Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oman punishes prostitutes with prison and deportation

I just noticed the unusual report published in the Tribune on July 5th, about a pimp and some prostitutes getting busted by the ROP. Yes readers, SHOCK HORROR! – Oman has brothels. Who would’ve imagined that? The brothel bust was also confirmed by Juma al-Juma, Minister of manpower, in an interview with the Financial Times on 14th July.

The issue I have with the report is the usual treatment that was meted out to the poor working girls, i.e. 6 months in prison followed by deportation.

I don’t know the specifics of the girls, but it is very, very often the case that such women are not being prostitutes because they like the work. In fact, such illegal brothels are usually staffed by women being forced to have sex. Against their will, and usually with regular violence and rape too. Many such women are effectively sex slaves, and typical victims of human trafficking. But the standard response here (and elsewhere in the Gulf) is to punish them even more. Another reason why Oman deserved Tier 3, if you ask me.

A significant side effect of such treatment is the women can’t even go to the authorities. In fact, being turned over to the ROP will be used as yet another threat against them. Its disgusting.

The press too, as usual, don’t follow up. Why not interview the girls? How many prostitutes were there? Who were their clients? How did they get into this business? Where was the brothel? And who was his Omani sponsor - aren't the sponsors of expats also held partially responsible for their crimes? (Plus, I imagine its a pretty full time job being a pimp and running a brothel. His sponsor didn't know? Yeah right...)

And how co-incidental that it happened right after the US State dept report… Fancy that!
Police raid brothel
By A Staff Reporter
July 5th 2008
MUSCAT The Royal Oman Police arrested a person of Asian origin for running a brothel.

The arrested person was trying to persuade the sponsor of a lady who was under the custody of Seeb police to allow her to work with him after paying him a considerable amount of money, said an official source at the General Prosecution.

The suspect was put under surveillance and it was found that he was running a brothel.

The General Prosecution issued a warrant against the accused after it was found that his house was turned into a brothel.

The accused was charged for running a brothel and was referred to the court which ordered the pimp to one year imprisonment and the prostitutes to six months imprisonment and deportation.

General Prosecution has called upon the local residents to report such incidents or any illegal practices that contravene with the Omani society to the police.
Unless you're a prostitute that is, because then we'll throw you in prison.

I have a feeling that, despite the protests over the tier 3, there may well be a hell of a lot more brothels in Oman than the one busted earlier this month.

Here's the story of just 1 such woman, as published in the Times of India on the 30th March earlier this year.
KOCHI: It was midnight when Salim's (name changed) flight landed in Muscat on March 14. The weather was strange and so were the faces. All he had was Rs 6,000. But he knew he couldn't afford to despair.

As he rode a taxi to Ruwi City, Salim had one prayer on his lips - his wife should be alive. The last he had heard from her was a wail, before the call to their home in Malappuram in Kerala went blank.

The 32-year-old man had no idea that his wife had been trapped in a deadly, organised prostitution racket. She was sold and resold several times in Oman, where she was promised a job as a housemaid.

But he was determined to save her even if it meant risking his life. His efforts succeeded when Oman police, with the help of the Indian embassy, rescued her on March 23.

Arabian dreams lured Salim and his wife after he suffered business losses last year. The couple, married for two years, approached an agent who agreed to arrange visas for them - a housemaid's job for her and something else for him. Her visa came first and she left for Muscat on January 21, 2008 leaving behind Salim.

After about 40 days, he got a call from her. In between sobs, she told him that she had been cheated and would end her life. He was shattered but decided to rescue her at any cost. He then approached the same agent for a visa.

In Muscat, he got in touch with a man involved in the flesh trade and asked him to get his wife without revealing his relationship with her. The man took him to her for 35 riyals (Rs 3,500).

"They had lodged her on the terrace of what looked like a commercial complex. She cried and fainted as soon as she saw me but I reassured her saying I will be around. They became suspicious and tortured her into disclosing my identity," Salim told TOI from Muscat.

During their meeting, she narrated her woeful tale. "As soon as she arrived, the agent took her to a house where three men assaulted her. Then she was sold for 700 riyals to a pimp who would use her to satisfy as many as 30 men a day. He resold her for 200 riyals to one Jayalakshmi, a Keralite pimp."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Asset bubbles in Oman

The Oman Observer published a table of land prices in Muscat recently. The graph shows just how much the asset inflation bubble in Oman has taken off over the past few years, with land prices more than doubling in the past year alone.

The inflation in land prices has created a significant gulf between two groups of the Omani population: those who were fortunate enough or prescient enough to buy land and other real estate in 2005 or earlier, and those who didn't. Combined with the similar increases being seen now in building costs, there are many young and middle class Omanis who now struggle to get onto the housing ladder in Oman. As seen in many western countries over the past few years, the asset bubble has also been used to finance a huge boom in consumer spending; especially cars, education and holidays.

The resentment felt by many Omani who missed out on this boom is palpable, as not only did they not make hundreds of thousands of rials in property profits, they were at the same time hit by equally massive hikes in rents for the houses they were living in, hence the recent decree by HM to cap rents and plug the many loopholes for turfing people out of their accomodation.

Another effect of this boom has spurred many to speculate on the new estate developments in Oman, the Wave being a classic example, where the demand to put a deposit on a property has been overwhelming. The intent of this speculation is to place the small 5-10% deposit (usually with borrowed money) in the hope of then selling the as-yet-unbuild house on to someone else before the big payments are required. The returns for those who got into this game early were extreme, in excess of 1000%, as the Wave houses have for example more than doubled since the original phases were sold.

But clearly for some developments this boom may be starting to fade, as construction costs increase the original asking prices, and demand from the GCC citizens wanes in the face of more and more developments. Blue City recently talked of perhaps having to sell houses in discounted bulk lots to move enough of the off-plan villas and apartments to meet their bond commitments. Is this a sign that the bubble is starting to peak?

Hmmm. I hope the Government here takes note of the calamities evident in the US and UK recently, and acts to avoid a damaging collapse in prices and the subsequent problems for those speculating late in the game with borrowed money... But again with the retention of the fixed dollar link, its hard to see what they can do. Perhaps a large stamp duty placed on houses or land sold after less than a certain period would help calm the fever in the market?

New Ferrys, No more visas for Indian mechanics, and a visit by Sudan

In the news yesterday:

New Ferry - No crews or Facilities ready in time
Firstly, we now have taken delivery of the first fast ferry, aimed at providing a great fast connection to Musandam (and Salalah and Masirah). They look pretty sleek, and it is a great idea. But it was interesting to note that the ferry project has been on-going for 4 years, yet there are still no Omani crews trained, no dedicated jetty facilities started, no finalized regulations or procedures, no fare structures… IE the typical 'couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery' from the Omani side. Even worse, a source close to the project tells me the fuel tanks are apparently too small to last the full trip from Muscat to Khasab, so there will have to be a refueling stop on the way, at a jetty that hasn’t yet even been built. Ah well. Once they eventually get it together it looks like a nice trip.

No more visas for Expat semi-skilled workers announced
The Ministry of Manpower announced their latest cunning plan to boost Omanisation, with the policy to deny new visas for expat workers in a swath of employment jobs: including car repair, workshops and even commercial cleaning services. In the long term it seems a good idea, plus in the short term it should increase the salaries of those expats here already, as most employers will not be running out to hire Omanis in these roles. But worryingly, the edict specifically excludes large companies, so presumably the Bahwans, Zubairs and the other big family companies have essentially been given exemptions. Which is bizaar, as these larger companies are exactly the firms best placed to implement long term training and are making enough profit to support the higher wages this policy will demand. Better get your hair cut fast...
Ban on visas for several professions
Sunday, July 27, 2008 10:58:36 AM Oman Time
MUSCAT — The Ministry of Manpower has announced that it has stopped issuing visas to companies engaged in the following activities: Import and export, cleaning, barber shop, laundry, electronic repair, garbage cleaning and selling, textile shops, mobile GSM shops, health clubs, workshops in aluminium, iron, wood, car repair and all related activities, tailoring shops and beauty parlours.

As per the new rule, companies engaged in these activities will not be eligible for visa clearance. Accordingly, existing companies cannot bring in new expatriate recruits, nor can new companies be set up. However, those currently employed in these activities can renew their visa. Ministry sources say the objective of the move is to enhance Omanisation and bring more local talent to the fore. “There is plenty of local talent but there’s very little space available for them,” said an official. Ministry sources also revealed that the visa restrictions apply only to small, grade 3 and 4 companies and not to those that have been awarded the ‘green card’ for compliance with labour laws and Omanisation targets.

Genocidal Regime visits Oman
And finally, Sudan delegation arrives in Oman to start bolstering its support in the region, in the light of the ICC genocide charges against several high ranking Sudanese, including its President Al Bashir. As Sue Hutton pointed out in a comment on the previous post on this topic, Oman has long had a foreign policy founded on friendly relations with basically everybody, as befits a small country. But it still doesn't require supporting these idiots in the face of the horrendous actions taken for many years against civilians in Dharfur, supported by the government of Sudan in support of the Chinese oil extraction efforts. Dipolomancy is indeed often a distasteful business in the pursuit of National interest.

Interesting to note that The Times of Oman seemed to come out in support of the recent arrest of Radovan Karadzic for genocide by the ICC. How ironic.
Sudan envoy arrives with message for HM
Sunday, July 27, 2008 11:54:13 PM Oman Time
MUSCAT — Moosa Mohammed Ahmed, assistant of the Sudanese president and his envoy, arrived here yesterday on a visit to the Sultanate during which he will convey a message to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said from Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir. Moosa Mohammed and the delegation accompanying him were greeted on their arrival at the royal airport by Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, secretary-general of the Foreign Ministry and the Sudanese ambassador to the Sultanate.

The Guardian article of a couple of weeks ago gives a nice summary, including the reaction of Sudan's principal supporter and arms dealer, China.
This morning China – Sudan's biggest arms supplier and a leading investor in the country – said it had "grave concerns and misgivings" over the ICC's decision.
"The ICC's actions must be beneficial to the stability of the Darfur region and the appropriate settlement of the issue, not the contrary," a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Beijing, Liu Jianchao, told reporters.
When asked whether China would use its position as a veto-wielding UN security council member to obstruct the court's actions against Bashir, the spokesman declined to rule this out, saying: "China will continue consultation with other members of the UN security council but, as for the outcome, that I don't know."
China are being somewhat disingenuous, as they voted (along with the rest of the UN Security Council) to allow the case to be refered to the ICC in the first place.
The interesting part will happen if the ICC do actually issue an international arrest warrent for Al Bashir (at the moment he's still essentially on trial in absentia), although that's unlikely to happen in time to nap him in September if he visits New York.
Sudan's ambassador to the UN, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed, said Bashir planned to visit the general assembly in New York in September and warned that any attempt to arrest him there would be seen as a declaration of war.

For those who agree with the Times of Oman that Al Bashir is innocent, consider what he has been allegedly organising against the civilian African people in Dharfur:
...The plan was put into action, in the form of killings, mass rape and ethnic cleansing, after a revolt broke out in Darfur in 2003. "His motives were largely political. His alibi was a 'counterinsurgency'. His intent was genocide," Moreno-Ocampo said.

Three years ago a UN commission on Darfur ruled that the killings, despite their scale, did not constitute genocide. But Moreno-Ocampo argued that Bashir's guilt was far greater now because forces under his control had pursued the 2.5 million Darfuris made homeless in the conflict into the relief camps.
"Bashir organised the destitution, insecurity and harassment of survivors. He did not need bullets. He used other weapons: rape, hunger, and fear. As efficient, but silent," Moreno-Ocampo said.
"They are raping women, raping girls, raping in groups - raping to destroy the communities," he told CNN.

I know, its not black and white. The insurgency in the south started back in the 1980s, and the initial response of the Sudanese Government to arm and support the Arab Tribes was probably reasonable. But they've gone a long way from that now, with Government aircraft used repeatedly against unarmed women and children, and the GOS operating regularly in conjunction with the Janjaweed Arabs.

See these for some actual data on what's been going on in Darfur...
US State Dept Report
Médecins Sans Frontières
Boston News

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Happy Renaissance Day!

Yes, today represents 38 years of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos running Oman.

Congratulations Oman. You continue to have come a long way since the time when there were only 11km of paved road in the entire country and to walk in old Muscat at night required one to carry a lantern.

Benign Dictatorship is widely acknowledged as the best form of Government around, as long as you have the right Dictator. Oman is very, very, lucky that they have in HM a man of true public service, filled with a deep sense of duty to Oman's people. A man who right from the start has had a clear vision of where he wanrted to lead Oman during his reign. Overall, so far, so good.

Unfortunately, not everyone around him can meet the same high standards of duty and performance, but his Government continues to improve, especially as the younger generation of properly educated Omani technocrats make their way up the ranks.

I don't think its an accident that HM doesn't have an heir (I don't believe the rumours of the 'secret son' in England). In fact, I predict HM intends to leave this country not with the current dictatorial system but with a solid constitutional Monarcy and an elected lower house with real legislative powers.

So, congrats Oman. May HM continue to live a long healthy life to ensure the country continues to make its way in the world as a stable, prosperous and friendly country.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Times of Oman - A supporter of a genocidal maniac

As predicted, The Times of Oman's editor came out swinging in the defence of Sudan's Genocidal President Al Bashir (see extract below), somehow making the ICC court's indictment of Sudan's Field Marshall President into a conspiracy by the Israelis and the Americans. Which, seeing as the USA is a vehement opposer of the ICC, a little weird. (the last thing the USA would allow is the idea of GW Bush being extradicted to Eurpoe to face charges on Guantanamo or Iraq!).

The real culprits are the Chinese, there for the Darfur oil, and in the process providing Sudan with arms sales and protection in the Security Council. But of coarse, the Times is also a big China fan...

The reason most civilised groups (like the Arab league) are against the ICC ruling is NOT because it isn't true, but because they are pragmatists who see the indictment as a blocker to actually sorting out the on-going killing and chaos. They find the ruling 'unhelpful' because it will strengthen Al Bashir's continuing resistance to international forces that, funnily enough, want to try stop the mass murder of thousands of innocent africans.

This guy does Oman no good whatsoever. He parrots whatever he thinks will make him look good with anyone with power. And thus comes out supporting someone who most civilised countries agree is a total monster. It has nothing whatsoever to do with American/Zionist conspiracies. There isn't even that much oil.

What's next Times of Oman?? - an article in support of Robert Mugabe? I prefer to look at what someone like Amnesty International says about the ICC ruling.
July, 14 2008
Sudan-International Criminal Court: An important step
Amnesty International said that today’s announcement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an important step towards ensuring accountability for human rights violations in Sudan. The organization was talking in reaction to the announcement by the ICC Prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Sudanese President al Bashir.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for accountability for crimes under international law committed by parties to the conflict in Darfur.

The organization called on the Government of Sudan to ensure that its reaction does not have an adverse effect on the deployment of the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The government must guarantee that the civilian population in Darfur continues to receive protection from UNAMID and emergency humanitarian assistance.

Here's the latest Al Zedjali opinion piece in full. My cat has more insight.
Sudan in clutches of international conspiracies
By Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali
Sunday, July 20, 2008 1:07:25 AM Oman Time

The invisible hands have come back once again to hatch international conspiracies against Sudan after a relative calm in Darfur crisis, which involved serious external interventions in a bid to secure both the American and Israeli interests in the region, which is rich with natural resources.

Israel has been trying for too long to separate the Darfur region from the rest of Sudan with complete support from the United States, but its efforts have failed to bear fruit. It has also failed to get its hands on Sudan’s natural resources, which are God’s gift to the country.

Now Israel and the US have both turned to a new trick leading to the condemnation of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Beshir by the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), which, ever since its inception, seems to have decided to become an instrument to secure political goals and interests of the superpower. This travesty of justice is taking place despite the fact that the ICC’s sole purpose was to review and judge on the international cases of crimes presented to it on fair grounds with no political interests and to work within absolute legal framework and environment in the light of the international law and principles and not in the interest of some specific countries.

The arrest warrant for the Sudanese president, issued last week by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the ICC, is like pouring oil on fire and worsening the Darfur crisis, as stated by a senior adviser to the Sudanese president who remarked: “The warrant is designed to create hatred and enmity among the tribal groups in Darfur.”

This latest move by the International Criminal Court was condemned by both the Gulf and the Arab countries. The decision was also criticised by the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council through a statement by Abdulrahman Al Attiyah, its secretary-general, as well as by Amr Moosa, secretary-general of the Arab League. The Arab League has responded to Sudan’s call for holding an emergency meeting for the Arab foreign ministers. The Peace and Security Council of the African Union has also warned the ICC about such moves endangering peace and security in the African continent.

The Arab foreign ministers in their meeting held yesterday in Cairo stressed that the ICC action against Sudan and its leader reflects the double standard of the international community in dealing with issues of human rights especially in the light of massacres on the Palestinian lands. This approach is very dangerous and if the ICC agrees with the decision of its prosecutor general, its consequences will affect all regions rather than bring stability to Sudan.

The Arab ministers may now discuss the possibility of asking the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution asking for the ICC to suspend its procedures for 12 months.

The ICC, as claimed by Sudan’s envoy to the UN, has no jurisdiction over Sudan and hence has no right to practise any authority over Khartoum unless requested by the Sudanese national courts as per the convention of the International Criminal Court. Ironically, the ICC has not only contradicted its own convention but also those of other bodies of the UN, which have sent an international mission to inspect and probe the actual conditions in Sudan, particularly in Darfur, and which have found no trace of a genocide in Darfur. l One finds it quite strange that the ICC is trying to exert pressure on the Sudanese government against the charges of genocide in Darfur while at the same time it continues to turn a blind eye to all the massacres committed by the US and Israel against the Arab and other nations, particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

What is happening with Sudan and its president is a type of clear political blackmailing. Ironically, the US claims not to be involved in the issue and remains a silent observer of events. At the same time Israel too is maintaining a mysterious silence, which shows that the issue reeks of a conspiracy designed to implicate Sudan in an international controversy in order to badly affect its political stability and security. - emzedjali@timesofoman.com


Friday, July 18, 2008

Sudan President under investigation for genocide

Here was a nice story. Praised in the deeply ethical supporter of human rights, The Times of Oman as a great Arab statesman (while their editor in chief Mr Al Zedjali was hobnobbing with him at the Korean-Arab summit recently - see earlier post) the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, is being investigated for genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Finally. Interesting that in yesterdays Times he's refered to as Field Marshal Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Beshir, president of Sudan (their lack of capitalisation on the p in president BTW).

The Times mentioned nothing about his little ethnic cleansing progrom in Sudan of course, but simply cut and paste his speach and the Koreans talking about how they were looking forward to getting in their and extracting resources.

IHT story
When Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, reported to the United Nations Security Council last month, he painted a dire tableau of death, rape and dispossession in Darfur, saying the entire state apparatus was involved in a five-year campaign of terror there. His target, it seemed, was Sudan's president.

This week, the prosecutor privately informed Security Council members that on Monday he would ask the judges at the court in The Hague to issue an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, diplomats said. They said that the prosecution plans to bring charges of crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, a region of Sudan. The UN secreteray general, Ban Ki Moon, was also informed out of concern for the security of UN peacekeepers in the area, the diplomats said.

The prosecutor's office has called a news conference for Monday to disclose its plans.

The indictment of a sitting head of state in a war-torn country would not be unprecedented: Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Charles Taylor of Liberia were both charged by international war crimes courts while in office.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Iranian way on how to deal with free speech

I'm back after too long out of the country on business. Sorry guys. Didn't even have time to post a 'back in 10 days' sign. Nice touch about prison tho Lurker... reminded me about this story.

Today. this article in the Economist struck me as a great example of the way many Gulf countries treat the idea of freedom of speech.

In return for protesting against the Government in Iran, this poor guy was tortured for years. Finally escaping to the USA.

NINE years ago, Ahmad Batebi appeared on the cover of The Economist. He was a 21-year-old student, one of thousands who protested against Iran’s government that summer. He was photographed holding aloft a T-shirt bespattered with the blood of a fellow protester. Soon afterwards, he was arrested and shown our issue of July 17th 1999. “With this”, he was told, “you have signed your death warrant.”

During his interrogation he was blindfolded and beaten with cables until he passed out. His captors rubbed salt into his wounds to wake him up, so they could torture him more. They held his head in a drain full of sewage until he inhaled it. He recalls yearning for a swift death to end the pain. He was played recordings of what he was told was his mother being tortured. His captors wanted him to betray his fellow students, to implicate them in various crimes and to say on television that the blood on that T-shirt was only red paint. He says he refused.

He was sentenced to death for “creating street unrest”. But after a global outcry, the sentence was commuted to 15 years in jail. He speculates that his high profile made it hard to kill him without attracting negative publicity. For two years, he was kept in solitary confinement, in a cell that was little more than a toilet hole with a wooden board on top. He was tortured constantly. Only when he was allowed to mingle with other prisoners again did he begin to overcome his despair.
Click here to find out more!

He suffered a partial stroke that left the right side of his body without feeling. He needed medical attention. The regime did not want to be blamed for him dying behind bars, he says, so he was allowed out for treatment. Three months ago, on the day of the Persian new year, he escaped into Iraq. On June 24th he arrived in America.

He spoke to The Economist on July 7th. Looking at the picture that sparked his ordeal, he says that another man in his place might be angry, but he is not. Mr Batebi is a photographer himself. He says he understands what journalism involves. Had we not published the picture, he says, another paper might have. Looking at the same picture, his lawyer, interpreter and friend Lily Mazahery says she is close to tears: in it, the young Mr Batebi’s pale arms are as yet unscarred by torture.

The protests Mr Batebi took part in nine years ago frightened Iran’s rulers. The students were angry about censorship, the persecution of intellectuals and the thugs who beat up any student overheard disparaging the regime. Mr Batebi thinks Iran could well turn solidly democratic some day. In neighbouring states, religious extremism is popular. In Iran, he says, the government is religiously extreme, but the people are not.

He is cagey about how exactly he escaped. But he says he used a cellphone camera to record virtually every step of his journey, and will soon go public with the pictures and his commentary. Meanwhile, he seems to be enjoying America. He praises the way “people have the opportunity to become who they want to be”. Shortly after he arrived, he posted a picture of himself in front of the Capitol on his Farsi-language blog, with the caption: “Your hands will never touch me again.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Those pesky runaway expats - but we don't deserve Tier 3...

Following on from the Tier 3 knee-jerk reaction, this beauty from yesterday's papers (in this case the Tribune version) on those pesky runaway expats. I was shocked myself that there are apparently over 64,000 expats that are effectively missing. Gee, I wonder why, seeing as things are so great here for all expats, why 64,000 would abscond? I mean, the number seems to indicate about 50 expats per day go missing, or 'runaway'.

Or at least, I hope they absconded, and aren't just buried in the desert somewhere. Do you think the ROP would actually investigate any of these cases?

And the response is not to wonder why they runaway and perhaps think about what that means, but to enforce 'strict penalties'. Go Oman! The expat labourer's paradise...

Majlis A’Shura focuses on runaway expatriates
Muscat Majlis A’Shura held its 10th regular session of the first annual term under the chairmanship of HE Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Isa’ee on Sunday.

Omar Bin Ali Al Hosoni, deputy chairman, read out the legal committee report and pointed out that the study of the legal committee to the proposed amendments on the labour law has been delegated by Majlis A’Shura and was limited only to the articles to which the amendments will be introduced.

“The first part of the report addresses the issue of runaway expatriates by applying strict penalties, which the ministry believes, will provide a radical and decisive
solution to the problem which has a negative impact on job market,” he added.

Majlis A’Shura appr-oved the report of the legal committee on the proposed amendments to the labour law. The report included the recommendations of the committee and the proposed amendments on some of the labour law provisions, especially those related to the runaway expatriates.

The number of run-away expatriates, as at the end of 2007, stood at 64,487, a 33.97 per cent growth compared to the last two years, he said.