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Why I am supporting the tabling of the Social Inclusion Act 2014 as a private member’s bill by Dr. Jeyakumar, MP for Sungai Siput

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 24th of February 2014, in Kuala Lumpur

Why I am supporting the tabling of the Social Inclusion Act 2014 as a private member’s bill by Dr. Jeyakumar, MP for Sungai Siput

This morning, Dr Jeyakumar, MP for Sungai Siput, submitted a motion to table the Social inclusion Act 2014 as a private member’s bill under Article 49 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders. Included in this motion is my letter of support as a seconder for this private member’s bill.[1]

I would like to congratulate Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) for their support of this bill. At the same time, I would also like to congratulate Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) and HAKAM for their efforts in drafting this bill.

There are 5 reasons why I am supporting this bill in my capacity as a Member of Parliament.

Firstly, the Social Inclusion Act 2014 is consistent with the needs based affirmative action policy which was and is being advocated by Pakatan Rakyat. This act creates a Social Inclusion Commission which is tasked with identifying marginalized communities and to come up with social inclusive policies to address the needs of these communities including institutional and structural reform.

Secondly, this act advocates for a strong Social Inclusion Commission with significant powers of oversight over government policies. For example, under Section 17(1)(c) of this act , this commission is empowered to monitor, evaluate and approve the implementation of social inclusion plans of actions by the Governments of the Federation and the States. Right now, the issues of poverty and social inclusion are not holistically addressed within the government and the cabinet but is dispersed and distributed across various ministries. Having a strong Social Inclusion Commission will give more focus to the existing programs and policies that are supposed to address issues of poverty and social exclusion.

Thirdly, this act advocates for a transparent process of appointment to the Commission whereby a Parliamentary Select Committee headed by the leader of the opposition with 4 MPs (two from the Government and two from the Opposition) will recommend the 7 members of the Social Inclusion Commission to the Prime Minister for appointment by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. The Committee is also empower by this act to appoint three experts to assist with unique situations of social exclusion of West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Fourthly, this Act provides a model for parliamentary and public accountability. The Social Inclusion Commission is required by this Act to submit detailed half yearly reports and audited accounts by the Auditor General to parliament and to make its reports publicly available. This Act also makes it mandatory for the public to be given opportunity to give their inputs during the drafting of any and all social inclusion policies by the Commission.

Fifthly, this Act respects and upholds the constitution including Article 153.

Given that the proper paperwork has been filed and that this bill does not contravene any standing orders or the constitution, I sincerely hope that the Secretary of the Parliament will agree to the tabling of this bill as a Private Members Bill in the upcoming parliamentary sitting which starts on the 10th of March.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming

Member of Parliament for Serdang

PEMANDU should be open and transparent about how much its staff are being paid and whether they hold directorships in other government agencies / GLCS / publicly listed / private companies

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 31st of October 2013 in Kuala Lumpur

In a comment piece in Malaysiakini yesterday[1], Mr Goh Wei Liang, a senior analyst at PEMANDU’s communications team under the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) tried to justify the high pay that the directors at PEMANDU were receiving. In this comment piece, he estimated that the monthly take home pay of a JUSA A civil servant which is equivalent to a PEMANDU director is actually RM29,631.53 comprising of the following components:

Item Amount (Monthly in RM)
Salary 17331.46
Minus Taxes -3533.26
Entertainment Allowance 4000.00
Housing Allowance 2000.00
Fixed Allowance 2500.00
Higher Management Special Incentive 1250.00
Maid Allowance 500.00
Home Maintenance Allowance 166.67
Meeting Allowance as Board Member* 2500.00
Fixed Annual Allowance as Board Member** 2916.67
Total 29.631.53

(*) Assume member of 5 boards of councils / GLCs, RM500 / meeting per month

(**) Assume RM7,000 / board, 5 boards councils / GLCs

Mr. Goh, from PEMANDU, also implies that he thinks that PEMANDU directors are underpaid compared to civil servants since a PEMANDU director with a monthly salary of RM40,000 only takes home RM30,572.92 after taxes (compared to a JUSA A officer’s take home pay of RM29,631.53) and does not have the job security and lifetime pension of a civil servant or a gratuity, first class return tickets from KL to London or paid holidays.

Mr Goh also makes the following two recommendations to the Chief Secretary to the Government: (i) A revision of the remuneration packages to be productivity and results drives (ii) Downsize the civil service by maintaining efficient and productive staff only

In trying to argue that PEMANDU directors are underpaid, Mr Goh assumes that PEMANDU directors do not hold other positions elsewhere including as directors at GLCs and other government agencies. This is patently untrue.

Mohamad Emir Mavani Abdullah, who is currently the group President and CEO of Felda Globa Ventures (FGV) and whom I’ve accused of having a PhD from a degree mill[2] was the PEMANDU Director in charge of the Financial Services and Oil & Gas NKEAs in 2012 when FELDA was about to be listed. In the FELDA listing prospectus[3], where he was named as a Director in PEMANDU as well as in FGV, he was also listed as the CEO of the newly established Malaysia Petroleum Resource Corporation (MPRC) in the Prime Minister’s Department as well as serving on the board of the Malaysian Nuclear Power Corporation. In addition, he was also listed as being a director in 7 other companies – Mega-Wan International Sdn Bhd, Sterling Advisory Services Sdn Bhd, Sanjung Impian Sdn Bhd, QPIC-Botree Technologies Sdn Bhd, EIM Systems Sdn Bhd, E&H Consulting Sdn Bhd and FAHC. Mohamed Emir also received 150,000 shares of FGV during the listing process.[4]

I presume that Mohamed Emir would have received a salary as the CEO of the MPRC as well as director fees as a director in the Malaysian Nuclear Power Corporation and in FELDA Global Ventures (before it was listed). I also presume that he would have received director fees in the 7 other companies mentioned above. It seems that PEMANDU directors, unlike civil servants, can sit on boards of private companies. This would have taken his monthly and annual salary way above the RM40,000 monthly director that a top PEMANDU director is paid.

In the interest of transparency, I call upon Dato’ Idris Jala as CEO of PEMANDU to reveal the pay structure of PEMANDU directors inclusive of bonuses and allowances as well as the salary structure of all the contract staff in PEMANDU. This is even more necessary after Dato’ Idris was quoted to have said that the huge increase in the Prime Minister’s Department to RM16.45 billion was ‘justified’.[5]

In addition, I also call upon Dato’ Idris Jala to disclose whether any other directors in PEMANDU, prior and current, are also directors in other government agencies, GLCs, publicly listed companies or private companies. The directors of the respective National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) hold tremendous influence in shaping the policy landscape in these areas. It is in the public’s interest to know if there are possible conflicts of interest which may arise as a result of holding multiple directorships in both the public as well as the private sector.

Finally, I call upon Dato’ Idris Jala to explain if he agrees with the view of his staff, Goh Weng Liang, that public sector pay should be reviewed and linked to productivity and that the public sector should be downsized so that only the efficient staff is retained. Is this one of the strategies under the Public Finance Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs) to reduce the government budget deficit?

The Prime Minister should walk the talk by cutting expenditure in the Prime Minister’s Department and by not creating new, expensive agencies

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 29th of October 2013

Dato’ Seri Najib, Prime Minister and Finance Minister, announced in the recent budget the setting up of a new Green Foundation (Yayasan Hijau) and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center (MAGIC). At the same time, the expenditure allocated to the Prime Minister’s department has increased from R14.6 billion in 2013 to a projected RM16.5 billion in 2014, an increase of 13%.

Part of the reason why government expenditure has increased significantly over the past 4 years under the current Prime Minister and Finance Minister is the employment of many contract staff on very high wages, especially in the Prime Minister’s Department.

In a parliamentary reply I received on the 1st of October, I was informed that the yearly salary, allowance and the bonus of the CEO of Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) was RM830,500 which works out to approximately a monthly salary of RM69,000. The CEO of the Land Transport Commission or SPAD was paid a yearly salary of RM480,000 (RM40,000 a month), a yearly allowance of RM162,000 and a bonus of RM60,000 which gives a yearly salary totalling RM622,000. The CEO of TalentCorp receives a monthly salary of RM30,000 and a monthly car allowance of RM5,000 which works out to a yearly salary of RM420,000.

All these CEOs are paid monthly salaries which are higher than the monthly salary of the highest paid civil servant which is the Chief Secretary (Ketua Setiausaha Negara) which has a maximum monthly salary of RM23,577.

And these are only some of the agencies which are under the Prime Minister’s Department. Others would include the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), the Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (TERAJU) and the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU). Not only are the CEOs of these agencies paid salaries which are higher than their civil servant equivalents[1], the staff in these agencies, many of whom are contract staff and not government servants, are also paid higher than equivalent salaries.

For example, a Director at PEMANDU, which is equivalent to a JUSA A/B civil servant has a maximum salary of RM49,000 a month, an Associate Director at PEMANDU, which is equivalent to a JUSA C civil servant has a maximum salary of RM31,600 a month and a Senior Manager which is equivalent to a Grade 54 civil servant has a maximum salary of RM21,000 a month.

All of these positions add greatly to government expenditures especially in the Prime Minister’s Office. This is one of the reasons why the total expenditure for the Prime Minister’s office is projected to rise by 13% while the overall budget is projected to increase by only 5.6% from Rm250 billion in 2013 to RM264 billion in 2014.

If the Prime Minister is serious about asking ordinary Malaysians to change their lifestyles to adapt to rising prices as subsidies are withdrawn and the GST is introduced, he should also walk and talk by reducing expenditure in his own department. He should also stop creating new agencies such as Yayasan Hijau whose functions are already present in existing agencies such as the Malaysian Green Tech Corporation, the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) and also MAGIC whose functions are already present in existing agencies such as AIM and Cradle and the Malaysian Productivity Council and the many the arms and government agencies which have responsibilities overseeing ‘innovation’ initiatives.

[1] The exception here is Senator Idris Jala who is the CEO of PEMANDU but is paid the same salary as a Minister given that he is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.