Saturday, December 11, 2010

A conversation with Aung San Suu Kyi

Transcript of a conversation with Aung San Suu Kyi

29 November 2010, 03:08PM
This is a transcript of a recorded conversation between Nora Murat (the Director of Amnesty International Malaysia) and Aung San Suu Kyi. This conversation took place on 24 November, 2010. The transcript and the recording were supplied Amnesty International Malaysia.
You can listen to the audio of the conversation here.
Nora: Madam my name is Nora and I am the director of Amnesty International Malaysia and I have with me right here youth activists and youth members right now in Malaysia. We have been trying to get you and right now Amnesty International Australia is also listening in. We were unable to contact you earlier but we have about 10 countries with us that wanted to speak to you especially the youth of Asia Pacific. We are wondering if right now if you can give a personal message to the youth of the Asia Pacific if that is alright with you. If we can just have 5 mins of your time right now and we will then record your message and then we will give it to our youth is that alright?
ASSK: Alright. Are you going to read out the questions?
Nora: We have a few questions here, can we ask you?
Nora: This is one from Amnesty International youth activist. His name is [...]. His asking you can you kindly advise us on how youth can continue working on Burma and who should our action be targeted to?
ASSK: At the moment what we would like our young friends abroad to do is try to do everything they can to bring about the release of the remaining 2,200 political prisoners in Burma. Some of them are young people like themselves, some are not out of their 20s yet, and yet they have been given long long prison sentences. So the first thing that we would like is the youth to increase awareness of the situation of political prisoners in Burma. Do you think that they would be happy to do that?
Nora: Yes we would definitely be happy to do that. The second question Madam is from Amnesty International Australia - her name is Larnie. She is asking you, "how can we help to further the democracy and human rights for people of Burma?"
ASSK: I think first of all people all over the world needs to know exactly how much human rights violations are going on in Burma. I think some don’t quite know. Yesterday I was speaking to somebody from India. And she was surprised because I said that in order to link up to the internet I had to make an application and this is not always granted. So we have very little freedom of information and freedom of communication compared to other countries in this region, so if the youth of other countries use their opportunity to increase awareness of situation in Burma, for us, because they have more access to IT technology and they have more access to freedom of information than we have. That would help us a great deal. In other words if they would do the work that we are prevented from doing ourselves.
Nora: Alright Madam the last question will be from Amnesty International New Zealand - her name is Lena. Her question to you is "what inspired you to continue with your cause for all these years despite all the obstacles in your way?"
ASSK: ...the lot of our people when I look at what people are having to go through in this country, then I think that its everybody’s duty to do everything they can to change the situation. And I must also add that I have very, very good colleagues. They’ve really been through so much and yet they don’t stop trying. So with colleagues like that how I can even think of stopping trying?
Nora: Yeah. Madam we have one final question is that alright? One more?
ASSK: Yes dear.
Nora: This is from Amnesty International Philippines. His name is Nathan. His question is "how is the situation in Burma since your release from the house arrest?"
ASSK: Well at the moment of course I have been walking the streets for about 10 days what I’ve seen certainly is that there are a great many more youth involved in our democratic process than there used to be. There’s a lot of enthusiasm on the part of young people which I did not see 7 years ago so that is very, very encouraging for us and I would very much like the young people of Burma to be able to communicate with young people abroad, so they can find new ways of helping to bring our struggle to a victorious end.
Nora: This is a question from me and my colleague Jenny Leong in Australia: "Madam - because we do a lot of campaign for Amnesty International - but which regional government do you see as being the most important for the young people from this region to lobby in order to put political pressure on the Burmese authorities to meet basic human rights standard? Which target?"
ASSK: I think we need all the ASEAN countries to rally around to work in coordination - as well as, of course India and China, I need hardly add that. But if we’re talking about ASEAN countries we need all of them to work in coordination. Thailand is important of course because its our neighbour and Singapore is important because it’s an economic power, Malaysia is important because in some ways we should have progressed along the same lines, and Indonesia is important because (laughs) Indonesia used to be a military dictatorship... and the Philippines are important because it’s a democratic government with a President at present who is very, very sympathetic to us. So each ASEAN country is important in its own way and what I would like to see is for the youth of those countries to be united in an effort to help us in Burma
Nora: Madam thank you so much from Amnesty International Malaysia, Amnesty International Australia and all the youth network in the region and all the youth and who are really working hard for the release of Burma political prisoners and hopefully that we will see a better future very, very soon. Thank you very much madam.
ASSK: Well thank you. What I would like to see is a group of ASEAN youth coming to visit us here.
Nora: We will do.
ASSK: If you could possibly arrange it.
Nora: We will do.
ASSK: Very good.
Nora: Say HI to her.
Everyone: Hiiiiiiiiii!
Nora: Thank you madam.
ASSK: Thank you. Good bye.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mandatory Medical Insurance for all Migrant Workers

On the face of it, it is a good thing - but importantly it must be the employer who should be liable to pay for these medical insurance not the employer.

But then migrant workers are already covered by the Workmen's Compensation Act - one wonders whether the benefits provided under this Act is sufficient or not to cover the healthcare costs of migrant workers. In Malaysia, foreigners (including documented migrants) who go to government clinics/hospitals are generally charged the 1st class rate, and one wonders whether the amount claimable under the Workmen's Compensation Act is sufficient. If not, then the Act need to be amended so that it will cover all hospital/medical charges - not the introduction of another new medical insurance.
Himalayan News Service
KATHMANDU: The Malaysian government will make medical insurance mandatory for migrant workers beginning January 1, Malaysian Deputy Human Resource Minister Maznah Mazlan told Star, a Malaysian daily.

The medical insurance scheme will affect over four lakh Nepali workers in Malaysia. “It will definitely affect Nepalis, but we are not sure how. We are analyzing the policy,” said Minister for Labour and Transport Management Mohamed Aftab Alam. “I will comment on it after consulting experts,” he told this daily over phone.

Malaysian government’s move comes in the wake of many foreigners leaving government hospitals with unpaid bills amounting to $ 6.7 million. As per the policy, even the old workers are required to get medical insurance done before renewing their work permits.

As per the insurance policy, each worker will have to pay annual insurance premium of $ 38 i.e. more than $ 3 per month. Average monthly earning of a Nepali worker in Malaysia is $ 175.

Authorities dealing with foreign employment term Malaysian government’s move a step in the right direction. “I welcome the policy which protects workers from health hazards,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, Director General at Department of Foreign Employment.

Nepal government sends workers for overseas jobs only after ensuring Rs 5 lakh medical insurance for them but illegal migrant workers obviously go without any insurance. “Malaysian government’s policy will include even them,” he said. However, he did not elaborate on the financial burden on the workers. “I cannot say more without analyzing risks and benefits,” he added.

Malaysia is among the top destination countries hiring Nepali workers. Of the 294,094 Nepali workers going abroad last year, 113,982 went to Malaysia. As many as 42,454 Nepalis have already found jobs in Malaysia in the first four months of the current fiscal year.-
The Himalayan Times, 30/11/2010, Medical insurance must for Malaysia migrants- Up to four lakh Nepalis to be affected