• Did the Election Commission choose not to increase parliament seats in the Sarawak delimitation to bulldoze the exercise in time for the next Sarawak state elections?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 8th of January 2015

    Did the Election Commission choose not to increase parliament seats in the Sarawak delimitation to bulldoze the exercise in time for the next Sarawak state elections?

    The recent Sarawak delimitation exercise, which officially began on Monday, 5th of January, 2015, with a public display of the maps in Sarawak was shocking because for the first time in Sarawak’s history, state seats were added without a single increase in the number of parliament seats.

    Table 1 below shows the number of parliament and state seats added in each of the 5 delimitation exercises since 1968. With the exception of the 1968 and 1977 delimitation exercises where no parliament and state seats were added in Sarawak, in each of the past three delimitation exercises in 1986, 1996 and 2005, both parliament and state seats were added in Sarawak.

    In the recently revealed Sarawak delimitation exercise, a record number of new state seats – 11 – have been proposed by the Election Commission. This would increase the number of state seats in Sarawak from the current 71 to a proposed 82 state seats.

    What is the rationale for increasing the number of state seats by 11 but not adding a single parliament seat? If an increase in the voting population is used to justify the increase in state seats, why should that rationale not apply to parliament seats as well?

    One cannot help but suspect that the real reason why there were no parliament seats added is because this would require a constitutional amendment at the parliamentary level where the BN does not possess a two-thirds majority. If new parliament seats were proposed, then the whole Sarawak delimitation exercise may be delayed because it may get stuck at the parliamentary level.

    The non-increase in the number of parliament seats while at the same time increase in state seats is a clear indication that the Election Commission is not complying with democratic principles but is bowing down to political expediency in wanting to bulldoze the new Sarawak delimitation exercise in time for the Sarawak state elections, due by 2016. Once again, this shows the non-independence of the Election Commission and its failure to produce an independent, fair and transparent delimitation exercise. Political parties, civil society organizations and members of the public who are concerned about upholding free and fair elections must join together to reject this unfair and undemocratic Sarawak delimitation exercise.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • Is the Election Commission trying to slow down new voter registrations so that there will be less pressure to increase the number of seats in areas where Pakatan is strong in the upcoming delimitation exercise?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 12th of June, 2014

    Is the Election Commission trying to slow down new voter registrations so that there will be less pressure to increase the number of seats in areas where Pakatan is strong in the upcoming delimitation exercise?

    On the 10th of June 2014, I asked the Election Commission whether it will renew the status of Assistant Registrars (AROs) of political parties so that political parties can once again do their duty of registering new voters. Almost all of the AROs for the DAP have not been renewed past 2013 which means that we cannot conduct voter registration exercises during our public events. This non-renewal of AROs does not only affect the DAP but also other political parties as well.

    The reply I obtained from the Minister in charge of the Election Commission, Shahidan Kassim, said that the Election Commission has no plans to renew or appoint new AROs from political parties. The reply also said that the EC is in the process of coordinating existing voter registration exercises. I have also read reports that the EC does not want to give ARO status to political parties because some of these AROs have abused their positions and registered voters without their knowledge and gave financial incentives for unregistered voters to register.

    The reply from the Minister is highly unsatisfactory as it ignores the fact that the number of newly registered voters has been steadily decreasing since Quarter 1 2013. According to Table 1 below, the number of newly registered voters was 104959 in Q1 2013, the number of voters who had changed their address was 31070 while and the number of deleted voters was 31807. The net increase in the number of voters (newly registered plus those who have changed address minus the deleted voters) was 10422 in Q1 2013. Since then, the nett number of voters have been decreasing in every quarter. For Q2 2013, the net increase was 47671 and for Q3 2013, the net increase was only 8434. By Q4 2013, the net number of voters had become negative – minus 7941 – which means that the number of voters on the electoral roll has decreased. In Q1 2014, the latest electoral roll update, the net number of voters was negative 11565.

    Table 1: Nett Increase / Decrease in the number of registered voters Q1 2013 to Q1 2014

    Part of the reason why the net number of voters has been decreasing is because the EC has not been active in conducting voter registration exercises. The EC has depended a lot of political parties to conduct voter registration exercises on its behalf. But now that the political parties no longer have ARO status, we cannot register voters any longer. This is an important reason why the number of newly registered voters have decreased since Q1 2013.

    One cannot help think that the EC is purposely slowing down the increase in the number of new voter registrations because many new voters will be in the urban areas which supported Pakatan strongly in GE13. This means that there will be less pressure on the EC to increase the number of parliament and state seats in these areas in the upcoming delimitation exercise. I call upon the EC to restore the ARO status to political parties once again and to take strong action against individuals who have abused their ARO status to make false voter registrations rather than to punish all political parties for the offenses of a small number of irresponsible AROs. Only with the help of political parties can the EC hope to register more new voters and decrease the number of eligible but unregistered voters. Unless of course, the EC is planning to implement automatic voter registration in which case AROs would not be needed.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Appendix 1: Question and Answer on AROs by Shahidan Kassim, Minister in charge of the Election Commission (EC)

  • Response to Wee Ka Siong’s opinion piece – “Make Teluk Intan the end of hate politics”

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 8th of June, 2014

    Response to Wee Ka Siong’s opinion piece – “Make Teluk Intan the end of hate politics”

    In an opinion peace entitled “Make Teluk Intan the end of hate politics”, MCA Deputy President Dr Wee Ka Siong lobbed a few baseless accusations against the DAP and Pakatan but ended up implicating and highlighting the failures of his own party and his own BN coalition.[1]

    Firstly, he accuses DAP for failing Dyana Sofya and of “trying to push the limitations of tolerance and create discord among races”. I fail to comprehend how the DAP can be guilty of this in any aspect of our campaign in Teluk Intan unless Dr. Wee is somehow implying that the fielding of a Malay candidate in a non-Malay majority constituency can create discord among the races. Of all people, Dr. Wee should appreciate the benefits of having a minority representative since his very own parliament seat of Ayer Hitam is a 56% Malay majority constituency. Rather than criticize the DAP, Dr. Wee should have congratulated DAP for taking a bold step in breaking down racial barriers and stereotypes in the decision to field Dyana in Teluk Intan.

    Secondly, Dr. Wee accused the DAP of hubris by saying that the party would win Chinese majority seats like Seputeh and Cheras even if we fielded a goat as a candidate. Disregarding the fact that a goat is not a Malaysian citizen and therefore is not eligible to contest as a candidate in any Malaysian elections, the DAP has never made such a claim. Others may have used such an example as a way to describe seats which are DAP strongholds but to say that DAP has publicly made such a statement clearly shows that Dr. Wee is deluded. Moreover, right from the announcement of Dyana Sofya as DAP’s candidate in Teluk Intan, we have been saying that she is the underdog in this by-election. How can this be consistent with a hubristic attitude as described by Dr. Wee?

    Thirdly, Dr. Wee claims credit for himself and for MCA when he mentioned that his presence in the Teluk Intan by-election ensured that there was no inter-party sabotage between MCA and GERAKAN for the ‘first time since 1974’. The fact that Dr. Wee can take pride in such an ‘achievement’ is frankly laughable. It is an open admission that the BN has been practicing a culture of internal ‘sabotage’ for 40 years (if not more) which required a hero of Dr. Wee’s status in order to be solved. This naturally leads to the next question of how many other GERAKAN seats did MCA sabotage since 1974 and whether it will require Dr. Wee to practice his ‘magic’ in all of these seats in the next general election if GERAKAN is to stand a chance of winning these seats. Can he station himself again in Teluk Intan in GE14 seeing that his own Ayer Hitam seat seems quite secure? Will he also travel to the other GERAKAN seats such as Batu Kawam, Beruas, Taiping, Puchong, Batu, Kepong and Segambut to ensure total MCA cooperation with GERAKAN in these seats?

    Fourthly, Dr. Wee accused the DAP of not being able to get-out-the-vote in Malay areas which “Umno took advantage of and quickly mobilized itself to garner support”. If UMNO was so good in mobilizing support, why was it that voter turnout in the Malay areas dropped by 14% which is the same drop in turnout as the Chinese areas? If DAP was so poor in reaching out to the Malay areas, why did we win a larger percentage of votes in 7 out of the 10 Malay majority polling districts and how did we, together with very strong support from PAS, increase the level of Malay support from 25% to 28%?

    Fifthly, Dr. Wee attributed the increase in support among Indian voters in the Nova Scotia estates where over 1500 Indians live as a result of MIC managing to acquire funds to ‘fix some of the run-down infrastructure abandoned since 2008’. In making this statement, Dr. Wee is admitting that the BN controlled federal government and the state government in Perak has failed to fulfil their responsibilities since 2008. Furthermore, it took political party funds in order to solve this problem which is a further indictment of the failure of the BN federal and state governments to take care of the infrastructure needs of the people of Teluk Intan. Despite this sudden infusion of MIC funds, the DAP still managed to win a respectable 40% of votes in Nova Scotia.

    Sixthly, Dr. Wee implies that the young voters are not necessarily supporting the opposition. He gave the example of Kg Selamba, a Malay majority polling district where the BN received 266 votes compared to the DAP’s 74 votes in the youngest polling stream which is Saluran 4. This translates into the DAP winning only 21.8% of the total votes in this stream. But Dr. Wee failed to point out that the DAP only won 18.9% of this polling stream in GE2013 which means that DAP’s support actually increased by 2.9% in this polling stream during the by-election!

    Dr. Wee also conveniently ignores the fact that DAP’s support in the younger polling streams is significantly higher than in the older polling streams, even in Malay majority areas. For example, in the Kampong Bahagia polling district which is 95.5% Malay, 23.9% of voters in the oldest polling stream, which is Saluran 1, voted for the DAP. In Saluran 7, the youngest polling stream, 48.8% of votes went to the DAP. Furthermore, this was an increase of 4.5% from GE2013! In the Batak Rabit polling station, which is 61.3% Malay, only 28.6% of voters in Saluran 1 voted for the DAP compared to 50.1% of voters in Saluran 5, the youngest saluran. The younger Malay voters clearly have less qualms about voting for the DAP compared to the older voters because they have access to more information and are less swayed by the negative propaganda and lies that have been spewed out against the DAP in the mainstream media. If this trend continues, spurred on by the DAP’s commitment to field more young Malay candidates in GE14, it is the BN which has to be worried.

    If Dr. Wee is serious about ending hate politics, as his opinion piece implies, he should look no further than to his own coalition member, UMNO, who allowed Perkasa’s Zulkifli Nordin and Ibrahim Ali to contest in the Shah Alam and Pasir Mas parliament seats in GE2013; whose Bukit Bendera division chief Ahmad Ismail was suspended for three years for calling Chinese ‘pendatangs’ and later returned as the unanimous choice for division chief in the party elections in 2013; whose KLFT Youth Chief Razlan Razii recently threatened to burn down the DAP Headquarters in KL, just to name a few examples.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang


  • Explaining why did the DAP not ask for a recount or protest against the discrepancy in the number of votes cast as announced by the Election Commission in the Teluk Intan By-Election

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 6th of June, 2014

    Explaining why did the DAP not ask for a recount or protest against the discrepancy in the number of votes cast as announced by the Election Commission in the Teluk Intan By-Election

    Many Pakatan supporters have raised the issue of why DAP did not ask for a recount given the small majority of 238 won by the BN candidate. Many Pakatan supporters also asked why DAP did not protest against the discrepancy in the number of votes first announced by the Election Commission after the close of voting and the number of votes after the results were announced.

    Let me firstly clarify on the issue of asking for a recount.

    According to the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981, Article 25, Section 13, if the difference between the number of votes for the first two candidates is less than 4% of the total number of voters then the candidate or his election agent or counting agent can ask for a recount. But this request can only be done at the individual polling station level and has to be done before Form 14 – which is the determinative document for the results at each polling station – is issued.

    Given that our counting agents at each polling station were experienced individuals, there was no directive to each of them to ask for a recount if the difference was less than 4%. (There were 7 salurans or polling streams where the difference was 4% or less) We were and are confident that our experienced polling agents carried out their responsibilities in ensuring the transparency and accuracy of the vote count at their respective polling stations.

    In addition, a recount at the polling station, according to Article 25, Section 13, cannot include spoilt or rejected votes. They can only involve the valid votes which means that the chances of changing the final vote count is very slim and probably not enough to overturn a 238 majority. Also, when conducting such a recount, the results could easily go the other way i.e. more votes could be obtained by the BN candidate.

    Once the Form 14s have been issued at the polling station, it is not possible to ask for a recount of individual ballots. The only thing DAP could have done is to ask for the Returning Officer to recheck the totalling up of votes according to the Form 14s. DAP collected ALL the Form 14s from our counting agents and verified that the final results as announced by SPR was indeed correct and consistent with our Form 14s.

    Secondly, why did DAP not raise the issue of the discrepancy in the number of votes announced by the Election Commission after the close of voting and the final number of votes after the results were announced?

    At approximately 5:30 pm, the Election Commission announced that the total turnout on the day was 39,850 voters. Together with the 392 early votes, the total number of votes would be 40,242 if the EC’s announcement was correct. When the final results were announced, the total number of votes was 40,619 (BN obtained 20,157 votes, DAP obtained 19919 votes and there were 543 spoilt votes). This gives a discrepancy of 377 votes between what the EC originally announced (40,242) and the final results (40,619). This figure is more than the winning majority of the BN candidate which was 238 votes.

    The Secretary General of the DAP, Lim Guan Eng, has written to the Election Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Dato Seri Abdul Aziz, to ask for an explanation for the discrepancy in the total number of voters initially announced and the final number of voters after the results were announced. We are waiting for this reply before further discussions with the party’s lawyers. Our lawyers have advised us not to say anything until we get an official reply from the Election Commission. The Secretary General is intent on pursuing the truth of this matter with the Election Commission.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • My take on the Teluk Intan By-Election Results

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming on the 1st of June, 2014 in Teluk Intan

    My take on the Teluk Intan By-Election Results

    As expected, the Teluk Intan by-elections was a very closely fought affair. In the end, the turnout of 67% was not sufficient for the DAP to maintain this seat, losing by a razor thin majority of 238 votes. In fact, before the results of the last polling station was returned to the DAP operations center, our candidate, Dyana Sofya, was still ahead by 25 votes. Unfortunately, the last polling station, Sungai Bugis, also happened to be an UMNO stronghold which we lost by a majority of 263 votes.

    It was always going to be a bold and risky strategy on the part of the DAP to field Dyana as a young, female Malay candidate. I had highlighted these risks earlier when I wrote about why Dyana should be considered as the underdog in this contest.[1] In this earlier statement, I outlined two possible scenarios – one more positive, one more scenario – under which DAP would win or lose this seat. Unfortunately, the more negative scenario came to pass.

    The Chinese support for DAP decreased by 15% from 85% in GE2013 to 70% in this by-election which was the most pessimistic projection. This was somewhat surprising given the positive response that the campaign was receiving from the Chinese voters including the mammoth ceramah on the final day of the campaign.

    The Indian support for DAP decreased by 10% from 62% in GE2013 to 52% in this by-election, again the most pessimistic projection.

    If there was a silver lining to this campaign, it would be the slight increase in Malay support of 3% from 25% in GE2013 to 28% in this by-election. In 6 Malay majority polling stations, the DAP experienced small increases in the overall support ranging from 0.7% to 3.4%, an encouraging sign given that we were not expecting the Malay support to increase.

    In analysing and interpreting these by-election results, care needs to be taken to separate the short term and more local factors at play in this by-election versus the more national and longer term issues.

    At the local level, the race and place of birth of both candidates, the promise of a Ministerial position for the BN candidate if elected, the fact that this by-election will not have any impact on the overall balance of politics at the national level, the usual pouring in of goodies by the BN and promises for more development that happens during a by-election and the relative lack of interest in this contest that led to a lower turnout rate were all contributory factors to the DAP’s defeat. These factors may not have as big of an impact at the national level in the context of a general election.

    At the national level, the possible impact of the hudud issue especially among the Chinese community, the lack of resonance of the Hindraf and Hindraf-related issues such as the resignation of Waythamoorthy as Deputy Minister and the appeal of Pakatan Rakyat in other similar constituencies – ethnically mixed, semi-urban with many developmental needs and relatively poor internet access – are all issues which need to be pondered over by the PR national leadership.

    Some specific questions which need to be raised include the following:

    Firstly, will turnout in the next general election be as high as GE2013 especially if voters are turned off by the problems affecting Pakatan Rakyat such as the disagreement over hudud, problems in party elections, leadership issues within Pakatan in the state of Selangor, the Allah and the Malay bible issue, just to name a few? There is no guarantee that these problems will not escalate leading up to the next general election and if so, many voters may choose not to come back to vote. The lower turnout which partly caused DAP to lose Teluk Intan may be replicated in many other such seats.

    Secondly, will Pakatan Rakyat be able to develop a convincing message to other constituencies like Teluk Intan which are semi-urban and are more likely to be convinced by promises of development rather than messages to combat corruption and to get rid of race based politics in this country? These are seats where Pakatan are either vulnerable incumbents e.g. Beruas, Bakri, Raub, Bukit Gantang, Kluang, Kuala Kedah, just to name a few or where BN are vulnerable incumbents e.g. Bentong, Cameron Highlands, Labis, Bagan Serai, just to name a few. A different and complementary strategy to what Pakatan has been doing at the national level may be needed in order for PR to defend and win these kinds of seats.

    Thirdly, will Pakatan be able to capitalize on its image as a coalition that is more appealing and attractive to the younger generation and therefore younger voters? There is no question that PR has more appealing and credible younger parliamentarians compared to the BN. But the youth vote is fickle and can easily swing to the BN. The challenge for Pakatan is to provide the necessary platform for young leaders, especially young Malay leaders, to present creative ideas and credible policies to convince the younger voters that they are better placed than BN to lead the country into the future.

    We saw a glimpse of this in Dyana’s campaign in Teluk Intan. The amount of excitement and interest which she generated at the national level especially among young Malays was, dare I say, unprecedented. Because of Dyana’s candidacy, UiTM students were talking about the DAP and not necessarily in a negative manner! A Malaysian student in Oxford wrote about why younger Malays are abandoning UMNO, using Dyana as an example.[2] Marina Mahathir praised Dyana’s for being able to think and write for herself.[3] At the local level, Dyana received a tremendous reception from among kids and also young people where-ever she went. While most of them were not voters, they will be voters in the near future and young leaders such as Dyana are much better positioned to win them over.

    The battle for Teluk Intan may have been lost by the DAP but by attempting this move to break down racial and gender barriers, new ground has been paved. I am confident that after this by-election, more young Malays would look at DAP as a possible avenue for political activism. I am confident that more young people would support Pakatan’s cause to move away from race-based politics. Pakatan’s challenge is to lead the way forward and not look back.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://ongkianming.com/2014/05/27/press-statement-why-dyana-sofya-is-the-underdog-in-teluk-intan/

    [2] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/yasmin-disney/article/dyana-and-umno-why-are-young-malays-abandoning-the-party

    [3] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/she-can-think-she-can-write-she-can-articulate-marina-mahathir-says-of-smar

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