Halal Child Labour (Updated)

Orphan Seeking Donations
Is this a Halal form of Child Labour?

Go to a bank, they are there waiting for you. Go to a petrol station and they hide behind pumps, waiting to pounce on you the moment you start filling your car’s tank up.  Go to an ATM machine, they will be waiting outside.  Go to a food court, they will come and push this worn out leaflet of an orphanage under your nose.

Malaysians are known to be philanthropic.   As a Muslim, you are encouraged to give alms with the hope that God will reward you leaps and bounds.  Sadly, it is Muslim children, mainly orphans whom you see are being exploited by the management of orphanages to solicit funds/donations from the general public.  But is sending children out on their own, for long hours, for days at times, necessary?

The International Labour Organization defines Child Labour in Article 3 of ILO Convention No.182.  It reads:

a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;

(b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;

(c) the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;

(d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

Labour that jeopardises the physical, mental or moral well-being of a child, either because of its nature or because of the conditions in which it is carried out, is known as “hazardous work”.

The words I have put in bold are the ones, in my opinion, reflect the nature of labour these unfortunate orphans are being put through.  My question is, what are the authorities doing about this?

In March 2012, Datuk Heng Seai Kei, the Deputy Minister for Women, Family and Community Development said that  continuous effort has been taken by the North-South Highway Project (PLUS) with the cooperation of the Social Welfare Department to curb the abuse of orphans by the management of orphanages along the North-South highway.  Apart from that, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) has asked the respective state religious authorities to arrest those who exploit children and orphans by asking them to solicit funds.  He said this when answering Dungun MP, Datuk Matulidi Jusoh in Parliament when the latter asked about the actions taken against errant Orphanages and Tahfiz centers that have been exploiting children and orphans.

I think the authorities need to get their act together.  Local authorities are more keen on raiding and confiscating stalls belonging to small-time business owners than stopping child exploitation, and members of the public need to realize that they should start asking these children when do they ever get to study, or if they like walking around in the heat of the sun, or late at night, asking for donations that they never get to see at the end of their “shift.”

These children are innocent, and asking them to solicit funds for orphanages is NOT the way to hone their entrepreneurial skills.  The one I saw at the ESSO station along the North-South highway was virtually there every day.  The one I questioned two nights ago had loitered around my favourite food court for the past two weeks.  When do they ever get to go to class?  When do they sleep? Where do they sleep? What do they get to eat at the end of their “working day?”

And do you ever wonder how many of these children have been sexually harassed by predators as they are left at a location for hours and have to fend for themselves?

And what do these children learn?

Every time they piss someone off for disturbing them while they eat or fill up their tank, they incur the wrath of the restaurant’s or petrol station’s customer.  And it is possible that if they do not get enough “fund” they get punished.  In the end, the only lesson with impact these children will ever learn is resentment and anger.  Now, whose fault is that?

Exploitation of children
What sin have they committed that they are not protected by the community they are in?

Unless you don’t mind seeing your children end up like in the picture above if something unfortunate happens to you, then you can stop reading this blog post and move on.  But to this blogger, the authorities, especially the religious authorities,  have a lot to answer for this Halal child labour.

UPDATED (12.10PM – 29th July 2012)

One comment on my Facebook account on this issue has prompted me to update this post:

Unfortunately, in many cases the parents of the children are not aware of them being used by whatever tahfiz or madrasah to collect alms or to sell trinkets. Do you also notice that most of the time the madrasah or tahfiz is in Kedah or Kelantan, unregistered and not in the Malaysian Education System, nor supported by the state governments. Short of saying they are operating illegally, the children are also not insured nor officially registered in those institutions. There was one case when the rickety van the children were in was involved in a crash, killing 4 kids and the Ustadz. The parents were shocked to hear that the children was brought to KL from Kedah without consent, to beg for alms. For the record, I am totally against this, and I often question the children as to why they were there selling posters instead of studying – Farid Hamid. 8.12am, 29th July 2012

I remember that incident.  This happened a little over five and a half years ago. Five students from a Tahfiz in Kedah died after the van they were traveling in, hit the back of a stationary trailer, on their way back to Kedah after an “excursion” in KL.  None of the parents were informed of the trip to KL, nor was their permission sought by the management of the “Tahfiz.”  You can read about it here.  And yes, the “excursion” to KL was for them to be used by the management of the “Tahfiz” to solicit funds from the public.  You can read about it here.

Seriously, the authorities need to come down hard on these culprits.

Show Tanda Putera

Tanda Putera - Courtesy of www.FILEMKITA.com
Tanda Putera – Courtesy of http://www.FILEMKITA.com

I hardly watch Malay movies nowadays simply because of the arthritic nature of the dialogues – painfully and unrealistically book-styled etc.  The last Malay movie I watched was “Leftenan Adnan” based on the life and death of Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi of the Malay Regiment who perished after a gallant last stand against the invading Imperial Japanese Army at Opium Hill/Kent Ridge in Singapore.  Even then, the stiff dialogues were there.

“Tanda Putera”, directed by Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba, is based on the story of the late Tun Razak, Malaysia’s Second Prime Minister, the 13th May tragedy, his friendship with his deputy, the late Tun Dr Ismail, and his secret fight against Leukemia.  Although I was not invited to the sneak preview of the movie, I was told by fellow blogger Big Dog that it is a movie not to be missed.  He showed me the trailer, and I thought it to be somewhat impressive.  I am pretty sure that it would still contain those arthritic dialogues, but given the sensitive nature of the topic the movie revolves around, I am very sure Shuhaimi Baba would have done extensive research to ensure accuracy of the historical aspect of the movie, much like “Leftenan Adnan.”

For those who believe in what actually happened during the 13th May tragedy, I am sure they would find the movie educational.  However, there will be those who will call it a racist movie, inciting hatred and what have you to justify that the movie should not be watched.  I have seen the reaction by those who oppose to this movie without first taking a look at the movie itself.  Most of those who oppose are those who knew only Tun Dr Mahathir as being the first Prime Minister in their life, and that the PLUS highway has been there since the Cretaceous Period.  While I agree that we should move on from dwelling on the 13th May issue, we should not forget history; what more with attempts to skew the details of history like those done by the likes of Mat Sabu, Kua Kia Soong et al.  There is a lesson to be learnt from the dangers of the 13th May tragedy that is very clear and present today – politics of hatred.  The film does not blame any political party, but instead pointed out the contributions by anarchists, subversive elements, agitators, whom had infiltrated political parties, organisations, unions in order to spread chaos and anarchy – the likes we see now penetrating NGOs in Malaysia, including the blatant hijacking of an otherwise apartisan BERSIH movement.  Read more about the reaction of a certain dinosaur in Parliament when he was asked by an MP about a certain scene involving members of a certain community urinating at the flagpole of the Menteri Besar’s house here.

I find it funny that the very same people who said that Malaysians are matured enough when the likes of Kua Kia Soong and Chin Peng wrote books to present “their view of history” which maybe, in my opinion, very biased, object to the showing of this movie.  Perhaps they want a movie to depict the Imperial Japanese Army as very nice people who treated the Manchurians very well during the years preceding World War 2.

I also find it funny that the Director-General of FINAS has delayed the release of the movie saying it clashes with other events like the Merdeka Day celebration and Hari Raya Puasa.  I thought these two events would help sales of Malay movies as they have in past years.

I would just show it…and as people have said, we Malaysians are matured enough to handle anything.

Or are we?

Living In Holy Shit

Living in Holy Shit
Kelantan After 22 Years: Living In Holy Shit

After all that crap about the imbecilic nature of the Selangor State Government when it comes to handling the water shortage fiasco, I saw a nice tweet by my wife about the number of sewage treatment plants.  It read:

“Kelantan has only 11 sewage treatment plants. Even Perlis has 33. Gulp. Johor has over 600”

“Wow!” I thought.  But since it was early in the morning I thought it was about the number of water treatment plants, as Kelantan has a poor treated water supply coverage as well.  Then I re-read the tweet and I realised how for the past 22 years, the Kelantanese State Government has been shirking its duties in ensuring the basic human rights to clean water supply as well as sanitation.

22 years.

Let us compare the states mentioned above in terms of population count versus the number of sewage treatment plants made available in the respective states.

Johor had 3.23 million in 2010.  Perlis, possibly the state with the least resources, had 198,000 in 2010.  Kelantan 1.46 million in 2010.

Johor has 600 sewage treatment plants for its 3.23 million inhabitants – that translates as having 5,383 persons per sewage treatment plant.  In Perlis, the ratio is 1:6,000; while in Kelantan it is 1:132,727.

Let us go by size of each state: Johor is 19,210 sq.km; Perlis is 821 sq.km; and Kelantan is 15,099 sq.km in size.  The ration of kilometer square per sewage treatment plant is 1:32; in Perlis it is 1:25; but in Kelantan it is 1:1,373.  So, one sewage treatment plant in Kelantan has to cover an area that is 1,373 sq.km, and crap from 32,727 132,727 people.

Little wonder you get headlines like: Tetracycline Resistant Cholera in Kelantan (1998); Cholera Outbreak In Tumpat, Kelantan (1990); Cholera Cases in Kelantan Continue to Rise (2000).  I can go through the tens of headlines right up till June 2012, but I just want to give examples on how crappy shit already is in Kelantan.  People die from the outbreaks above, yet the Kelantan State Government behaves nonchalantly.

Of course, the holier-than-thou attitude the Kelantan State Government adopts does not help the situation; what makes it worse is when voters have been brainwashed to think that whatever Cholera-shit that hit them is a test from God.

Unless the voters are given a knock on the head, my guess is they will continue to live in Holy Shit for another 22 more years.

Ikan Kering

If you follow PUSPEL on Twitter, you will realise how precarious the water supply situation in the Klang Valley is. Treated water is supplied at 4,371 MLD (million liters per day) in the Klang Valley, while the optimal reserve capacity should be between 15 to 20 percent that amount.

However, between 5th June to 11th June, the buffer was only between 1 to 2 percent. On 5th June, it was at 2.06 percent while on 7th June, it was at 1.22 percent. On 17th June, the demand for treated water exceeded supply at 4,410 MLD. This shows that there was a deficit of treated water. Because of this, the Minister for Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Seri Peter Chin was reported to have said to reporters that “the danger zone is so near that we may resort to rationing water.”

While the effort to reduce non-revenue water (NRW) is ongoing, it would be more expensive as a short term goal to reduce NRW than it is to build treatment plants. The government would have to spend RM7.2 billion to reduce the NRW from 32.3 percent this year to 20.83 percent in 2020, and this would only save 126 MLD annually, while the Selangor-Pahang water channeling scheme, which involves building of the Langat 2 water treatment plant, would cost RM5 billion, but provide consumers in the Klang Valley a further 1,130 MLD. Of course, there is a need to educate the consumers in the Klang Valley the importance to conserve treated water. On average, Malaysians use 200 liters of treated water per person per day, while those in Selangor use 239 liters per person per day. To make matters worse, demand increases by 7 percent during the hot season such as now. In my opinion, the state government should increase tariff and not give free/subsidised water to consumers. This would help educate consumers to value water instead of looking at it as God’s eternally endless gift to mankind.

And with the bravado shown by the Selangor state government, we in the Klang Valley will soon be able to enjoy daily supply of ikan kering in lieu of water from the water catchment areas.

Ikan Kering Instead of Water
Ikan Kering instead of Water for water consumers in the Klang Valley if nothing is done soon to increase treated water supply