• 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

  • The Government of Malaysia should put an immediate stop to funding activities of BFR Institute, a private company that is 51% owned by its PEMANDU CEO, Dato’ Seri Idris Jala

    (Update on the 22nd of May, 2016:

    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. 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.)

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 19th of May, 2016

    The Government of Malaysia should put an immediate stop to funding activities of BFR Institute, a private company that is 51% owned by its PEMANDU CEO, Dato’ Seri Idris Jala

    The BFR Institute[1] (BFR stands for Big Fast Results) organized its first Global Transformation Forum in October 20165.[2] One of the headline speakers invited to speak at this forum was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California, and Hollywood actor. In a reply to my parliamentary question dated 16th of May, 2016, it was stated that the government allocated RM10 million to BFR Institute to organize this forum. (See attachment below)

    Under normal circumstances, I would already be sceptical of the government spending RM10 million to organize a single forum especially given the high speaker fees which some of these celebrities charge. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger charges an estimated US200,000 per speaking engagement, not inclusive of air and other travel expenses.[3] I am even more sceptical of the long term benefits to Malaysia for spending this exorbitant amount of money for a 3 day forum.

    However, what is totally unacceptable is the fact that BFR Institute Sdn Bhd is 51% owned by none other than the PEMANDU CEO, Dato Seri Idris Jala, who is also the Managing Director of BFR Institute (The other 49% is owned by PEMANDU Corp. See attachment below). There has been much speculation that PEMANDU will be significantly downsized in the near future and that Idris Jala will transition into a new role, most probably via the BFR Institute. In fact, many PEMANDU staff have been sent overseas to places like Tanzania to help governments ‘deliver’ the big fast results which were seemingly so successfully implement in Malaysia.[4]

    While Idris Jala is free to utilize his experience as PEMANDU CEO to sell his services via BFR Institute to whomever he chooses, including foreign governments and to profit from the provision of these services, the Malaysian government should not play any role in funding a private company that is majority owned and controlled by a private individual, namely Idris Jala. While Idris Jala and the government of Malaysia may try to ‘spin’ the activities of BFR Institute as part and parcel of our country’s overseas ‘outreach’ to developing countries, it should be obvious that this is ethically indefensible.

    The Clinton Foundation, for example, has and is facing criticism and public scrutiny over allegations that government funding had been channelled to pay its staff salaries[5] and for receiving grants from the State Department when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state.[6]

    As a man of principle and integrity, I am surprised that Idris Jala was comfortable with this funding arrangement especially since he has been in the forefront in promoting transparency and accountability.

    I call upon the Government of Malaysia to put an immediate stop to funding the activities of BFR Institute and for PEMANDU Corp to divest its 49% interest in BFR Institute so that any conflicts of interest between the government and the activities of BFR Institute as a private entity can be avoided.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    References:

    1) Parliamentary Answer on BFR Institute

    2) (SSM) BFR Institute Company Profile

    ———————————

    [1] http://bfrinstitute.com/

    [2] http://globaltransformation.com/

    [3] http://www.businessinsider.my/celebrity-booking-rate-list-2014-6/?r=US&IR=T#KAl2xPkpz5lI0egg.97

    [4] https://dfid.blog.gov.uk/2013/03/19/big-fast-accountable-results-now-mr-president/

    [5] http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/taxpayer-tab-for-clinton-inc-16-million-116008

    [6] http://freebeacon.com/politics/clinton-charities-raked-in-millions-of-taxpayer-dollars/

  • Najib should ask for those who attempt to bribe voters to be investigated under the Election Offences Act 1954

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 4th of May, 2016 in Simanggang, Sri Aman

    Najib should ask for those who attempt to bribe voters to be investigated under the Election Offences Act 1954

    I like, many of my friends, were shocked by the irony of Najib’s ‘advice’ to the residents of Jegai Anak Jawa Long House in Kampung Purai, Undop (under the N32 Simanggang state seat) when he paid a visit yesterday (3rd May 2016). He asked that the voters must not sell their rights for money.[1] It is an ironic piece of advice since it is a well-known and well reported BN practice for bags of cash to be distributed to many longhouses the day before polling day in order to buy votes.[2]

    This time, it was the BN candidate for N32 Simanggang, Francis Harden, who accused one of the other candidates for offering voters RM100 before polling day and RM200 after polling day if he is successfully elected. Najib was reported to have said, “They (voters) must think of long term development in their areas and not look for short term gains by selling their votes to those willing to offer money.”

    It is clearly stated under the Elections Offences Act 1954, Section 10, that any attempts to bribe voters using cash and offers of cash is illegal. When the BN candidate made these accusations, Najib should have responded by asking for a police report to be made and for investigations to be conducted to see if any election offences have been committed.

    What is the real reason behind Najib’s supposed ignorance? Is it because the BN will offer an even larger amount to the voters in N32 Simanggang before polling day? If the voters of N32 Simanggang and Sarawak wants real and sustainable development, they should vote for a strong opposition candidate from a strong opposition party who put pressure on the Sarawak state government to spend the resources of the state wisely and transparently.   I therefore urge the voters of N32 Simanggang to vote for the DAP candidate, Leon Jimat Donald.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://english.astroawani.com/politics-news/voters-must-not-sell-their-rights-money-najib-104377 and http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v8/bm/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1241541

    [2] http://www.kuangkeng.com/2014/08/16/sarawak-rural-vote-under-grip-of-money-intimidation/, https://sarawaknews.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/camapign-to-reject-vote-buying-candidates/, https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/161534

  • Seat allocation for the Sarawak 2016 state elections

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the seat allocation for the Sarawak 2016 state elections on the 26th of April 2016

    I know that many opposition supporters are disappointed with DAP and PKR for not being able to avoid clashing in 6 out of 82 state seats in the upcoming Sarawak state elections. This disappointment and frustration is understandable. I too wish that it could have been avoided. But in order to explain to our supporters why this situation came about, I feel that it is necessary to provide a historical as well as a more recent context.

    Let’s go back to just after the 2011 Sarawak state elections when PKR was accused of being too greedy when it contested in 49 out of the then 71 state seats at stake. When Sarawak PKR state chairman, Baru Bian, was asked about PKR’s relatively poor performance in those elections and the decision to contest in 49 seats, he had this to say[1]:

    Baru admits that this strategy came with a heavy cost. The party was severely stretched because the rural campaign was resource-intensive. “The burden was more on us (to deliver) while DAP won more seats because their resources could be concentrated (in a few cities). But this is okay because we are all part of Pakatan,” he said.

    In a subsequent interview in 2011, Baru Bian said the following[2]:

    Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said the party will focus only on a few winnable seats in the coming parliamentary election, rather than contest all the remaining seats in the state that the other Pakatan member parties won’t take on. He was responding to criticism that the multi-racial party had been “too greedy” by contesting as many as 49 seats in the recent state election, in which it won only three seats. 

    “In (the next) parliamentary election, we will use a different method,” Baru (left) said in an interview with selected media at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya this morning. “Because of restrictions in resources, in particular financial resources, we will focus on certain areas (which are winnable), based on the state election results.” He also said PKR hoped PAS dan DAP would “share the responsibility” of contesting the remaining seats “If they are prepared to be seen as multiracial – you all know reports said that DAP is a Chinese chauvinist party – it will be a good time now (for them) to take on the remaining Dayak and Melanau areas. “I do hope they will bear this responsibility.”

    In the aftermath of the 2011 state elections, DAP was responsive to the call to shoulder a greater burden of contesting in the rural areas. In fact, in the 2013 general elections, DAP fielded Dayak candidates in 5 rural parliament seats – Mas Gading, Serian, Mukah, Kapit and Lawas – and also a Dayak candidate in the semi-rural parliament seat of Bintulu. (In comparison, DAP fielded candidates in 5 urban parliament seats in 2013)

    The willingness of PKR to relinquish some of the rural seats was repeated by Azmin Ali in 2013.[3]

    Sekarang DAP sudah mula masuk ke kawasan pedalaman dan membina kekuatan. Kita sedia berunding kerana akhirnya yang menang ialah PR. Kalau DAP dan PAS ada kekuatan, KEADILAN akan sedia melepaskan kerusi terbabit. Kami pun tak mampu nak pegang terlalu banyak kerusi kerana ia memakan kos yang tinggi.

    DAP’s commitment to going into the rural areas in Sarawak was demonstrated by the more than 50 projects done under the Impian Sarawak banner since 2013[4]. From providing water supply to rebuilding broken jetties, from upgrading roads to medical and education camps, DAP’s track record in the rural areas is there for all to see. In fact, you can buy the Impian Sabah and Sarawak coffee table book for a full list and photos of these projects![5]

    Of course, whether or not these projects will enable the opposition, specifically the DAP, to win any of these rural seats is still not known. But to answer the question of whether DAP or PKR is the better party to contest in some of the rural seats claimed by both parties, a more objective measure needed to be used. Which is why DAP and PKR commissioned a survey to evaluate the popularity of both parties in six seats claimed by both parties.

    The results are summarized in Table 1 below (and provided in Appendix 1 below).

    DAP had significantly higher favourability ratings compared to PKR in 5 out of the 6 seats surveyed – N2 Tasik Biru, N13 Batu Kitang, N23 Bukit Semuja, N32 Simanggang and N75 Senadin. DAP and PKR were about even in the remaining seat of N19 Mambong.

    If going purely by these survey results, which both parties had agreed to abide by, DAP would have contested in 5 out of these 6 seats. But DAP choose to give up N13 Batu Kitang, arguably the most winnable seat out of these six seats, for the right to contest in rural and less winnable seats in other parts of Sarawak. The explanation of the negotiation process on the part of the DAP has been done by Anthony Loke, DAP National Organizing Secretary. What I would like to highlight here are the survey results which are not widely known yet.

    To those who accuse the DAP of being greedy and for not wanting to contest in unwinnable seats, let me offer two counter examples. There are 8 state seats in the mostly Iban majority areas of Sri Aman, Betong and Lubok Antu (Figure 1 below). After the conclusion of the seat negotiation (or what DAP thought was the final negotiation) on the 7th of April, 2016, DAP asked to contest in one of these eight state seats – N32 Simanggang. DAP had conceded the state seat of N36 Layar to PKR even though there was a potential candidate who had been stationed in this seat and working the ground for the past one year. DAP’s candidate for N32 Simanggang, Leon Donald, lives in the Sri Aman area, contested in this seat in 2011 and had been working the ground for the past 5 years. The survey results also showed the DAP candidate being more popular and well known compared to the PKR candidate. Is the DAP greedy for wanting to contest in only one out of eight state seats in this area? And where the survey result had shown DAP being the more favoured party with the stronger candidate compared to PKR? I think not…

    Figure 1: Eight state seats in the Sri Aman, Betong and Lubok Antu areas, PKR contesting in all eight seats, DAP is contesting only in N32 Simanggang

    At the same time, DAP is contesting in all three state seats in the parliamentary seat of Kapit – N61 Pelagus, N62 Katibas and N63 Bukit Goram. These seats are in areas with far flung longhouses, many of which can only be accessible via longboat. The BN candidate won 78% of the popular vote in this seat in the 2013 general elections. While the Pelagus state seat was won by a then independent candidate – George Lagong – in 2011 who later joined the Sarawak Worker’s Party (SWP), this seat, along with Bukit Goram (a new state seat), are uphill tasks for DAP, without the backing of local influential leader and former BN state assemblyman, Sng Chee Wah and his son, Larry Sng.

    Figure 2: DAP contesting in all three state seats in Kapit – N61 Pelagus, N62 Katibas and N63 Bukit Goram

    I do believe that Pakatan Harapan will be able to find a way to emerge from this disagreement between DAP and PKR after the Sarawak state elections. But in the meantime, even as we are focused on fighting the BN in the other 74 state seats, it is important to set the record straight on the background behind these seat disagreements.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Appendix 1: Party Favourability in 6 state seats where surveys were conducted

    N2 Tasik Biru

    N13 Batu Kitang

    N19 Mambong

    N23 Bukit Semuja

    N32 Simanggang

    N75 Senadin

    [1] http://www.barubian.net/2011/04/baru-reveals-why-pkr-vied-for-49-seats.html

    [2] http://www.barubian.net/2011/05/swak-pkr-to-focus-on-winnable-seats.html

    [3] http://www.roketkini.com/2013/12/26/sembang-sembang-azmin-ali/

    [4] http://www.impiansarawak.com/en/

    [5] http://dapmalaysia.org/impianbook/

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