• Possible appointment of Tan Sri Dr. Irwan Serigar as the next Bank Negara Governor raises concerns

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 14th of March, 2016

    Possible appointment of Tan Sri Dr. Irwan Serigar as the next Bank Negara Governor raises concerns

    I read the disturbing news reported by the Wall Street Journal on Saturday that Tan Sri Dr. Irwan Serigar bin Abdullah, the current Chief Secretary of Ministry of Finance, will be named as the new Central Bank Governor of Malaysia after Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz.[1]

    I want to raise some concerns regarding Dr Irwan’s role in multi-billion ringgit debts of Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd, a 99% Ministry of Finance owned company. Pembinaan PFI first rose to prominence when the 2013 Auditor General’s report showed that it had accumulated liabilities of close to RM28 billion at financial year end 2012, putting it only behind Petronas and Khazanah among government owned entities (See Figure 1 below).

    Figure 1: Three government owned companies with the highest amount of liabilities in financial year 2012


    Source: Auditor General’s Report 2013

    Dr. Irwan was appointed to the board of Pembinaan PFI in 2012 when he was the Deputy Secretary in charge of policy in the Ministry of Finance (MoF). After he was promoted to Chief Secretary of the MoF, Dr. Irwan remained as a director of Pembinaan PFI.

    The Auditor General’s report prompted a Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) investigation into Pembinaan PFI. The PAC report was released in March 2015, a copy of which can be downloaded from the parliament’s website.[2] The testimony of the witnesses, including Dr. Irwan, clearly showed the spending incurred by Pembinaan PFI is nothing more than a creative way to hide development expenditure from the official budget and in doing so, artificially keep Malaysia’s debt to GDP ratio at below the 55% mark. Pembinaan PFI is not funding expenditure through private finance initiatives (which its name implies) since there is no private money involved in these projects.[3]

    Indeed, during the PAC meeting, Dr. Irwan admitted as much when he said the following to the Chairman of the PAC:

    “Ini Tuan Pengerusi, your understanding is very clear. That you know this is off-budget. It doesn’t come in to the government so that why you know our debt level and rating and everything we can maintain.”

    Dr. Irwan’s role in relying on off-budget expenditure items in order to maintain our official debt levels and ratings raises concerns about his responsibilities as the next Bank Negara Governor. Will he also rely on creative accounting for other sensitive economic data such as BNM’s official reserves? Will he paint an unrealistically positive account of the Malaysian economy via BNM’s economic reports and fail to flag areas of concern such as the possibility of a growing fiscal deficit?

    When asked by The Edge TV on the specific issue of Pembinaan PFI, Dr Irwan gave a misleading answer.[4] He likened the projects under Pembinaan PFI with the MRT project, stating that the payback period is over a very long horizon while in actual fact, most of the projects under Pembinaan PFI are not capable of revenue generation. This kind of obfuscation is also worrying especially during these economically challenging times when clarify of thought and explanation are needed in order to assure the jittery markets.

    The markets are looking for a steady pair of hands to replace Dr. Zeti as the next BNM governor. Any of the three current Deputy Governors would have sent a strong signal to the markets that the independence of BNM will be maintained. The appointment of Dr. Irwan, if true, does not give any reason for the markets to be assured and in fact raises more questions about the independence of our central bank moving forwards.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.wsj.com/articles/malaysia-finance-ministry-official-to-be-new-central-bank-chief-1457721640

    [2] http://portal.parlimen.gov.my/ipms/modules/risalat/res/risalat/2015/Laporan%20Jawatankuasa%20Kira-Kira%20Wang%20Negara%20Parlimen%20Ketiga%20Belas%20-%20Prosedur%20Kawalan%20Pengurusan%20Syarikat%20Pembinaan%20PFI%20Sdn%20Bhd%20(Kementerian%20Kewangan).pdf

    [3] The building of schools, for example, is usually financed through the development expenditure of the government budget. The projects, including the building of schools, financed through Pembinaan PFI, are all off-budget expenditure items which means that the government doesn’t have to officially borrow money to finance these projects. Pembinaan PFI, as a 99% MoF owned company, borrowed the money from EPF and KWAP. The Malaysian government has to help Pembinaan PFI service these loans to EPF and KWAP through its operating expenditure or OPEX.

    [4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HlN7ygkN-c

  • Axing selected athletic events at the 2017 KL Sea Games shows just how short sighted we are

    Opinion Piece by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 1st of March, 2016

    Axing selected athletic events at the 2017 KL Sea Games shows just how short sighted we are

    Imagine this. It’s approaching the 2012 London Olympics. The United States Track and Field association decides not to send any Americans to compete in the 10,000m event at the Olympics because they thought there was no way that any American could win a medal against the African runners. After all, the last time an American medalled in this event was way back in 1964 in Tokyo. For 5 consecutive games since the Seoul games in 1988, every single medallist in this event was from Africa. The only person who could challenge the African dominance in this event was Britain’s Mo Farah and he wasn’t about to convert his citizenship anytime soon. Of course, this didn’t happen. The US sent a full contingent of 3 runners to compete in this event. One of them, a white kid from Oregon, outsprinted his African rivals to take the silver medal behind Mo Farah. It was the first medal for the Americans in this event in 48 years.

    I bring up this example in light of the recent news that Malaysia has proposed to remove eight athletic events – the men’s and women’s marathon, the men’s and women’s 10000m, the men’s and women’s 3000 steeplechase, the decathlon and the heptathlon – from the 2017 South East Asian (SEA) games in Kuala Lumpur.[1] It was reported that the likely reason for this decision is due to the fact that Malaysia does not have any medal contenders in these events. While the host country has some leeway in choosing to include or exclude certain events from the SEA games – think fencing (out) or speed skating (in) – it is unprecedented for these events to be excluded from the line-up of athletic events. The men’s 10000m had been run since the first SEA games in 1959, the decathlon, 3000m steeple chase and marathon since 1965. The women’s marathon debuted in 1983, the 10000m in 1987 and the heptathlon in 1965.

    An equivalent would be if a country decided to leave out mixed doubles from the badminton line-up because it did not have any medal contenders in this particular badminton event.

    The authorities in charge – whether it is the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) or the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) – should have anticipated the backlash from neighbouring countries over this ludicrous move. There is now talk that certain countries would boycott events such the triple jump, high jump and the discus, all events which Malaysia has medal contenders in.[2] Worse still, Asia’s governing track authority, the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) has said that it would not sanction the holding of the athletics events at the SEA games in KL if these events are excluded from the overall line-up.[3]

    My best guess is that these events will eventually be restored to the athletics line-up as a result of the public backlash and the protests from other countries. These countries have until the middle of March to file their official appeals. But the larger question which this episode has revealed is the fact that Malaysia does not seem to have any plans to develop athletes in these events where we don’t have any medal contenders. This was not always the case.

    Malaysian legend M. Ramachandran dominated the 10000m for almost a decade by bringing home the SEA games gold medal four times from 1993 to 1999. Dlibaugh Singh Kler won the 3000m steeple chase in three consecutive SEA games when the event was first introduced in 1965. Mohd Malik Ahmad Tobias took home the decathlon gold twice – in 1999 and 2003. Yuan Yufang, better known for her dominance in the 20km walk event, also took home the women’s 10000m gold medal in 1999. Zaiton Othman took home three SEA games gold medals in the heptathlon in the 1980s.

    At a time when long distance running and triathlons (which is also being omitted from the 2017 SEA games) are becoming more and more popular in Malaysia, we should be encouraging the development of young talents in these events even if we do not have medal contenders at the moment. After all, the aforementioned Galen Rupp finished 13th in the 10000m in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With a greater number of willing sponsors such as Garmin, Ultron and Amnig, the Malaysian Athletics Federation should be jumping on the bandwagon to promote long distance running and triathlon, instead of keeping quiet and passing the buck to the OCM.

    At last weekend’s Tokyo Marathon, Edan Syah, achieved a personal best of 2 hours 38 minutes and 55 minutes and was the fastest Malaysian in the race.[4] This timing would have placed Edan in 5th position at the 2015 Sea Games in Singapore. If the marathon is excluded from the 2017 SEA games, athletes like Edan would not know how they will fare against the best runners from the region. And Malaysian athletics would suffer as a result.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/sports/article/whos-to-blame-for-the-2017-sea-games-athletics-events-fiasco

    [2] http://www.todayonline.com/sports/athletics-sea-games-could-be-under-threat?singlepage=true

    [3] http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/athletics-at-sea-games/2546972.html

    [4] https://www.facebook.com/edansyah/posts/1685159695100595:0

  • 政府必须披露哪些财团获颁兴建规模高达150兆瓦太阳能的发电厂

    (2016年227)沙登区国会议员王建民博士的新闻文稿

    政府必须披露哪些财团获颁兴建规模高达150兆瓦太阳能的发电厂

    基于一马公司(1MDB)在兴建和运作太阳能电厂上毫无任何经验,因此1MDB太阳能有限公司在无需经过公开招标的情况下获颁兴建50兆瓦太阳能发电量不禁让人感到非常质疑。[1]

    迄今为止,这将会成为国内最大的太阳能发电厂。根据报道,一马公司是被允许进一步地将太阳能发电厂提升至500兆瓦容量。[2]

    之前,小型太阳能发电用户通过公开招标来参与可持续能源发展局(SEDA)所推行的太阳能电力回购的固打计划(少过每小时4千250瓦电量),相较之下,颁发兴建大规模的太阳能发电厂的作业程序却前后不一致。

    显然易见的,能源,绿色工艺及水务部(KeTTHA)并无从中汲取的经验和过去的教训。

    在2016年1月底,能源、绿色工艺及水务部秘书长拿督吕淑玉以不具名的方式来宣布150兆瓦的太阳能发电厂将被颁授给一间“拥有强劲的财务和技术背景的财团”。[3] 从该计划的规模是一马公司的3倍之大来看,这样的不透明或不公开的作法都是完全不能被接受的。

    同时,公众也不禁会联想到获颁150兆瓦容量太阳能发电厂的财团与在去年底被一马公司脱售旗下Edra全球能源有限公司(Edra Global Energy Bhd)有无任何关系。

    令人同样地失望是,可持续能源发展局似乎对此无动于衷,尽管根据根据2011年《可持续能源发展机构法》,它有权力与部长磋商及落实可再生能源相关的政策。[4]

    为了透明化的公众利益,我敦促能源、绿色工艺及水务部长麦西慕公步被获颁兴建150兆瓦容量的太阳能发电厂的财团真正身份及确保未来所有各规模的太阳能发电厂都会采取公开招标的作业程序。

    王建民博士
    沙登区国会议员

    [1] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2014/05/05/1mdb-plans-giant-solar-farm-it-is-believed-to-have-formed-a-joint-venture-with-tnb-and-a-us-firm-fo/

    [2] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/factual-clarification-on-50mw-solar-power-plant-in-kedah-1mdb-dusable-capit

    [3] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/01/27/call-for-more-solar-power-plants/

    [4] See Sections 16 & 17 of the SEDA Act 2011

  • Dedahkan konsortium yang dianugerahkan hak membina ladang solar skala utiliti 150MW

    Kenyataan Media oleh Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Ahli Parlimen Serdang pada 27 Februari 2016

    Dedahkan konsortium yang dianugerahkan hak membina ladang solar skala utiliti 150MW

    Keputusan untuk menganugerahkan kontrak pembinaan loji janakuasa solar skala utiliti 50MW kepada 1MDB Solar Sdn Bhd pada Mei 2014 tanpa melalui sebarang proses tender adalah amat membingungkan, memandangkan 1MDB langsung tiada pengalaman dalam membina dan mengoperasi sebarang loji janakuasa solar.[1] Buat masa ini, loji janakuasa solar 50MW ini merupakan yang terbesar di negara ini. Mengikut laporan, 1MDB juga telah diberi hak untuk membina loji janakuasa solar skala utiliti berkapasiti sehingga 500MW.[2]

    Proses pemberian kontrak-kontrak bagi pembinaan loji-loji janakuasa solar skala utiliti ini adalah langsung tidak konsisten dengan proses pemberian kuota tarif galakan (FiT) bagi pemasangan solar skala kecil (kurang daripada 425 kWh), di mana FiT dianugerahkan melalui pengundian terbuka oleh Pusat Pembangunan Tenaga Lestari (SEDA).

    Nampaknya, Kementerian Tenaga, Teknologi Hijau Dan Air (KeTTHA) seolah-olah tidak mengambil iktibar daripada pengajaran lepas. Pada hujung bulan lepas, Ketua Setiausaha KeTTHA, Datuk Lo Took Gee telah mengumumkan bahawa kontrak pembinaan loji janakuasa solar skala utiliti 150MW telah dianugerahkan kepada sebuah “konsortium yang kukuh dari segi kewangan dan teknikal” tanpa mendedahkan nama konsortium tersebut.[3] Dari sudut ketelusan, ini langsung tidak dapat diterima terutamanya apabila projek ini melibatkan loji janakuasa solar tiga kali ganda lebih besar daripada yang dianugerahkan kepada 1MDB.

    Kini, sukar untuk mengelakkan waspada bahawa konsortium yang diberi hak kontrak loji janakuasa solar 150W ini berhubungkait dengan penjualan Edra Global Energy oleh 1MDB pada penghujung 2015. Yang lebih mengecewakan lagi, SEDA seolah-olah terputus daripada proses penganugerahan kontrak loji janakuasa solar skala utiliti ini walaupun ia mempunyai kuasa untuk menasihati Menteri dan melaksanakan dasar-dasar berhubung dengan tenaga boleh baharu melalui Akta Pihak Berkuasa Pembangunan Tenaga Lestari 2011.[4]

    Demi ketelusan, saya menyeru Dr. Maximus Ongkili, Menteri Tenaga, Teknologi Hijau Dan Air (KeTTHA) untuk mendedahkan identiti konsortium yang diberi kontrak ladang solar skala utiliti 150MW secara umum, dan untuk memastikan segala kontrak pembinaan ladang solar utiliti diberi melalui proses tender terbuka.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Ahli Parlimen Serdang

    [1] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2014/05/05/1mdb-plans-giant-solar-farm-it-is-believed-to-have-formed-a-joint-venture-with-tnb-and-a-us-firm-fo/

    [2] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/factual-clarification-on-50mw-solar-power-plant-in-kedah-1mdb-dusable-capit

    [3] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/01/27/call-for-more-solar-power-plants/

    [4] Rujuk Seksyen 16 & 17 Pihak Berkuasa Pembangunan Tenaga Lestari 2011

     

  • Reveal the consortium which was awarded the right to build 150MW solar scale utility farm

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 27th of February, 2016

    Reveal the consortium which was awarded the right to build 150MW solar scale utility farm

    The decision to award the contract to build a 50MW utility scale solar farm without any tender process to 1MDB Solar Sdn Bhd in May 2014 was highly questionable given that 1MDB did not have any experience in building and operating any solar power plants.[1] This 50MW solar power plant would be the biggest in the country, at the time of writing. It was also reported that 1MDB had been given the right to develop up to utility scale solar farms with up to a 500MW capacity.[2]

    The manner in which the contracts to build these utility scale solar farms is totally inconsistent with the manner in which the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) quotas for small scale solar installations (less than 425kwh) are given out – via open balloting – through the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA).

    It appears that the Ministry for Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) has not learned from past lessons. At the end of last month, January 2016, KeTTHA secretary-general Datuk Lo Took Gee, announced that a 150MW utility scale solar farm had been awarded to a “consortium that is financially and technically strong” without disclosing the name of the consortium.[3] This is highly unacceptable from the perspective of disclosure and transparency especially for what a solar farm that is three times the size that was awarded to 1MDB.

    One cannot help but wonder if the consortium which was given this 150MW solar farm contract has anything to do with the sale of Edra Global Energy by 1MDB at the end of 2015.

    What is equally disappointing is that the SEDA seems to be completely cut off from the process of awarding these utility scale solar farm contracts even though it has the power under the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Act 2011 to advise the Minister on and to implement policies related to renewable energy.[4]

    In the interest of transparency, I call upon the Dr. Maximus Ongkili, the Minister for Energy, Green Technology and Water to publicly disclose the identity of the consortium which was awarded the 150MW utility scale solar farm and to ensure that all future utility scale solar farms are awarded via an open tender.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2014/05/05/1mdb-plans-giant-solar-farm-it-is-believed-to-have-formed-a-joint-venture-with-tnb-and-a-us-firm-fo/

    [2] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/factual-clarification-on-50mw-solar-power-plant-in-kedah-1mdb-dusable-capit

    [3] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/01/27/call-for-more-solar-power-plants/

    [4] See Sections 16 & 17 of the SEDA Act 2011

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