Anger as Malaysian cleared of murdering Indonesian maid

In this file photo taken on February 17, 2018, Petronela Koa cries next to the coffin containing her niece Adelina Sau, a domestic helper who died in Malaysia, during its arrival at Kupang airport in East Nusa Tenggara. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2019

Anger as Malaysian cleared of murdering Indonesian maid

  • Allegations of maid abuse, ranging from overwork to beatings and sex attacks, are a regular diplomatic flashpoint between the Southeast Asian neighbors

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian woman has reportedly been cleared of murdering her Indonesian maid, who was allegedly tortured and forced to sleep outside with a dog, with activists Monday criticizing the “shocking” decision.
Adelina Sau died in February last year after being found outside her employer’s home on the northern Malaysian island of Penang, with her head and face swollen and covered in wounds.
Many Indonesian maids work in more affluent Malaysia and tales of abuse are common, but the horrific nature of Sau’s case generated headlines and sparked diplomatic tensions between the neighbors.
Her employer, S. Ambika, was charged with murder — an offense that carries a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia — shortly after the 21-year-old was rescued and died in hospital.
But the High Court in Penang dropped the murder charge against her last week, local media reported, without saying why.
Prominent Malaysian human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen called the decision “shocking and unacceptable.”
“This was one of the most public and harrowing abuse cases ever recorded and yet the attorney-general’s chambers somehow saw fit to drop the charge,” Paulsen, a member of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, told AFP.
Steven Sim, an MP from the area where Sau died, said the court decision was “as tragic as the death of Adelina.”
Sim said he had contacted the attorney-general, Tommy Thomas, who had vowed to look into the case.
In Indonesia, Wahyu Susilo, executive director of NGO Migrant Care, condemned the acquittal and described it as “far from justice.”
He said the employer may have been cleared due to a failure to get key witnesses, such as Sau’s parents, to testify at the trial, and called on Jakarta to lodge a protest.
Her murder caused anger in Indonesia, with the foreign minister branding it unacceptable.
Allegations of maid abuse, ranging from overwork to beatings and sex attacks, are a regular diplomatic flashpoint between the Southeast Asian neighbors.


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.