• If Malaysia does not tolerate any form of human trafficking, why does it occupy the lowest tier (Tier 3) in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 16th of May, 2015

    If Malaysia does not tolerate any form of human trafficking, why does it occupy the lowest tier (Tier 3) in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report?

    Prime Minister Najib, in a statement released yesterday, in response to the escalating Rohingya immigrant crisis, said the following:

     “Malaysia does not and will not tolerate any form of human trafficking. Anyone found to be perpetrating this injustice and contravening our laws will be held accountable.”

    The Prime Minister’s statement is a joke given Malaysia’s atrocious record on human trafficking and the lack of political will to undertake meaningful steps in order to address these serious shortcomings.

    The US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report had put Malaysia on the Tier 2 Watch List from 2010 to 2013. Being on the Tier 2 watch list means that Malaysia is a country which is one of the “governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act (TVPA)’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts bring themselves into compliance with those standards”.  After not showing any progress to improve its human trafficking record, Malaysia was automatically downgraded to a Tier 3 status country in 2014 which is one of the countries “whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”[1]

    Among some of the problems highlighting in Malaysia are the following:

    “Refugees in Malaysia lack formal status or the ability to obtain work permits under Malaysian law, making them vulnerable to trafficking. Many incur large smuggling debts; traffickers use these debts to subject some refugees to debt bondage.”[2]

    The issue of human trafficking and the treatment continues to be a serious one in Malaysia despite the enactment of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.[3] The effective enforcement of this Act[4] as well as underlying weaknesses in this Act that opens itself up to abuse have not been addressed.[5]

    This problem has become so serious that Malaysia’s participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be jeopardized as a result of its Tier 3 status in the Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report.[6]

    As long as the Malaysian government refuses to have an honest examination of its policies towards refugees and migrants, our human trafficking record will continue to languish. The recent humanitarian crisis involving the Rohingyas is but the tip of a much larger iceberg of the human trafficking problem in our country which the Malaysian government, led by the Prime Minister, refuses to acknowledge even exists.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2014/226649.htm

    [2] http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/226847.pdf

    [3] http://www.agc.gov.my/Akta/Vol.%2014/Act%20670.pdf

    [4] http://www.thestar.com.my/story/?file=%2F2009%2F2%2F15%2Ffocus%2F3272925&sec=focus

    [5] http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/142533

    [6] http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/68376779/malaysias-human-trafficking-may-doom-trans-pacific-partnership

  • How representative is Malaysia’s Youth Parliament?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 15th of May, 2015

    How representative is Malaysia’s Youth Parliament?

    The inaugural Youth Parliament (Parlimen Belia) recently concluded its first sitting for the year 2015. The establishment of a youth parliament is a positive development in our country especially in terms of encouraging debate among the younger generation on important issues and challenges facing the country. As an example, the representatives of the youth parliament were given space to debate the pros and cons of Malaysia’s possible entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in the recent session.

    But the composition of the youth parliament itself highlights possible shortcomings in terms of its representativeness. In a parliamentary reply I received on the 10th of March, 2015, the following statistics were given:

    Table 1: Racial Composition of the 2015-2016 Youth Parliament

    Malay Chinese Indian Bumiputera  Sarawak Bumiputera  Sabah Orang Asli Others Total
    101 6 7 5 12 1 1 133
    75.9% 4.5% 5.3% 3.8% 9.0% 0.8% 0.8% 100.0%

    One can immediately see that some groups are obviously under-represented.  According to the initial estimates of the number of youth in each state, where each 100,000 youth would be given one representation, Sarawak was supposed to have 10 representatives. In the actual youth parliament, only 5 positions were allocated to Bumiputera Sarawakians.[1] Chinese youth, which make up 23.5% of the 15-40 age group, according to the 2010 census, comprise only 4.5% of the youth parliament. Indian youth, which make up 7.6% of the 15-40 age group, comprise also 5.3% of the youth parliament.

    Indeed, the under representation of minority groups in the youth parliament may have been even more skewed if a number of them were not directly appointed. In the original estimates, the youth parliament was supposed to have only 119 members. As many as 14 additional members may have been appointed, presumably by the Minister of Youth and Sports, whose ministry is responsible for this initiative.

    In addition, there is very little information on the identity of these youth parliament members since its own website does not show the results of the online youth parliament elections nor does it list down the names and background of the youth parliament members.[2] In this day and age of transparency, for an entity which is supposed to represent the younger, tech savvy generation, why is it so difficult to put on a website the identity of the youth parliamentary representatives with perhaps their Twitter handles, Facebook pages and a brief background description?

    It seems to be that outside of a very small inner circle, there is very little information about the activities of the youth parliament being disseminated to the larger youth population. Even the youth parliament’s official Twitter account (@MYparlimenbelia) has less than 6,000 followers.[3]

    One area where the youth parliament is MORE representative than the actual parliament is the percentage of female representatives. 23 out of 133 representatives are female (17%) which is more than the female representation in the Dewan Rakyat (10%).

    The youth parliament is a good idea and a good start in allowing more democratic discourse especially among the younger generation, but it should not evolve into an insider’s club that is not representative of the larger youth population in the country.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] It is not stated how many other youth representatives from the other races were from Sarawak

    [2] http://www.parlimenbelia.gov.my/index.php/2014-03-24-17-31-47/keputusan

    [3] https://twitter.com/myparlimenbelia

  • Top 5 in OECD rankings in Science and Math are Asian countries but Malaysia languishes in 52nd position – Are we still world class?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 14th of May, 2015

    Top 5 in OECD rankings in Science and Math are Asian countries but Malaysia languishes in 52nd position – Are we still world class?

    In a recently released OECD rankings of Science and Math, which is the most comprehensive study to date, the top 5 places were all taken by Asian countries, namely Singapore (1st), Hong Kong (2nd), South Korea (3rd), Japan and Taiwan (joint 4th).[1]

    Meanwhile, Malaysia finds itself being ranked 52 out of 76 countries. In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is ranked below not just Singapore but also Vietnam (12th) and Thailand (47th). Malaysia was also ranked below Ukraine (38th), Turkey (41st), UAE (45th) and Kazakhstan (49th). (See Attachment 1 for full rankings of countries)

    The full details of this study will only be released at next week’s World Education Forum 2015 meeting in Seoul, Korea where the UN, led by UNESCO, will deliberate and decide on the post-2015 education agenda to replace the targets and objectives set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    But the initial findings should send a strong message to our Ministers of Education that we are far from being anywhere close to a ‘world-class’ education system at the primary, secondary or tertiary levels. The fact that our Ministers still insist that we have a ‘world class’ education system, in the face of overwhelming evidence stating otherwise, shows that we are still not acknowledging the full extent of the educational challenges we are facing.

    The lesson of Sweden should be a lesson to our Ministers. Sweden used to have one of the better education systems among OECD countries but experienced a sharp decline in its PISA and TIMSS scores from 2000 onwards. This decline prompted the Swedish government to ask OECD to review its education system in 2014.[2] In this latest OECD rankings, Sweden came in at the 35th position, one of the lowest ranked OECD countries.

    In the case of Malaysia, if our policymakers do not acknowledge the weaknesses in our current education system, we may even fall further behind our Asian neighbours and continue to lose out in terms of our economic competitiveness.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32608772
    [2] http://www.oecd.org/sweden/sweden-should-urgently-reform-its-school-system-to-improve-quality-and-equity.htm

  • Election Commission (EC) Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, should focus on the proposals of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform rather than the proposal of Ridhuan Tee

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 5th of May, 2015

    Election Commission (EC) Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, should focus on the proposals of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform rather than the proposal of Ridhuan Tee

    It was reported in the media that EC Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, is studying Ridhuan Tee’s proposal that candidates who want to stand for elections must have at least an SPM credit in Bahasa Malaysia (BM). I strongly suggest that the EC uses its time to focus on the studies that the EC promised it would conduct following the proposals of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform.

    Following the publication of the findings of the PSC on electoral reform, the EC chairman published a response on the 19th of April, 2012. Among the promises made by the EC chairman was that the EC would study in greater depth and detail, including from the constitutional, legal, regulatory, technical and managerial angles, the recommendations that could not be implemented in time for the 13th general elections.

    The recommendations which require a more careful study include (i) the preparation of guidelines and procedures for a caretaker government (ii) the possibility of automatic registration of eligible voters (iii) the proposal to separate the main functions of the EC namely the registration of voters, the conduct of elections and the redrawing of electoral boundaries (iv) the proposal to have at least one third of parliamentary seats from Sabah and Sarawak (v) the possibility of improving or changing our current First-Past-the-Post electoral (FPTP) system to a mixture of FPTP and Proportionate Representation (PR) or a strictly PR system.

    More than 3 years after the response issued by the EC Chairman, we have not seen any of these studies being published or even publicly discussed by the EC.

    Rather than putting effort into studying the Ridhuan Tee’s proposal, the EC should instead deliver on its promises made more than 3 years ago, which is to publish its findings and studies on the specific recommendations made by the PSC on electoral reform as highlighted above.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Reference: Kenyataan Media Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya Malaysia 19 April 2012

  • Last minute cancellation of the “Thirst 2015” concert at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Center gives Malaysia a bad name

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang on the 26th of April, 2015

    Last minute cancellation of the “Thirst 2015” concert at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Center gives Malaysia a bad name

    The “Thirst: We are all Stardust” 2015 concert that was supposed to be held at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Center (MIECC) was cancelled at the last minute yesterday on the 25th of April, 2015.

    Here are the sequence of events, according to information available to me, that led to this cancellation.

    The Serdang IPD had issued a letter on the 25th of March, 2015, saying that they had no objections to the staging of this event (Appendix 1).

    MPSJ had issued a temporary permit to the organizers, Future Sound Asia Sdn Bhd, on the 21st of April, 2015 for the staging of the concert subject to certain conditions being fulfilled including ensuring that there would be no one under the age of 18 attending the concert and ensuring that no Muslims would be allowed to attend the concert (Appendix 2).

    On the afternoon of Friday, 24th of April, the police sent a letter to MPSJ stating that they would not support the concert. As a result, MPSj was forced to withdraw the entertainment permit to the organizers of the event (Appendix 3). The reason for the withdrawal of the police support for this event was not stated. This is the ONLY reason why MPSj withdrew the entertainment license.

    The last minute attempts by different parties to request for the assistance and support of the police for this event failed. As such, the organizers had no choice but to cancel the event and to promise refunds to all those who had bought tickets to the event.

    While the police have the right not to support any entertainment event based on valid and legitimate reasons, it is unfair to the organizers of any large scale event when the withdrawal of support comes at the 11th hour and without any stated reason. To my knowledge, the organizers had obtained the support of the Anti-Dadah Agency and the Narcotics Division who would place their officers on duty on the night of the event. To my knowledge, the organizers and the sponsors had already spent millions of ringgit to organize and promote this event.

    It is very disappointing for the ticker holders, the organizers, the performers and all the other stakeholders that this event had to be cancelled at the last minute. It also dents the reputation of Malaysia as a destination to hold international level entertainment events because of the possibility that such events may have to be cancelled at the last minute due to the withdrawal of permits.

    At the very least, I hope that the police can come out to give an explanation on why they withdrew their support for this event at the last minute. Moving forward, I call for a transparent Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the part of the police for such events so that all stakeholders can take the necessary steps to prevent such a cancellation from happening again, without legitimate reasons given.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Appendix 1: Letter from the IPD Serdang stating that they had no objections to the staging of the event (March 25, 2015)

    Appendix 2: Temporary Permit (Permit Sementara) issued by MPSJ on the 21st of April, 2015



    Appendix 3: Withdrawal of the entertainment permit by MPSj after receiving a letter from the IPD Serdang that the police had withdrawn their support for this event

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