No cahoots with MTUC foes, please

I refer to the letter carried by FMT written by Leonard Hiew on Oct 20, 2019. This is my reply to his wild and unfair allegations about our role. While I take exception to his utter disregard for our hard work, I nevertheless respect his right to freedom of expression.

The MTUC leadership is always aware that there are groups of enemies of the organisation who are trying to dent the influence of MTUC and its fearless and strong voice using various cunning tactics.

This includes efforts by this group that operates as an NGO or individuals to damage the good name of MTUC and its leaders, whether directly or otherwise.

At times, this group also uses paid writers to achieve this shameful act. We are fully aware.

However, what we have been proud of all this while is that the government, especially the human resources minister, has always recognised MTUC as the leading labour centre in the country. They have never downplayed our role although we have differences on important labour issues in the country.

In MTUC, we consider these differences a dynamic effort on our part in our efforts to defend the workers.

However, that was in the past. Of late, we regret that there are clear indications that Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran is working together with elements who are trying to weaken the organisation.

A clear example is the letter by an FMT reader by the name of Leonard Hiew, who recently alleged that MTUC is not championing the cause of workers and their welfare and should be replaced.

Kula immediately posted this letter on Facebook with the provocative heading: “A good suggestion?”

As far as MTUC is concerned, the question thrown by Kula is obviously aimed at supporting these elements and showing his support for our enemies.

His motive became very clear when he refused to comment on the issues raised by the public on the article on his Facebook.

When some workers took Kula to task on his article and challenged Hiew’s points, the minister blocked the readers’ comments and removed certain comments which escaped the filter.

These actions of Kula are childish and only mirror his shallow mind when he chooses to be emotional and irrational in carrying out his duties as a minister.

Obviously, Kula is angry with MTUC for our strong objections to the amendments to the labour laws which were recently debated in Parliament.

He became more furious after we responded to his arguments with facts and clarity. The difference between Kula and MTUC on this matter has been discussed at length in other forums.

Here, what must be emphasised is that the minister should not be seen to be in cahoots with certain elements who have their own agenda in opposing MTUC.

What is most regrettable is the widespread perception that Kula is eagerly attempting to weaken the rights and influence of MTUC, which will impact our powers to negotiate for workers’ rights.

Using phantom writers against MTUC is an old trick of our enemies. We are used to facing them in our efforts to champion the workers’ rights and defend our integrity.

What is disturbing is that there is a possibility that the minister is working with our enemies to destroy MTUC – all because we do not see eye-to-eye on certain issues.

The minister’s eagerness to leave MTUC out of tripartite decisions has been very clear over the last few months. His trend of late to violate international labour conventions and ignore the interests of stakeholders like MTUC will only result in a loss for the nation and workers.

Whatever efforts our enemies may make, using these paid writers to run our leadership down, the truth is that this movement cooperated with Pakatan Harapan (PH) after it formed the new government on May 9, 2018.

Our support was based on the belief that PH would act fairly and defend the workers, something they had for years been waiting for.

Unfortunately, 17 months after Kula became then human resources minister, the workers are still waiting for him to keep his promise that their voice will be considered in any changes to the law.

This did not happen. Instead, the minister insulted MTUC by sharing the article of our enemy on Facebook.

We sincerely hope that this expression of ours will not make the honourable minister more angry, but will instead spur him to keep his promises to the workers to champion their cause and the workers’ movements in the country.

Abdul Halim Mansor is president of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.