• Judicial Review filed on behalf of 3 voters in Batang Kali / Kuala Kubu Baru challenging the illegal transfer of voters and redrawing of boundary lines by the Election Commission

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 24th of October 2016

    Judicial Review filed on behalf of 3 voters in Batang Kali / Kuala Kubu Baru challenging the illegal transfer of voters and redrawing of boundary lines by the Election Commission

    On Friday, 21st of October 2016, lawyers representing 3 voters in the N6 Batang Kali and N7 Kuala Kubu state seats in Selangor filed a judicial review at the Higher Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur seeking to quash the outcome of the ‘belah bahagi’ exercise undertaken by the Election Commission on the 29th of April, 2016 and published in the Federal Government Gazette P.U. (B) 197.

    This ‘belah bahagi’ exercise was undertaken by the Election Commission under Section 7(2) 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. Nor does the EC have the right to redraw the boundaries of a constituency, be it at the state or federal level unless it is in the context of a delimitation exercise.

    In the delimitation exercise which was announced by the Election Commission on the 15th of September 2016, the boundaries of the P94 Hulu Selangor state seat, which includes the boundaries of the state seats of Batang Kali and Kuala Kubu Baru, were not affected. This means that voters who were shifted from Batang Kali to KKB and vice versa under the ‘belah bahagi’ exercise cannot have their objections heard during the public investigation and hearing portion of the delimitation exercise.

    As such this judicial review is the only option left to the voters of Batang Kali and KKB to object to the illegal redrawing of boundaries and transfer of voters by the EC on the 29th of April.

    It is clear that when we compare the electoral boundaries of the KKB seat in the 13th General Election and the electoral boundaries of the same state seat after the ‘belah bahagi’ exercise on the 29th of April 2016, that the boundaries have been changed (See Figure 1 below)

    Figure 1: Comparing the electoral boundaries of the Kuala Kubu Baru state seat in the 13th General Elections (blue border) and the electoral boundaries of the KKB state seat after the ‘belah bahagi’ exercise (white border)

    As a result of this illegal boundary change, over 5000 voters were moved from the Batang Kali state seat to the Kuala Kubu Baru state seat. The judicial review filed seeks to overturn this EC decision.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Reference: Judicial Review Statement – Batang Kali & Kuala Kubu Baru

  • Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s recent statements show why we cannot expect the BN to implement a fair political financing system

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 24th of October 2016

    Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s recent statements show why we cannot expect the BN to implement a fair political financing system

    The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, is no stranger to making controversial statements in order to propel himself up the ranks of the UMNO leadership. But even I was shocked at his latest tweets where he proposed to blacklist companies with government contracts who support Bersih because he accuses Bersih of having an agenda to illegally topple the government.

    Firstly, it is shocking to see a Minister accuse Bersih of having an agenda to illegally topple the government. None of the initial 8 demands of Bersih which includes calls for institutional and electoral reform calls for the government to be toppled via illegal means. These 8 demands were simplified to 5 main points for the upcoming Bersih 5 rally – clean elections, clean government, the right to dissent, protect parliamentary democracy, save the economy – and none of them calls for the government to be toppled via illegal means.

    In fact, I tweeted a challenge to Abdul Rahman Dahlan (@mpkotabelud) asking him to point to any one statement by a Bersih leader which called for the illegal toppling of the government through the upcoming Bersih 5 rally on the 19th of November, 2016 and he did not respond.

    Secondly, I question the right of the Minister to blacklist companies who support Bersih and ban them from getting government contracts. On what legal grounds is the Minister basing his actions on? Will the Minister target companies who support opposition parties next?

    Thirdly, the actions of the Minister clearly show that the BN has no credibility when it comes to implementing a political financing act that is fair and impartial. If the Minister wants to target companies for supporting Bersih based on spurious and baseless grounds, what is to prevent the BN from selectively discriminating against companies and individuals who support the opposition if this information has to be revealed under a Political Financing Act?

    The bullying and fear mongering tactics of Abdul Rahman Dahlan must be soundly rejected by all Malaysians.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • 2017年财政预算案:剥丝抽茧

    (2016年10月22日)沙登区国会议员王建民博士的媒体声明

    2017年财政预算案:剥丝抽茧

    对一般民众而言,财政预算案可能令人感到很混淆。有大量的工程计划和开销项目被公布,预算从数百万令吉到数十亿令吉不等。即使我们有些精通经济学的专业士都可能会被预算案演讲中所宣布各种计划的大数字(整份报告大约超过700页)而感到混淆。

    为了了解这些计划对经济和政策层面的影响,我们通常有必要对此深入研究。我称此过程为“剥丝抽茧”。为了更容易消化这些内容,我已经将这些计划和开销进行分类。针对以下每个计划,我都会一一解释它们对目标群体将造成的影响。

    一类别预算拨款变化不大的现有开销计划

    有鉴于预算的整体规模(2017年的2,610亿令吉),因此毫不令人感到意外,随预算案演讲而附带的报告里共列出了数千项计划和开销。

    虽然金额数目看来很大,但是这些似曾相识的计划大多数都已曾被列在过去的预算案内容。

    举个例子,预算案演讲第225句提到了许多针对中小学贫困儿童的援助计划,如耗资11亿令吉的宿舍膳食援助计划的和耗资3亿令吉为小学生而设的一个大马补助食品计划(如以下图表一)。

    教育部的预算估计开销显示上述都是预设的计划,而2017年所获得的预算拨款与2016年没有太大的分别。宿舍膳食援助计划的预算已经减少近1500万令吉,一个大马补助食品计划的预算则提高了近5000万令吉,提供给留宿学生的交通津贴也减少了360万令吉,而教科书预算也提高了2500万令吉。针对学前教育的粮食津贴和人均补助金也维持在2016年的水平。(请见图二)

    图表一降低儿童入学开销政府项目

    图表二:教育部的估计预算开销清单(2016年和2017年)

    第二类别:面临预算大幅度削减的计划

    首相还宣布为20所国立大学和4所医学院分别提供高达74亿令吉和14亿令吉的拨款。虽然这样的拨款似乎看起来是非常大的数目,但实际上的估计预算开销则告诉了我们一个非常不同的故事。

    国立大学的运营开销从2016年的76亿令吉减少至2017年的62亿令吉,减幅高达14亿令吉。同时,3所医学院包括马大医院,国民大学医疗中心和理科大学医学院的预算从2016年的11.8亿令吉减少至2017年的10.2亿令吉,减幅约1.5亿令吉。

    国立大学的开销拨款只不过是众多面临预算被大幅度削减的计划之一。只要进一步地彻底分析这次财政预算案的内容便能得知一二。这也再次反映了政府正面临着巨大的财政压力。

    第三类别:不再被列入预算案中的拨款

    虽然许多人都会注意到首相所宣布的计划,但或许我们也需要非常注意没有被公布和完全被撤掉的计划。

    举个例子,在2016年预算中,曾有一笔高达5.93亿令吉被用来赔偿因被工程部延期涨价过路费的大道特许经营公司的“一次性”开销。但是,这笔开销项目却完全不被列入进2017年的财政预算案!

    工程部的固定开销从2016年的6亿零300万令吉降至2017年的38万5000令吉。这表示,包括南北大道在内的收费大道,明年几乎肯定调涨过路费,而这就有违国阵的2013年大选竞选宣言。

    再来,食用油津贴也从财政预算案中“消失不见”。食用油稳定方案(COSS)津贴原是在种植及原产业部下,但2017年预算案并没有这个项目。这与第二财长拿督佐哈利的承诺相左,而且没有任何迹象显示,这项津贴计划将在2017年预算案继续实行。[1]

    我也几乎肯定还有其他项目已被完全抽出预算案,而这些项目都将直接冲击选民的生活费。

    第四类别:可疑的”的新预算项目

    之前有传闻卫生部的开销会在2017年财政预算案中被削减。因此,我还蛮惊讶地发现卫生部最终的预算从2016年的214亿令吉提高至2017年的234亿令吉,涨幅高达20亿令吉。

    不过,我在检查卫生部的预算开销时发现,该部在2017年有一项称为“医院支援服务私营化”的特别计划,费用高达20亿零1000万令吉,惟据他了解,卫生部未曾作出相关宣布,而医院的支援服务目前多是外包。首相在预算案演词中也未提及这个新项目,为何一笔数字如此庞大的开销,可无声无息被纳入预算案中?我们还能在预算案中,找到多少个类似的项目?

    第五类别:无法在2017年预算案中找到的开销项目

    首相在预算案演词中公布多项涉及巨额开支的计划,都无法在预算案中找到;譬如建议中全长600公里丶从道北至吉隆坡丶预料耗资550亿令吉的东海岸铁路计划,并未列为一个开销项目。捷运1号线及轻快铁延长线计划的开销,将通过特别用途公司(SPV)来承担,这些公司将自行贷款。

    这个融资模式的问题在於,它隐藏了政府真正的开销负担。许多基建计划,(公司)都无法支付资本支出及相关的利息支出,这表示政府最终必须介入,代这些特别用途公司来偿还贷款。因此,政府或会通过调涨消费税率,以拯救这些公司。

    初步翻阅了2017年财政预算案後,我们已逐渐揭露许多问题,包括出现和没有出现在报告里的项目开销疑虑。我也相信在更多国会议员分析这份“鬼祟”的预算案后,会揭发更多事项。

    王建民博士
    沙登区国会议员

    [1] http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/10/20/johari-subsidy-for-cooking-oil-will-continue/

  • Budget 2017: Reading Between the Lines

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

    Budget 2017: Reading Between the Lines

    To the layman, the budget can be a very confusing thing. There are a slew of programs and expenditure items announced, many of which costs millions and some of which costs billions of Ringgit. Sometimes even the financially literate among us may be confused by the large number of items announced in the budget speech and also listed in the budget estimates (which is over 700 pages long).

    It is often necessary to dig deep into the budget in order to understand the financial and policy implications of some of these items. I call this ‘reading between the lines’ of the budget. To make this exercise easier to understand, I have divided these spending items into different categories. For each of the items listed below, I will also explain their impact on the target groups.

    Category 1: Existing expenditure items with very little change in allocation

    Given the size of the budget (RM261 billion for 2017), it is not surprising that there are thousands of expenditure items which are listed in the budget estimates document that accompanies the budget speech.

    But the majority of these items, even if the amount is big, they are usually items which were already in existence in previous budgets.

    For example, line 225 of the budget speech outlines a number of assistance programs to poor children in primary and secondary schools such as RM1.1 billion for the Hostel Meal Assistance Program and RM300 million for the 1Malaysia Supplementary Food Program for primary school students (Figure 1 below).

    The Budget Expenditure Estimates for the Minister of Education show that all of these are pre-existing programs and that the 2017 budget allocation is not significantly different from the 2016 allocation. The Hostel Meal Assistance Program’s budget has been reduced by RM15 million, the 1Malaysia Supplementary Food Program’s budget has been increased by RM50 million, the transport subsidy for students in hostels has been reduced by RM3.6m while the text book budget has been increased by RM25 million. The food subsidy and the per capita grant for pre-school remains at the 2016 level (Figure 2 below)

    Figure 1: Programs to reduce children’s schooling expenses

    Figure 2: Line Items in the Minister of Education’s Budget Expenditure Estimates (2016 & 2017)

    Category 2: Items which have experienced significant budget cuts

    The Prime Minister also announced an allocation of RM7.4b for the 20 public universities and RM1.4 billion for the 4 teaching hospitals. While this allocation may seem like very large figures, the budget expenditure estimates tell a very different story.

    The operating expenditure of the public universities have been reduced by more than RM1.4 billion from RM7.6 billion in 2016 and RM6.2 billion in 2017. At the same time, the budget allocation for the 3 teaching hospitals of PPUM, PPUKM and HUSM has been reduced by more than RM150 million from RM1.18 billion in 2016 to RM1.02 billion in 2017.

    The expenditure cuts to the public universities are just one of the many line items which have experienced significant allocation reductions. A more thorough analysis of the budget estimates will reveal more of such items. This clearly shows the underlying situation of a government under tremendous financial strain.

    Category 3: Allocations which are no longer in the budget

    While many people will pay attention to the items which are announced by the Prime Minister, perhaps as much care needs to be given to items which are NOT announced and have been taken off the budget entirely.

    For example, in the 2016 budget, a ‘one-off’ payment of RM593 million was allocated to compensate the toll concessionaires for deferred toll hikes under the Minister of Works. However, this item has totally disappeared from the 2017 budget!

    This can be seen in the significant drop in the fixed charges and payments expenditure from RM603m in 2016 to a mere RM385,000 in 2017. This means that there will almost certainly be more toll hikes including on the PLUS owned North South Highway in 2017, a contravention of BN’s GE2013 manifesto promise.

    Another item which has disappeared from the budget estimates is the cooking oil subsidy. The Cooking Oil Stabilisation Scheme (COSS) subsidy is under the Ministry of Commodities and Plantations but there is no such line item for this program in the 2017 budget. So contrary to the promise of the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani, there is no indication that this subsidy program will continue under the 2017 budget.[1]

    It is almost certain that there are other items which have been taken out of the budget entirely which will have a direct impact on the cost of living of voters.

    Category 4: New allocations which are ‘dubious’ in nature

    There was much speculation that our health care budget would be cut in the 2017 budget. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the operational expenditure for the Minister of Health was actually increased from RM21.4 billion in 2016 to RM 23.4 billion in 2017, an increase of RM2 billion.

    But when I examined the budget estimates for the Ministry of Health, I was shocked to find a special program called “Privatisation of Hospital Support Services” costing RM2.01 billion for 2017! As far as I know, the Ministry has not made any announcements on the privatisation of support services (much of which is sub-contracted out now anyways). And the Prime Minister did not make any mention of this new item in his budget speech. How can such a large expenditure item make its way into the budget without any further clarification? How many other such items will we find in the budget estimates?

    Category 5: Announced expenditure which are not in the 2017 budget

    Many of the big ticket expenditure items announced in the budget speech are actually not found in the budget estimates. For example, the proposed 600km East Coast Rail Line from Tumpat to Kuala Lumpur, which is estimated to cost RM55 billion, is not listed as an expenditure item. Just like the expenditure on the MRT Line 1 and the LRT Extension, these infrastructure projects will be funded by special purpose vehicles (SPVs) which will borrow money under their own balance sheet.

    The problem which such a model of financing is that it hides the true burden of expenditure on the government. Many of these projects will not be able to pay for the capital expenditure and the related interest expenses. Which means the government will eventually have to step in to service the debt of these SPVs. When that happens, the squeeze on the government will likely result in a steep increase in the GST rate in order to help the government ‘bail-out’ these SPVs.

    An initial reading between the lines of the 2017 Budget has already raised many questions regarding items which are present as well as those which are absent from the budget estimates. I am sure that other items will be discovered as more MPs analyse and investigate the details of the 2017 ‘stealth’ budget.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Ahli Parlimen Serdang

    [1] http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/10/20/johari-subsidy-for-cooking-oil-will-continue/

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