• Why is subsidised 1 Malaysia flour being sold in Singapore?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, and Lim Lip Eng, MP for Segambut on the 2nd of April, 2015

    Why is subsidised 1 Malaysia flour being sold in Singapore?

    After rice, flour is the most important staple food for all Malaysians.  It is a necessity for basic sustenance and hence its availability at an affordable price is the responsibility of the government.  The flour subsidy programme must be well administered to ensure ordinary Malaysians, especially the poor, can meet their basic food needs.  This is especially crucial in the trying times of the beginning of GST implementation when almost everything is getting more expensive.

    In 2014, an estimated RM185 million was spent by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs on subsidizing flour. At estimated RM150 million will be spent in 2015. For every packet of 1kg flour sold at RM1.35, the government paid an additional 0.55 sen in subsidies. (See Appendix 1 below)

    We have received photo evidence that the same pack of flour – with the 1 Malaysia Logo and branded as “Blue Key” Flour – was bought in Singapore at SGD2.20 from a shelf of a grocery store in March 2015. This is approximately RM5.94 or more than four times its price in Malaysia. We also note that the same packet of flour which was sold in Singapore also had the price and subsidy paid in ringgit “painted over”.

    We have read many reports on the rampant smuggling of subsidized diesel, petrol and other goods on the Malaysian Thai border. It is very concerning that this phenomenon seems to be happening at the Malaysia Singapore border as well.

    We call upon the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Minister, who is entrusted with RM150 million every year to administer the subsidised flour programme, to investigate this matter immediately. In addition, he should explain whether there are loopholes in the distribution of the subsidies to flour millers and/or whole-sellers which allows them to sell this subsidized flour overseas.  Most important is for the Royal Customs Department, which is also the authority in charge of collecting the Goods and Services Tax (GST), to explain how subsidised food items can leak through our borders control so easily.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Appendix 1: Subsidized 1Malaysia flour sold in Malaysia at RM1.35 (RM0.55 subsidy)

    Appendix 2: Subsidized 1Malaysia Flour being sold in Singapore for SGD2.20

  • A world class university without water?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 1st of April, 2015

    A world class university without water?

    Much has been said about the Minister of Education II, Dato Seri Idris Jusoh’s statements about Malaysia having a world class higher education system. I want to draw the Minister’s attention to the ongoing problem regarding the water supply within Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Bangi.

    Last week, I received complaints from some of the UKM student unions that 5 out of the 13 colleges had been experiencing water disruptions, some for as long as three weeks. As of yesterday, I have been notified that the following four colleges – Kolej Ungku Omar, Kolej Aminuddin Baki, Kolej Keris Mas and Kolej Burhanuddin Helmi – were still without their water supply. The authorities in UKM have been sending water trucks to supply water to these colleges.

    How can we talk about achieving world class status for our universities when we cannot even ensure that they have an adequate water supply? The university authorities have been putting the blame on SYABAS. While the water supply in some areas in Hulu Langat did experience water cuts as a result of water pollution near the Semenyih dam, these disruptions only lasted one or two days. Even now, Bangi and Kajang are not experiencing water cuts but somehow some colleges and buildings in UKM still are without water.

    This problem is not new.[1] Serious water disruptions at UKM has been happening over the past 10 years.[2] Among the reasons given by the university authorities is the fact that many places within UKM are located on higher ground which decreases the pressure of the water supply. The water pipes in UKM are also in need of upgrading. I have been told that SYABAS has given various proposals to UKM to upgrade its internal pipe system but this has not been carried out. I will ask for the documentary proof for this when I meet with Syabas next week.

    If the authorities at UKM have been aware of the piping and water pressure problems, then why has it not used its development expenditure to upgrade its infrastructure? According to the 2014 budget estimates, a total of RM74.1 million, RM61.5 million and RM46.8 million of development expenditure was allocated to UKM for the years 2011-202, 2013 and 2014 respectively. Why wasn’t some of this development expenditure used to upgrade the piping system within UKM?

    Instead of upgrading the piping system within UKM, a large amount of resources were dedicated to projects such as the PERMATA related projects whose main patron is none other than Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Prime Minister. The PERMATA Pintar Negara complex, which was built in one year, cost the federal government RM20 million. At the same time, the 2nd phase of the PERMATA project received RM54 million from the 10th Malaysian Plan and was completed in 2013.[3] In addition, the Specialist PERMATA Children’s Hospital at UKM is being built at a cost of RM606 million via a Private Finance Initiative (PFI).[4]

    Is this an example of a world class university where development funds are channelled towards projects which have political support while the welfare of students and lecturers are not prioritized? UKM has been resorting to digging and installing tube wells to provide water for the toilets and for bathing.[5] I call upon the Minister of Education II to immediately approve an additional development budget for UKM to upgrade its campus infrastructure to solve the water problem. I also call upon the university authorities to work together with SYABAS and other stakeholders, including the state government, in order to find a workable short and long term solution to this problem.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://duriangood.blogspot.com/2013/10/water-disruption-in-ukm-conspiracy.html

    [2] http://penpasksgb.blogspot.com/2015/03/pelajar-ukm-derita-10-tahun-tak-cukup.html

    [3] http://www.ukm.my/news/index.php/ms/berita-kampus/631-datin-paduka-seri-rosmah-launches-permata-foundation.html

    [4] http://www.ukm.my/news/index.php/extras/1528-childrens-specialist-hospital-being-built-at-ukm-medical-centre-.html

    [5] https://www.facebook.com/kerismas/posts/881344688583085

  • If the standard of English in Malaysia is better than Singapore, why is this still happening?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 30th of March, 2015

    If the standard of English in Malaysia is better than Singapore, why is this still happening?

    I was shocked when I read the news two days ago where our Deputy Minister of Education, P Kamalanathan was reported to have said that the standard of English in Malaysia is higher than Singapore by referring to a report compiled by a Swedish based company, EF Education First.[1]

    I would like to draw the Deputy Minister’s attention to a few recent stark reminders of the poor standard of English in Malaysia.

    Exhibit 1 below is from the Prime Minister’s Office Photo Gallery describing Prime Minister Najib and his wife paying their respects to the late Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore parliament. The following is the text:

    “Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor present to pay their last respects to the late first Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who had died in Parliament today. Also seen the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong (right). Funeral service will be held at 2pm, Sunday, at the University Cultural Center, National University of Singapore, followed by cremation a Mandal Crematorium closed.”

    This is the original text. It has since been edited after numerous complaints from netizens. But some errors still remain.[2]

    Exhibit One: PM Pays Last Respect to Lee Kuan Yew, who had died in parliament today

    Exhibit Two below is also from the PM Office’s Photo Gallery describing the PM signing the condolence book for Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. The following is the text:

    “Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak signed a book of condolences for the death of the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, at the Singapore Embassy, today. Also seen is the Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vanu Gopala Menon. Kuan Yew died at 3:18am yesterday at the Singapore General Hospital after being detained in hospital since February 5 for pneumonia severe. He was 91 years old”[3]

    This post has not been edited. I leave it up to the Deputy Education Minister to identify the grammatical errors.

    Exhibit Two: PM signs condolence book dedicated to Lee Kuan Yew

    Exhibit three below was taken at an MCA event with MCA President, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

    The banner in English reads:

    “For our secular democratic constitution, we strong defends”

    Again, I leave it up to the Deputy Education Minister to identify the grammatical error.

    Exhibit Three: For our secular democratic constitution, we strongly defends

    Exhibit Four below is a picture which has gone viral since early March. It is a picture of a Medical Certificate (or MC) where the child is diagnosed as having “Chicken Chop”. The doctor in question probably diagnosed the child as having Chicken Pox but I cannot say for sure. The child may have accidentally swallowed an entire chicken chop and had to be sent home as a result.

    Exhibit Four: Diagnosis of “Chicken Chop” in a Medical Certificate

    I do not believe that the examples above are isolated incidents. The first two pictures featured exhibits from none other than the Prime Minister’s Office, which is on display for the entire nation and the world. The third picture featured a photo taken at an MCA event featuring its president. The fourth exhibit featured an MC signed by a doctor or general practitioner (GP). If we cannot expect to have a decent standard of English displayed by these three groups of people, what more the larger population in Malaysia?

    I would advise the Deputy Education Minister to focus on the task at hand which is to improve the standard of English among our English teachers, to slowly increase the level of difficulty of our English exams and to stop making inaccurate comparisons in order to give a false impression of the problem at hand.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/293540

    [2] http://www.pmo.gov.my/home.php?menu=gallery&id=38404&page=1951&bln=all&thn=2015

    [3] http://www.pmo.gov.my/home.php?menu=gallery&id=38401&page=1951&bln=all&thn=2015

  • Condemn the police probe on UM lecturer Dr. Khoo Ying Hooi for ‘criminal intimidation’ over her article titled ‘Who Owns The Police’

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

    Condemn the police probe on UM lecturer Dr. Khoo Ying Hooi for ‘criminal intimidation’ over her article titled ‘Who Owns the Police’

    I refer to the article published by The Malaysian Insider entitled “UM lecturer now under probe over article on police” (http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/um-lecturer-now-under-probe-over-article-on-police)

    According to this article, UM lecturer Dr. Khoo Ying Hooi, is being investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation over the article she wrote on the 16th of March, 2015, entitled “Who owns the police”  (http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/khoo-ying-hooi/article/who-owns-the-police)

    I strongly condemn the tactics of the police, led by the twitter-trigger-happy Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who made a reference to Dr. Khoo’s comments on the #KitaLawan rally in a tweet on the 15th of March 2015.

    Dr. Khoo’s column raises many valid points about the motivations and actions of the police force in Malaysia as well as in other countries in response to public protests. To question her and to investigate and possibly charge her under the Penal Code is an affront to and an attack on academic freedom in Malaysia.

    I call upon the IGP to put an immediate stop to these intimidation tactics against legitimate academic inquiry and research.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • 10 Questions on Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd for the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) to ask Treasury Secretary General Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 17th of March, 2015

    10 Questions on Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd for the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) to ask Treasury Secretary General Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah

    The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) will be meeting tomorrow, the 18th of March, 2015 to discuss the issues raised in the Auditor General Report 2013 3rd Series on Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd, a 99.99% Ministry of Finance incorporated company which had accumulated liabilities of RM27.9 billion at the end of 2012.

    Here are the following questions which the PAC needs to ask Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah in his capacity as one of the directors of Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd and also the Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance.

    1) Pembinaan PFI’s name seems to indicate that the projects undertaken were being financed via Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) with the private sector bearing some of the capital expenditure and risk of the projects. Were the projects being funded by Pembinaan PFI considered as Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) and if so, who were the private entities involved in bearing some of the capital expenditure for these projects?

    2) Were the projects that were funded by Pembinaan PFI awarded via open tender through the MyProcurement[1] website or were they awarded via direct negotiation?

    3) What was the rationale of using Pembinaan PFI as a channel to fund these development projects rather than going through the conventional channel of the regular development expenditure in the government budget?

    4) Who was in the management team of Pembinaan PFI? Who is the management team at Pembinaan PFI? Why wasn’t a website set up like Pembinaan BLT[2] to increase transparency about the activities carried out by Pembinaan PFI as well as the identities of the management team and the projects it was carrying out?

    5) Pembinaan PFI first took up a RM20 billion loan from the EPF in August 2007 that was due to be paid in lump sum plus interest in August 2012. But this loan was restructured in August 2012 to bi-annual payments for 15 years (until 2027). This money would come from the Federal Land Commissioner (FLC) which had leased federal land to Pembinaan PFI and then paid rental for this land to Pembinaan PFI as part of a lease back agreement. Why was such a complicated method used to pay back EPF? Why wasn’t the RM20b plus interest just paid back in full in August 2012?

    6) Why is the Federal Land Commissioner (FLC) being used as a vehicle to pay back the debts of Pembinaan PFI? How much land will the FLC have to sell in order to fund the debts of Pembinaan PFI? Does the FLC have the revenue to fund the approximately RM2 billion of annual payments to EPF for the next 15 years for the RM20 billion loan taken out by Pembinaan PFI?

    7) The Auditor General reported in that at the end of 2013, RM18.6 billion from the original RM20 billion loan from EPF had been spent by Pembinaan PFI. However, the amount of actual spending on the projects listed in the AG’s report only came up to RM1.2 billion (See Jadual 2.48 below). Where did the rest of the RM17.4 billion spending go towards?

    8) Can the Ministry of Finance produce a list of all the projects plus the name of the contractor, the cost and the status of each of the projects that have been funded by Pembinaan PFI since its creation?

    9) The last Annual Return for Pembinaan PFI was for the financial year 2012. The date of the Annual Return was the 28th of June 2013. The returns were submitted on the 12th of February 2014. The Annual Return for Pembinaan PFI for 2013 should have been completed at the end of June 2014. But as of today, 17th of March, 2015, almost 9 months later, the annual returns for 2013 has not been submitted. Why this delay?

    10) According to Pembinaan PFI’s filings with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM), it took out a Bai Muajjal Islamic facility / loan of RM19.5 billion from EPF in August 2014. How is Pembinaan PFI going to pay the charges for this facility?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://myprocurement.treasury.gov.my/

    [2] http://www.pblt.com.my/ver4/mngt.html

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