Yes, we received funds from OSF, says Malaysian Bar sub-committee

Malaysian BarKUALA LUMPUR: A sub-committee of the Malaysian Bar today admitted receiving financial aid from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) to undertake research on migrant workers in Malaysia.

The Bar’s Migrant, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Chairman N.Ramachelvam said it received USD15,000 (RM53,757.13) last year to fund the on-going project.

He said the committee came to know about OSF disbursing funds for such undertakings and an application was made.

“I must clarify that none of the money was used for operational and administrative costs of the Bar Council or the committee,” he told FMT in response to allegations in a blog that the Bar may have received financial assistance from the OSF.

He said the money was used to pay a researcher, transcribers, reviewers, consultations held with stakeholders and out-of- pocket expenses.

Ramachelvam said the study was to determine access to justice, including labour tribunals, to foreign workers, and good labour practices in Malaysia.

He said, in the past the committee had also obtained financial grants from the International Labour Organisation to carry out work related to foreign workers.

“We also work closely with global organisations such as the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the benefit of migrant workers,” he said.

News portal Malaysiakini and electoral watchdog Bersih were recently said to have received funding from OSF.

On November 1, the Malaysian Malay Network (JMM) lodged a police report and handed a 24-page “secret” document to the police, allegedly showing the involvement of a local businessman and Soros in funding Bersih through the OSF, with malicious intent to topple Prime Minister Najib Razak.