08 July 2019

News buletin

Straight-talking Rafidah to speak on how to reboot Malaysia’s education system
Aliran, 24 Jun 2019

Pertimbangkan pembahagian pendidikan kepada dua kementerian - Rafidah

Astro Awani, Jun 30, 2019

Jangan jadikan pendidikan 'bola sepak' dalam politik - Rafidah Aziz

Astro Awani,  Jun 30, 2019

Saya beritahu menteri jangan ego, kata Rafidah

Malaysiakini, 29 Jun 2019

Rafidah cerita murid tadika ingatkannya tentang mati
Malaysiakini, 29 Jun 2019

Rafidah calls for end to education ‘political football’


Malaysia Chronicle, June 30, 2019

Rafidah: No point hitting university KPIs if lecturers ‘steal’ PhD students’ work

Malay Mail, 29 June 2019

Rafidah: Better to have two education ministries as black shoes and ICT can’t be lumped together

Malay Mail, 29 June 2019

Rafidah: Let vernacular schools take natural course instead of calling for abolition

Malay Mail, 29 June 2019

Rafidah says personally advised Pakatan ministers, wives against ego trip, corruption

Malay Mail, 29 June 2019

I told Harapan ministers not to go on ego trip: Rafidah Aziz

Malaysiakini, 29 Jun 2019

Iron Lady: Don't teach school students divisive ideas

Malaysiakini, 29 Jun 2019

12 June 2019

GERAK Fund raising

Advance registration, pay to Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK), CIMB account no. 8003815372. Whatsapp receipt to Dr Rodiah Zawawi at 012-3865616. Keep receipt as proof of payment.

27 April 2019

World of Education

“Let’s spark a global discussion on copyright exceptions for education and research!” 

by David Edwards

Today it’s World Intellectual Property Day – a good day to remind us that it’s time to reform copyright law. We need action to change copyright systems that are hindering free expression and failing to promote diverse and prosperous societies for the benefit of all.
Copyright legislation has a major impact on daily teaching and learning activities at all levels of education – from early childhood to higher education.
At present, the law too often creates financial and legal barriers detrimental to quality education and research, blocking educators, researchers and students from the ability to adapt, create and share teaching and learning materials and infringing the most fundamental right to freedom of speech.

The need for global copyright reform
As the world continues searching for the best mechanisms to support the implementation of human rights and the sustainable development agenda, it is essential that reform be led by the needs of education and research and the public interest that addresses existing legal gaps – just as the WIPO Marrakech Treaty did. Otherwise we might see more of this or this.
In order to move one step closer to a global consensus, EI together with about 40 other organizations, recently endorsed a draft international  treaty on copyright for education and research (TERA). It addresses the legal gaps of cross-border collaboration and exchange and carefully balances the rights of creators and users. TERA would be an improvement for many educators, researchers and students including for those with disabilities. More broadly it would be beneficial for the development of sustainable, innovative and creative societies.
We hope that together with supporting Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organisation we can accelerate progress towards a balanced global copyright instrument. This way WIPO as a specialized UN agency can make its important contribution to the fulfillment of SDG 4 Quality Education but also SDG 5 Gender Equality, SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure and SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities.
The right to education and copyright
Fair access to materials for teaching and learning is a fundamental part of the right to education and essential to the implementation of SDG 4. Everyone with teaching experience knows that in addition to textbooks and other pre-prepared materials the integration of additional real-life examples and creative works are essential. We as teachers show additional videos in class, paste a motivating image on a worksheet, use different photographs to explain historical events, sing modern songs in class, discuss online news items or engage in online exchanges with classes abroad. And, because today’s World IP Day theme is “Reach for Gold: IP and Sports” let’s add sport news and music for movements to the list.
Copyright legislation is basically all around us. For us to make a difference we need fair copyright legislation that helps us reach a very specific gold: the right to education.
Academic freedom to choose and adapt materials
It is also important to consider this from a professional perspective. It is internationally agreed that "[t]he choice and adaptation of teaching materials” (UNESCO/ILO 1966) is critical to teachers’ academic and professional freedoms. When copyright laws are too restrictive, expensive and bureaucratically burdensome these freedoms are curtailed. Then teachers might be bound to use commercially produced materials, are forced to work in legal grey zones and ultimately are unable to fulfil their public missions. This is particularly important to consider in countries where educational publishing is censored, too expensive or not locally relevant, but also everywhere teachers manage the complex task of adapting teaching materials to diverse student populations.
The appetite for reform is growing - either to update copyright laws to also cover the use of digital works in education or to advance cross-border solutions.
International solutions are needed for modern education
The European Union, for instance, recognizes that "more cross-border access to content online"  for collaboration and exchange is essential and has recently passed an EU-wide mandatory copyright exception for education. It also established a text and data mining exception that would allow researchers across Europe to analyze big research data bases.
At international level the WIPO Member States – including the EU – already decided in 2012 that it would be time to move international normative work on this topic further. This has been a long time demand particularly by developing countries.
Hope for progress at WIPO in 2019?
Despite this recognition, progress at WIPO has been slow. Now, seven years later, there might be a chance coming as WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) has adopted an Action Plan for education, research and persons with disabilities. There will be regional events in Singapore, Kenya and the Dominican Republic as well as an international conference in Geneva – all dedicated to copyright exceptions and limitations.
We can increase the WIPO momentum by using this International Intellectual Property Day to spark a global discussion, focusing the widespread attention of those with an interest in the right to knowledge and fair access to and use of works for teaching and learning.
We can use this year to share the voice of the profession and there are different things you can do:
1)      Endorse TERA – the global draft treaty: http://infojustice.org/tera
2)      Join the biannual discussions at WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
3)      Join the regional WIPO seminars or the international conference in October in Geneva to share your stories

20 April 2019

Media Statement 19 April 2019

Media Statement on the Statute of Rome Public Forum
to be held on Saturday, 27 April 2019 at Universiti Malaya
Earlier this month, on 7 April, nine student activists leaked to the online media and also through social media a document alleged to have been the Executive Summary of a presentation by four academics to the Council of Rulers.
The presentation argued that there were negative implications, particularly for Malaysia’s constitutional monarchs, of Malaysia becoming a signatory to the Statute of Rome.
Since then, the contents of the Executive Summary have been scrutinized and publicly critiqued by other academics, lawyers, and even the students.
Unfortunately, the four academics, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Deputy Vice Chancellor and law professor Rahmat Mohamad, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) law associate professor, Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) law lecturers, Fareed Mohd Hassan and Hisham Hanapi, have NOT countered these critiques.
Indeed, they have been as quiet as church mice in the public domain. Two have since declined - and the other two have not responded to - invitations to speak at a public forum on the Rome Statute, convened by a number of civil society and academic organisations, including GERAK.
The forum, to be held in Universiti Malaya on Saturday, 27 April, now has five speakers, including the attorney general, Tommy Thomas, and renowned constitutional law expert, Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi. The student activist who led the expose, Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi, will also be speaking. The stage is indeed set for a productive teaching and learning session.
In this regard, GERAK, as an academic organization concerned about academic integrity and accountability, calls upon the four academics above, all four from PUBLIC universities funded by Malaysian taxpayers, to come and speak at this public forum, to debate their stand.

11 April 2019

Protect Malaysia and Stop Lynas from Polluting Our Environment

We, the undersigned NGOs and concerned individuals call on the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Cabinet, especially the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Climate Change (MESTECC) Yeo Bee Yin to:
• SUSPEND Lynas’ operating licence to STOP Lynas polluting our precious environment
• REJECT Lynas’ application to turn its current waste storage site into a prescribed premise for its massive amount of scheduled waste
• ENSURE that Lynas and/or its new owner take active steps to remove its toxic radioactive waste from Malaysia by the September deadline and thoroughly clean up its contaminated groundwater and soil
• NEVER ever to allow any of Lynas’ toxic waste to remain in Malaysia to risk contaminating our environment
• ENSURE that the promised US$50 million deposit from Lynas is paid in full in cash and not in Lynas’ shares
• HOLD the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and Department of Environment (DoE) to task to ensure that they perform their mandated roles and duty with a high degree of professionalism and integrity in the interest of Malaysia and the Rakyat.

Sustainable Investments Stem from Good Governance and Effective Administration

We recognise and acknowledge that Malaysia needs foreign investment. It is therefore even more pertinent that we present our beloved country as a conducive place to responsible corporations/companies to do business and operate in, based on good governance, high level of professionalism in our dealings and integrity in the way we conduct businesses. Malaysia will be an attractive investment destination if our Government uphold the law and restore order to create a fair and equal playing field for all. The PH Government has the power to make this happen.

MESTECC’s decision requiring Lynas to remove its toxic radioactive waste is merely to hold Lynas accountable to its own undertakings made in 2012 to the then BN Government. By continuing to tolerate Lynas’ massive piles of wastes, we are sending the wrong signal that Malaysia is a third world nation desperate for toxic trade and polluting industries. In so doing, Malaysia has essentially undermined and disadvantaged many other responsible businesses that have taken pride in abiding to our environmental law and regulation through genuine actions to protect our environment and public health.

As civil society groups and individuals. we too have been particularly patient and tolerant, giving benefits of the doubt to the PH Government which we have helped put into power last May, We have largely held in good faith that PH Ministers and responsible MPs from all parties would concertedly tackle the Lynas toxic waste problems to protect Malaysia and the Rakyat from its radioactive and toxic hazards.

Sustainable Development is a PH Promise to the Rakyat

Many of us have contributed and campaigned for PH to be elected. We wish to remind all Ministers and Members of Parliaments of the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto, which your respective Party has signed onto before GE14. Janji/Promise 39 commits PH to "Balancing the Development with Environmental Protection". Therefore, development decision from the PH Cabinet must lead to the security and well-being of the people and our environment.

Lynas is a poisoned chalice from the Najib era and a toxic re-run made possible only through generous loan packages from Japan. Malaysia should not be an easy target for Japan to wage its geopolitical technological war with China. Lynas has no place in Malaysia and least of all, if PH is committed to pursuing a sustainable development future. Sustainable development as promised in the PH Manifesto is only possible if the Government upholds our own law to restore order.

Tun, we supported your leadership because we trust that you will act in Malaysia’s interest and that you will uphold your words to undo past mistakes. Lynas is a major mistake committed by the Najib regime. We now count on all of you whom we have voted into power, to right this wrong to pave the way for Malaysia to pursue a new clean and safe sustainable pathway of development.

Endorsed by:

1. Save Malaysia Stop Lynas
2. Greenpeace Malaysia
3. Himpunan Hijau
4. PEKA Malaysia
5. Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA)
6. Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia (GRASS Malaysia)
7. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
8. Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)
9. North South Initiative
10. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
11. SMSL Segamat
12. Stop Lynas Coalition
13. Gelombang Hijau
14. Aliran Kesedaran Negara
15. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
16. Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
17. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
18. BaramKini
19. Mama BERSIH
21. Citizens' Health Initiative
22. Persatuan Penggerak Hijau
23. Ban Cyanide Action Committee
24. Himpunan Hijau Johor
32. Green Earth Society
34. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
35. Beyond Borders
36. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
37. Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA)
38. Malaysian Nature Society Pahang
39. Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (SAWO)
40. Pusat KOMAS
41. To Earth With Love
42. Tanah Dahai
43. Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia
44. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
45. Sustainable Development Network Malaysia (SUSDEN Malaysia)
46. Foreign Spouses Support Group
47. Treat Every Environment Special ( TrEES)
48. Sahabat Rakyat 人民之友 ம"க$ ேதாழ)கள
49. Health Equity Initiatives
50. Justice for Sisters
25. Persatuan Penunggang Basikal Jelajah Bumi Hijau
26. University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY)
27. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)
29. Perak Green Pioneer
30. Women Development Organisation of Malaysia
31. The KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Women Section
51. Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia
52. Tenaganita
53. Jaringan Orang Asal Semalaysia (JOAS)
54. Monsoons Malaysia
55. Friends of Kota Damansara
56. MyPJ
58.The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
59. Student Unity Front
60. Bersih Gold Coast
61. Bersih Timor Leste

Rationale of Our Demands

Lynas is Unethical and Unscientific

Lynas is a 100% Australian-owned junior mining company that places profit before ethics, public and environmental health. Despite long standing common knowledge that rare earth processing produces huge amount of toxic waste contaminated with radionuclides and a wide range of other toxic elements and chemicals, Lynas has denied the scientific truth about its hazards in the waste and effluent, leaving them to pollute our environment.

In fact, Lynas’ rare earth deposits in Mt Weld has the second highest thorium content in the world when compared with other known deposits. Yet, Lynas has claimed that its radioactive thorium and uranium in the waste are naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM); and are therefore harmless.

Lynas’ Waste is Radioactive

Lynas’ ore have been mined, milled and chemically processed -i.e, technically enhanced (TE). Hence its radionuclides and toxic elements have been exposed from their natural shields. Scientifically, NORM/TENORM are a source of ionising radiation hazard that poses a potential long-term cumulative cancer risk if a person is exposed to it on a regular basis.

A 2014 study by UKM has found that the thorium radioactivity concentration in Lynas’ water leached
purification (WLP) stream of wastes to be 8Bq/g - eight times higher than the regulatory exemption limit of 1Bq/g. The Executive Review Committee revealed that each pile of plastic covered WLP waste has an estimated effective exposure dose of 14.1mSv/year, fourteen times higher than the established international exposure limit for the public of 1mSv/year! Western Australian Government has confirmed that the WLP waste is radioactive.

Lynas’ Waste has Contaminated Groundwater

Contamination of the groundwater is evidenced from data obtained from its own monitoring stations since 2015. The presence of toxic heavy metals including nickel, chromium and lead in the WLP waste has been identified by Lynas’ own consultant, Environ, in its 2011 Safety Case Analysis Report. Yet Lynas has denied that it is responsible for the contamination.

Stop Lynas’ Pollution and Groundwater Contamination Now

A responsible Government must suspend Lynas’ operating licence, impose heavy fine and order the company to remove its toxic waste and clean up its contamination to as far as it has spread in the environment. Lynas’ hazards are cancer-causing radioactive thorium and uranium; and other toxic elements from heavy metals, arsenic and chemicals found in its WLP waste that should have been isolated from the environment.

We welcome Tun’s recent announcement to impose a new condition requiring Lynas to only bring in radioactive-free semi-processed feedstock for refining through its Malaysian plant. However, we are deeply concerned that the half a million tonnes of toxic waste and nearly 1.2 million tonnes of scheduled waste that Lynas has generated to date have already polluted our environment. This must be STOPPED immediately. So far, no effort has been taken either by Lynas or our regulator to stop radioactive and toxic substances from entering our environment since Lynas has been allowed to continue operating to generate more and more of these hazards.

Our Regulators Have FAILED in their Duty of Care

Our regulators namely Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and Department of Environment (DoE) have both failed in their duty of care to act in their mandated roles to diligently monitor pollution and to enforce the law. No other business in the world has been allowed to store over 450,000 tonnes of radioactive and toxic waste in the open covered only with plastic sheets!

No other business in Malaysia has been allowed to accumulate nearly 1.2 million tonnes of scheduled waste on site over six years, when our regulation has since 2005 limited onsite storage to not more than 20 tonnes for up to 180 days only! No responsible regulator would remain silent and not verify the source or cause of serious toxic heavy metal contamination of the groundwater, when 50 families in the local area are dependent on groundwater for their daily uses. This constitutes a gross negligence on the part of our public services.

To make matter worse, these public funded ‘regulators’ have continued to sing Lynas’ praises to protect this foreign company which has been enjoying its 12-year tax holiday, despite scientific evidence and data showing that Lynas’ waste disposal site is problematic. Allowing Lynas to store toxic waste in poorly lined dams located in a flood and fire prone low-lying porous peat mangrove with groundwater table less than 1 metre from the surface has made a mockery of Malaysia’s environmental standard. These ‘regulators’ have failed to critically verify Lynas’ misleading and false claims of zero harm and international best practice; quoted the IAEA findings and recommendations out of context, thereby putting our environment and local people at the mercy of Lynas’ pollution.

Lynas is a Liability for Malaysia

Ultimately, rakyat of Malaysia will end up paying for the Government’s failure in stopping this toxic rerun. Lynas’ toxic legacy will be many times far more costly than the Bukit Merah Asian Rare Earth (ARE) legacy as the amount of radioactive and toxic waste generated by Lynas has already exceeded that from ARE by 40 times. Malaysia will end up copping the high costs of cleaning up the Lynas toxic site, deteriorating health outcomes of local people requiring expensive medical care when they start to suffer from known diseases associated with Lynas’ hazards. Sadly, it will be too late to prevent this tragedy by then because it usually takes many years of bio-accumulation to develop into detectable and visible chronic health conditions both for humans and the environment.

Lynas’ Toxic Waste Must be Removed from Malaysia

The amount of thorium, uranium, heavy metals, toxic elements and chemicals in Lynas’ wastes have added significant hazards to Malaysia. Their total removal from Malaysia is critical to avoid costly health and environmental disasters.

A densely populated country like Malaysia cannot afford to sacrifice hundreds of hectares of precious land and/or pristine forest for Lynas’ toxic waste. Malaysia’s frequent tropical deluge, which often lead to floods, erosions and landslides is technically challenging and risky for the storage of radioactive waste as it is impossible to prevent leachate from contaminating the environment, as evidenced from Lynas’ own experience.

Lynas’ De-Commissioning Deposit Fund

The paltry US$50 million Lynas has committed to for the de-commissioning fund will not be enough to clean up the Lynas mess. Bukit Merah ARE radioactive waste was 40 times less than what Lynas has generated to date. Mitsubishi spent US100 millions to entomb the waste and the plant in a one square kilometre pristine forest on a hill slope. Lynas’ attempt to make its current storage facility a permanent dump site in a peat swamp is grossly irresponsible given the serious contaminations problems that have already occurred.