English

371 posts

Is a 15% Malay swing against the BN in GE14 realistic?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 26th of August 2017

Is a 15% Malay swing against the BN in GE14 realistic?

My colleague and Member of Parliament for Kluang, Liew Ching Tong, has been discussing the possibility of a Malay tsunami in the upcoming 14th General Election which will allow Pakatan Harapan (PH) to win power at the federal level.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has written about a 10 and 5 formula whereby a swing of 10% against the BN by Malay voters and a swing of 5% by non-Malay voters would enable PH to win 113 out of 165 parliament seats (or 68% of seats) in Peninsular Malaysia, thereby paving the way for PH to get to Putrajaya.

How much of a Malay swing against the BN is needed for PH to win Putrajaya? Is a Malay tsunami in the form of a 15% Malay vote swing against the BN something realistic?

To answer the question of whether a 15% Malay vote swing against the BN is a realistic projection in GE14, we must examine vote swings among other voting ‘blocks’ in previous general elections in Malaysia.

Table 1 below shows the estimated support for the BN by racial group and changes in racial support for the BN from 1995 to 2013.

Table 1: Estimated support for the BN by racial groups in Peninsular Malaysia, 1995 to 2013

1995 1999 2004 2008 2013
Malay 81% 54% (-27%) 65% (+11%) 59% (-6%) 64% (+5%)
Chinese 55% 65% (+10%) 75% (+10%) 35% (-40%) 14% (-21%)
Indian >90% >90% (NA) >90% (NA) 48% (-42%) 38% (-10%)

(Change from one election to the next is in brackets) (NA = Not Available)

Source: Estimates by Dr. Ong Kian Ming

From Table 1, there has been one instance of a more than 15% swing in Malay support against the BN, which was during the 1999 ‘Reformasi’ election where BN’s support among the Malays fell by 27% from 81% in 1995 to 54% in 1999. PAS emerged as the largest opposition party in parliament after the 1999 general elections. The loss in support for the BN was felt most in the northern states of Kedah, Teregganu and Kelantan where PAS won most of its parliament seats. What ‘saved’ the BN in the 1999 GE was its high level of support among non-Malay voters. Chinese support for the BN increased by an estimated 10%, from 55% in 1995 to 65% in 1999. Indian support for the BN remained high at over 90%.

In the 2004 GE, Malay support for the BN rebounded somewhat when it increased by 11% from 54% to 65%. BN support among the Chinese increased by a further 10% to an estimated 75%, one of the highest levels in Malaysian history. This was the Pak Lah tsunami effect which allowed the BN to capture 91% of parliament seats.

In the 2008 GE, the BN suffered a tremendous drop in its non-Malay support. BN support among the Chinese voters fell by 40% (from 75% to 35%) while BN support among the Indian voters, mostly because of the Hindraf movement, fell by at least 42% (from more than 90% to 48%). BN support among the Malays fell by a smaller amount, from 65% to 59%, a drop of only 6%.

In the 2013 GE, BN support among the Malays increased slightly, by 5%, from 59% to 64% while BN support among the Chinese and Indians fell by a further 21% and 10% respectively to 14% and 38%.

To go back to the initial question, how much of a Malay swing can we expect in GE14? A Malay swing of 10% is not out of the question given the impact of Tun Dr. Mahathir and the formation of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and later on, the creation of Pakatan Harapan which includes PPBM. With a historically unpopular Prime Minister, the 1MDB scandal, and the impact of the GST and rise in the cost of living, the Malay vote is likely to swing against the BN in GE14. A Malay swing against the BN of 15% would bring BN’s Malay support to about 50% which would leave BN teetering on a knife’s edge. A swing of 15% or more in any voting block doesn’t usually occur but we are living in unusual circumstances. It happened in 1999 among the Malay voters and it happened again in 2008 among the non-Malay voters. If I had been told in 2013 that Dr. Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin would form a new political party to fight UMNO in GE14, I would have said that you were out of your mind. And yet, what was then unthinkable is now reality. As unlikely as a 15% swing may sound, it is not out of the realm of impossibility.

Of course, if there is a 15% swing in the Malay vote against the BN, the next question we have to ask is how much of this swing would go to PH and how much of this would go to PAS? To answer this question would require another media statement…

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

Datin Seri Rosmah should save taxpayers’ money and go to Singapore to learn how to get more Malaysians into Oxbridge rather than travel to the United Kingdom

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 16th of August, 2017[1]

Datin Seri Rosmah should save taxpayers’ money and go to Singapore to learn how to get more Malaysians into Oxbridge rather than travel to the United Kingdom

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Prime Minister, received much criticism for a trip she took to the United Kingdom earlier this month. In response, Rosmah said that her trip to the UK, including a visit to the University of Oxford, was not for a holiday but to ‘pave the way for children under the PERMATA early childhood education program to join the university’.[2] If PERMATA is under budget constraints, as claimed by Rosmah[3], I suggest that instead of visiting the United Kingdom, she can take a trip across the border to Singapore to learn how the top institutions there help their high achieving students to get into Oxbridge.

The latest statistics show that there are currently 290 Singaporean students at the University of Oxford as compared to only 145 Malaysians. At the University of Cambridge, there are currently 351 Singaporean students compared to 239 Malaysians. (See Table 1 below)

Table 1: Number of Singaporean and Malaysian students at the University of Cambridge and Oxford (Undergraduates and Postgraduates)[4]

Oxford Cambridge 2016/17
Singaporeans 290 351
Malaysians 145 239

Sources: https://www.ox.ac.uk/about/international-oxford/oxfords-global-links/asia-south-east/asia-south-east-country-statistics?wssl=1#content-item–6 (Oxford), http://www.prao.admin.cam.ac.uk/data-analysis-planning/student-numbers/snapshot-nationalitydomicile (Cambridge)

Singapore sends 9 times more students to Oxbridge[5] than Malaysia on a per capita basis. Given Singapore’s success in sending so many more students to Oxbridge than Malaysia, it would make sense for Rosmah to visit Singapore to learn more about the ‘secrets’ of their success. She would just need to visit the top 5 ‘A’ level institutions in Singapore – Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Institution, Victoria Junior College, Temasek Junior College and National Junior College – which are responsible for sending most of Singaporean students to Oxbridge (as well as a number of Malaysians). If she did, she would find the following:

1) High academic achievements across the board

In most schools, only a handful of students, perhaps the top 5%, would get 4As for their STPM. Those with 4.0 CGPAs are even rarer. In a top A level college like Raffles Institution, the percentage of students in a cohort with the equivalent of 4As was 53% for the class of 2016[6] (629 out of 1162 students). Basically, if you were to throw a stone into a crowd of students in this school, you would have a more than 50% chance of hitting someone who scored 4As.

Having a larger number of academic high achievers means that you have a larger pool of students who can potentially apply to places like Oxford and Cambridge. While we can discuss whether or not academic results are the best reflection of intellectual potential, there is no escaping from the need to have good academic results to gain entry into Oxbridge. Offers from Oxbridge are usually given to students contingent on them obtaining a certain academic result. Most entry offers are contingent of students obtaining 3As or 4As for their A levels (or the equivalent).

The question which Rosmah has to answer, as the patron of PERMATA, is how many of its pre-university students obtain straight As for the A level exams (or its equivalent)? What does PERMATA need to do in order to reach similar academic standards as the top pre-university institutions in Singapore?

2) Exposure to Various Intellectual Challenges

Students in these top A level institutions in Singapore are given opportunities to expand their intellectual horizons beyond their normal academic syllabus. Students who show greater aptitude in certain subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and Informatics, are given the training and the opportunity to compete for selection into the Singapore team for Olympiad competitions at the international level. The Olympiad infrastructure which exists at the school[7] and national[8] levels has allowed Singapore to improve its performance in these international student competitions over time. For example, Singapore has placed in the Top 10 in the International Math Olympiad since 2011.[9] Many of the students who participate in these Olympiads will go on to gain entry into top universities around the world, including Oxbridge.

The exposure to various intellectual opportunities goes beyond training and participating in Olympiad competitions, which are only open to a relatively small number of students. Students who show interest in other fields, including the arts, public policy, scientific research and information technology have access to specialist programs in these fields.[10]

In addition, students who want to gain exposure to university standard courses can opt to take H3 level papers for their A-levels (This is an addition to their ‘normal’ A level papers which are called H2 level papers). Students who take H3 level papers are better prepared to ask more insightful and critical questions in their field of studies which would also help them when writing essays and answering questions during interviews for Oxbridge entry.

This is perhaps one of the intentions of Permata Pintar’s Nobelist Mindset program which is a program to give Malaysian students a sense of what it takes to have the mindset of a Nobel Prize winner.[11] But from the following description of the Nobelist Mindset program, we have a long way to go in terms of producing graduates who can write proper sentences in English, let alone Nobel Prize winners:

“This workshop was held for 5 days at the PERMATApintar Center. Students are divided into 12 groups and will be taught by two instructors in the classroom. Students will learn and be exposed sciences to become a scientist and features a prize winner. The workshop was also attended by the students of the boarding school from the outside (SBP, BPT, SKK and so on. The highlight is the selection of students and Young Scientist who managed to qualify for Londo trip. The trip to London was to provide an opportunity for participants to visit special laboratories relating Nobel there.”

3) Having well-trained Academic Councillors

Gaining admissions into a top overseas university is not as simple as merely getting good academic results. It requires well-written application essays which can make you stand out from the crowd. It requires good reference letters from credible sources. It requires extra preparation for Oxbridge courses which require subject exams. It requires knowing what questions to anticipate and how to converse with professors from Oxbridge during interviews. Most of the top A level institutions in Singapore have well-trained academic councillors whose full-time jobs are to help students prepare their applications to these top universities.[12] This is one of the reasons cited as to why Raffles came out top in terms of number of students accepted into Cambridge.[13]

As far as I know, PERMATA Pintar does not have any full-time academic councilors to help guide students on their higher education options. The closest item I found was a research mentoring program whereby a student can be mentored by a UKM academic in an area of his or her interest.[14]

4) Having well-qualified and well-trained teachers

Many of the teachers in these top institutions are Ministry of Education teaching scholarship holders. This means that they were sponsored by the Ministry of Education to study overseas before coming back to Singapore to teach. Some of them have studied in top overseas universities including Oxbridge. There are also expatriate teachers in these top A level institutions with experience in teaching in some of the top secondary schools overseas including schools in the UK which send a high number of students to Oxbridge.

Does PERMATA have a similar cohort of teaching staff who can create the right academic environment for the geniuses who are studying at PERMATA? Do the staff have the right experiences which can help these students to not just do well academically but create a mindset among the students which can enable them to apply to some of the top universities overseas including Oxbridge? The evidence does not seem to confirm this.

The onus is on PERMATA to create a high achieving environment for its high IQ students. The environment at PERMATA should be one where high performers are created across the board. The last thing we would want is for places at Oxbridge to be ‘bought’ in exchange for visits and special donations to Oxford or Cambridge by Malaysian dignitaries such as Rosmah.

Rosmah does not have to take a contingent of 30 or more people to the United Kingdom to help future generations of PERMATA students gain entry into Oxbridge. She should just go across the border to Singapore with a few of the PERMATA top management and teachers. If she wants to save even more money, she should visit some of the top A level colleges in Malaysia which routinely send many students to Oxbridge including KYUEM, Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ), Methodist College, Taylors College and INTEC Education College in Shah Alam.  Then she wouldn’t have to ask her husband, Prime Minister Najib for more funding for PERMATA.

Ultimately, regardless of the number of overseas trips which Rosmah takes, on behalf of PERMATA, I’m not sure if she will learn a much more basic lesson – which is that programs for ‘gifted’ students such as PERMATA cannot be the launchpad to promote one individual’s agenda or to make one person look good but must be built on strong institutional foundations in order to make the program sustainable and successful.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

[1] Disclosure: Dr. Ong Kian Ming did his ‘O’ levels in Raffles Institution and his ‘A’ levels in what was then Raffles Junior College under the Asean scholarship

[2] https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/391057

[3] https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/391059

[4] These figures may underestimate the number of Oxbridge entries the Singapore education system is responsible for since some of the Malaysians who go to Oxbridge also studied in Singapore.

[5] Abbreviation for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge

[6] https://rafflespress.com/2017/02/24/a-level-results-2017-rafflesian-excellence/

[7] https://rafflesmatholympiad.wordpress.com/programme/

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_Mathematical_Olympiad,

[9] https://www.imo-official.org/results.aspx

[10] http://www.ri.edu.sg/#Page/RafflesProgram-36/

[11] http://www.programpermata.my/en/pintar/nobelist

[12] http://www.ri.edu.sg/#Page/Student-45/ for Raffles Institution; http://www.hci.edu.sg/advantage/future-after-hci/tertiary-education for Hwa Chong Institution; https://sites.google.com/a/vjc.sg/the-vjc-scholarships-guide/scholarship-programme-at-vjc for Victoria Junior College.

[13] https://www.crimsoneducation.org/au/blog/cambridge-acceptance-rates-schools

[14] http://www.programpermata.my/resources/download/RESEARCH-MENTORING-PROGRAM-2013.pdf

Pakatan Harapan (PH) offers a fairer deal to KTMB and its workers

Media Statement by Pakatan Harapan on the 9th of August, 2017

Pakatan Harapan (PH) offers a fairer deal to KTMB and its workers

The Railway Network Access Agreement (RNAA) is an agreement between KTMB and the Railway Assets Corporation (RAC) which will see KTMB transferring all of its rolling stocks and lands to RAC. This exercise is supposed to be completed sometime in 2018.[1]

Pakatan Harapan is opposed to the RNAA for the following reasons:

(i)               This is a back door way for the government to provide access to crony companies to use the rail network to undermine KTMB’s core businesses including the freight and haulage business that comprises 42% of its revenue (RM216 out of RM516 million in Financial Year 2015).

(ii)              This will increase the costs of operations for KTMB because RAC will charge KTMB for the use of the rolling stock.

(iii)            RAC, with only 38 employees, is in no position to properly manage its assets including the maintenance of the rolling stock and the track. It is likely that these responsibilities would be sub-contracted out to other crony companies.

KTMB has suffered accumulated losses of RM855 million from 2009 to 2015 because of low ticket prices and expensive procurement contracts. For example, KTMB wasted RM85 million on a contract for an Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) ticketing system that could not be implemented.[2] More recently, the then President of KTM, Datuk Sarbini Tijan, was asked to go on leave pending an internal inquiry on procurement deals worth millions of ringgit.[3]

RAC has also not been profitable. It has accumulated losses of RM372 million from 2009 to 2015. RAC does not have enough staff to properly manage the RM36 billion in assets including land. Its mismanagement of train maintenance contract payments was reported in the Auditor General’s report in 2013.[4]

Pakatan Harapan promises a fairer deal to KTMB and its 6000 workers including:

1)     Cancelling the RNAA between RAC and KTMB

2)     Transferring the assets in RAC to KTMB as a way to maximize the value of these assets. The small size of RAC prevents it from increasing its revenue from ventures such as transit oriented development and advertising and retail. These assets should be transferred to KTMB and KTMB should be allowed to expand its expertise in these areas. This will be the way forward to KTMB to regain its profitability and also to minimize the need to increase ticket prices.

3)     Review the cost and suitability of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project. The assets under ECRL i.e. the rolling stock, the track, the land and the stations, will not be owned by RAC or KTM. Instead, it will be owned by a newly established 100% Ministry of Finance Owned Entity, Malaysia Rail Line (MRL) Sdn Bhd. It has been reported that the ECRL service will be run by another operator which has not been named.[5] Not only is the cost of the ECRL extraordinarily high, it is very likely its operations will be awarded via direct negotiation.

4)     Implement open tenders for all procurements of assets and services by KTMB

5)     Not to privatise KTMB

With these policies, we can chart the path towards financial profitability for KTMB, guarantee continued low prices for the passengers and ensure employment security and welfare for thousands of railway workers.

Tan Sri Muhyidddin Yassin, President of BERSATU
Liew Chin Tong, MP for Kluang
Dato’ Abdullah Sani bin Abdul Hamid, MP for Kuala Langat
Dr. Hatta Ramli, MP for Kuala Krai

[1] http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/transport-ministry-says-agreement-will-not-cost-4000-job-losses-ktmb

[2] http://tonypua.blogspot.my/2011/01/ktmb-rm85m-contract-to-company-without.html andhttp://ongkianming.com/2015/08/22/press-statement-prime-minister-najib-should-look-at-the-failure-of-the-automatic-fare-collection-afc-system-rather-than-asking-for-new-ktm-ticket-counters-to-be-added/

[3] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/01/11/rail-controversy/

[4] http://english.astroawani.com/business-news/highlights-auditor-generals-report-2013-series-2-37880

[5] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/03/29/east-coast-rail-kicks-off/