Wednesday, July 28, 2010

After murder, more protections for foreign brides

A group of migrant women by marriage stages a protest rally yesterday in front of the National Human Rights Commission in Seoul. [YONHAP]
Koreans trying to wed foreigners will have to take prior education courses about international marriages, and those who fail to attend will be denied visas for their brides, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced Tuesday.

The measure was the latest move by the Korean government to protect foreign spouses following the murder of a Vietnamese woman by her mentally-ill Korean husband this month.

Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc, 20, was beaten and stabbed to death in her home by her 47-year-old husband, just eight days after arriving in the country. The two had met through an international matchmaking service, which failed to check the man’s past record of mental illness.

In other efforts, the ministry has pledged to step up monitoring of matchmaking agencies and is considering establishing non-profit agencies for international marriages.

“We promised to set up measures to prevent such an incident from occurring again,” the Minister of Gender Equality and Family said in a press release.

Under the policy drawn up with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Justice Ministry and the National Police Agency, among others, Koreans looking to wed foreigners will be required to receive cultural education on living with a foreigner. Those who fail to attend the courses will be denied a visa to the countries of their future spouses. Also, F-2 visas for foreign spouses entering Korea will be issued only when their Korean partners have taken the courses, the ministry said.

The government will also examine financial and health conditions, marriage histories and criminal records of Korean spouses. Those who have records of multiple divorces, domestic violence, or financial or mental problems will be denied visas.

Counseling services will be expanded for foreign wives, and information on the ministry’s Web site will be offered in different languages.

Many South Korean men, mostly from farming villages where gender imbalance has become more and more pronounced, search for wives through matchmaking agencies. One out of every 10 marriages last year - 33,300 out of 309,759 (10.8 percent) - were international marriages, most of them between Korean men and women from China, Vietnam or the Philippines.
korean migrant web

Bogus job agencies busted

Lakshmi DE SILVA

The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) special investigation unit had raided five more bogus job recruitment agencies last week and filed action against the suspects. During the last two weeks, the SLBFE had taken action against 10 illegal recruitment agencies, an SLBFE official told the Daily News yesterday.
Daily News
The raids were carried out on the instructions of the SLBFE Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka who received complaints from the public.

The officers had taken 99 passports into custody from Trans Air Gulf recruitment agency in Haliela and had produced one suspect before the Magistrate who ordered to furnish personal bail in Rs 500,000 and to appear in Court on August 17, he said.

Another suspect from O.M. Gift Centre, Badulla road, Welimada was taken into custody with eight passports and produced before the Welimada Magistrate’s Court.

She was bailed out on a surety of Rs 10,000 and personal bail of Rs 200,000. She was directed to appear before Court on August 31, he stated.

Another illegal foreign employment agency was raided at 165, Nelumpathwewa road, Ambanpola North, Mahawa by SLBFE officials who took into custody two passports and documents along with the owner of the agency.

He was produced before Mahawa Magistrate and released on a surety of Rs 7,000 and a personal bail of Rs100,000, he said.

Two illegal recruitment agencies were raided in Maradana and suspects were produced before the Maligakanda Magistrate. The agency at 765/142, Bodhiraja Mawatha, Maligawatte had 52 passports while The Genuine Travels and Tours foreign employment agency had eight passports in their possession when the raid was carried out. The suspects were released on personal bail of Rs 20,000 and Rs 25,000, the official said.

SLBFE Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka also took part in a sudden inspection tour at the People’s Park Pettah to check 20 foreign recruitment agencies recently to check whether the agencies work according to SLBFE rules and regulations.

41 women suffering in Saudi - Arabia -No response from authorities

It is reported that 41 Sri Lankan women are going through immeasurable suffering in Saudi-Arabia. Despite Sri Lankan Embassy in Saudi-Arabia, the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Sri Lanka have been informed about this issue, no remediable action has been taken yet.

Though ten women have fallen sick already they have not been granted any medical treatment yet say reports.

The women state that they went to Saudi-Arabia to work as cleaners in "Rasik Al-Mussalla" company. They were taken to Saudi-Arabia by a foreign employment agency known as New Trans Gulf and they had been promisesd Saudy Riyal 650 as monthly wages with free food and lodging.

However following the arrival in Saudi-Arabia that particular company didn't grant any employment to them and they are detained in a hostel. They are not permitted to go out from that place and they are not properly looked after.

Those women state that the particular company pays them only a small sum of money now and then for their food. They have appaealed to the government of Sri Lanka and relevant authorities to save them from the misery they are undergoing and bring them immediately back to Sri Lanka.

Lanka Truth

Thursday, July 22, 2010


July 22, 2010: Two Lankan women have died in Jordan and in Lebanon .

According to the Foreign Employment Bureau, one woman who had been employed in Jordan had committed suicide by setting herself on fire.

The deceased was 35-year-old resident of Horowpathana.

The Additional General Manager of the Bureau L. K. Ruhunage disclosed that an investigation carried out by the Sri Lankan embassy in Jordan had confirmed that the death had in fact had been an act of suicide and not murder.

Meanwhile the other woman who had been employed in Lebanon had been killed in a road accident.

“The victim had been run over by a vehicle driven by an underaged individual,” said Ruhunage.

The victim was a 35-year-old resident of Matara.

“The bureau is working together with the Ministry of External Affairs to make arrangements to bring back the bodies of the two women. Steps will be taken to provide compensation and salary arrears due to the deceased women,” he said.

Copyright © 2009 All Rights Reserved.

Filipina maid inherits millions from Singaporean employer

July 21, 2010 (AFP) - A devoted Filipina maid inherited six million Singapore dollars (more than four million US) from her late employer after more than 20 years of service, a newspaper report said Wednesday.
"I am the luckiest maid in Singapore, with or without the money," the 47-year-old single woman -- identified only by the pseudonym "Christine" -- told the Straits Times in an interview.
The maid refused to be named in public for fear of possible threats to her life in the impoverished Philippines, where wealthy people have been kidnapped for ransom and some killed by their abductors.
The windfall, including cash and a luxury apartment near the Orchard Road shopping belt, came from the estate of her employer Quek Kai Miew, a medical doctor and philanthropist who died last year at 66.
The maid had also taken care of the doctor's late mother, and was told that she would be a beneficiary of her employer's will when it was drawn up in 2008.
"There were no secrets between us. I was not surprised at all when she told me how much I was going to get," the maid recalled.
"Christine" was devastated when Quek died a year ago, as the two were inseparable, and temporarily moved in with the doctor's nephew for solace.
"It was heartbreaking for me as I saw more years with Doctor Quek than with my own mother. I would break down every time I thought about her. I could not be by myself," she said.
"I was always beside her. Wherever she went, I was with her."
The maid, who is now applying for permanent residency in Singapore, said her newfound wealth had not changed her lifestyle.
"I do not really think much about the money I got. I just live my life as I did before, and not as a rich person," the maid, dressed simply in a blouse and slacks with short-cropped hair, was quoted as saying.
"I am still who I was before. I cannot behave differently because I have money now. Even my Filipino maid friends here still treat me the same."
Nearly 200,000 foreign maids, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, work in affluent Singapore, which has a population of five million.
Arab Times Online

No fresh entry ban after the first one expires
(Adel Arafa)

22 July 2010, 6:24 AM
The Federal Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that companies cannot slap a fresh ban on former workers after their old ban expires.
The law allows workers to re-enter the country using a new visa after the end of the first ban, the court said. The ruling came following a case filed by an Indian foreman, 29, against a contracting company where he worked for seven years.
According to the employee, his employer terminated his service because he demanded an increase in salary. The employer then cancelled his residency and imposed a one-year ban on him from the Department of Naturalization and Residency. He was later deported to his country.
After the expiry of the ban, a maintenance firm issued an employment permit for him through which he entered the country and passed the iris scan test.
His new employer stamped his passport with a residency visa, but his former employer filed a malicious lawsuit demanding imposition of a new one-year ban on him.
The old company also sought his arrest and deportation despite his legal status.
The worker asked the court to intervene and stop his former employer from harassing him at his new work site. He also demanded suitable compensation for the financial and psychological damage the situation had caused him.
The Federal Court of First Instance in Abu Dhabi threw out the case, but the worker contested before the Federal Court of Appeal which quashed the primary verdict, saying the worker had the right to stay on and work in the country. It also exempted him from payment of fees.
The ex-employer challenged the judgment before the Federal Supreme Court which turned down its petition and confirmed the legal status of the worker.
“Companies which impose a ban on workers cannot do that again after the expiry of that sanction because it has nothing to do with them,’’ the apex court ruled.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Firm owners have to pay employees even if business was shut down MoI closes 10 domestic workers recruiting offices

KUWAIT CITY, July 19: Undersecretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor Mohammad Al-Kandari affirmed that the new labor law for private sector obliges owners of commercial establishments and private companies to pay salaries to their employees even for the period when the business was shut down, if it is proved that the establishment was intentionally shut to oblige employees to submit to the demands of the owner, reports Al-Shahid daily.

Al Kandari stated that a business owner has to pay the salaries of employees during the entire period of the inactivity, whether wholly or partially, in case the owner wants them to continue work. “In calculating the employee’s dues, the last payment received by him or her is considered. The dues are determined as an average of the received payments during the past three months,” Al-Kandari added. He pointed out that the ministry not only released the new labor law, but it also monitors and constantly inspects commercial establishments and private companies to ensure that all articles of the law are being implemented.

KUWAIT CITY: The Ministry of Interior department that looks after domestic workers hiring offices is said to have closed 10 offices, some for violating laws, or not renewing the commercial licenses or for indulging in activities that are not in line with their licenses, reports Alam Alyawm daily.
According to reports the campaign was led by Major-General Kamel Al-Awadhi upon directives from director of the department Brigadier Abdullah Al-Ali and under the supervision of Captain Eskandar Al-Kandari.
Some offices were closed for violating residence laws by the maids.
Arab Times Online

Migrants workers collateral damage of UAE slump

SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates, July 20 (Reuters) - Under an unforgiving sun, South Asian workers stir giant pots of rice, their only food, in a barren patch of desert 80 km from a gleaming Dubai skyline built over decades by migrant labour.
Abandoned by employers who left the United Arab Emirates after the Dubai economy soured, the men cannot afford to stay, but they also cannot leave. They have not been paid for months and their passports were confiscated long ago.
These workers, and thousands like them stranded in business hub Dubai and neighbouring emirate Sharjah, are the human collateral damage of the world economic crisis that crippled Dubai's building frenzy.
"We're stuck here while our families back home in India face a dark future with no money. I don't have a single fils (cent)," said Mohan, a worker whose employer, a labour supply company, fled the UAE two months ago.
The UAE transformed itself in a half century from a small Gulf Arab fishing and trade centre on a desert coast into a regional business and tourism hub on the back of cheap foreign labour.
But now, as companies contract or fold all together, some employers are slipping out of the country, leaving work camps filled with stranded migrants with nowhere to go.
The gas and electricity have now been cut to Mohan's work camp in Sharjah, which houses 350 technicians and drivers. The men have no air conditioning -- critical in a desert country where summer temperatures hit 47 degrees Celsius (116 Fahrenheit).
Stories like those of the Sharjah camp are growing more common, said Saher Shaikh, a well-off Pakistani expatriate who runs charity efforts to provide the workers food and medicine.
"They are promised pay, and told to keep working," she said. But the management flees, work stops, and wages never come.
The UAE has faced criticism from rights groups who say companies go unpunished as they flout laws to ensure workers are paid on time and their papers not withheld. Others say the government's task is daunting because of the speed at which some companies pulled up stakes.
"The government is trying its best. It's hard to stop this exploitation of workers," said Ebtisam al-Kitbi, a UAE analyst. She said the UAE now required companies to set up automated payment through banks to ensure workers get their wages.
The workers in the Sharjah camp say they have not been paid monthly wages of about 800 dirhams ($217) in six months to a year, and their families are going hungry. At their employer's office, the phones ring and ring, but no one answers.
Stuck in Sharjah, the men wait, crammed into camps of indistinguishable, crumbling housing blocks like worker bees in a honeycomb. A brown trail of sewage oozes between buildings, its suffocating stench spreading nausea and fever among the men.
The Ministry of Labour, which did not reply to requests for comment, has been slowly answering workers' calls for help: It sent home around 1,500 labourers in June and paid their wages.
But months have passed as Mohan and his coworkers in Sharjah wait for help from the Labour Ministry and Indian Embassy, who have retrieved their passports and promise to send them home.
Daintily picking through the litter-strewn Sharjah camp in silver shoes and a flowing cloak, Shaikh listens as men flock around her to vent their frustrations, some holding back tears.
"We just sit and sleep, and have too much time to worry. We just want to go back to India," one man in the crowd pleads.
For the past four years, Shaikh, 33, has been making regular visits to dozens of camps, bringing donated food and hygiene products. But it was only in the past year she began to find workers completely stranded and in dire need, she said.
"With the economic climate the way it is now, so many companies are doing this," she said. "The camp right next door is in the same situation. That's how common it is. It's next door. We don't even have to find them."
Dubai's 6-year boom that fuelled construction of the world's tallest building and palm-shaped islands slammed to a halt in 2008 after the global financial crisis. Millions of dollars of construction projects were slashed or put on hold.
The faltering economy can be particularly hard on those unpaid workers with hefty balances outstanding on loans they took to pay recruiters to bring them to Dubai for work.
"That's why we see suicides happen," Shaikh said, noting that the suicide rate had spiked since last year. "They think if they kill themselves the loan sharks will leave their families at home alone. But they don't. They'll still go after them."
Many workers, promised unrealistic salaries, take loans of $2,000 to $4,000 to pay recruitment agencies to bring them to the UAE, even though the law here bans the practice.
In boom times, labourers quickly paid back loans through overtime. Now, the cranes and drills lie idle and the men, without even their base wages, say their families are suffering.
"My family is hungry," Mohan said. "I had two kids trying to get a degree, and now what? There is no money to study."
Shaikh blamed the companies for the workers' plight. "It's 100 percent their fault," she said. "They could have afforded to send the men home fairly. Instead they've left them here to rot, while they're far away driving their BMWs."
But Samer Muscati, from Human Rights Watch, said the UAE was responsible for not enforcing its laws. "Obviously, the state has failed if this is happening on such a wide scale," he said.
Surprisingly, the stranded workers, so desperate to leave, are equally anxious to return to the United Arab Emirates.
"We will all come back, what else can we do? We have no choice," Mohan said, shaking his head. "There is no other work."
Arab Times Online

Two Filipinas killed in Kuwait this week

Two Filipinas were killed in Kuwait this week, one by her husband and the other by her employers.
The Egyptian husband has reportedly stabbed his Filipina wife 31 times at a women’s salon in front of shocked colleagues and clients.
The killer fled from the scene after the murder, leaving the victim in a pool of blood, as securitymen and paramedics rushed to the salon in Jabriya, witnesses said. However, the victim was dead before the rescue officers and medical emergency team reached the scene, Kuwait Times reported.
Sources said that the detectives and personnel from the Criminal Evidence Department took the murder weapon and the suspect’s shoes from the crime scene as a detailed description of the suspect has been given to various security checkpoints in the country.
According to eye-witness accounts, the assailant, who was known to the victim’s co-workers, arrived at the saloon slightly after noon and asked about his wife before he attacked her with what appeared to be a meat cleaver.
Friends and co-workers have reportedly said that the victim arrived recently from vacation in her hometown in Zamboanga in the Southern Philippine Island of Mindanao where she took her three children.
Another friend of the victim, who asked not to be named, said that the assailant apparently committed the crime in a fit of jealousy and desperation because he did not want his wife to divorce him, the Kuwaiti daily said.
Friends of the victim reportedly said they often saw her report to work with black and blue marks from beatings inflicted by her husband and that her hand was heavily bandaged just before she went on vacation.
On Thursday, another Filipina, a domestic helper, was killed reportedly by the couple employing her.
According to reports, the Kuwaiti employer confessed that she and her husband maltreated the maid on a daily basis, but when they feared that the maid would die, they took her in their car to a deserted area and crushed her under their vehicle to give the impression that she was had been run over by a motorist. The woman’s husband corroborated the confession.
Habib Toumi

Racism against Migrants is the Norm in Oman

Oman Racism
No where in the world racism is still openly embraced like it is in the Gulf of Persia (did I say Persia?), well, other than Israel. The most amazing part about the way people deal with their racism here is that they have no idea it is racism in the first place!
In a very enlightening debate I had with a couple of managers a while ago, I was stunned to see how smooth it was for them to openly defend paying an Indian 10% of what they pay to a Jordanian, knowing that both will pretty much accomplish the same amount of work, simply because the Indian was… well, a bloody Indian!
The Omani girl in the office, who I am still not sure whether she has 20 exact black Abayahas or she never changes her outfit, cracks the hell out of me every time she tries to start a “global” conversation going on about the world around us, it is one of my greatest pleasures in this place to listen to her and get blown away day after another by the way she was brought up and the ideas that were stuffed in her brain. The latest of that was a few days ago; she was passing by an Indian assistant, who apparently never showers, then covered her nose with disgust, when she approached me, she mumbled that the guy smells so bad, but guess what, to her, it was not because of his body fluids, it was due to the fact that he was not a Muslim!
In the first few days after I arrived to Muscat, I was sent for a couple of check ups and some paper filling to get my residency. Now, despite that fact that bureaucracy was not as bad as I thought it would be, I had one of my first encounters with open racism in its most clear forms; as I was sitting on a long bench outside some hall waiting for one of the papers to get done, a group of Indian workers arrived to do the same, those poor guys were accompanied by their Omani employer who ordered them to sit on the bench and wait. They all obeyed at once and rushed to the bench, this is when one Omani, who was apparently an employee there, noticed that they left spaces between each other that could fit a couple more, so he started cussing and shouting at them to squeeze in together. Although I can promise that it was the first time he saw them, he called each and every one of them stupid and commanded them as if he was their master. The poor workers squeezed in as if their lives depended on it, and when they did that, I got squeezed in with them, this is when the same Omani spotted me and immediately asked me to move away from them; “I am sorry for those idiots, you can sit on the other side.” He assured me. To my understanding, the only difference between me and them was that I had a whiter skin and did not wear slippers.
Life goes on here like that, until you get to a point where you don’t know whether it’s wrong or right, you see everyone settled to it; from the Indian down the chain to the Englishman on top.
Cross posted from

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Domestic worker 'enslaved' in Kuwait for 13 years

KUWAIT: She only dreamt of buying a new home for her mother. However, it remained just that - a dream. Instead of earning a cozy job, good salary and savings she fell into the clutches of a cruel and merciless employer for over 13 years without pay. Fifty seven year old Kamalawathie Katawala has been working for her sponsor since 1997. (Kuwait Times had reported yesterday that she worked for 17 years. However, the Colombo government's records show a 13 year time period). She landed a job in Kuwait befo
re the Gulf War in 1990 - at first working for an Egyptian family. During the war, however, she ran away with her Egyptian sponsor to Jordan. At the peak of the war, she was told to go back with her family to Sri Lanka and wait there until the war is over. She did return to Sri Lanka, but the promise of Egyptian sponsor who would take her back to Kuwait, never materialized.

Struggling to accomplish her dream of buying a house, she embarked on another overseas challenge. She obtained a new visa for Kuwait job. This time, she ended up working for whom she calls 'merciless employers' in Jahra. Between stifled sobs, Kamala narrated her ordeal to the Kuwait Times through an interpreter as she could only communicate in Arabic and her native Sinhala language.

Three days after arriving from Sri Lanka, I almost gave up. They beat me; I sustained bruises, my head was also hit. They told me to continue working with them. I cried hard every day but nobody listened. I stopped crying and accepted my fate," Kamala narrated her story.

She asked for her salary, a month after her arrival, "They asked me why I needed money. For what? I told them because I was working to earn money. But they mocked me," she said. "From then on, the same story was repeated every month. I would ask for my salary but I would never get any. They said they have no money. I really believed that since they did not have any air-conditioning facilities installed at home. I would sleep on the floor at night. I would place wet towel on their beds for cooling. I did th
e same to the place where I would sleep," she said. These living conditions changed after a few years, she recalled.

After two years, I tried to escape. I went out, hid in the car with my bag. But when I tried to cross the street, they saw me run. They quickly grabbed me, beat me up again and locked me inside the room for one day. They warned me against trying to escape again. They said they would kill me. So from then on, I didn't even try to escape anymore," she sobbed.

She explained that she was forced to obey strict orders. "I also stopped asking for money because I was really afraid," she said. Kamala is not aware of the number of years that have elapsed since being 'employed' with her sponsor. She has lost count of days and months and remembers having tried to place an unsuccessful phone call to an acquaintance in her home town of Avissawela. Kamala is partially literate, she can count and read numbers.

A few months ago, a compatriot named Guita arrived at her sponsor's home to work as a domestic helper. She suffered under the same appalling conditions. Also, whenever Guita inquired about Kamala not being allowed to leave on vacation, the sponsor would lie, "They told Guita that I don't like to leave their home. They told her that I was sent to the airport many times but I would refuse to board a plane. But those are lies. I was never allowed to go to the airport; not even once," she told Kuwait Times.
So when Guita planned to escape, I asked her not to leave me alone," she said.

They finally snatched a life-changing opportunity on June 26, "We walked out and hid between passing cars so as to avoid being caught by our sponsor. When we reached a co-operative society, Guita asked me to hide behind a bush. The plan was to hire a taxi that would take us to the embassy. I waited for long until I gave up and hired one on my own. I thought that our employer had caught her," she said.

But an hour later, Guita arrived at the Sri Lankan embassy, pleading with authorities to help Kamala. She was oblivious to the fact that Kamala was already there. Both were reunited at the embassy's premises. At the time of writing this, Kamala is still unaware of the fact that her mother whom she loved dearly had passed away almost a year ago. The information was relayed to Kuwait Times by a Sri Lankan embassy official who had contacted Kamala's family. She looks forward to returning to her family - to b
e with her mother, two brothers and two sisters. She acknowledged that her dream to build a home for her mother was never fulfilled. The Sri Lankan Ambassador to Kuwait Sarath Dissanayake has promised to resort to proper legal channels to resolve Kamala's issue.


July 15, 2010: Steps have been taken to bring down the body of the Sri Lankan national who was killed in a bomb blast in the Ugandan capital Kampala recently.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Sri Lankan ambassador to Kenya has been given the necessary instructions in this regard.

The ministry said that it could take several days to bring down the body.

It was on the 11th of this month, a Sri Lankan national was killed in the twin explosions in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, which also killed 74 others.

The bombs targeted people watching the World Cup final in a restuarant and a sports club in Kampala on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lifeline for workers of closed firms

Adel Arafa

The MoL is rectifying the status of workers sponsored by closed firms by either transferring their sponsorship to other employers or cancelling their residency visas without a ban, an official said.
Jassim Jamil, Director of Work Relations at the ministry, told Khaleej Times, “In case a firm was closed for any reason, workers must report to the Ministry of Labour (MoL) to correct their status. A worker staying in the country — whether he works for another sponsor or not — is considered a violator of the labour law because he was mainly brought from his home country to join a certain company. He is not allowed to work in another firm without correcting his status.”
Failing to do so, he will be breaching the labour minister’s resolution for recruiting non-Emiratis. The ministry will not accept his application for transfer of sponsorship. His labour card will be cancelled and a one-year ban imposed on him.
Jamil urged workers whose firms have gone out of business to immediately alert the ministry and express their interest to work with other companies or leave the country without a ban and this will allow them to come back for work without any obstacles.
Jamil was reacting to applications of a group of workers to cancel their labour cards and depart the country. The labour officials explained to them their rights and how to keep themselves on the safe side.
The workers reported to the ministry after their company was closed down for good. The workers were happy to hear the news that they can shift to another employer without obtaining the consent of the current sponsor.
Khaleej Times Online > NATION

Lankan woman held for selling runaway maids to Hassawi dens Diplomat’s son detained in liquor trafficking

Arab times online

KUWAIT CITY, July 14: Jahra securitymen have arrested three men for stealing iron from the Amghara scrapyard and selling locally brewed alcohol.
While patrolling the area, the securitymen noticed the erratic movement of a vehicle, so they signaled for the driver to pull over. When they searched the vehicle, police found an undisclosed quantity of iron and local alcohol.
During interrogations, the driver and his two companions admitted they stole the iron from the Amghara scrapyard. They also confessed to trading in local alcohol.
A case was registered and the suspects were referred to the relevant security department for prosecution.

Lankan arrested: Police have taken into custody an unidentified Sri Lankan woman for selling runaway maids to prostitution dens in a suburb of Hassawi, reports Al-Wasat daily.
The daily quoting security sources said police acting on information raided the woman’s home and caught her with some runaway maids whom she had given shelter.
During interrogation she admitted to the charge. She has been referred to the concerned authorities.

Diplomat’s son detained: The Jahra police have arrested the son of an unidentified diplomat for trading in booze, reports Al-Rai daily.
According to reports the suspect was caught red-handed selling three bottles of booze to a police agent.
He has been referred to the General Department for Drug Control.

Crackdown nets scores: During a crackdown on vice and illegal residents, police are said to have arrested scores of people most of them wanted by law in connection with financial frauds, thefts and criminal offences, reports Al-Wasat daily.
The daily did not give more details.

Reveller hits patrol car: An unidentified reckless motorist has been arrested by police, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily.
According to reports the youth was celebrating Spain’s soccer World Cup victory and collided with a police patrol car.

MoH dept robbed: Police are looking for unidentified thieves who reportedly escaped with computers and electronic items from the Medical Engineering Department of the Ministry of Health, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily.
According to reports the theft was discovered by one of the laborers working at the department.
The same reports say the thieves entered the department through an air-conditioning vent.
Personnel from the Criminal Evidences Department have lifted fingerprints to identify the culprits.

Stamp thieves nabbed: Personnel from the General Department for Criminal Investigation have busted a gang of thieves who specialized in stealing revenue stamps from old shipping documents, recycling them and reselling them for half the face value, reports Al-Rai daily.
Without going into details the daily said the men were caught red-handed.

Juvenile thieves held: The Jahra police have arrested three bedoun juveniles for breaking into six houses in Qairawan, reports Al-Rai daily.
According to reports the thieves pried into the homes of people who are out of the country spending their summer holidays.
The thieves have been referred to the concerned authorities.

Home broken into: A 50-year-old Kuwaiti man has filed a complaint with the Rabiya Police Station accusing unidentified persons of breaking into the safe in his home and stealing KD 700 cash and jewelry worth KD 200, reports Al-Seyassah daily.
According to the complainant the theft took place when he was away with his family.
Personnel from the Criminal Evidences Department have lifted fingerprints.

Kuwaiti assaulted: A 24-year-old Kuwaiti was seriously injured following a street fight between three Arabs who allegedly escaped from the scene after beating the Kuwaiti, reports Al-Seyassah daily.
Acting on information paramedics rushed to the spot and took the injured man to the Farwaniya Hospital for treatment.
Police are looking for the suspects.

Construction items stolen: The Ahmadi police have arrested two Asians for stealing construction material from buildings under construction. They were caught by a police patrol on routine duty in the suburb of Fahd Al-Ahmad, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily.
The thieves have been referred to the concerned authorities.

By: Munaif Nayef

India releases jailed Lankan fishermen

Indian authorities have released 20 Sri Lankan fishermen who had been languishing in their jails for months after being arrested for illegal entry into Indian territorial waters and fishing in their coastlines.
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratna said, the fishermen will be brought to Sri Lanka within the next few days. The 20 fishermen and the 12 boats will be be brought back home following repatriation orders to be announced by Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry in New Delhi, sources at Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry said.
Of the twelve boats, ten had reportedly been seized from the seas off the Vishakhapatnam coastline. Six of them were taken into custody on December 8, last year, the other four were seized on March 9 this year, according to Fisheries Ministry sources. Two vessels were taken into custody on June 15 off the coast of Thuththukody they said.
The fishermen from Gandhara, Devinuwara, Kudawella, Negombo and Chilaw areas. Sri Lanka was able to get 50 local fishermen released on an early occasion . Their vessels were seized by the Indian Coast Guards for violating Indian maritime boundaries and for illegal fishing.
Their release was consequent to successful negotiations, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Senaratna had with the Indian Government. Thanking the Indian Government for arranging the release of the fishermen and their boats , Senaratna said, he plans to go to India next month to discuss problems affecting Sri Lankan fishermen.
Daily news online

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Labor Ministry to focus on jobs

Aimed at strengthening its job creating role, the Labor Ministry on Monday changed its name to “Ministry of Employment and Labor.”

The change of the ministry‘s name came 29 years after the labor office was elevated to a government department.

“Creating more jobs, helping people who want to work and ensuring they get paid properly are the main purposes and values that we have to seek,” Minister Yim Tae-hee said during a relaunching ceremony held at the Gwacheon Government Complex in Gyeonggi Province.

He pledged, in particular, to support senior citizens to continue social activities, saying “People’s lifecycle has been changed due to a falling birthrate and an aging society. Those who used to be said of being old should not be considered senior citizens any more.”

Employment and Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee talks with a job-seeker at a labor market in Seoul on Monday. Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald

Following the Tuesday meeting of Cabinet members, which will decide on job creation projects at 24 government offices, the Employment Ministry is expected to take a leadership role to inspect and oversee all new programs.

The ministry’s title shift came amid some pending issues deepening labor-management tensions.

As part of a revision to the labor union law in January, employers are banned from paying full-time union officials.

Even though the paid time-off system, which partly allows payment, was introduced from July 1 to protect smaller unions, labor groups have claimed that related rules are limiting the normal activities of labor unions.

Of the 1,320 workplaces that are monitored by the ministry, 362 had signed collective agreements as of Sunday. However, 21 were found to have violated the upper limit in the number of payable full-time unionists.

Meanwhile, the Minimum Wage Council decided on Saturday to increase next year’s minimum hourly wage to 4,320 won ($3.5).

Management representatives, especially smaller business owners, had demanded to freeze the current level at 4,110 won, citing the uncertainty in the recent economic turnaround. However, other representatives from labor and the government agreed on the 5.1 percent increase.

Management representatives claimed to freeze the current level, citing the uncertainty in the recent economic turnaround. But other Minimum Wage Council members from the government and labor agreed on the 5.1 percent increase.

The minister also acknowledged that the time-off system puts pressure on the self-support efforts of labor unions, while the increased minimum wage will become a burden to businesses.

“But those issues will be helpful to raise the value of labor. Through continuous discussions, I believe, advanced labor culture will be created here,” he said.

By Lee Ji-yoon (

"No English, no job" for some Japanese office workers

TOKYO, July 8 (Reuters Life!) - In a bid to plug dwindling domestic consumption by tapping into overseas markets, some of Japan's big-name retailers are telling their employees to start speaking English -- or find another job.
As Japan's population shrinks, the country's retailers are increasingly looking to boost sales by expanding abroad and some firms are waking up to the necessity of being able to speak the global language of business in order to succeed overseas.
Rakuten, Japan's biggest online retailer, plans to make English the firm's official language, while Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo apparel chain, wants to make English more common in its offices by 2012 and plans to test its employees for proficiency.
"It's about stopping being a Japanese company. We will become a world company," Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said last week at a news conference in Tokyo -- conducted almost entirely in English.
Employees at Rakuten, which hopes overseas sales will eventually account for 70 percent of all transactions made through its websites, will need to master English by 2012 to avoid facing the sack.
"No English, no job," Mikitani told the Asahi newspaper.
Other high-profile Japanese companies, including automakers Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor, have announced moves to make the use of English more common in the workplace.
Some experts say the switch to English is healthy but just one of the changes companies need to make to go global.
"What's interesting is that these companies really stand out as pioneers," Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University's Japan campus.
"They have a relatively new outlook. They realise that Japan is going to need to strike into foreign markets given the dormant state of its economy," he said.
Facing dwindling domestic demand, Fast Retailing plans to broaden its consumer base by expanding into Malaysia and Taiwan later this year.
To keep up with the company's internationalisation, employees at Uniqlo's head office will need to score at least 700 out of a maximum 990 on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), a measure of English proficiency.
Many Japanese employees may struggle to make the grade.
On average, Japanese candidates perform worse than those from almost any other Asian country in English aptitude tests, according to a report published by the Educational Testing Service, which administers more than 50 million exams including TOEIC each year.
Japanese tied with those from Tajikistan to finish joint 29th out of the 30 Asian countries surveyed in 2009.
But Fast Retailing has no plans as yet to provide extra training to help staff meet new English-language expectations.
"How (employees) choose to meet these expectations is a personal choice," Daisuke Hase, a spokesman for Fast Retailing, told Reuters, speaking in English.
Temple University's Kingston said, however, that the trend towards using English in office life was hardly likely to sweep the nation: "Will English become Japan's business lingua franca? I doubt it."
In fact, Yoichi Wada, president of videogame creator Square Enix, tweeted an alternative suggestion this week.
"Rather than make English the office language, let's use 'C'," he wrote -- a reference not to Chinese, but to a computer programming language.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dubai grows as falling rents attract migrants

Ramola Talwar Bada

Source: Dubai Statistics Centre
DUBAI // The population of Dubai rose 7.5 per cent in the first quarter of the year as lower rents and living costs drew migrants from neighbouring emirates to the city.

The emirate’s total population rose to 1,803,000 from 1,676,000 in the same period of last year, figures released yesterday by the Dubai Statistics Centre show.

Dubai’s transient population, or those commuting to the emirate for work, rose by more than 1 million people to 2.87 million, the statistics centre said.

Analysts believe lower rents and the availability of accommodation has fuelled the growth. House prices and rents have been cut in half since peaking in late 2008.

Dubai property prices may fall by a further 15 per cent, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report last month. “Rents are cheaper and people are upgrading their lifestyle,” said Mishaal al Gergawi, an Emirati social commentator.

“This is a conservative figure. It could be much more.”

The shifting demographics were demonstrated in the numbers moving from Ajman to Sharjah, and in those moving from Sharjah to Deira. Deira resident were then moving to Bur Dubai and later settling on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, Mr al Gergawi said.

The new data showed the so-called “active population” was boosted by labourers, white-collar workers and visitors coming to the emirate seeking work. It was unclear whether labourers or white-collar workers made up the biggest chunk of the 1 million rise in the transient population.
The National - Abudabi

Labour ministers’ meet of Asian nations in Dhaka

BSS, Dhaka

Labour ministers of 11 Asian manpower exporting countries will meet here in October this year under Colombo Process to discuss various obstacles on overseas labour employment and share the best practices in improving the condition of migrant workers.

The Colombo process was conceived as a response to calls from 11 Asian migrant labour sending countries to discuss ways to protect migrant workers from exploitation and ensure their rights.

The member states of the Colombo process are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Bangladesh took over the chairmanship of the Colommbo Process from Indonesia in December 2004. The first consultation meeting was held in Sri Lankan capital Colombo in 2003, which was followed by second in Philippines capital Manila and third in Indonesian Bali.

"We are giving prime importance to the meeting as for the first time such a high level regional consultative process meeting on labour migration is being held in Bangladesh," Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Engineer Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain told at a briefing after holding an inter- ministerial preparatory meeting at the secretariat here.

Apart from the member states, representatives from labour recipient countries Bahrain, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Libya will also attend the ministerial meeting as observers, he said.

The Minister said the main focus of this year's meeting would be on ensuring social rights of migrant workers in line with the theme 'Migration with Dignity'.

During the ministerial meeting, Engineer Mosharraf said, the member countries will try to identify the major problems in sending manpower as well as ensuring their rights in the foreign land.

"We will also try to reach a consensus for taking a unified move to the labour exporting market with mutual understanding so that everyone's interests would be secured and our labours could live with dignity abroad," he said.

Side by side, we will also share our opinions with the observer countries to understand what kind of compliances they expects in receiving labours from outsides, he said.

The minister also said Bangladesh would consult with other countries how it can maintain the minimum migration cost in the country.

At the end of the ministerial meeting a Dhaka Declaration would be adopted by the member stats, Expatriate Welfare Secretary Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan said.

The ministerial meeting will be held from 20 to 21 October while a meeting of senior officials of the members countries will be held on October 19 as per the final preparation for the ministerial meeting.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the ministerial meeting, he said.

International Organization for Migration (IOM), who acts as a secretariat for the Colombo Process will provide support to the government for holding the meeting.

Foreigner dupes thousands promising Italian jobs

Chaminda PERERA

A foreigner, who duped thousands of youth by promising jobs in Italy was arrested by the Colombo Fraud Division yesterday.

According to a senior Police officer of the Colombo Fraud Division, this man had promised white collar jobs in Italy and collected millions of rupees from Sri Lankan job seekers.

The man was living in a luxury apartment in Colombo.

Police however said that the man has not settled the rent of his apartment.

The officer said they had received thousands of complaints against this man who was overstaying his visa.

Monday, July 5, 2010

‘No force in modern life is as omnipresent yet overlooked’: New York Times article on global migration

General Workers
The New York Times ran this piece on on global migration on Monday which may be of interest to readers, ‘Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move’.
Migration is perhaps the most ‘overlooked’ phenomenon of modern times, argues Jason DeParle. Nevertheless, stories involving migrants, directly or indirectly, keep on cropping up in the international media, such as reports from earlier this year that a Thai farmworker in Israel was killed by a Hamas rocket. The article is mainly about migration in the US and its impact on political debates, but DeParle makes some interesting points that are applicable to the situation in the Middle East, such as this:
Theorists sometimes call the movement of people the third wave of globalization, after the movement of goods (trade) and the movement of money (finance) that began in the previous century. But trade and finance follow global norms and are governed by global institutions: the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund. There is no parallel group with “migration” in its name. The most personal and perilous form of movement is the most unregulated. States make (and often ignore) their own rules, deciding who can come, how long they stay, and what rights they enjoy.
This is a serious point and certainly applies to migrant workers in the Middle East, where governments seem to make up the rules as they go along when it comes to guest workers. In this context, are existing multilaterals and international legal instruments enough to protect the rights of vulnerable economic migrants?
A few weeks ago we blogged about how Migrant Forum Asia had complained that existing labour conventions were not sufficient to protect female domestic workers. Do these forgotten millions deserve more attention? Undoubtedly yes.
Migration has been happening for centuries, but several factors make movement of people in this generation different from any other, according to the article:
First is migration’s global reach. The movements of the 19th century were mostly trans-Atlantic. Now, Nepalis staff Korean factories and Mongolians do scut work in Prague. Persian Gulf economies would collapse without armies of guest workers. Even within the United States, immigrants are spread across dozens of “new gateways” unaccustomed to them, from Orlando to Salt Lake City.
A second distinguishing trait is the money involved, which not only sustains the families left behind but props up national economies. Migrants sent home $317 billion last year — three times the world’s total foreign aid. In at least seven countries, remittances account for more than a quarter of the gross domestic product.
A third factor that increases migration’s impact is its feminization: Nearly half of the world’s migrants are now women, and many have left children behind. Their emergence as breadwinners is altering family dynamics across the developing world. Migration empowers some, but imperils others, with sex trafficking now a global concern.
Global migrants are more numerous than ever before. The stakes are high, and the risks numerous for the millions of workers on the move around the world. But more often than not – especially in the Middle East – migrant workers stay out of sight and out of mind

Married immigrants reunited with parents

40 Cambodian, Indonesian and Malaysian women who married into Korean families were reunited with their parents June 23 for the first time since their marriage.

The parents came to Korea at the invitation of Korea Saemaul Undong Center sponsored by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security. They stayed in Korea for seven days.

A total of 80 parents reunited with 25 Cambodian, 10 Indonesian and five Malaysian wives. They were also greeted by their Korean in-laws.

They toured the 63 Building, Gyeongbok Palace, Cheonggye Stream, the National Museum of Korea, Korea Folk Village, Saemaul Museum on the precincts of Saemaul Undong Central Training Institute, the compound of the presidential office Chong Wa Dae, and other sites.

The center threw an official reception on June 24. The migrant wives met with Korean housewives who are members of the center to form cultural support links.

The parents visited their son-in-laws and spent for four days before flying home.

This is the third time the center has invited the parents of migrant women who married Koreans and live in Korea. In June, last year, it invited parents of Vietnamese, Thai and Philippine daughters. Parents of Mongolian, Uzbek and Kazakh wives living in Korea came here for family reunion in December.

In December, 2007, the ministry had initially invited parents of migrant women residing in Korea after marrying Koreans.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Remittances top forex earnings

Rasika Somarathna

*Expatriate workers sent US $ 3.3 b in 2009

*2,300 new agreements for South Korean jobs

*Rise in Lankans seeking foreign jobs

Remittances from Sri Lankan expatriate workers are expected to exceed US $ 4 billion this year making them the country’s number one foreign exchange earner. Authorities said if the current trends are to go by where the remittances received amounted to US $ 890 million during the first quarter of 2010 (growth of 14 per cent from last year) the target of US $ 04 billion at the year end, would be easily surpassed.

According to Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Chief (SLBFE) Kingsley Ranawaka the number of Sri Lankans leaving abroad for employment has seen a significant increase since last year and with new vistas in the horizon the numbers could go higher before the year end.

During the first quarter of 2010, 67,136 had migrated for jobs and during the same period in 2009 only 54,990 had left for employment.

In addition to the numbers, the wage increases to certain categories of workers in accordance with a Government request, emphasis on skilled categories, better training, awareness on improved financial management, enhanced protocol on job agreements\salaries are also seen as reasons behind the increase in remittances.

Less dependency on traditional Middle Eastern markets and the growth in emerging and more lucrative destinations such as South Korea has had its say in increasing revenue.

Ranawaka said that 2,300 new agreements had been signed for employment opportunities in South Korea and more were to follow during the course of the year.

Sri Lankan expatriate workers sent home US $ 3.3 billion in 2009 and the remittances in 2008 was US $ 2.9 billion.

There are more than 1.8 million Sri Lankan expatriate workers at present.

International labour migration from Sri Lanka has grown remarkably over the last decades, with numbers increasing more than tenfold, according to the Central Bank, Annual Report.

Arrest brain drain

Rasika Somarathna

Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne Saturday said Sri Lanka is facing a huge brain drain of highly skilled professionals to well paid jobs in other country’s and emphasised the need to arrest the problem.

He said such highly skilled/educated professionals migration was an impediment to the country’s development drive.

While noting that the migration of such professionals for better salaries/perks as unfortunate, the Premier added that the Government efforts to encourage others to return too had not met with desired results.

However, the Premier pointed out that it was the duty of all Sri Lankan’s to make their talents/resources available to their motherland when needed, specially at a time the Government was making plans to make it one of the most prominent nations of the world.

He made these observations addressing a gathering at the ‘Mahapola’ Scholarship awarding ceremony held at the Prime Ministers Office.

Premier Jayaratne stressed that the Government was investing enormous amounts of money to supplement the free education and added that as beneficiaries of the system all Sri Lankans had a duty towards their motherland to offer services when needed. Commenting on the formation of Private Universities, the Premier noted that 98 percent of eligible students for higher education could benefit from the move as in Sri Lanka only two percent of such students get opportunity to enter a university.

According to sources this year 11,590 students are eligible for ‘Mahapola’ scholarship scheme. A recipient is provided with Rs. 2,500 monthly financial assistance for educational purposes. Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake, Cooperative and Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando along with several other senior Government officials too were present.