Allegations Of Abuse At Social Enterprise Restaurant 0 340

A masalah on wheels. 

After an Indian talk show clip went viral on social media, stories of human trafficking and abuse at a popular social enterprise restaurant has been brought to light. The gentleman; who is an Indian national, described his experience working at this restaurant where he, amongst others, were denied payment, beaten and sexually assaulted.

Social enterprises in Malaysia have a good reputation for the role they play in both boosting the economy and helping those in need. This particular organisation had also gained immense positive press and feedback with many individuals supporting them for their good food and even better mission. 

This restaurant operated under the guise of giving an alternative option to at-risk youth. They claimed to empower their beneficiaries through training and on-ground F&B experience in order to help them become entrepreneurs in the field. It was an amazing idea, especially within our Malaysian society where food plays such an integral role in our culture. The restaurant recruited individuals aged 14-18 from the local B40 community and garnered so much popularity that parents were eventually sending their children over to keep them out of trouble. In addition to this, the organisation has won multiple awards for their work, including a Star Golden Heart Award.

It almost sounds too good to be true… because it is. 

The story of the abuse broke slowly over the past couple of weeks and since then, the organisation has removed their facebook account and their website. The police have raided their premises and rescued two young men who corroborate the story of abuse even going further to detail an incident where one individual spoke out against the violence and in turn was burned from the waist down.

It also has come out that the organisation also preyed on boys from India and Sri Lanka, taking their passports away from them and sometimes even burning them. There were also accounts of human trafficking with boys being sold to construction sites. The organisation would recruit the boys and advise them to come to the country with a tourist visa. While waiting for the visas to get approved, they were allegedly sexually assaulted by the owner and were so fearful for their lives that they were unable to seek any help, especially because they did not have their passports. 

On the 19th of June, the organisation released a statement denying all claims and that their lawyers were working on a defamation suit against the accuser. 

The story is still developing as the police are now involved and moving forward with their investigation.

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What’s Happening In Afghanistan? 0 420

After 20 years of presence in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden withdrew all troops from the nation, closing Americas longest war.

The American army came to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attack to dismantle al-Qaeda and locate Osama bin Laden. This was led by George Bush to “win the war against terrorism”, even though none of the assailants in the attack were actually from Afghanistan. 

Over the past twenty years, the relationship between Afghanistan and the US continued to be turbulent with initial airstrikes, a call for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, an alliance between the leaders of both nations, a crackdown on the Taliban which was recommitted by President Barack Obama, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban causing tensions between the nations, the US dropping its most powerful non-nuclear bomb, a resurgence in attacks by the Taliban as a response to the Trump administrations Afghanistan plan, peace-talks resulting in a deal on a path to peace and finally in 2021, Biden withdrawing all troops.

This is a very condensed summation of the intricacies of the relationship that the US has had with Afghanistan. However, it’s important to understand that the complex relationship plays a direct role in the reality that many Afghani nationals are facing at this time.

Before the extremists groups took control over the nation, in the 1960s, Afghanistan was a place filled with art, poetry, education and equality. Looking back on pictures, Afghanistan was comparable to a modern-day nation with forward-thinking ideologies with freedom and safety amongst the people.

This all changed when the Soviets came into Afghanistan in 1979. The entrance of the Russians set the trajectory of the rest of the history of the nation, with the American involvement, the civil war creating fractures in society allowing the Taliban to take over, to the reality that it is today. 

Just two days ago, on Sunday, August 16th, as the American troops left the country, the Taliban entered the capital of Kabul after a steady seize of the other cities and took over. The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country leaving his people vulnerable to the inevitable takeover. He claimed that his abrupt exit was to “stop further bloodshed”, however, many perceive this as a cowardice move abandoning the people who had fought so hard for democracy in the nation.

All over the country, people are racing to airports to seek safety elsewhere. Under the rule of the Taliban, the country as they knew it for the past 20 years would be completely radicalised. Women and young girls top the list of greatest at risk to the regime, with most being told to stop attending schools or universities so that they are able to marry off – even girls as young as 12 years old. The reinstatement of the repressive and fundamentalist rule will set Afghanistan back almost 200 years and the twenty years of wars, trillions of dollars spent and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost have all be undone in the matter of just one day.

The new Taliban rulers have stated that they have changed their ways and hope to have peaceful international relations and maintain the rights of women. Onground, in Kabul, there hasn’t been violence in the city, rather at the airports where people are desperate to flee. However, despite the fact that things have been somewhat quiet in the city of Kabul, many of the older generations remember the harsh regime under which they lived and struggle to believe that this leadership has changed. Under the strict Shariah Law, education for women and girls were forbidden, they were not allowed to work, let alone leave the house without a male guardian. Most forms of entertainment were banned and women were forced to cover themselves from head to toe. 

The population of Afghanistan is a young population with 3 out of 4 individuals under the age of 25. This means that many don’t remember the trauma that was faced prior to US involvement and even attempting to adapt to the fundamentalist rule will be near impossible. It cannot be determined what the Taliban’s rule over the country will look like, however, if it is anything like it was historically, the world will be waiting to see what happens to the people who are not aligned with the Taliban’s governance.

Kita Jaga Kita 0 426

For the people, by the people. 

Our timelines have been flooded with bad news upon bad news. The situation at hand only seems to deteriorate with the hope of many dwindling down. For most Malaysians, these have been some of the darkest days, mental health is at an all time low, people are struggling to put food on the table and the economy has taken a huge hit. Despite the darkness, one beautiful thing has come out of all of this. 

We’re seeing Malaysians take care of each other in a way we have never seen before. 

The Bendera Putih movement (white flag movement), as well as, the #KitaJagaKita sentiment has grown tremendously in the past few weeks. Malaysians everywhere from all walks of life have banded together to help one another in whatever ways they can. From providing meals to basic household necessities to offering free rides for vaccination appointments, it is heartening to see our people come together in this empathetic and generous way. 

We wanted to offer a break from all the bad news and share some of the wonderful ways Malaysians have been taking care of one another:

 

These are a just a few of the many stories we’ve read on social media, thank you to all of you who have been offering your help and thank you to all of you with the strength to ask for it.

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