• Charging Professor Azmi Sharom under the Sedition Act is a cowardly attack on academic freedom and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 3rd of September 2014

    Charging Professor Azmi Sharom under the Sedition Act is a cowardly attack on academic freedom and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms

    Yesterday, Professor Azmi Sharom, law professor at the University of Malaya was formally charged under Section 4(1)(b) and (c) of the Sedition Act 1948 for his comments in a Malay Mail online news article on the 14th of August, 2014. This is the section of the article in which he was quoted:[1]

    Citing the Perak case, law lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Sharom cautioned against such action outside the state assembly, and insisted the lawmakers wait until next sitting to indicate their lack of confidence.

    “You don’t want a repeat of that, where a secret meeting took place,” the University of Malaya lecturer said, referring to the Perak crisis.

    “I think what happened in Perak was legally wrong. The best thing to do is do it as legally and transparently as possible.”

    Azmi said the open spectacle of a no-confidence motion would leave Khalid no choice but to resign from his post and possibly call for the dissolution of the state assembly,

    “A vote by the house of representatives should be done in the house of representative,” said Azmi.

    (His quotes are in bold italics)

    Professor Azmi was merely stating his academic opinion on what had transpired in Perak in 2009 which led to the fall of the then Pakatan Rakyat state government. Many other stronger statements have been made by other academics, lawyers and former judges on the Perak episode and the High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court decisions which followed.

    For example, distinguished constitutional scholar, Professor Andrew Harding, wrote the following:

    But the decision that came down from the Federal Court on the contrary endorses the idea that the fate of the people’s Government can be settled behind the scenes according to who-knows-what secret communications and extraneous considerations which would prevent the voter (or even, in this case, the MB himself) from understanding what had happened and why, and what attitude he or she should take towards the events and the standing of the Government).[2]

    Emeritus Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi wrote the following:

    The Judiciary has not come out of the Perak crisis well. When the case first reached the courts, a Judicial Commissioner gave judgements that deft understanding.[3]

    Constitutional Professor Kevin YL Tan wrote the following:

    In my comment “The Perak Crisis: Keep Focused on the Real Issues”, I could not help but note the willingness with which the Court of Appeal Judges were prepared to overturn a trial judge’s findings of fact. The recounting of acts went on for pages on end, and lamentably, the Federal Court did the same thing… The Federal Court castigated the High Court Judge for being perverse in refusing to believe the evidence of the State Legal Adviser and the documentary evidence before him even though they were not present at the trial.[4]

    Former Court of Appeal judge, NH Chan, wrote the following:

    The unconstitutional appointment of Zambry to the post makes him an imposter. This is a blatant unconstitutional exercise of a non-existent executive power by a pretentious constitutional monarch. Are we back to the days of the pretensions of King Charles I?[5]

    Lawyer, Amer Hamzah Arshad, wrote the following:

    The difference in treatment between Zambry’s and Nizar’s applications are like heaven and hell. The delay on the part of the Court of Appeal to hear Nizar’s setting aside application, deliberate or otherwise, also provokes one to wonder whether there were hidden hands hell-bent on preventing Nizar from continuing to perform his duties as MB despite the High Court decision which was made a day earlier?[6]

    Lawyer, Art Harun, wrote the following:

    In my humble view, and I say this with the greatest of respect to HRH the Sultan of Perak, the crisis in Perak was not caused by a lack of power. It was driven by a departure from conventions in the exercise of HRH’s discretion.[7]

    (All of the quotes above are taken from “Perak: A State of Crisis, Loyarburok Publications, Petaling Jaya, 2010”)

    The quotes above illustrate the fact that lawyers, judges and former judges, and law professors can and will have very strong opinions on a constitutional issue that is as controversial as the events which transpired in Perak in February 2009 and the associated legal cases which occurred in its aftermath. The decisions made to allow the change in government in Perak were heavily criticized as were the basis of the judgements of the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

    To charge Professor Azmi for expressing his academic opinion on the Perak issue in relation to the current political crisis in Selangor is mind boggling and a direct assault on academic freedom. If academics in Malaysia were to be targeted for expressing their academic opinions on controversial issues in the country, it would be akin to putting a muzzle on academia. This is a cowardly act and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. I call on all others who value academic freedom, in and outside Malaysia, to do the same.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/take-perak-crisis-route-for-speedy-end-to-selangor-impasse-pakatan-told

    [2] Pg.169, PASOC

    [3] Pg.163, PASOC

    [4] Pg.144, PASOC

    [5] Pg.130, PASOC

    [6] Pg 62, PASOC

    [7] Pg.55, PASOC

  • Government’s decision to silently withdraw the overseas JPA scholarship applications for non-bursary students who managed to get into a top 50 ranked university is a betrayal of trust

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 26th of August, 2014

    Government’s decision to silently withdraw the overseas JPA scholarship applications for non-bursary students who managed to get into a top 50 ranked university is a betrayal of trust

    On the 16th of April 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin issued a press statement stating the type of scholarships available to students whose SPM results had just been released.[1] In this press statement, the DPM announced that the overseas JPA scholarship – Program Ijazah Luar Negara (PILN) – would be open for students who did not manage to score 9A+ in their SPM results (otherwise known as non-bursary students). Bursary students were those students who had managed to obtained 9A+ or more for their SPM results.

    The only conditions these non-bursary students had to fulfil is to score a CGPA of at least 3.5 or its equivalent, and obtain an unconditional offer from a 10 top world ranked university for medical, dentistry and pharmacy degrees – or for other courses, an unconditional offer from a top 50 world ranked university for other degrees.

    This announcement gave hope to many non-bursary students in terms of having the motivation to work hard in their pre-university programs such as STPM, A-Levels, Matriculation or the International Baccalaureate (IB) in order to apply for the PILN scholarship. Prior to this announcement, once a student failed to obtain 9A+ or more for their SPM results, the possibility of them obtaining an overseas JPA scholarship was zero. With this announcement, a window was opened to them.

    The PILN scholarship for non-bursary students was supposed to have been opened to students entering university in the year 2014. For students applying to the top universities in Australia, they would have obtained their entry offers at the end of 2013. For students applying to the top universities in the UK, US, Europe and Asia, they would have obtained their entry offers starting from April 2014.

    As of June 2014, there was still no news from JPA on the opening of the PILN scholarship to non-bursary students prompting some of them to write to a local newspaper to highlight their case.[2] And their worst fears were confirmed some of them went to JPA in July and was told that the PILN for non-bursary students had been cancelled because of the lack of funds.

    One can imagine the disappointment of some of these students especially those who have obtained entry offers to the top 50 universities in their respective fields according to the press release issued by the Deputy Prime Minister. They were not even given a chance to apply for this scholarship much less get called up for an interview.

    Did the Deputy Prime Minister mislead the students when he announced the opening up of the overseas JPA scholarships to non-bursary students only to have this cancelled two years later without any public announcement? Did the Ministry already know that the RM2.12 billion allocated for JPA local and overseas scholarship in 2012 was insufficient to include non-bursary students given that 1609 students who scored 9A+ or more were offered the bursary scholarship and were later given priority for the overseas scholarships?

    The government should have a consistent policy for JPA scholarships which allows for all applicants who fulfil the criteria to at least be called up for an interview so that they have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are deserving of a JPA overseas scholarship. To promise one thing and then to take back that promise 2 years later is unacceptable and is yet another example of an unfulfilled promise or “Janji Tidak Ditepati” by the BN federal government.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.moe.gov.my/en/kenyataan-media-view?id=2549&

    [2] http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Letters/2014/06/16/What-happened-to-scholarship-scheme/

  • The interest of students at the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine (PUGSOM) should be safeguarded, the RM2.3 billion Perdana University campus project should be put on hold

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 18th of August 2014

    The interest of students at the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine (PUGSOM) should be safeguarded, the RM2.3 billion Perdana University campus project should be put on hold

    It was reported today that as of the 31st of July, 2014, “Johns Hopkins, its faculty and its curriculum are no longer associated with PUGSOM”[1] due to late payments to the Johns Hopkins faculty who were based in the Perdana University campus in Serdang and also non-payment to Johns Hopkins for 12 months under the service agreement with PUGSOM.

    Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak launched the Perdana University with great fanfare on the 12th of September 2011.[2] During this speech, the Prime Minister announced the first intake of 30 students for the PUGSOM program. It was also announced later that up to 50 students per year were to be funded by JPA scholarships.[3] This program is estimated to cost up to RM1 million per student.[4]

    The first cohort for the PUGSOM program is expected to graduate only in 2015. With the announcement of the withdrawal of the Johns Hopkins faculty and its curriculum, the first responsibility of the university and the government of Malaysia is to find a fair and transparent manner to ensure that current cohorts under the PUGSOM program will be able to graduate.[5] One must remember that the PUGSOM program is a GRADUATE program meaning that the current students already have a degree. Medical school in the United States, like law school, is a post-graduate degree and only those who have an undergraduate degree can apply for these programs. The solution may not be as simple as to suggest a transfer of these PUGSOM students to the Perdana-University – Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (PU-RCSI) 5 year undergraduate medical degree program. Proper consultation must be held with the stakeholders especially the students and their parents.

    The government should also immediately stop sending new JPA students to Perdana University for the PUGSOM program as well as the PU-RSCI program especially if the ability of the owner of Perdana University – Academic Medical Center Sdn Bhd – to continue as a going concern is questionable. According to the financial accounts submitted to the Companies Commission, Academic Medical Center Sdn Bhd had negative reserves of RM189 million and it made a loss of RM63.6 million as of 2013 year end. The welfare of our current and future medical students must not be jeopardized or taken lightly.

    Finally, the government should immediately stop putting any government funding into the RM2.3 billion public Private Partnership Project to construct the Perdana University campus which includes a 600 bed teaching hospital.[6] The fact that this project was allocated to Chase Perdana, the parent company of Academic Medical Center – raises many questions as to why a construction company was given the land and license to operate a medical university and why the construction of this university campus had to be awarded to the parent company of Academic Medical Center.

    I myself have had the opportunity to interact on an informal basis with some of the Johns Hopkins faculty at the Perdana University and found them to be very passionate about teaching and also wanting to embrace the opportunity to do research in Malaysia. It is clear, from this blog posting, for example, that the Johns Hopkins faculty wanted to challenge the students in the PUGSOM program to ask more questions and to think more critically for themselves.[7] Unfortunately, these faculty members will no longer have this opportunity and students at PUGSOM will no longer have access to them.

    I sincerely hope this is not another example of a Public Pirate Partnership masquerading as a Public Private Partnership where the private party involved gets to reap all the financial benefits with the Public having to bear the ultimate cost.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/top-us-medical-school-cuts-ties-with-perdana-u-over-money

    [2] http://www.pmo.gov.my/?menu=speech&page=1676&speech_cat=2&news_id=521

    [3] http://malaysia-scholarship.net/2011/06/28/perdana-university-graduate-school-of-medicine-scholarships/

    [4] http://thepugsomites.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/letter-from-malaysia/

    [5] http://perdanauniversity.edu.my/pugsom/programmes/

    [6] http://www.chaseperdana.com.my/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=160

    [7] http://thepugsomites.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/letter-from-malaysia/

  • Why build an incinerator if the government cannot even manage the serious pollution problems at the Taman Beringin Waste Transfer Station?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 10th of August, 2014

    Why build an incinerator if the government cannot even manage the serious pollution problems at the Taman Beringin Waste Transfer Station?

    On the 30th of June, 2014, I witnessed the collection of 4 water samples in locations around the Waste Transfer Station (WTS) in Taman Beringin, Kepong that was conducted by an accredited chemical laboratory. The exact locations of the 4 water samples are as follows:

    Sample W2 was taken directly from the discharge coming out of the leachate plant in Taman Beringin. Sample W3 was taken from the discharge coming out of the former non-sanitary landfill near Taman Nanyang, which is next to Taman Beringin.

    The test results were shocking. Table 1 below shows the pollutants that were above the Department of Environment Standards – Standard B of the 5th and 7th Schedule of Environmental Quality (Industrial Effluent), Regulations 2009 – under the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

    Table 1: Water Quality Measurements that are not compliant with DOE standards

    (Measurements in BOLD are over DOE Standard B)

    The COD measurement for sample W2 outside the Taman Beringin WTS was 800, four times more than the DOE limit. The level of Arsenic for sample W3 at 0.7 was seven times the DOE limit. The Colour (ADMI) value for sample W2 was 448, more than twice the DOE limit. The measurement for W3 was 7500, which is 37 times the DOE limit. The Ammoniacal Nitrogen (or ammonia level) measurement for sample W2 was 37.1, almost twice the DOE limit of 20. The same measurement for W3 was 412.7, more than 20 times the DOE limit.

    I call for the DOE to investigate as to why the Taman Beringin WTS is allowed to flout DOE standards for its leachate discharge and to take strong action against those responsible for allowing these pollutants to be discharged into Sungai Batu. I also call upon DOE to explain why the leachate that is being discharged from the former non-sanitary landfill continues to be over the DOE limits and why the leachate treatment plant in Taman Nanyang is not operating. If the government cannot even ensure compliance with DOE standards at the leachate treatment plants at Taman Beringin WTS and at Taman Nanyang, how can residents be assured that the pollution standards will be effectively monitored for the proposed incinerator next-door?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Appendix 1: Water Analysis Results showing pollutants which are over the limit of DOE’s Standard B

    Appendix 2: Photos of Discharge from Leachate Treatment Plant in the Taman Beringin Waste Transfer Station (WTS)

  • UMNO Youth KLFT Chief, Razlan Rafii, should be disciplined for asking a Malaysian Citizen to ‘Balik Tongsan’

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 21st of July, 2014

    UMNO Youth KLFT Chief, Razlan Rafii, should be disciplined for asking a Malaysian Citizen to ‘Balik Tongsan’

    This morning, UMNO Youth KLFT Chief, Razlan Rafii, directed the following tweets at me:

    Isteri Pemimpin #DAP Tan Poh See berkata #Malaysia adlh jenis Negara tak guna? @imokman ask her balik tongsan kalau tak setia pada Negara! 

    Yuki Tan.. @imokman kenal ke siapa ni? Seorang isteri orang Kuat #DAP menghina #Malaysia insiden #MH17! Memalukan Negara! Elok balik tongsan

    These tweets are in reference to the remarks made by Yuki Tan, the wife of Tanjung MP, on her facebook account. She has since apologized for those statements.

    Sadly, it seems that UMNO and UMNO Youth never learns from their past mistakes. It is deeply insulting and offensive for anyone to ask a fellow Malaysia to leave his or her country of birth. It is even more offensive when this is done by an UMNO Youth leader representing the Federal Territory. It smacks of racism and is very similar in nature to the ‘pendatang’ remarks made by UMNO Bukit Bendera division chief, Datuk Ahmad Ismail, in 2008. Datuk Ahmad Ismail was suspended for 3 years from UMNO as a result of his remarks and was stripped of his posts in UMNO during this time.

    It seems that Razlan Rafii has not learned from the mistakes of Datuk Ahmad Ismail. Or perhaps he is trying to be a ‘hero’ within UMNO Youth since Datuk Ahmad Ismail himself was not repentant even after he was suspended for 3 years and came back to once again win the UMNO Bukit Bendera division chief position in 2010.[1]

    If UMNO is serious about national unity and eradicating racism and racist behaviour in Malaysia, it should start within its own ranks by disciplining UMNO KLFT Youth Chief for asking a fellow Malaysian to ‘balik tongsan’. This is the same UMNO Youth leader who threatened to burn down the DAP headquarters in Kuala Lumpur in May 2014.[2] The failure to do some would only encourage more UMNO leaders, including those in UMNO Youth, to continue to spew out racially offensive remarks and makes a total mockery of Prime Minister Najib’s 1Malaysia program.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.thestar.com.my/story.aspx/?file=%2f2008%2f9%2f11%2fnation%2f2002793&sec=nation and http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/bahasa/article/umno-bukit-bendera-gembira-ahmad-ismail-kembali-ketua

    [2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwXTWy-tkB8

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