community groups and NGOs representing people from Myanmar, the Middle East and Sri Lanka said they are aware of a number of cases of women without formal documentation detained after giving birth at the general hospital with some spending more than three months in detention.
The issue is expected to be on the agenda of Dainius Puras, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, during his visit to Malaysia, which concludes in early December.
The General Hospital's maternity wing is a busy but efficiently run operation that encourages breast-feeding among new mothers and bans baby bottles on the wards.
Yet, Sin Sin and others that Al Jazeera spoke to say the poor diet in detention prevented them from breast-feeding. Sin Sin said she had no choice, but to give her son water for the first month of his life because there was no formula milk either. Other mothers say basic necessities such as nappies were rationed.
Malaysia's Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar admitted the detention of such vulnerable women and children contravenes the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Malaysia is a signatory. He said the government would like to see such cases out of detention as soon as possible.
Hospital staff declined to discuss the detentions with Al Jazeera. Privately, health administrators have raised concern that non-citizens - Malaysia has an estimated two million undocumented migrants - are putting a strain on resources meant mainly for Malaysians.
"Immigration policies of arresting and detaining such vulnerable women, especially at the time of childbirth, make Malaysia and its policies appear cruel and inhumane," Kuala Lumpur-based Health Equity Initiatives wrote in a press statement in April.
"Such healthcare practises do not reflect the regard for science and evidence that underline Ministry of Health policies in terms of maternal health."
The statement was endorsed by eight other NGOs working on health, refugee and women's rights.
Groups that work with migrants are advising women without refugee cards to avoid the general hospital, but the detentions have only added to the difficulty of those trying to survive in a country that barely recognises their existence.
"It makes people very scared," said Josie Tey, a coordinator with the Archdiocesan Office for Human Development, which is overseen by the Catholic Church, and provides assistance to migrants and refugees.
"What happened to our caring heart? Where's it gone?"
We have to read of this evil from foreign news. For a Muslim country that promotes so much holy and pious acts and behaves so cruelly to poor foreigners - WHAT A DAMN SHAME!
Time for the present governing regime to leave governing this LAND or we may incur the WRATH of GOD!
Two MH tragedies - what more do we want?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Are your kids abroad because our education system ‘sucks’? Kit Siang asks Cabinet
NOVEMBER 19, 2014
The DAP veteran asked if it was because “Malaysia’s education system sucks” and that Malaysian schools have continued to trail behind in the bottom third of countries surveyed in a number of international assessments.
“I have been informed that one of the first things a minister of the Najib Cabinet did on his appointment was to transfer one of his children to an international school,” Lim claimed in a statement.
“Why?” the Gelang Patah MP asked, before continuing, “Is this because Malaysia’s education system sucks?”
Yesterday, Lim demanded that all federal ministers and their deputies come clean on whether they send their children and grandchildren to public schools, claiming that there is no evidence to show that top BN leaders actually support the national education system.
The senior DAP leader said it was quite a boast for deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, to claim that the Malaysian education system was better than that of the United States, Britain and Germany, when he has not even asked the Umno General Assembly to endorse his claim.
Citing his old rival and former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Lim said it was an open secret that Cabinet ministers have for a long time sent their children to private and international schools where English is the teaching medium.
Today, Lim asked incumbent Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak if he would tell all ministers in his Cabinet to resign if they send their children to private or international schools, whether local or foreign.
He pointed out that by sending their children to these schools, it reflects their lack of confidence in an education system built by the BN leadership.
Lim noted that recent world university rankings showed a power shift from the West to the East, with Asian universities now proving their mettle by shooting up the ladder to surpass their western counterparts.
For example, he said, 24 Asian universities listed in the top 200 universities in the 2014 Times Higher Education World University Rankings compared with 20 a year earlier—led by Tokyo University and National University of Singapore in the top 25.
“But this seismic shift in the continuing erosion of United States and United Kingdom domination of global higher education and the inexorable rise of Asian universities seemed to have completely by-passed Malaysia, despite our annual massive expenditures on education,” Lim pointed out.
The same trend was shown in the US News and World Report’s 500 Best Global Universities Ranking 2015 last month, where Malaysia’s premier university, the University of Malaya was the only university listed in the very “lowly” position of 423, he said.
In the 100 Best Global Universities survey for 21 subjects, Malaysia was only placed in two of the 2,100 slots in its ranking, with Universiti Putra Malaysia taking 54th place for agricultural science and Universiti Sains Malaysia taking 87th place for engineering.
“It is scandalous and shameful that out of the 2,100 slots, Malaysia’s 21 public universities which have a total of over 200 schools for different disciplines, could only manage to be placed in slots for two subjects,” Lim lamented.
Singapore, on the other hand, won 20 slots, while even Thailand took two spots.
“But Umno/BN ministers and leaders are not really concerned about the deteriorating standards of education and higher education in Malaysia,” the DAP lawmaker said.
This, he said, is because they have ensured even their own kids are out of the national school system.
“How many Umno/BN Ministers and leaders dare to declare that they do not send their children to private or international schools, local or foreign?” he asked.
The hypocrisy of the nation's leaders - sounding out loud and clear that our educational system is good, but avoid getting their children enrolled in the national schools, instead sending them international schools forsaking their mother tongue as these school medium of teaching is in the English language.
Talk of closing down vernacular schools, it is BN joke!!!
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