• Full details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act must be known before a decision to support or not can be made

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 30th of March 2017

    Full details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act must be known before a decision to support or not can be made

    Yesterday, on the 29th of March, 2017, myself together with my colleagues, Anthony Loke (Seremban), Teresa Kok (Seputeh), Chong Chien Jen (Bandar Kuching), Julian Tan (Stampin), Oscar Ling (Sibu), Jeff Ooi (Jelutong) and Ng Wei Aik (Tanjong) met with Senator Datuk Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to discuss the details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act.

    The recommendations[1] of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing were published on its website on the 30th of September 2016.[2]

    We expressed our disappointment that this committee chose to only focus on political donations and expenditure without addressing larger issues of reform which are linked to political donations and expenditure including the independence of the Election Commission as well as the office of the Attorney General (AG).

    We also highlighted some of the shortcomings of the recommendations including the proposal to lift all spending limits and not to have a cap on political donations to political parties and individuals. This will skew an already uneven playing field in favour of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

    At the same time, we welcome the following recommendations:

    • The creation of an office of the Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure and the assurance of a transparent and fair process to appoint the Controller
    • The creation of a parliamentary standing committee on political financing to scrutinise the work of the Controller on behalf of Parliament
    • That state funding be provided to support the effective operations of the constituency offices of the elected Members of Parliament and elected State Legislative Assembly members
    • The ban on state owned companies and companies receiving government contracts and concessions from making any political contributions
    • Steps to be taken to criminalise discrimination or victimisation of donors and the creation of a mechanism to enable donors who feel they have been unfairly treated to seek justice

    We informed the Minister that state funding for MPs should include access to constituency development funds which are currently being denied to opposition MPs.

    We also took note that many of the finer details to do with the implementation of the proposed act have not yet been confirmed and is in the process of being ironed out by the technical committee.

    We appreciate the assurance by the Minister that he will keep us informed of any future developments with regards to this proposed bill and that he ‘will not spring any surprises’ on us.

    We will await the full details of the proposed bill before we decide on whether to support the bill or not.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Photo: DAP MPs meeting with Paul Low

    [1] http://transparency.org.my/what-we-do/reforming-political-financing/full-report-from-the-national-consultative-committee-on-political-financing/

    [2] http://politicalfinancing.my/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Media-STATEMENT-JKNMPP-English-final-290916.pdf

  • The Ministry of Education is guilty of gross incompetence in administering the 2015 PISA test

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang,  Tony Pua, MP for Petaling Jaya Utara and Zairil Khir Johari, MP for Bukit Bendera, on the 29th of March 2017

    The Ministry of Education is guilty of gross incompetence in administering the 2015 PISA test

    The poor performance of Malaysian students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009, where Malaysia was ranked in the bottom third of all countries, was highlighted in the National Education Blueprint 2013 to 2025 (See Figure 1). Malaysia’s performance in the 2012 PISA test did not show significant improvement. Not surprisingly, there was much attention on the 2015 PISA test scores to see if the efforts of the Ministry of Education would be able to boost Malaysia’s performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science.

    Figure 1: Comparison of Malaysia’s PISA 2009+ ranking and scores against other countries (selected)

    Unfortunately, even though Malaysia’s scores for Reading, Mathematics and Science did show an increase from 2012 to 2015 (from 398 to 431 for Reading, from 421 to 446 in Mathematics, from 420 to 443 in Science), Malaysia was not included in the 2015 PISA ranking. According to the 2015 PISA report, “In Malaysia, the PISA assessment was conducted in accordance with the operational standards and guidelines of the OECD. However, the weighted response rate among the initially sampled Malaysian schools (51%) falls well short of the standard PISA response rate of 85%. Therefore, the results may not be comparable to those of other countries or to results for Malaysia from previous years”.[1]

    In a parliamentary reply to MP Tony Pua, on the 22nd of March, 2017, the excuses given by the Ministry of Education for this low response include: (i) students were not used to answering the questions using computers resulting in their response not being recorded and (ii) technical problems such as damaged data and data which were lost during the taking of the test.

    These excuses are unacceptable for the following reasons:

    • The Ministry of Education had at least 2 years, starting in 2013, to prepare for the 2015 PISA test.[2]
    • This is not the first time which Malaysia is going through the PISA process. In 2009, the response rate for the students selected was 99.3% and in 2012, it was 100.0%. How was it that in 2015, the response rate had dropped to 51%?
    • Before the release of the PISA report, the Ministry of Education had given assurances that both students and teachers had been adequately prepared for the taking and administering of the PISA tests.[3]

    The admission of these technical failures shows that the Ministry of Education was grossly incompetent in administering the 2015 PISA tests. In doing so, it has put Malaysia in an embarrassing situation of not being featured in the PISA rankings.

    The Ministry of Education should not be boasting about Malaysia’s improvement in its PISA scores since the PISA report has clearly stated that our 2015 scores cannot be compared to past PISA scores. Instead, it should issue a detailed report on why the sample of schools included in the PISA test and explain why the response rate of 85% was not reached. Deputy Education Minister, Chong Sin Woon, promised in December 2016 that such a detailed report would be released but till now, we have seen no such report.[4]

    Figure 2: Reasons given on why Malaysia only managed a 51% response rate for the 2015 PISA test

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] PISA 2015 Results – Policies & Practices for Successful Schools Vol.II, pg. 261.

    [2] http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/malaysia-capable-improving-its-position-pisa-2015-26809

    [3] http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2015/02/13/students-being-prepped-for-pisa-assessment/

    [4] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/report-on-malaysias-pisa-disqualification-underway

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