• The Election Commission has no power to illegally conduct a delimitation exercise without going through proper constitutional procedures

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang on the 20th of July, 2016

    The Election Commission has no power to illegally conduct a delimitation exercise without going through proper constitutional procedures

    According to Article 113 (2) of the Federal Constitution, if the Election Commission wants to redraw the constituency boundaries of any seat via a delimitation exercise, be it at the parliamentary or at the state constituency level, it has to comply with the procedures and provisions contained in the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution. This includes notifying the Speaker of the House and the Prime Minister, publishing a notification of the start of the delimitation in the Gazette as well as in a national newspaper.

    We have good reason to believe that the notice published in the Gazette on the 29th of April, 2016 listing the polling districts and polling centers for the federal and state constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia is actually a ‘delimitation by stealth’ illegal exercise conducted by the Election Commission.

    The Election Commission has the right to create new polling districts and to shift voters between polling districts within the same constituency as per Section 7 of the Elections Act 1958. But the EC does not have the right to shift voters from one constituency to another, be it at the state or federal level, unless it is in the context of a delimitation exercise.

    A blatant example of this illegal delimitation exercise conducted by the Election Commission is in the state seat of N6 Kuala Kubu Baru in the parliamentary seat of P94 Hulu Selangor in the state of Selangor. A total of 14 localities with 5590 voters were moved from the N7 Batang Kali state constituency (won by UMNO in GE2013 with a 5398 vote majority) to the N6 Kuala Kubu Baru state constituency (won by DAP with a 1702 vote majority) as a result of this illegal delimitation exercise. A total of 2 localities with 56 voters were moved from N6 Kuala Kubu Baru to N7 Batang Kali.[1] As a result, the number of voters in N6 Kuala Kubu Baru has increased from 21,186 in GE2013 to 26,720 which represents a whopping increase of 26.1%. At the same time, the number of voters in N7 Batang Kali has decreased from 43578 in GE2013 to 38044 representing a decrease of 12.7%. (See Table 1 below).

    We cannot help but to suspect that this is a strategy being used by the Barisan Nasional to win back the state of Selangor ‘by stealth’ via this illegal delimitation exercise.

    We call upon the Election Commission to revoke the effects of this illegal delimitation exercise and to return the electoral boundaries in Peninsular Malaysia to the boundaries which were used in the 2013 general elections.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament

    Federal Government Gazette: NOTICE OF POLLING DISTRICTS AND POLLING CENTRES FOR THE FEDERAL AND STATE CONSTITUENCIES OF THE STATES OF MALAYA

    “Illegal Delimitation: Effect on N6 KKB and N7 Batang Kali” (Powerpoint, 20 July 2016)

    [1] The figures are updated up to the Quarter Four (Q4) 2015 electoral roll.

  • Public Transportation in the Klang Valley should be affordable, integrated, easy to use and reliable

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 14th of July, 2016

    Public Transportation in the Klang Valley should be affordable, integrated, easy to use and reliable

    On the 30th of June, 2016, Prime Minister Najib officiated the launch of the LRT extension for the Kelana Jaya and Ampang lines to the new Putra Heights interchange. About a year ago, Najib also officiated the opening of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service from Sunway-Setia Jaya to USJ 7. While the expansion of public transportation coverage in the Klang Valley is a much welcome move, the provision of public transportation is much more than just building new LRT stations and MRT lines. Specifically, public transportation should be affordable, integrated, easy to use and reliable.

    I decided to test out the new LRT extension and also other aspects of our public transportation system last Tuesday, the 5th of July, 2016, a day before Hari Raya. I drove my car to the new LRT station near Taman OUG called Awan Besar and took the LRT to the Putra Heights interchange. I changed trains and alighted at the USJ 7 station and took the BRT to Sunway-Setia Jaya. From there, I took the KTM train to KL Sentral. I then took the LRT to Masjid Jamek via the Kelana Jaya line and changed trains to the Ampang line to head back to the Awan Besar LRT station. How did my experience rate based on the four criteria outlined above?

    Firstly, our LRT fares are not exactly affordable. My LRT trip from Awan Besar to USJ7 cost RM5.20 for a cashless fare because I used my RapidKL card (a cash token would have cost RM6.10 for the same ride). The BRT ride from USJ7 to Sunway Setia cost me an additional RM5.40 which meant that the LRT plus BRT for a one-way trip cost me RM10.60! Of course, one may say that there are not that many people who would choose this route to get to Sunway-Setia Jaya but even if I were to alight at Sunway University / Sunway Monash (let’s say I was a student at one of the institutions), the BRT ride would cost me RM2.70 for a total of RM7.90 for a one-way trip from the Awan Besar LRT to the SunU-Monash BRT station.

    For argument’s sake, let’s say I wanted to take the train from Awan Besar to the end of the Kelana Jaya line which is Gombak. A one-way trip would cost me RM5.70 for a cashless trip (RM6.70 for a cash token). While this is still cheaper than driving and parking, it would be a burden for a minimum wage earner to spend RM11.40 per day or RM250 per month just on public transportation.

    To compare, we can look across the border to Singapore. The MRT is FREE on weekdays for travel before 7.45am in order to decrease congestion during the peak travel time which is between 8am and 9am. A trip from the first MRT station in the east – Pasir Ris (E1) – to the last MRT station in the west – Joo Koon (E29) – which covers a distance of 42.6km only costs SGD 2.03.

    Note: Singapore’s GDP per capita is more than five times Malaysia’s GDP per capita

    On the first criteria, affordability, Malaysia’s public transport system seems to fall short.

    Secondly, to what extent is our public transportation integrated? On this front, I think some improvements have been made in the Klang Valley. The integration of the KTM, LRT, ERL and some bus routes has transformed KL Sentral into a public transportation hub which is used by many thousands every day. The Sunway BRT system connects the KTM to the LRT (albeit at a high cost to the user). The Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT Line 1 will increase connectivity and public transport integration when it is operational next year. One major gap to be filled is the insufficient feeder bus routes from various neighbourhoods to the LRT and KTM stations.

    But public transportation integration is more than just physical integration. It should also incorporate fare integration. This means that whether one is taking a Rapid KL bus, the LRT or KTM, a journey from the start to the end destination should cost the same regardless of how many times one changes from one form of public transportation to another. Right now, if we take a bus to the LRT station followed by an LRT train followed by a BRT bus, we will be charged three fares for a single journey. An integrated public transportation system will charge us one single fare for that journey. This will increase the affordability of our public transportation system significantly.

    For example, in March this year, I took a bus from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore to the Boon Lay MRT station (in the west) and from there I took an MRT to the Changi Airport (in the east). The fare was SGD 2.03 – 0.88 cents for the bus ride and 1.15 for the MRT ride. It was counted as one journey and one fare even though I took a bus and an MRT. This fare integration makes public transportation in Singapore even more affordable. In Malaysia, fare integration is a concept that is unfamiliar to almost all public transportation users.

    One of the reasons why fare integration remains a challenge in Malaysia is the inability of KTM to ‘sync’ its ticketing system with the LRT / Monorail. While one can use the ‘Touch and Go’ card to pay the KTM fare, it is not possible to use the RapidKL card to pay the KTM fare. In addition, the KTM commuter’s own automatic ticketing system is still not functioning. At the Setia Jaya KTM station, for example, one automatic ticketing machine was not working and another was still undergoing testing. And there was no one on duty at the manual ticketing counter! (See below)

    It looks like we have a long way to go before we can see fare integration even though KTM promised last November that a single ticketing system that is integrated with the LRT and Monorail will be introduced in June this year.[1]

    Thirdly, is our public transportation system easy to use?

    For the new stations on the Kelana Jaya and Ampang extensions, the station indicators on the trains were not working properly when I used them last Tuesday. This means that commuters would not be able to easily keep track of the upcoming LRT stations so that they know which station to alight at. At the same time, there were no announcements on the PA system on the upcoming stations.

    In addition, when I took the LRT from Masjid Jamek to Awan Besar, there were no announcements notifying commuters that we had to change trains at Sri Petaling to get to Awan Besar. On the LRT maps, the line from Sri Petaling to Awan Besar is supposed to be seamless and does not seem to require commuters to change trains. I was only made aware of this when my train stopped at Sri Petaling and then went back to the Bukit Jalil station without going on to Awan Besar.

    Much more needs to be done in order to improve the signage and the announcements in the LRT stations. (I’ll save the lack of bus route maps for Rapid KL buses for another time)

    Fourthly and finally, is our public transportation system reliable? Again, I’ll put aside the question of the reliability of feeder buses for now since I did not take any feeder buses last Tuesday. While the LRT trains were quite regular (waiting time less than 10 minutes for all the stops I was at), the same cannot be said of the KTM. Because I just missed the train at the Setia Jaya KTM station, I had to wait 45 minutes for the next train. One of the reasons for the low frequency of the KTM trains, especially during off peak hours, is because of ongoing double tracking work, but I understand that even during peak hours, trains along the Tanjung Malim and Sentul stretch only arrived once every 45 minutes.

    An unreliable public transportation system in terms of regularity and timing will discourage many users from switching from private vehicles to public transport. It will also cause much discomfort and increase commuting times for those who don’t have a choice but to use public transportation.

    I’d encourage our politicians, especially our Ministers, to test out our public transportation system by themselves, without an entourage, including getting their own tickets and planning their own routes so that they can see for themselves the problems which commuters face on a daily basis in terms of the affordability, integration, ease of use and reliability of the public transportation system in the Klang Valley.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/new-fare-system-to-integrate-ktm-lrt-mrt-monorail

    [2] http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2015/06/01/najib-brt-sunway-electric-bus-service/

    [3] Assuming there are 22 working days in a month.

    [4] https://www.mytransport.sg/content/mytransport/home/commuting/trainservices.html

    [5] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/new-fare-system-to-integrate-ktm-lrt-mrt-monorail

  • Malaysia should cautiously welcome the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea arbitration between the Philippines and China

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 13th of July, 2016

    Malaysia should cautiously welcome the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea arbitration between the Philippines and China

    The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (henceforth, the Tribunal) on the 12th of July, 2016, establishes a number of important findings that are consequential to the areas which are claimed by both Malaysia and China in the South China Sea.[1]

    Firstly, the Tribunal found that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’.”

    Secondly, the Tribunal found that “none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone (EEZ)” of 200 nautical miles. As such, some of the features under dispute lie within the EEZ of the Philippines.

    Thirdly, the Tribunal found that China had violated the sovereignty of the Philippines by obstructing fishing activities by fishermen from the Philippines, constructing artificial islands and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the Philippine’s EEZ.

    Fourthly, the Tribunal found that China had caused “severe harm” to the marine environment as a result of its large scale reclamation activities in seven features in the Spratly Islands.

    Fifthly, the Tribunal found that China had “violated its obligations to refrain from aggravating or extending the Parties’ disputes during the pendency of the settlement process” because of its large scale reclamation activities.

    The findings of the Tribunal, if applied to other cases in the South China Sea, would strengthen Malaysia’s claim on features such as James Shoal or Beting Serupai, which lies a mere 80km northwest of Bintulu, Sarawak and is well within the continental shelf of Malaysia and the 200 nautical mile EEZ. Malaysia’s claim to the North Luconia Shoals (or Gugusan Beting Raja Jarun) and the South Luconia Shoals (Gugusan Beting Patinggi Ali) which are located approximately 100km from Sarawak would also be strengthened.

    Malaysia’s sovereignty over these features have been challenged by China in the recent past, most notably by Chinese navy patrols in James Shoal in 2013 and 2014[2] and more recently, in March 2016, by Chinese Coast Guard ships in the South Luconia Shoals.[3]

    Even though the ruling of the Tribunal is binding on all signatories of UNCLOS, China has already said that it does not recognize this Tribunal’s jurisdiction.[4] Given the importance of China as a trading and economic partner, Malaysia should minimize the risk of agitating China by continuing bilateral negotiations on the areas of dispute as well as negotiating for the establishment of a robust Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China.

    The option to use international arbitration as a means to seek a decision on the areas of dispute between Malaysia and China in the South China Sea should be used strategically and when other options have been taken off the table.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.andrewerickson.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/PH-CN-20160712-Press-Release-No-11-English.pdf

    [2] http://amti.csis.org/malaysia-recalibrating-its-south-china-sea-policy/

    [3] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-malaysia-idUSKCN0YM2SV

    [4] http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/t1217147.shtml

  • By-election analysis: How can Malaysia’s Opposition create another Ijok?

    How to create another Ijok? 

    Article by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, 27 June 2016

    A week has now passed since the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar twin by-elections on the 18th of June, 2016. Much commentary and analysis has been written regarding the results. Having read through most of them, I hope to set the by election results in the larger context of by-elections which have taken place since the 1999 general elections. By doing so, I hope that we identify the factors which are important for Pakatan Harapan to take into account moving forward and some of the issues which are perhaps not as important in the larger scheme of things.

    There have been a total of 42 by elections since the 1999 general elections – 8 between 1999 and 2004, 6 between 2004 and 2008, 16 between 2008 and 2013 and 12 since the 2013 general elections. (See Table 1 below) The incumbent party won 34 out of 42 by-elections (81%). Of these 34 by-elections, 22 were in BN held seats and 12 were in opposition held seats. In other words, unless there are unique circumstances, the incumbent, which is BN in most cases, will usually win by-elections.

    Of the remaining 8 by-elections where the incumbent party was defeated, the BN emerged victors in 5 seats (the Pendang parliament seat in 2002 after the death of former PAS president Fadzil Noor, the Pengkalan Pasir state seat in Kelantan in 2005, the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat in 2010, the Galas state seat in Kelantan in 2010 and most recently, the Teluk Intan parliament seat in 2014).

    The opposition only managed to turn the tide to create an upset 3 times – in the Lunas state seat in Kedah in 2000, in the Kuala Terengganu parliament seat in 2009 and in the Sibu parliamentary seat in 2010.

    In other words, it was very unlikely that the opposition would pull of an upset in either Sungai Besar or Kuala Kangsar when we examine the history of by-elections since 1999.

    Of course, the presence of a three corner fight in both seats made it all but impossible for the opposition to capture either seat given that the pro-opposition votes were split between PAS and AMANAH.

    The 3 corner fights in both seats which led to a big increase in BN’s majority masks the fact that BN’s vote share increased by only 3.5% in Sungai Besar and 3.6% in Kuala Kangsar. It is not unusual to see BN increase its vote share during by-elections where specific promises can be made to voters in the respective constituencies whether it is in the form of a new community center (in Jerlun, Kuala Kangsar) or to promise to allow fishermen in Sungai Besar to employ more foreign workers. In fact, in the 22 by elections won by BN incumbents, BN’s vote share increased by an average of 5.5%. BN’s vote share increased in 18 of these by-elections (compared to the general election) and decreased in only 3 (with one seat being previously uncontested during the general election).

    This does not mean that the opposition has no chance to win these seats in the next general election or to win other seats that are currently being held by the BN. One can look to the example of the Ijok by-election held on the 28th of April 2007. The MIC candidate won this seat with an increased vote share (from 55.8% to 58.6%, an increase of 2.8%) during this by-election. But less than a year later, in the 2008 general election, this result was turned on its head and the PKR candidate (former MB, Khalid Ibrahim) won this seat with 56.8% of the vote. The question and the challenge for Pakatan Harapan is this: How do we create the conditions for the Ijok experience to be repeated nationwide in the next general election?

    I fully admit that the challenges faced by Pakatan Harapan in the lead up to GE14 are far more serious compared to when the opposition sprung an unexpected surprise on the BN in GE12. The objective in GE14 is to capture Putrajaya compared to when the best the opposition could hope for in GE12 was to deny the BN a two thirds control of parliament. The opposition is divided both externally (PH and PAS) and internally. But I do believe that if we address three main challenges, this would make capturing Putrajaya a distinct possibility rather than what many perceive to be an impossible task as things stand right now.

    Firstly, Pakatan Harapan needs to be strengthened as an opposition coalition. This means that there cannot be any 3 corner fights featuring component parties of PH like what happened in the recent Sarawak state elections. Many of our supporters were very critical of the decision by both PKR and DAP to field candidates in 5 state seats in Sarawak. Most voters were not interested in the internal dynamics of what led to this decision or the fact that multi-corner fights were avoided in the other 77 state seats. What they wanted to see was a united PH going up against the BN. While pro PH voters were more accepting of the 3 corner fights in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar (since it involved PAS, who is not a member of the PH coalition), there were still critics who said that PH was not giving voters the impression that it was campaigning together. This impression has to be overturned and a new spirit or ‘semangat’ of PH needs to be created in the run-up to GE14 if we are to have any chance of defeating the BN.

    Secondly, PH needs to create a compelling alternative narrative or narratives to voters who want change. Some commentators opined that the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar campaigns were too focused on national issues such as 1MDB and the GST and not enough attention were being paid to local issues. In the same vein, some commentators also said that PH should provide concrete alternative policies to the BN rather than just criticizing the BN on issues of corruption and abuse of power. Having been at the Sungai Besar campaign for about a week, I can safely say that local issues to do with paddy production and subsidies as well as fishermen issues were brought up by the AMANAH candidate as well as by the various PH leaders via ceramahs, press conferences and hand phone messages. Also having been part of the policy team in Pakatan Rakyat and now Pakatan Harapan, I can also safely say that most voters get bored when one talks about policy issues whether in ceramahs or even in press statements. What voters want is to have confidence that PH can govern effectively as a coalition. The policy positions have to be discussed and then announced together over a sustained period of time in order to create this confidence that PH is a cohesive coalition capable of overcoming their internal differences to govern together. And these policy positions will then form the compelling alternative narratives to the BN’s platform. I say narratives because there needs to be targeted messages and positions for the rural as well as the urban audience, for voters in Peninsular Malaysia as well as for voters in Sabah and Sarawak.

    Which leads me to the third and final point – that PH needs to use Penang and Selangor as showcase how the coalition can govern together and govern well. The impression that the Penang state government is a DAP government and that the Selangor government is a PKR government needs to be dispelled. Policies which reflect the aspirations of the rakyat at the national level needs to be pushed through and showcased as concrete examples of a PH government at the federal level can govern better than the BN.

    Overcoming these three challenges are necessary but not sufficient conditions for PH to reach its goal of capturing Putrajaya. We still have to deal with the elephant in the room which is how to deal with PAS. But that is a matter for a separate discussion and perhaps it is an issue which PH has little control over at the end of the day. But first, let’s focus on getting our own house in order. Only then do we have hope to create another Ijok in the run-up to GE14.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • Why did PEMANDU Corporation take over BFR Institute and why are its accounts ‘empty’?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 22nd of May, 2016

    Why did PEMANDU Corporation take over BFR Institute and why are its accounts ‘empty’?

    I refer to PEMANDU’s statement dated 19th May 2016 in response to my press conference in parliament on the same day.[1] My statement referring to Dato’ Sri Idris Jala’s 51% ownership of BFR Institute Sdn Bhd was based on a company search I did on the 25th of February, 2016 (See below). The transfer of Idris Jala’s 51% stake to PEMANDU Corporation was not reflected in the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM)’s accounts as of the 25th of February.

    According to the company search I did today, 22nd of May, 2016, Idris Jala now holds 51 out of 400,000 shares of BFR Institute Sdn Bhd with the remainder being held by PEMANDU Corporation.

    According to PEMANDU’s statement, Idris Jala held his shares of BFR Institute Sdn Bhd in trust as PEMANDU Corporation was not allowed to have a greater than 49% stake in another company.

    I apologise to Idris Jala if I have caused anyone to think that Idris Jala benefitted financially from his then 51% share of BFR Institute which was held in trust which has now been diluted down to 51 shares as per the latest CCM records.

    At the same time, I would like PEMANDU or Idris Jala to clarify if the remaining 51 votes he holds in BFR Institute is still being held in trust or whether the latest CCM records are not up to date and that he no longer holds any shares in BFR Institute. This is related to PEMANDU’s statement which says that PEMANDU Corporation currently owns 100% of BFR-I directly. As long as Idris Jala still holds on to a single share in BFR Institute, whether directly or in trust, it is not accurate to say that PEMANDU Corporation currently owns 100% of BFR Institute directly.

    However, the takeover of BFR Institute by PEMANDU Corporation raises a whole set of new questions. Firstly, why should PEMANDU be involved in the business of giving government consulting services, presumably for profit, to other governments and entities overseas, as it has been doing?

    Secondly, why should the tax payer have to bear the net cost of RM3.9m of hosting the 3 day Global Transformation Forum in 2015 given that budgetary cuts were being implemented left and right on other government agencies, including our public universities?

    Thirdly, the statement by PEMANDU that the balance of the RM10m allocated to the Global Transformation Forum 2015 is sitting in the accounts of PEMANDU and not BFR Institute should not be seen as an assurance.

    Since PEMANDU Corporation was incorporated on the 26th of October 2009, it has submitted four annual accounts to the CCM – for Financial Year 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. For each of these annual accounts, the revenue and the profit / loss recorded was zero (See below). Does this mean that PEMANDU Corporation did not receive any grants from the federal government for its operating costs? Does this also mean that PEMANDU Corporation did not spend a single sen of operating expenses, especially for its many labs held, payments to consultants, and rental for their many open days? Is there another entity which PEMANDU uses to park its expenses and grants? I hope that PEMANDU can answer these questions in as speedy a fashion as when they clarified the facts pertaining to the share ownership of BFR Institute.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] https://www.pemandu.gov.my/assets/publications/annual-reports/Idris_Jala_Holds_No_Shares_In_BFR-I.pdf

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