• 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

  • 7828 individuals who won’t be spending Chinese New Year this year as Malaysians

    Opinion piece by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 5th of February, 2016

    7828 individuals who won’t be spending Chinese New Year this year as Malaysians

    The exodus among those going back to their hometowns to celebrate Chinese New Year has already begun. I’ll be staying put here in Selangor and enjoying the traffic, or the lack thereof. This year, however, I’ll be celebrating CNY with a little bit of a heavy heart due to a self-inflicted wound. One of the things I do every 3 months is to examine the quarterly electoral roll updates. To check on the number of newly registered voters, those who have changed their voting address and those who have been struck off the electoral roll. Recently, I was alerted by a colleague that a number of Malaysians have been taken off the electoral roll because they have been stripped of their citizenship (In BM: Dilucutkan kewarganegaraan). My curiosity was piqued. Were these individuals on some sort of terrorist watchlist which necessitated the removal of their citizenship? Were they guilty of some heinous crime such as treason? I had to investigate further.

    My findings were surprisingly and saddening. Firstly, I found that 7828 individuals who had lost their eligibility to vote because they were no longer citizens. These individuals were removed from the electoral roll in 2014 and 2015. As a comparison, the Returning Expert’s Program (REP) under Talentcorp managed to attract 3600 Malaysians to return home over the past four years.[1] This figure understates the number of Malaysians who have given up their citizenship over the past two years. It does not include those who have given up their citizenship but were never registered on the electoral roll. It almost certainly excludes those who have given up their Malaysian citizenship and have taken up citizenship in countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the other usual migration destinations for Malaysians. This list of names are almost certainly Malaysians who have given up their citizenship for Singapore citizenship because of the strictly enforced requirement that Malaysians who take up the Singapore citizenship needs to officially give up their Malaysian citizenship within a stipulated time.[2]

    Given the country of destination, it is not surprisingly that a majority of the 7828 individuals are Chinese (96.7%). The rest were Indians (2.7%), Malays (0.4%) and others (0.2%). The largest number of ex-Malaysians come from Johor (36.6%), followed by Perak (19.5%), Selangor (9.4%), WP Kuala Lumpur (6.7%), Melaka (5.6%), Penang (5.4%) and N. Sembilan (5.3%). (See Table 1 below)

    What is saddening is that these are ex-Malaysians who cared enough about the country that they registered as voters but for various reasons, decided to give up their Malaysian citizenship for greener pastures across the causeway. A majority of them also fall into the 30 to 50 age group (80.5%) which means that they are in the most productive years of their working life (See Table 2 below).

    56% of these ex-Malaysians are women while 44% are men. Without additional information, it is hard to gauge the reasons behind this gender difference e.g. the nature of their qualifications and jobs, whether they gave up their citizenship because of marriage reasons and so on.

    Aside from these statistics, what saddened me the most was when I spotted a name on the list which looked familiar. He is almost certainly an ASEAN scholar from my year. A Klang boy, he is now a medical specialist in infectious diseases and currently works in a government hospital in Singapore. His case is but the tip of the iceberg of talented ex-Malaysians who have left the country and are thriving elsewhere.[3] What makes this reality more ‘real’ (and hence, sadder) for me personally is seeing a name which I recognized.

    If any ex-Malaysian is reading this piece, I hope that you haven’t totally given up on our country. Perhaps in the future, when there has been a change in government in Malaysia, you’ll be motivated to come back and contribute in some way. And if you are coming back to Malaysia for Chinese New Year, travel safe and eat well!

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/about-3-600-malaysians-overseas-have-returned-talentcorp-71312

    [2] http://www.kln.gov.my/web/sgp_singapore/other_information/-/asset_publisher/2TQe/content/renunciation-of-malaysian-citizenship?redirect=%2Fweb%2Fsgp_singapore%2Fother_information

    [3] For a more general report on Malaysians who have taken up Singapore citizenship, read here: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/bidding-farewell-to-malaysia

  • Disappointed that the Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Mustapha Muhamed, failed to take up my challenge to set up a special parliamentary committee to monitor the implementation of the TPPA

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

    Disappointed that the Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Mustapha Muhamed, failed to take up my challenge to set up a special parliamentary committee to monitor the implementation of the TPPA

    During my speech on the TPPA this morning, I challenged the Minister of International Trade and Industry to set up a special parliamentary committee to monitor the implementation of the TPPA during the 2 years leading up to possible ratification after the TPPA is signed on the 4th of February, 2016.

    Unlike other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), the TPPA will involve 27 amendments for 17 acts before it can be ratified by the participating countries. This special parliamentary committee would have monitored and given input for these amendments in order to ensure that they are consistent with international best practices. It would also have monitored changes in rules and procedures under the various ministries which do not require parliamentary approval. It would also have played the role of ensuring that the certification process which will be conducted by the United States is done in a way which is fair and does not privilege special interests which may try to influence the process. Finally, this committee should have the power to recommend to the Minister that Malaysia pull out of the ratification process if they find that it is not in the best interests of our country to go through with the TPPA.

    Sadly, in his winding up speech, the Minister failed to even address this suggestion. This means that the process of ratifying the TPPA would be done in a less than fully transparent and accountable manner. This would undo much of the credibility which the Minister and his Ministry has built up through their public engagements to explain the TPPA.

    It is not too late however for the Minister to take up this suggestion. I urge the Minister to announce the setting up of this special parliamentary committee before the signing of the TPPA in Auckland, New Zealand on the 4th of February, 2016.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • The newly appointed Election Commission (EC) chairman should allow Sarawakians living and working outside the state to cast votes as postal voters in the upcoming Sarawak state elections

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 23rd of January, 2016

    The newly appointed Election Commission (EC) chairman should allow Sarawakians living and working outside the state to cast votes as postal voters in the upcoming Sarawak state elections

    The appointment of the new EC chairman, Datu Seri Mohd Hashim bin Abdullah takes effect today, 24th of January, 2016. He replaces Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof. In the handing over ceremony which took place 2 days ago, it was reported that the EC would be asking for a budget of RM181million for the upcoming Sarawak state elections, which is approximately two and a half times the RM78m that was spent by the EC in the 2011 Sarawak state elections.[1] The outgoing EC chairman cited increases in the cost of renting vehicles and of food as some of the main reasons for the budget increase.

    The incoming EC chairman should realize that the cost of going to the polls to cast a vote have also increased especially for the Sarawakians who are living and working outside the state. The transportation costs, whether it is flight tickets, bus tickets or boat tickets, have increased as a result of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).  The price of overnight stays in motels or hotels would also have increased. As has the price of food. It is especially costly for voters who have to travel from KL, Johor Bahru, Singapore and Kota Kinabalu to cast their votes in the interior areas such as Kapit, Hulu Rejang and Bakelalan.

    In order to lessen the financial burdens of such voters, the EC should allow for Sarawakians living and working in Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore to cast their votes as postal voters rather than forcing them to travel back to Sarawak to cast their votes. In the 13th general election, Sarawakians (and indeed, all Malaysians) who were living outside Malaysia and Singapore were allowed to register as postal voters. The same option should be given to Sarawakians so that they can cast their vote in the EC office or in a suitable location in every state in Peninsular Malaysia, in Sabah and also at the Malaysian embassy in Singapore a few days before the actual polling day. And just like in the 13th general election, their votes will be considered as postal votes and returned to their respective constituencies to be counted on polling day itself.

    This is not a new recommendation. The parliamentary select committee on electoral reform, which was set up in 2011, listed this as one of their recommendations in its final report which was tabled in 2012. (See below)


    Source: Laporan Jawatankuasa Pilihan Khas Berhubung dengan Penambahbaikan Proses Pilihan Raya, mukasurat 39.

    This should be one of the first priorities of the newly appointed EC chairman in order to ease the financial burdens of Sarawakians who would otherwise have to make a costly journey to cast their votes in the upcoming Sarawak state elections.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1674119

  • The River of Life (RoL) project has a long way to go

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 20th of January, 2016

    The River of Life (RoL) project has a long way to go

    On the 11th of November, 2015, I organized a kayak expedition down a portion of the Gombak River that is part of the River of Life (RoL) project.

    I wrote about my expedition in 5 facebook postings in December 2015 which were republished in Malaysiakini:

    Part 1: https://www.facebook.com/ongkianming/posts/932720763449651
    Part 2: https://www.facebook.com/ongkianming/posts/933071966747864
    Part 3: https://www.facebook.com/ongkianming/posts/933514563370271
    Part 4: https://www.facebook.com/ongkianming/posts/934347279953666
    Part 5: https://www.facebook.com/ongkianming/posts/934775849910809

    Now, a short 7 minute video of my kayak expedition can be access here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcV-9vfnR9c&feature=youtu.be

    The release of this youtube video is a timely reminder of how far the River of Life (RoL) project has to go before the Klang and Gombak rivers can be classified as a Class IIB river that is fit for recreational activities.

    Just last week, on Thursday, 14th of January, 2016, Jeffrey Lim, an avid cyclists and one of the members of my kayak expedition discovered a worrying number of dead fish along the Klang River while he was cycling near Brickfields. (See Appendix 1 below)

    Jeff, who later tried to trace the source of the dead fish, concluded that the dead fish had originated further upstream, past Kampung Pauh along the Gombak River. (The photos shown below are from Jeff)

    The dead fish, which may have died as a result of upstream pollution, is especially worrying given that many people eat and sell the fish they catch along the Gombak and Klang Rivers. It is a common sight to see fishermen using a rod or even fishing nets to catch fish along the Gombak and Klang rivers. (See Appendix 2 below)

    I call upon the Department of Environment (DoE) to investigate the source of the dead fish and to determine if there was and still is serious pollution happening upstream along the Gombak River that may be poisoning the fish in the river. If there is no effort to monitor the level of pollution in the Gombak and Klang Rivers, the estimated RM3.4 billion that will be spend to clean up the river will be wasted.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Appendix 1: Photos of Dead Fish discovered on Thursday, 14th of January, 2016

    Appendix 2: People catching fish along the Gombak River

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