• The Ministry of Education should immediately withdraw the restriction that SPM Forecast Results cannot be used for entry into pre-university and foundation programs in private higher education institutions

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 29th of September, 2014

    The Ministry of Education should immediately withdraw the restriction that SPM Forecast Results cannot be used for entry into pre-university and foundation programs in private higher education institutions

    Many people were shocked when it was reported yesterday that the Ministry of Education had imposed the condition that SPM forecast results would no longer be acceptable for entry into pre-university and foundation level programs in private higher education institutions or IPTS.[1] This move was met with much criticism over social media.[2] The Ministry of Education should immediately withdraw this restriction as it is tremendously unfair for the students who want to pursue their studies in private colleges and universities.

    By disallowing SPM forecast results from being used as entry into pre-university and foundation programs, the Ministry is unfairly punishing students who want to enrol in programs in private colleges and universities. A majority of such students enter pre-university and foundation programs in private colleges and universities in January using their forecast results. Many of them have plans to pursue an overseas education. The academic calendar of these pre-university and foundation programs are planned with the intake dates of overseas universities in mind.

    For example, for those wanting to pursue a degree in Australia, the Australian Matriculation program offered in Sunway College starts in January and is completed within 8 to 10 months so that these results can be used by students to apply and enter Australian universities at the start of the following year in January.[3]

    For those wanting to pursue a degree in the UK, many would take the 1 ½ year A levels program starting in January, so that they can enter into a UK university in September or October the following year.

    Forcing students to wait 3 months until the SPM results are officially released at the end of March means that students would either have to go through compressed foundation programs e.g. spending 15 months to prepare for A-level exams rather than the normal 18 months or their entry into university will be delayed by one year.

    Furthermore, what if there are leaks in the SPM papers which require resits? If the release of the SPM results are delayed because of this, our students will be unfairly punished again by not being able to start their pre-university or foundation programs as long as their SPM results are not available.

    I have not seen the circular issued by the Ministry of Education to the private colleges and universities announcing this decision. But thus far, there have been no reports which have stated the reason(s) given by the Ministry for this policy change. If there are no major problems with the quality of forecast SPM exams, which are usually harder than the actual SPM exams, why should the Ministry want to disqualify the use of these trial exam results for initial entry into private colleges and universities? As long as no valid reasons are given by the Ministry of Education, this new restriction should be immediately withdrawn.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/09/28/A-worthless-piece-of-paper-Forecast-results-no-longer-acceptable/

    [2]http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/09/29/Surprise-move-sends-shock-waves-over-social-media/ and http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/09/28/reschedule-spm-exams-to-solve-problem-say-netizens/

    [3] https://onlineapplication.sunway.edu.my/index.php?m=link&c=entry_requirement&academic_type=1

  • Will Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan fulfil his promise in Parliament to disclose the tender documents for the Waste to Energy (WtE) plant in Taman Beringin, Kepong or will he be exposed as a liar?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 24th of September, 2014

    Will Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan fulfil his promise in Parliament to disclose the tender documents for the Waste to Energy (WtE) plant in Taman Beringin, Kepong or will he be exposed as a liar?

    It was reported in The Edge on the 22nd of September that four companies have been shortlisted to build the Waste to Energy (WtE) plant in Taman Beringin, Kepong, namely UEM Environment Sdn Bhd, DRB-Hicom Bhd, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) and Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd.[1] The Minister of Urban Well-Being, Housing and Local Government also was reported to have said that the award of this project will only be announced in June 2015 pending a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA).

    There has been much speculation over the potential cost of this plant which will be built as a Private Financing Initiative (PFI). In order for the public, especially the rate payers in Kuala Lumpur, to properly assess the financial and environmental impact of this plant, the tender documents for this PFI must be made available publicly as soon as possible.

    It is crucial for the tender documents to be disclosed so that we do not have a repeat of the lopsided concessionaire agreements such as the first generation Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and certain toll concession contracts which deliver supernormal profits to the concessionaire at the expense of ordinary Malaysians.

    Important details which are in the tender documents include:

    (i)               Whether there is a waste guarantee of 1000 tons per day and the amount of compensation which will be paid to the concessionaire for any shortfalls in the amount of waste delivered

    (ii)              The cost of disposing the highly hazardous fly ash and bottom ash produced during the incineration process

    (iii)            Agreements for adjustments to the tipping fee

    (iv)             The content of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) which will be sent to the WtE plant e.g. whether the waste will be pre-sorted or not

    In a press statement on the 15th of July, I asked the Minister to disclose the tender documents as per his promise in Parliament on the 26th of November, 2013, during the 2014 budget debates.[2]

    Now that these four firms have been shortlisted, it is even more urgent that the Minister fulfils his promise made in Parliament to disclose these tender documents. The failure to do so would mean that he has gone against his own word making him a liar.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament of Serdang

    [1] http://www.theedgeproperty.com/news-a-views/13060-four-firms-in-kepong-incinerator-shortlist.html

    [2] http://ongkianming.com/2014/07/15/press-statement-minister-of-urban-well-being-housing-and-local-government-datuk-abdul-rahman-dahlan-should-fulfil-his-promise-made-in-parliament-to-disclose-the-full-tender-documents-for-the-proposed/

  • Will both Ministers of Education be ‘reassigned’ as well for their failure to conduct a speedy investigation into other leaked UPSR papers?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 23rd of September, 2014

    Will both Ministers of Education be ‘reassigned’ as well for their failure to conduct a speedy investigation into other leaked UPSR papers?

    Malaysians had already experienced two shocks when the UPSR Science paper was discovered to have been leaked on the 10th of September and had to be postponed to the 30th of September and when the UPSR English paper for national schools was discovered to also have been leaked on the 11th of September and has to be retaken on the 30th of September.

    It was also reported on the 11th of September that the UPSR Mathematics paper had also been leaked. The Minister of Education II, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, was reported to have said that an investigation would be conducted into these rumours.

    Yesterday, on the 22nd of September, 2014, Malaysians received two more shocks when it was announced that the UPSR Mathematics paper was indeed leaked and in addition, the UPSR Tamil paper had also been leaked. It is disgraceful and unacceptable that it took 10 days for the Ministry of Education to discover these further leaks. As a result, our Primary 6 UPSR students will have to ‘suffer’ for another 9 days to take their Mathematics and for some, their Tamil exams on the 9th of October. The UPSR exam, which was supposed to have concluded on the 11th of September, will now finish almost one month later on the 9th of October.

    As a result, almost half a million affected Primary 6 students and their families have to suffer a disruption in their schedules as well as the mental anguish of having to re-sit some of the UPSR papers.

    If the Director of the Examinations Syndicate / Lembaga Peperiksaan, Dr Na’imah Ishak, and her Deputy, Dr Wan Ilias Wan Salleh have been ‘reassigned’ to other duties[1], should not the two Ministers of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, also be ‘reassigned’ for their failure to conduct a speedy investigation into leaks in other UPSR papers as well? Why weren’t there any contingency plans prepared in case of confirmed leaks of other papers so that the UPSR students do not have to wait until the 9th of October to re-sit their papers?

    The Malaysian people, especially the students and parents affected, deserve an honest and transparent answer from both Ministers of Education for this UPSR fiasco.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/exam-syndicate-officials-reassigned-not-suspended-says-ministry-sec-gen#sthash.AoO6Iiov.dpuf

  • Can the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, assure parents and students that there will be no further exam paper ‘leaks’ for UPSR, PT3, SPM and STPM exams?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 11th of September 2014

    Can the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, assure parents and students that there will be no further exam paper ‘leaks’ for UPSR, PT3, SPM and STPM exams?

    The Ministry of Education announced yesterday, on the 10th of September, 2014 that three Science papers for the UPSR exams – 018, 028 and 038 – had been leaked online and as a result, this exam, which was originally scheduled for the 11th of September, will be postponed to the 30th of September. This means that the UPSR exams, which were originally scheduled to be completed today, the 11th of September, will only be finished on the 30th of September.

    This major error on the part of the Examinations Syndicate does not only affect the 472,853 Primary Six students who are currently sitting for the UPSR exams nationwide, it affects their families as well.[1] Students who were preparing mentally to complete their UPSR exams in three days will now have to wait another 3 weeks. Parents who may have planned activities and holidays for the family will now have to readjust their schedules. The confidence of both parents and students in the secrecy and integrity of future exam papers would also have been affected.

    It is not sufficient for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, to apologize for the leakage of the UPSR Science paper. He must give the assurance that leaks will not occur for the UPSR Science paper which will be taken on the 30th of September. At the same time, he must also give the assurance that similar leaks will not occur for the PT3 written papers which will take place from the 13th to the 17th of October[2], the SPM written papers which will take place from the 3rd of November to the 2nd of December, and the STPM written papers. The integrity and security of the PT3, SPM and STPM papers are all the more important given that there may not be enough time at the end of the year to retake or to postpone these exams.

    In this day and age, with the easy availability of smartphones and soft copies of the exam papers, the Examinations Syndicate must work doubly hard in order to ensure the integrity of the exam papers. For example, the PT3 exams are to be downloaded[3] into the computers of teachers in the schools and this makes them easy targets for hackers and other irresponsible parties who want to ‘steal’ these papers for commercial and personal interest. Hence, not only must the physical copies of the exam papers be kept safe but the soft copies as well.

    It is worth noting that there were rumours that certain SPM papers had been leaked last year, in 2013. At that time, the Examinations Syndicate dismissed these rumours and allowed the SPM exams to continue as planned.[4] In response to these rumours, the Education Ministry announced the setting up of a special task force to investigate these rumours. Unfortunately, no details were forthcoming as to the findings of this special task force. If this special task force had done its work, would it have been able to make recommendations to prevent the leaking of the UPSR Science papers?

    The Deputy Prime Minister can show his commitment to protect the integrity and security of the major examinations in the country by promising to resign if any leaks are identified for future UPSR, PT3, SPM or STPM exam papers under his watch. But will he be brave enough to make this promise?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/leaked-upsr-paper-to-be-investigated-under-official-secrets-act

    [2] http://www.moe.gov.my/cms/upload_files/files/JADUAL%20PT3%202014.pdf

    [3] http://apps2.moe.gov.my/lponline/v1/images/bahan/pt3/2014/Surat%20Siaran%20Jadual%20Waktu%20Jadual%20Kerja%20Peraturan%20Pentadbiran%20Ujian%20Bertulis%20PT3%20Tahun%202014.pdf

    [4] http://news.asiaone.com/news/malaysia/leaked-spm-papers-claim-will-be-investigated

  • 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

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