Protest US’ baseless allegations of forced labour or resign, HR Minister told

MALAYSIA should protest the baseless allegations of forced labour by the US in relation to local glove maker Supermax Corp Bhd or have Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan resign for failure of law enforcement that resulted in the country being shamed, according to a human rights activist-cum-lawyer.

Charles Hector is referring to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which recently issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against Supermax Corp and three of its wholly-owned subsidiaries.

The WRO was issued based on information that reasonably indicates the glove maker’s use of forced labour in manufacturing operations which thus led to CBP officers in all US ports of entry detaining disposable gloves produced by the subsidiaries of Supermax Corp.

CBP has identified 10 of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) indicators of forced labour during its investigation.

Hector noted that Supermax Corp is not the first Malaysian company where the US had alleged ‘forced labour’ and have taken action.

“In the past, our Government had taken no (or very little) action against these companies who allegedly practice forced labour. These companies would then ‘remedy’ their practices and the US would lift the restrictions,” he remarked.

Charles Hector

But what Hector found puzzling was Malaysia’s reaction to the allegations. 

“Was there ‘forced labour’ going on in these companies and did Malaysia choose not to act against them or are the country’s labour laws outdated and not in compliance with the minimum standards of international law – hence what is a forced labour violation in the US is not a violation in Malaysia?” he questioned.

According to Hector, the Human Resources Ministry has also been less than forthcoming about the matter.

“What are the allegations? What was the result of the investigations? What were the actions taken, and why? Saravanan should step forward and inform us of what is happening.

“Was there a violation of Malaysian laws against forced labour which the HR Ministry had failed to detect and act on? If there were such evidence to be found, did the Government cover things up?

“Or are we under attack from the US? They have yet again taken action against a Malaysian company by reason of ‘forced labour’. Is this big and powerful country ‘bullying’ Malaysia? Are all these allegations false? 

“If so, Malaysia must act against the US, possibly by getting the people to protest and boycott them,” he justified.

Forced Labour National Action Plan

In a statement on Friday (Oct 22), Saravanan announced that his ministry will launch the Forced Labour National Action Plan in November as an approach to deal with forced labour issues in the country including in the rubber glove manufacturing sector.

“Allegations of ‘forced labour’ have been occurring since 2019 and the minister’s plan is to launch a Forced Labour National Action Plan?” asked a livid Hector.

“This comes not just as too late but embarrassingly places blame on the country’s law enforcement. Should Saravanan, by reason of shame, simply resign as HR minister and let another do the much-needed clean-up?

“In any event, Saravanan ought to present Malaysians with a detailed report as to what happened, and what has been done in terms of enforcement and prosecution.”

According to Hector, it is crucial that the specific details of the forced labour allegations were made known.

“These allegations are not simply about rubber glove producers and as such may affect all Malaysian companies that are exporting products to the US and other countries,” he pointed out. – Oct 29, 2021


Pic credit: Free Malaysia Today

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