• Public Education Reform

    Dear fellow Malaysians, voters, and residents of P102 Serdang,

    I believe that a common language is indispensable for peace, harmony and nation-building. How can we understand each other, let alone develop our country, if we cannot communicate? Therefore, I believe that the education system must enable all children in Malaysia to speak and write effectively in our national language, Bahasa Malaysia.

    I believe that the national school education system must be strengthened so that it can once again be the default choice for parents. The syllabus and environment must be revamped to reflect Malaysia’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural identity, and Pupil’s Own Language such as Mandarin, Tamil, Iban and Kadazan must be effectively taught within regular school hours. The national education system must be accessible and affordable to all Malaysians regardless of background.

    At the same time, I also believe that parents must have the freedom to choose the type of school which their children attend. I do not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ education system. There must be room for alternative schools such as schools which teach mainly in English or other languages; which blend religious values with academic achievements; or which offer unique teaching or learning methods for special students. I believe that all schools which receive government funding must be open to all students regardless of race, religion and social background.

    Our current education system is highly centralized which has caused our schools to be unnecessarily inflexible and rigid. I believe that decentralizing our education system by giving more power to the states and local authorities and the schools themselves, including school administrators and teachers would result in a system that is more accountable, that takes into account state and local education needs and that allows for more creative teaching methods and approaches to be implemented.

    I believe the ultimate purpose of education is to develop productive, civic-minded Malaysian citizens. In this respect, I believe that scholarships must be based on ability and need.  We must also recognise that not everyone is suited for the traditional academic stream, but everyone has different skills and interests. We must restore the dignity of skills-based professions. Vocational training must not be associated with poor wages and bad job conditions. In high-wage Germany, about half of all high-school students go on to train in a trade. We must redirect good educators and enlist the private sector to reform technical and vocational education. Schools should also be allowed to offer specialized programs in the arts, music, sports and other niche areas.

    How can these educational objectives be achieved? Firstly, by using our vast education budget much more effectively. The Education Ministry receives the largest share of the federal budget – RM38.7b or 15.5% of the 2013 budget. Cutting down on wastage and leakages will free up funds to improve infrastructure, compensate teachers better and develop good students. The stature of teachers need to be elevated so that high-calibre Malaysians will consider it as a rewarding and difference-making career with fair compensation and attractive career development pathways. Responsibilities need to be decentralized such as the funding of schools and syllabus-setting should be delegated to the state or even the local levels.

    We can only reform the education system by having the necessary political will and courage to undertake bold and far reaching reforms.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Election Strategist, Democratic Action Party
    Parliamentary Candidate for P102 Serdang
    Thursday, 18 April 2013

  • Economic Reform

    Dear fellow Malaysians, voters, and residents of P102 Serdang,

    I believe that the future of our country’s economy should be focused on value-added services and manufacturing.  Getting us there requires a holistic package of reforms – to restructure monopolies, encourage SME development, reduce the cost of doing business, and upgrade our labour force.

    I believe that one of the biggest impediments faced by the business sector is the scourge of corruption. Not only does corruption increase the cost of doing business, it also redirects economic activity into areas that can be exploited via corruption (e.g. logging, land grabs and government contracts) rather than to more productive and innovative areas of the economy. Corruption encourages rentseeking which discourages innovation, investment and the productive use of economic inputs. Only with a transparent and responsive government, together with an independent and effective anti-corruption agency, can we have any hope of stamping out this scourge.

    Our Malaysian economy is currently distorted by unfair structures and contracts which favor monopolies and oligopolies, many of which are controlled by politically-connected individuals and entities. These arrangements need to be restructured in order to reduce the cost of doing business, as well as to create room for entrepreneurs to flourish through competition and innovation.

    Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of the nation’s economy in terms of providing jobs, investments and innovation. Their potential can be unleashed by removing unfair monopolies, and reducing the cost of doing business by cutting red-tape and offering targeted incentives.

    I believe that a vibrant business sector that produces high-quality, high-value goods and services is the way forward for Malaysia. This will require skilled, intelligent workers – the exact opposite of our situation today. Our heavy dependence on foreign labor is not sustainable nor is it beneficial to the economy in the long run. At present, wages and skills at the bottom of the economic ladder are artificially depressed by policies which encourage and foster dependence on cheap, unskilled foreign labour. In this respect, I support the Pakatan policy of a RM1,100 minimum wage, as part of a holistic package to move our economy up the value chain.

    In most developed economies, it is possible to find work in the service sector or in a specialized trade – for example, being a waiter or a mechanic – that provides a decent living standard.  That is the Malaysia I look forward to. To achieve this, workers too need to play their part to improve productivity. To accomplish this, our education system must be improved at all levels. My views on education are covered in two separate statements. Broadly, I believe vocational and technical education and training must be encouraged. Vocational and technical education streams must be linked closely with industries via well-structured and rewarding apprenticeship programs. R&D within and between our industries and universities must also be improved in order to increase productivity.

    I believe that government should facilitate rather than being directly involved in economic activity. I believe that the business of government is good governance rather than being in business. The government should step in only where there are market gaps or failures: that is, to create a more level playing field in order to benefit the man-on-the-street and taxpayers, or to supply public goods where needed. For example, in cases of market failure such as where consumers are shortchanged because of lack of information, the government must provide regulation and enforcement. In areas where public goods are under-provided – such as roads and public infrastructure, education, health services, and public housing – the government should conduct dialogues with key stakeholders to determine what and how much it should do, and then deliver its obligations transparently and cost-effectively.

    When we manage the economy well, and make progress towards a more open, democratic, transparent and fair Malaysia, I believe we will enjoy a tidal wave of expertise and capital from Malaysians currently working and living overseas, setting us off on a virtuous cycle of growth and economic and social development.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Election Strategist, Democratic Action Party
    Parliamentary Candidate for P102 Serdang
    Thursday, 18 April 2013

  • Election Reform

    Dear fellow Malaysians, voters, and residents of P102 Serdang,

    A clean electoral roll, and the principle of one-Malaysian-one-vote, are the bedrock of free and fair elections. Both these principles have been eroded in Malaysia to the extent that there is a grave danger of elections producing a government that does not reflect the wishes of the people.

    I have produced extensive evidence that the electoral role is far from clean or accurate. I found, for example, a voter by the name of Tey Kim in Sarawak, who was born in 1890. This would make her the oldest person in the world at 123 years of age, which is 9 years older than Misao Okawa, currently the oldest person in the world at 114 years of age, according to the Guinness World Records. I found cases of 100-year-old policemen who are still registered as police postal voters. I found thousands of cases of voters with obviously Male names e.g. “Anak Lelaki” or “Bin” but who were listed as Female on the electoral roll (and vice versa). I found tens of thousands of voters whose old ICs were listed as dubious during testimony given in the 2013 Sabah RCI.

    The problem of malapportionment is rife in Malaysia, due to the distorted drawing of constituency boundaries during delimitation exercises. The situation is such today that less than 16,000 voters in Putrajaya (the smallest constituency) are represented by one MP, but the same applies to more than 140,000 voters in Kapar. How can this practice, which clearly makes a mockery of the one-man-one-vote principle, be allowed to go on if we want to have a truly representative democracy? I recognise that there are special circumstances, such as the sparsely populated areas in Sabah and Sarawak which warrant some deviation, but these issues were adequately covered in our original constitution which allowed for, at one point, a maximum of 15% deviation from the national average.

    Cleaning up the electoral roll and eliminating malapportionment are crucial if voters are to retain faith in the democratic process and for elections to deliver governments that reflect the wishes of the voters. This process requires commitment from a truly independent Election Commission (EC) with support from the National Registration Department (NRD) and federal government. In this respect, I believe that the EC cannot be independent as long as it sits within the Prime Minister’s Office, and with Commissioners, Chairman, Deputy Chairman and staff who are drawn from the regular pool of civil servants and thus may be subject to political pressures from the top.

    I believe that the Election Commission should be made independent. Its Chairman must be a respected public figure appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on advice of Parliament. The Election Commission should be accountable only to Parliament and should be allowed to hire its own staff, without going through the Public Service Commission (PSC). It should have the power to prosecute offenders under the Elections Offences Act 1954 rather than having to rely on the Attorney-General to do so.

    I strongly disapprove of current legislation which prevents the electoral roll from being challenged once it has been gazetted, because this prevents the electoral roll from being cleaned up at regular intervals.

    I believe that the delimitation exercise should occur once every 10 years and that the process should be undertaken by an independent Election Commission. During this process, the one-man-one-vote principle should be adhered to, with a 15% maximum allowable deviation from the national average.

    I believe in allowing for local elections which includes elections for local councils and mayors.

    I believe that there should be an elected (or at least a partially elected) Dewan Negara / Upper House. The current Dewan Negara fails to represent adequately the rights of the individual states since the number of federal appointees currently outnumbers the state appointees by over 2 to 1.

    I believe that the voting age should be lowered to 18 in order to involve the next generation in the decision making and political process of the country at a younger age.

    I believe in the automatic registration of voters to ensure that all eligible voters have the right to vote. Their voting constituency should be based on their IC address as a way to ensure consistency in the electoral roll. A change in the IC address should automatically lead to a change in the voting constituency.

    I believe that the current system of postal voting is flawed and puts a veil of fear over the heads of civil servants, police and army personnel who feel as if they must vote for the government of the day because their votes are being monitored. This veil of fear must be lifted through a reform of the postal ballot system.

    I believe that that more options should be given to voters in terms of how and where they cast their vote, provided that the integrity of the vote is safeguarded. This includes allowing Malaysians who do not work and live in their home constituency the option of casting postal ballots. I believe that Malaysians who are overseas should also be given the right to cast postal ballots including those living in Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and Kalimantan.

    I believe in legislation that introduces fixed terms for the government in order to avoid the speculation involving the holding of ‘snap’ elections. I believe there should also be provisions to have a vote of no confidence which can lead to fresh elections if the government of the day fails to pass this test.

    I believe that we should have a national referendum on whether to move from a first-past-the-post system to a different electoral system. My own preference for an electoral system that is compatible with the needs of Malaysia is the German Mixed Member Proportional System which combines the advantageous of having a constituency-based MP and also having the proportional representation component to allow each party to gain its proportional share of seats. I believe that introducing a proportional representation electoral system at the local council elections as a start.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Election Strategist, Democratic Action Party
    Parliamentary Candidate for P102 Serdang
    Thursday, 18 April 2013

  • 第十三届全国大选:乐捐

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