Domestic helper Siti Hajar, 33, from Garut district, Indonesia is a picture of calm as she leans against the wall at a shelter for abused maids and dreams of returning to her village.
After years of lobbying by rights activists and the international community, Malaysia passed an effective and comprehensive law in 2007 against human trafficking with provisions for protection, shelter and return of trafficked person to their home countries.
Malaysia’s controversial Najib Razak, who became the country’s sixth prime minister on Apr. 3, has launched a charm offensive to win the hearts and minds of a people disillusioned by numerous scandals and political skullduggery.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi steps down this month, forced out by powerful factions in the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) that feared his liberal policies and compromising ways with political opponents who wish to dismantle rule by an entrenched elite.
Sex scandals, political betrayals, threats and anger at the once revered monarchy - suddenly politics in Malaysia, after a sterling start last year which saw a strong opposition in parliament, is taking an ominous turn.
The death of a youth in police custody and the torture of another in a police lockup, in recent weeks, have shocked Malaysians and revived calls for an oversight body - proposed in 2006 by a royal commission but unimplemented because of opposition from senior officers in the command.
A scandalous trade in Burmese migrant labour involving Malaysian and Thai officials and international human traffickers is now coming to light.
As an economically advanced country that seeks a key role in the Muslim world, it is perhaps natural that Malaysia and its people are exercised over Israel’s war in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
Prime Minister-designate Najib Razak, who succeeds Abdullah Badawi in March, faces a by-election that will test whether voters, especially majority Malays, still support the 13-party coalition government which suffered massive setbacks in general elections last year.
A raging debate over mandatory HIV screening has exposed fear and ignorance within government, despite years of awareness campaigns to eradicate prejudice against people living with the virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
By tabling two of three reform bills, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has shown his hand and, not surprisingly, both have run into strong opposition within and outside parliament.
After winning a gruelling 13-year court battle to avoid being jailed on charges of maliciously publishing false news, Malaysia's best-known human rights champion seeks a political career to continue defending migrant workers and other vulnerable sections of society.
Singapore’s embattled human rights lawyer and leading anti-death penalty campaigner, Ravi Madasamy, intends to defend his reputation "all the way" to the highest courts after being released on bail for allegedly causing a disturbance at a mosque.
A government proposal to set up a media council to ‘regulate’ news reporting has alarmed journalists who see it as an attempt to add yet another layer of control over their profession.
A landmark court decision to release a prominent critic, jailed without trial, is being hailed as a sign that Malaysia’s battered judiciary is no longer willing to serve as a tool of the government.
As recession looms large on the horizon, migrant workers like 27-year-old Kumar Palanisamy from Chennai in India are the first on the chopping block.
Ever since voters rose to give the ruling, race-based Barisan Nasional (National Alliance) coalition government its biggest ever drubbing in March the search has been on for a new political formula for a country deeply divided over race and religion.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s planned stepping down in March 2009 may well see a return to the authoritarian rule familiar to Malaysians during the 22-year iron rule of his predecessor Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
An emerging trend in the trafficking of tribal people, mostly young girls, is raising concern among government officials, rights organisations, migration experts and human rights lawyers.
Public opposition is steadily building up against Malaysia’s draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), a relic of colonialism that gives police unchallenged discretion to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone without trial.
After 50 years of trying to build a plural society Malaysia now plans to enact a race relations law to end discrimination and protect minorities. But critics say a new law will change little.