• Call for the EC to remove the 30-day requirement for Malaysians overseas to be eligible to be a postal voter and review the procedures of casting and sending the overseas postal ballots

    Media Statement by Anthony Loke, DAP National Organising Secretary-cum-MP for Rasah and Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist on 25 January 2013

    The Election Commission (EC) announced, on 21 January, 2013, the requirements and procedures for Malaysians overseas to apply for approval to cast a postal ballot in the upcoming 13th General Election.

    We are disappointed that it took the EC almost 14 months from the Parliamentary Select Committee’s Preliminary Report which was released on 1 December 2011 to implement this proposal. The EC now has approximately 2 months to register the many registered voters who are living and working overseas. This unnecessary delay means that many Malaysians will continue to be disenfranchised even after this announcement by the EC. During this time, there were no attempts by the EC, together with Wisma Putra, to encourage Malaysians overseas to register as ordinary voters at Malaysian high commissions and consulates. This means that the many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Malaysians living and working overseas who are not yet registered ordinary voters, are not eligible to apply to be a postal voter.

    In addition, we are extremely disappointed that the EC has introduced a requirement that Malaysian overseas have to have been back in Malaysia for a period of 30 days in the past 5 years before they are eligible to be a postal voter. The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform agreed to the condition that a voter need to have been back in Malaysia at least once in the past 5 years without specifying the time period. This was in recognition of the fact that many Malaysians living and working overseas may return to Malaysia for holidays for only a one- or two- or three-week period. Furthermore, imposing this 30-day condition increases the processing time for the EC to approve applications for postal voting since the EC has to verify with the Immigration Department on whether the applicant has fulfilled the requirement. We find this 30-day requirement to be unreasonable, unfair and against the spirit of wanting to include as many overseas Malaysians as possible in exercising their constitutional right to vote. As such, we call on the EC to immediately remove this condition and allow Malaysians overseas who have come back to Malaysia once in the past 5 years, regardless of the length of stay, to be eligible to cast a postal vote.

    We also call on the EC to review the procedures of casting and sending the postal ballots. Firstly, instead of only setting aside one day for Malaysians overseas to go to the respective high commissions and consulates to collect and cast their ballot, we ask that the EC set aside 3 days for ballot collection and casting. This will allow overseas voters the option of going to the high commissions and consulates on different days to collect their ballot and to cast their vote. It will also decrease the likelihood of overcrowding in certain embassies which serve a large Malaysian overseas community such as London, New York and Canberra.

    Secondly, we ask the EC to allow polling agents from each of the political parties to be stationed at the high commissions and consulates in order to monitor the ballot collection, vote-casting and the use of the diplomatic dispatch to send the ballot papers back to the EC headquarters in Putrajaya and also for polling agents from each of the political parties to monitor the process of sending out these postal ballots from the EC headquarters in Putrajaya to the respective constituencies. Here, we are not asking for a polling agent from each candidate in the 222 parliamentary and 505 state constituencies to be represented. We are merely asking for one representative from each political party to be represented which should total up to less than 10 representatives in each embassy. This is to assure many overseas voters, almost all of whom are voting via postal ballot for the first time, that their vote will not be compromised and to assure the political parties that ballots cast at the high commissions and consulates are the ones which are eventually sent to the respective counting stations in Malaysia.

    Thirdly, we ask the EC to give their assurance that they will provide the names of all of the overseas postal voters to the respective candidates at the end of nomination day. This is to ensure that the candidates know exactly how many overseas postal voters have been approved by the EC to cast their votes in the respective constituencies and that no additional overseas postal voters will be added to the electoral roll after nomination day.

    Fourthly, since the process of printing and sending the ballot papers overseas, the casting of the votes at the respective high commissions, the sending of these ballot papers back to the EC headquarters in Putrajaya and the sending out of these ballot papers to the respective constituencies is likely to take more than 2 weeks, we ask that the EC have a minimum 21-day campaign period, which is consistent with one of the eight core demands of Bersih. In the past, overseas votes of absentee voters which includes Malaysian students overseas as well as civil servants stationed overseas were not counted because the ballots either reached them too late or could not be sent back to Malaysia in time to be counted. To avoid disenfranchising Malaysian voters overseas, we ask that the EC commits to a minimum 21-day campaign period.

    We have waited a long time for the EC to make clear the procedures to allow Malaysian voters overseas to cast a postal ballot. If the EC is sincere about making this process work for the benefit of these Malaysian voters, it should abolish the 30-day residency requirement in the past 5 years and it should review the process of casting and sending these postal ballots so that Malaysians overseas and political parties can have the peace of mind that the secrecy and security of these votes will not be compromised.

    Anthony Loke Siew Fook
    Dr. Ong Kian Ming

  • USSA’s awarding of an honorary doctorate to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and its ongoing ‘bid’ to retrain up to 50,000 teachers in Malaysia is a clear conflict of interest

    Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 22nd January 2013

    President and CEO of the United States Sports Academy (USSA) Dr. Thomas Rosandich recently defended the award of an honorary doctorate to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, saying that it was based on merit and his proven track record and not linked to a project USSA undertook for the ministry.[1]

    What Dr. Rosandich failed to explain is the clear conflict of interest in awarding Tan Sri Muhyiddin this honorary doctorate when the institution he represents, USSA, could potentially benefit from a contract worth up to RM1.15 billion if its pilot project involving the training of Malaysian PE teachers is extended and expanded.

    Indeed, in the USSA website, it was stated that ‘It is anticipated that the International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS) program may expand into a five-year effort and include the retraining of 50,000 Malaysian teachers.’[2] The pilot program to train 1000 PE teachers already cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM22.9 million or RM22,900 per diploma in 2012.

    An expansion of this program to retrain 50,000 PE teachers could cost the taxpayer an additional RM1.145 billion over 5 years! No doubt such a contract would be given to USSA via its sole Malaysian agent, KH Sports Sdn Bhd whose chairwoman Hisham Suhaili Othman is the Puteri UMNO Chief in the Langkawi division.

    The awarding of this honorary doctorate to Tan Sri Muhyiddin when negotiations for the expansion of this program are still ongoing represents a clear conflict of interest on the part of USSA. Tan Sri Muhyiddin also showed poor judgement in accepting this honorary doctorate since it could easily be interpreted as an attempt by USSA to ‘curry favour’ and perhaps even to ‘bribe’ him into agreeing to the extension and expansion of this program.

    USSA’s website indicates that this pilot program has been extended to cover 2013 and the number of PE teachers who will undergo this program has been increased to 1,500.[3]

    We call upon Tan Sri Muhyiddin to confirm whether this pilot program has been extended and why this PE teachers’ training program continues to be awarded to a predominantly online US university via a Malaysian agent whose main business is selling sports equipment and whose chairwoman is a Kedah Puteri UMNO leader.

    We sincerely hope that this will not be met with the same deafening silence as our call for an explanation for Malaysia’s disastrous performance in the 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) where our ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while our ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • Tan Sri Muhyiddin needs to explain why a contract worth RM23m to retrain PE teachers was given to an UMNO leader via direct negotiation

    Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 18th January 2013

    Our education minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate on the 17th of January by the United States Sports Academy (USSA), which is based in Daphne, Alabama, for his efforts “to enhance physical education to help in the building of a nation” through the creation of the “One Student – One Sport” initiative.

    For a 6 month period starting from June 2012, USSA trainers were in Malaysia to provide retraining for PE teachers and training for other teachers interested in PE through an “International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS)” program. This pilot program to retrain 1000 teachers cost the Malaysian government RM22.9m and the contract was awarded to a Syarikat KH Sports World Sdn Bhd (who is the authorized agent in Malaysia for USSA) via a direct negotiation.

    According to KH Sports World website (http://www.kh-ussa.com/management-team/), its chairwoman is Hisham Suhaili Othman whose list of titles includes “Naib Ketua Puteri UMNO, Negeri Kedah”, “Ketua Puteri UMNO, Bahagian Langkawi”, “Ahli Jawatankuasa Perhubungan UMNO, Negeri Kedah”, “Bendehari Biro Sukan & Kecergasan Puteri UMNO, Malaysia” and “Ahli Lembaga Pelawat Hospital Langkawi”.

    While the intention of providing retraining to PE teachers, especially those without the proper qualifications, may be a good one, we question why this contract was given, via direct negotiation, to a company which was founded in 2008 “to venture into the sports equipment and product market” in Malaysia.

    We also call into question the decision to appoint a US based college whose method of teaching is almost exclusively via distance and online learning . Such a college would certainly not have sufficient teaching faculty and resources to deliver face to face teaching programs, especially for the 1000 teachers who were supposed to enrol in this program. For comparison, the estimated current number of students at USSA is less than 600!

    We also call into question the high cost of this program. RM22.9m for 1000 students translates into RM22,900 for every “diploma” earned. This is more than 4 times what it costs to obtain a “Diploma in Pengajian Sukan” from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), which costs about RM5709 for 6 semesters.

    The awarding of this contract is yet another example of the BN’s “Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin” where the Prime Minister preaches transparency on the one hand while members of his cabinet does the complete opposite by awarding contracts to cronies at vastly inflated prices. Is this the price the Malaysian taxpayer has to pay so that our Minister of Education can obtain an honorary doctorate? Did Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s honorary doctorate cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM23m?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s shattering silence on the disastrous TIMSS 2011 results will soon earn him the ignominy of becoming the worst Education Minister ever

    Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee and Dr Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 16th January 2013

    It has been 30 days since the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011 was released which showed shockingly poor performance by Malaysian students.

    Malaysia’s ranking in Math fell from 10th in 2003 to 26th in 2011 while its ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 20th in 2003 to 32nd in 2011. However, the most damning outcome of the test is that Malaysia has suffered the biggest drop in test scores among all countries for both Mathematics and Science between 1999 and 2011.

    The number of students who scored “Below Low” for Mathematics increased from only 7% in 1999 to an incredible 35% in 2011. For Science, the percentage rocketed up from 13 to 38. If the students who scored “Low” were taken into consideration, 64% and 66% of Malaysian students scored “Low” and “Below Low” in Mathematics and Science respectively.

    If there ever was a yardstick of a non-physical national disaster, this is it. At least two generations of young Malaysians will fail to achieve their potentials as a result of rapidly declining education standards.

    However, despite the scale of the crisis, the Minister of Education has to date, has remained stoically silent on the entire issue, as if it will blow away just as long as he does not comment on it.

    The irony of it all is that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has flown to the United States to receive an honorary doctorate from “United States Sports Academy” on the 17th of January for his ‘Satu Murid, Satu Sukan’ initiative to ‘enhance physical education to help in the building of a nation’. While Tan Sri Muyhiddin is being ‘honoured’ with a doctorate for this supposed ‘achievements’ in developing sports in schools, our students continue to be ‘dishonoured’ by a Minister of Education who has failed them miserably in the academic arena.

    Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s only “achievement” to date has been the controversial decisions to enforce “History” as a compulsory examination subject for SPM level to “inculcate nationalism and patriotism” and to scrap national examinations at PMR and UPSR levels. The preliminary education blueprint which has been launch to date fails to aggressively address the drastic decline in our standards. Neither of these will serve to improve the standards of education in Malaysia, while it may arguably make our students worse off than their current deteriorating predicament.

    Tan Sri Muhyiddin must immediately take the position to recognise the complete failings of our national education system and announce the willingness to leave no stone unturned and slaughter the sacred cows of our education system to put an immediate halt to the decline to ensure that our young Malaysians today will remain competitive globally tomorrow.

    Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara
    Dr Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • Is the Ministry of Education handing out ‘A’s for examinations to meet the Government’s KPI?

    Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee and Dr Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 9th January 2013

    We would like to congratulate all of the PMR students who successfully passed their PMR exams especially the 30,474 students who successfully scored straight As. We applaud their efforts in putting in the hard work necessary to achieve these results which were announced two weeks ago on 18th December 2012.

    Based on the results released by the Ministry of Education, 28.8% achieved an ‘A’ in Mathematics while 23.7% did the same for Science. On the surface, Malaysians should be extremely proud that approximately a quarter of all our 15 year olds are able to achieve top results for the two key subjects.

    However, when we compare the PMR results with the recently released Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 report, we find that only 2% of Malaysians managed “Advanced” scores in Mathematics, while another 10% achieved “High” scores.

    Similarly for Science, only 1% and 10% of Malaysian 15 year olds managed to achieve “Advanced” and “High” scores respectively.

    What worries Malaysians is the fact that compared to 1999 when 36% of our 15 year olds scored an “Advanced” or “High” scores in 1999, only a miserable 12% did so in 2012. For Science, this % has decreased from 24% in 1999 to 11% in 2011. (The breakdown is shown in the Table 1 below.)

    The question to ask then is are our examination standards set so low that 28.8% of our students will score an ‘A’ in Mathematics even though by international standards, they are far from it?

    While the above may be worrying, what is shocking is the performance of Malaysian students at the bottom. While the PMR examinations showed nearly 90% passing rates for students in Mathematics and Science, the TIMSS study exposed the fraud in our examinations.

    The number of students who scored “Below Low” for Mathematics increased from only 7% in 1999 to an incredible 35% in 2011. For Science, the percentage rocketed up from 13 to 38. If the students who scored “Low” were taken into consideration, 64% and 66% of Malaysian students scored “Low” and “Below Low” in Mathematics and Science respectively.

    The performance of the educational achievements of our students is unacceptable. The Ministry of Education and the Government has failed our young Malaysians. In the pursuit of quantitative Key Performance Indicators such as the number of “A”s or the percentage pass rate, the Ministry of Education has severely simplified our education syllabus as well as dumbed down our examinations at the expense of our students.

    We call upon the Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to explain how our education and examination standards have declined so drastically over the past decade. He must also thoroughly review our examination system and our education syllabus to increase the standards of education for our young. We are also extremely concerned about the complete lack of urgency over our underperformance, as well as the lack of substantive measures in the preliminary Education Blueprint which has been launched at the end of last year.

    Table 1a: Malaysian Students Performance for Mathematics (TIMSS 1999 to 2011)

    Mathematics 1999 (%) 2003 (%) 2007 (%) 2011 (%)
    Advanced (625) 10 6 2 2
    High (550) 26 24 16 10
    Intermediate (475) 34 36 32 24
    Low (400) 23 27 32 29
    Below Low (<400) 7 7 18 35

    Table 1b: Malaysian Students Performance for Science (TIMSS 1999 to 2011)

    Science 1999 (%) 2003 (%) 2007 (%) 2011 (%)
    Advanced (625) 5 4 3 1
    High (550) 19 24 15 10
    Intermediate (475) 35 43 32 23
    Low (400) 28 24 30 28
    Below Low (<400) 13 5 20 38

    Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara
    Dr Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

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