Renewing old friendships with the Commonwealth (Part One)

The formal colonisation of the corner of South-East Asia that became Malaysia and Singapore started with the direct transfer in 1867 of the control of territories held by the British East India Company to the British Government. Those Crown Colonies comprising Malacca, Penang, Singapore and Labuan were known as the Straits Settlements. Various political transitions in the region were galvanised by the defeat of Japan by the Allied Powers in the Pacific Theatre. In 1946, the Malayan Union was formed by the amalgamation of the Federated and Unfederated Malay States with Malacca and Penang, the latter two remaining British Colonies while the Malay States became British Protectorates. The Malayan Union gained independence from Britain in 1957 but the British influence on the infrastructure development of Malaya is very evident in the educational, transport and legislative systems, even down to the constitutional monarchy, the electoral system and its bicameral parliament. In 1963, Malaya was enlarged with the addition of Sarawak, Sabah (formerly British North Borneo) and Singapore to become Malaysia, although Singapore’’s membership of Malaysia ended abruptly in 1965. Malaysia continues to be a member of the Commonwealth.

The spirit of the Commonwealth of Nations is to cooperate and consult on matters of mutual interest with sovereign member states retaining their respective autonomy in all domestic and foreign affairs. Historically, Britain was often invited to lead in strategic affairs, playing key roles in the resolution of conflicts and defeating insurgencies.

However, the most important activities of the Commonwealth were in trade, investment and development programmes for newly independent nations that were former British colonies and protectorates. Malaya has been an important source of wealth for Britain as, amongst other produce, it was the world’’s largest producer of rubber and tin, materials that were important in the industrialisation of the 20th century. A set of trade agreements initiated at the Ottawa Conference in 1932 between Britain and the other members gave preferential tariff treatment to many raw materials and manufactured goods that the Commonwealth nations sell in Britain, but the system of preferential tariffs was abandoned after Britain’s entry into the European Community in 1973. Malaysia, like many Commonwealth countries, felt that Britain had turned its back on her. In the post-independence era leading up to the formation of Malaysia, bilateral trade between Britain and Malaya had begun to decline, eroded by a combination of factors such as the economic shift in Britain from manufacturing industries to financial markets. This was set against a backdrop of rising industrial sophistication of Japan and its penetration into what was formerly the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere of pre-war Japan. Today, China has not only become a global player but it has a significant presence in that region.

Malaysia occupies a very important strategic position for Britain as it is in the very heart of the fastest growing economic area in the world. In 2011, I set up the Conservative Friends of Malaysia. Various programmes were planned to foster bilateral trade relationships and to develop liaison between the academic communities in Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Malaysians have a longstanding interest in the medical and allied healthcare fields, education particularly in English, small and medium enterprise development, social care and safeguarding of vulnerable people such as those with mental health disorders, the frail and the elderly.

I hope as a parliamentary candidate candidate for UKIP, I would be able to establish with fellow members such a platform as that would be consistent with growing the stature of UKIP in Commonwealth and international relations post-Brexit.

As we move forward into the future, it would be most advantageous and beneficial for Britain and Malaysia to renew their old and fond friendship based on common interests and mutual respect.

House of Lords Reception 14-5-2012
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Razak at the House of Lords reception 14th May 2012 with Tan Sri Zakaria Sulong, Malaysian High Commissioner, Lord Sheikh and Dr Khong

Safeguarding the Vulnerable, Frail and Elderly in the Care setting

A few years ago, following successful conviction of two carers mistreating a resident at Oakfoss House Residential Care Home, Pontefract, a member of staff who beat an elderly lady in Ash Court Care Centre, Kentish Town, London, and those who were filmed by BBC who carried out a regime of abuse at the Winterbourne View care unit in Hambrook, near Bristol, I presented as the Safeguarding Adult Lead for NHS Leicester City CCG Board a paper to debate the use of CCTV monitoring in care and residential homes.

In the Ash Court case, the Care Quality Commission awarded the care home an ‘excellent’ rating just three months before the attacks. It was also claimed that a subsequent report, produced four months after the incidents, also failed to mention that charges were pending over the incidents, and both Ash Court and Oakfoss continue to operate. Only Winterbourne View has been closed.

In these cases, successful prosecutions were secured by CCTV. Understandably, there were calls for CCTV surveillance in every care home across the country to prevent abuse of the elderly and vulnerable.

No law exists that requires or prohibits CCTV cameras in nursing and care homes. Physical abuse, sexual abuse and theft are the most common forms of crimes, yet proving the acts have occurred is difficult. Indeed, many victims are not mentally or physically able to tell others about the abuse and others are afraid or feel as if they have no one who would receive their report as credible.

Campaign group NO CCTV said such a demand represented excessive use of surveillance cameras and degraded the quality of life for care home residents. CCTV would assuage the conscience of relatives. Devon and Cornwall Police said installing cameras and storing the footage would make it difficult to protect residents’ privacy.

Mental Welfare Commission (MWC) and Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) have been aware of the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) in a very small number of individuals’ rooms in a registered care facility.

According to Article 8 of the European Convention for Human Rights, the disproportionate use of CCTV is an intrusion into an individual’s privacy and dignity. The presence of a camera, whether or not it is activated, may be deemed a threat to individual privacy, while any such interference must be proportionate and lawful for a legitimate aim. It must only be undertaken where there is the proper legal authorisation in place, e.g. authorisation via a guardianship order with the specific power to use CCTV in respect of the individual’s welfare. My view is that the facility should be offered as an option with informed consent from the resident and next-of-kin, even if the resident has mental capacity, and that the facility should be withdrawn upon request by them.

MWC’s publication “Rights, Risks and Limits to Freedom” has guidance on general use. The Scottish Human Rights Commission “Care about Rights” resources also give some guidance on the human right to privacy which is at stake when CCTV is used. There may be limited situations where it can be helpful in communal areas of care facilities but this must be justified by, for example, the protection or safety of individuals, and be proportionate; that is to say the minimum necessary intrusion into the privacy of individuals. I believe, however, that these sources of guidance need to be updated and strengthened. Only cogent measures can reassure vulnerable residents and their families.

Although my proposal for CCTV is not intended as a blanket measure to observe people, the advantages in terms of protecting carers against false allegation and keeping residents safe cannot be overlooked. This is in principle no different from CCTV monitoring in cells at police stations where I worked as a Police Surgeon. Its introduction in a care home setting should form part of a planned programme of care, recorded and regularly reviewed by the service provider and multi-disciplinary team, and destroyed at regular intervals with mutual agreement between the management and the resident and family. The information gathered should only be viewed by named people trained in the legal obligations.

Nursing homes can protect patients and their own reputations by installing CCTV cameras. CCTV cameras can record interactions between the staff and the patient and the staff and the patient’s family. With this, nursing home abuse can be deterred or eliminated altogether. Most importantly, the abuser can be identified and prosecuted by using CCTV camera recordings as evidential proof.

Why are there no resignations from the CQC or Castlebeck who owned Winterbourne View? I heard the one main reason for this type of failure often. Lessons will be learned.

General Election 2017: Dr Teck Khong, UKIP candidate for Harborough out and about meeting constituents

A snap General Election this may be but a snap voter decision it must not be.

Recently, I have been canvassing as the UKIP parliamentary candidate for the Harborough Constituency. I have made some observations.

Interactions with voters fall into questions and statements, and they may present on social media or in person. The latter are either in the form of criticism with prejudice or agreement based on shared sentiments, while the former is around an intrigue that many find odd.

Why did I resign from the Conservatives, only to join UKIP in just a week? There is of course no mystery in that. I have been against Britain joining the EU in 1973. As a citizen from the Commonwealth, I felt Britain took the wrong decision abandoning its close post-colonial ties with Commonwealth countries including Malaysia where I grew up as a boy. My late father, who served in the Malaysian diplomatic service, would have approved of my stance. In our view, Britain’s hegemony as a world power was diminished by its subsumption into the European Union.

The progression toward EU federalism only hardened my resolve, that if I ever chose to become a serious politician, I would join the ranks of those who seek severance from the EU project. As the EU Referendum approached, I used to remind those with whom I discuss politics the importance of restoring our sovereignty as the paramount and over-riding consideration.

Post-EU Referendum, the position of Brexit proved vulnerable to sabotage by those reluctant to leave the EU. Mrs May, as I predicted, would have to call a General Election and I thought it would coincide with the local elections in May 2017. However, what was becoming concerning for me was that while I was removed from the Candidates List of the Conservative Party prior to the EU Referendum, the Conservative Party fielded even more Remainer candidates to safe and winnable seats to contest the General Election.

If Mrs May was to evince to the electorate that her credentials as a Remainer had now been truly shed and she is firmly and irreversibly converted to a Brexiter, she should have appointed to every safe or winnable vacant seat a Brexiter.

From such observations of Mrs May’s strategies and actions, I believe that Britain’s position at the end of the negotiations would be a compromised Brexit with contentious consequences. I resigned because I could not live with my Brexiter conscience, given such reservations over the Party’s request for a voters’ mandate in the form of a huge majority to complete Brexit yet contradicting that ambition with a potentially large cohort of Remainer Conservative MPs.

If I were to continue playing an active part in politics, I decided I would have to join UKIP, the party that was, after all, established with its focus to leave the EU.

In conclusion, I believe Mrs May will get her majority but the real paradox being that she does not need an oversized majority for Britain to get a full Brexit.

Britain needs UKIP to have parliamentary representation in order to monitor and ensure unadulterated Brexit. To that end, I would urge the public to extend their support to patriotic UKIP candidates like me to get elected.

Brexit – A freedom restored, a privilege to defend and benefits to propagate

Britain is now leaving the European Union. Its significance will take time to manifest in its entirety but the path, progress and end results for Britain will be influenced by a myriad of factors.

 

The divisive nature of the EU Referendum is the first effect, catalysing alliances and driving them into two camps across partisan lines in the period leading to the Referendum and precipitating in the aftermath leadership crisis in the two main political parties.

 

Like major earthquakes, aftershocks are still felt and that will be the case for quite some time. Those who support Remain continue to be disappointed with reactions that range from a numbed acceptance to vocal protestations. On the other hand, Leave supporters show, probably in equal measures, elation and suspicion of being denied the final separation from the EU.

 

Article 50 has been invoked to start the process of separation. There are legalities to resolve and it is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the remainder of the European Union to enter into negotiations with mutual respectful understanding. I believe the United Kingdom should accept no compromises for the benefit of its national integrity. It is because of this imperative that those involved in the executing the mechanics of separation should be Brexiters, not Remainers, to avoid any undermining of the desired results.

 

As expected, there are anxieties concerning EU-directed funding and subsidies for regions, businesses, various organisations and services as our membership contributions are repatriated back to Britain. Indeed, there will be changes to services, such as policing and defence, that require review. Brexit implications for these domestic matters contrast with EU negotiations. At the legislative level, Parliament must table proposals for legislation according to requirements or debate adoption of any EU based laws consistent with the spirit of Brexit.

 

What happens in the Europe and to the EU after Brexit is unpredictable, both in the scale of any socio-economic changes and the time-frame of political developments. Maturity in the conduct of negotiations is an essential factor for successful separation.

 

Upheaval in the British political landscape is unavoidable, but we should be justifiably optimistic of the advantages and benefits of Brexit. In the forthcoming General Election, I have decided to play my part to ensure that our country does not yield to negativity and saboteurs of Brexit. I have therefore joined the United Kingdom Independence Party, the party that has been instrumental in ensuring the Referendum of our membership of the European Union.

 

In the longer term, there will be a definite need to change our services and provisions commensurate with our requirements. In that regard, health and social care must be radically transformed to better serve the British people. My commitment to health and social care is based on the fact that there has been a failure to understand that while a thriving economy is needed to sustain our NHS, a poorly constituted health and social care system is detrimental to the fundamentals of our economy.

 

In the wider picture, we must be bold to embrace a new philosophy that spawns a host of activities that would not only strengthen our democratic provisions but would be accretive to our international stature and economic resilience. In academia and science, Britain will have much to gain in economic terms by their advancement. Much of our ascendancy comes from English being the most widely used language for communication, and more can be done to enhance our literature and arts across the world. The British Council is such an exemplar and it is emulated by the Confucius Institute from China. The race to maintain our primacy is one we must not lose, as stagnation yields our leadership to rivals.

 

The establishment of this philosophy with its ethical principles could address inequities of access to opportunities in so many different ways and raise the standards of British life. By its global reach, it would afford improvement in the quality of life in under-privileged parts of the world. Ultimately, it protects our democracy.

 

I call this political humanitarianism. It’s a principle worth pursuing.