• Why hasn’t Prime Minister Najib spoken up against President Trump’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 3rd of June, 2017

    Why hasn’t Prime Minister Najib spoken up against President Trump’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement?

    President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, signed by 195 countries in 2015, on Thursday, 1st of June, 2017. Immediately, a number of world leaders responded by criticizing Trump’s decision as well as to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron chimed in on the US decision[1] while China[2] and Russia[3] reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

    I commend and agree with the statement made by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, when he said that “Malaysia would like to express its profound regret and deep concern at the latest action by the United States of America”.[4]

    But the silence, till now, from our Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, is deafening. While Malaysia was one of 30 countries which was part of the joint communique issued at the end of the Old Belt One Road Conference in China in May this year, where the commitment of the Paris Climate Change Agreement was reaffirmed, the recent declaration from Trump necessitates a response from the leader of our government, who is our Prime Minister.

    Is Prime Minister Najib staying quiet on this issue as part of a larger strategy not to offend President Trump so as to get the Department of Justice to drop the 1MDB kleptocracy case and not to pursue the individuals involved, including Jho Low? Let us wait to see how long Najib maintains his deafening silence on this issue.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/world/europe/paris-agreement-merkel-trump-macron.html?_r=0

    [2] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/world/europe/climate-paris-agreement-trump-china.html

    [3] http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/russia-paris-agreement-climate-change-donald-trump-us-decision-global-warming-moscow-putin-a7766481.html

    [4] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/4203/

  • Concession Agreement for the Kepong Incinerator project must be publicly disclosed

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 10th of February, 2017

    Concession Agreement for the Kepong Incinerator project must be publicly disclosed

    It was reported in the Edge Weekly (January 30 to February 5, 2017) that three companies have been shortlisted for the controversial 1000 ton per day solid waste incinerator in Taman Beringin, Kepong. These three companies are Malaysia Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) in partnership with South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem Co, Cenviro Sbd Bhd (formerly UEM Environment Sdn Bhd) in partnership with Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and DRB-Hicom in partnership with Malakoff Corp Bhd and Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. It was also reported that the concession agreement to build and operate this incinerator will be awarded in March, 2017.

    Concession agreements in Malaysia, from lopsided toll contracts to the Express Rail Link (ERL) contract that allowed for unreasonable price hikes, have almost always favoured the concession holders at the expense of the consumer / user. The nature of many of these lopsided contracts were only discovered after they were signed, usually when the government has had to explain why they had to allow these concession holders to increase the price of tolls or train tickets by large and unreasonable increments.

    This incinerator will be the largest incinerator of any kind in Malaysia. Recall that much smaller scale incinerator projects in Pulau Pangkor, Pulau Langkawi and Cameron Highlands have failed in the past, at great cost to the federal government. The nature by which these contracts were awarded to the company, XCN Technology, was called into question by the Auditor General. If the Kepong Incinerator project fails, the cost to the taxpayer will be far greater than the smaller scale failures in the abovementioned locations. Recall also that this is the second time that the Kepong incinerator project has been tendered out because there was only one company that made a final submission in the first round of tenders.

    In order to avoid the mistakes of the past, I call upon the Minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, to disclose the details of the Kepong incinerator concession agreement including the projected cost of the project, the tipping fee that will be charged to DBKL, the conditions of the waste guarantee to the company, the length of the concession period, the performance indicators and the terms by which the government can take over the project if it fails to deliver.

    In addition, the Minister must convince the raykat the need for the Kepong incinerator given that KL has started the separation of municipal waste which should decrease the overall amount of waste that needs to be disposed.

    Failure to do so will only invite more protests from the residents and the high probability that the taxpayer and the ratepayers in KL will end up footing the bill for another lopsided concession agreement.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • The Government should ratify the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol along with the ratification of the Paris Agreement

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 27th of October 2016

    The Government should ratify the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol along with the ratification of the Paris Agreement

    In the parliamentary question and answer session on Tuesday, 25th of October, 2016, I asked the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment to explain when the government will ratify the 2nd commitment period (CP2) of the Kyoto Protocol also known as the Doha Amendment.[1]

    In his verbal reply to me in parliament, the Minister said that the focus should be on the Paris Agreement instead of the Kyoto Agreement. (The clip of his verbal reply can be found here on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mlFP-i7cQQ&feature=youtu.be). His reply was given coverage in the Star newspaper the following day (See below)

    The Minister also said that countries were no longer interested in the Doha Amendment since only 70 countries (as of September 2016) had ratified this amendment which requires 144 countries (or 3 quarters of all the parties to the Kyoto Protocol) to ratify.[2] He highlighted the fact that the United States and Canada are among the two countries who have not signed up to the Doha Amendment as proof that ratifying this amendment was no longer a priority.

    It would be a mistake for Malaysia to simply give up on ratifying the Doha Amendment and simply rush to ratify the Paris Agreement for the following reasons:

    1. The Doha Amendment Commitment Period (CP2) runs from 2013 to 2020 while the implementation of Paris Agreement will only start in 2021.[3] Therefore, there is no overlapping between the CP2 of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. So, while waiting for the Paris Agreement to ‘kick-in’, the global community needs to ensure that measures to decrease carbon emissions continue to take place and that would happened only when the CP2 enters in force. It was quite shocking for me to hear the Minister say that there is an overlap between the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. This does not bode well given that this Minister and his Ministry is leading the negotiations on behalf of the country for an agreement that will have far-reaching environmental, social and economic impacts on us.

    2. Even if the Doha Amendment does not enter into force because an insufficient number of countries have ratified it, Malaysia should not dismiss it from a principle and moral stand point. In fact, we should have ratify yesteryear to contribute to the numbers needed to ensure that it comes into force sooner rather than later. Precisely because only developed countries have obligation to cut their emissions under CP2, it is painless for Malaysia as a developing country to ratify CP2. This is also in line with holding the developed world accountable to its historical responsibilities towards climate change. And CP2 is that last chance.

    3. Malaysia should act as a responsible global citizen and do its part in ratifying the Doha Amendment, just like 7 out of 10 countries in ASEAN.[4] Besides Malaysia, the only other two countries in ASEAN which have not ratified the Doha Amendment are Laos and Myanmar which are from the category of Least Developed Countries (LDC). Is Malaysia regressing from an advanced developing country to become a LDC? Can Malaysia be an effective advocate on climate change and other environmental policies in ASEAN if it does not even ratify the Doha Amendment?

    4. Ratifying the Doha Amendment would show that Malaysia has a sustained and consistent plan towards addressing climate change beyond just going to New York to take part in high profile signing ceremonies.

    I call upon the Cabinet to give approval for the Government to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol along with the ratification of the Paris Agreement.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/doha_amendment/items/7362.php

    [2] https://unfccc.int/files/kyoto_protocol/doha_amendment/application/pdf/frequently_asked_questions_doha_amendment_to_the_kp.pdf

    [3] http://www.wri.org/faqs-about-how-paris-agreement-enters-force and https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CN/2016/CN.735.2016-Eng.pdf

    [4] https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XXVII-7-c&chapter=27&clang=_en

  • Severe cuts to the Monitoring and Enforcement Budget of the Department of Environment (DOE) needs to be reversed

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 27th of October, 2016

    Severe cuts to the Monitoring and Enforcement Budget of the Department of Environment (DOE) needs to be reversed

    One of the regular complaints that I receive from residents in my constituency is the issue of noise and emissions of smells by factories which sometimes operate late into the night. When these complaints were highlighted to the Department of Environment (DOE), which oversees the monitoring of these factories, the usual response I receive is that they don’t have enough enforcement officers and a sufficient budget to carry out their monitoring and enforcement duties. More recently, the serious pollution of Sungai Semantan and Sungai Semenyih which resulted in water disruptions affected more than half a million households, was traced back to illegal discharge and dumping of pollutants into the river by irresponsible parties.

    At a time when more resources should be dedicated to monitoring and enforcement, I was shocked to learn that the budget for these activities have been cut from RM105 million in 2016 to RM76.5 million in 2017, a reduction of RM28.5 million or a 27% cut (See Figure 1 below)

    Figure 1: Cut in the budget for Monitoring and Enforcement Activities, 2016 to 2017

    This large cut in the budget for monitoring and enforcement activities will inevitably jeopardise the ability of the DOE to effectively monitor the illegal dumping of pollutants into our rivers by factories and other irresponsible parties.

    At a time when our rivers are increasingly vulnerable to pollution, the monitoring and enforcement budget should be INCREASED by 30% rather than cut by almost 30%. These cuts are unacceptable and I call upon the Finance Minister to reverse these cuts and increase the allocation for monitoring and enforcement activities under the Department of Environment.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • Five Recommendations for the Taman Tugu project

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 7th of September, 2016

    Five Recommendations for the Taman Tugu project

    The announcement of the Taman Tugu project[1] last weekend by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has received mixed reactions from the public. As a regular jogger along the “double hill” route which goes past Tugu Negara[2] (See Figure 1 below) and in the nearby Lake Gardens / Taman Botani[3], here are my five recommendations for this project.

    Figure 1: Part of the Double Hill 12km loop which goes past Tugu Negara

    1) Taman Tugu must be cost effective and transparent

    I echo the concerns expressed by my colleague, Rafizi Ramli, on the high cost of this project, estimated by RM650 million, 75% of which or RM500 million, will be paid for by Khazanah.[4] Many people have asked why such a large amount of money needs to be spent on an urban park while overseas JPA scholarships have been cancelled and allocation to public universities have been cut.[5] Even though the majority of the expenditure will come from Khazanah and not from the government budget, since Khazanah is 100% owned by the Ministry of Finance, it is necessary for both Khazanah as well as the Minister of Finance, namely the Prime Minister, to explain why this expenditure is necessary in the context of significant budget cuts in other areas.

    In addition, since Khazanah is technically a private company, and not a government department, it does not have to go through the normal tender processes that most ministries have to adhere to via eperolehan.[6] To assure the public that the expenditure on the Taman Tugu project is transparent and cost-effective, it should make all significant contracts via open tender and to announce the results publicly.

    2) Taman Tugu must be free to the public

    The Taman Tugu project is actually not a new project. It was announced as one of the Entry Point Projects (EPP7: Creating Iconic Places and Attractions) under the Greater KL National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) way back in 2010. The initial project was to “create a Malaysia Truly Asia Center (MRAC), an integrated cultural tourism park managed by Themed Attraction Resorts, a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional.[7] This project was suspended in August 2014 because of ongoing land issues.[8] There was also initial speculation that this attraction would be part of a leisure and tourism entity that would be listed by Khazanah.[9]

    Now that it has been revived under the Taman Tugu project, Khazanah must reassure that public that accessibility to this park will be free of charge. While there may be parts of the park where the public may have to pay to use certain services (such as a proposed outdoor adventure area featuring rope courses and a flying fox), the majority of the park must be free of charge to use. This is the model used by the Central Park in New York where access to certain attractions such as the zoo require an entrance fee but the majority of the park is free to use.[10]

    The initial masterplan of Taman Tugu seem to indicate that most of the park are green spaces that are open for public access (See Figure 2 below).

    3) Taman Tugu must allow existing users continued access to recreational facilities

    I am glad to note that Padang Merbok is not park of the area that has been designation as part of Taman Tugu. Many groups use Padang Merbok especially during the weekends for various recreational activities including rugby, football, bootcamp and as a start and finish point for runs (See Figure 3 below). Places such as Padang Merbok must be preserved for public access. Khazanah should ensure that public access to popular jogging routes such as the aforementioned “Double Hill” route is allowed even during the construction phase of Taman Tugu. Better still, Khazanah should consult the various groups which use Padang Merbok and the surrounding areas for recreation activities so that their inputs can be used to enhance the facilities in and surrounding Taman Tugu.

    Figure 2: Masterplan of the Taman Tugu Project[11]

    Figure 3: One of the many runs which use Padang Merbok as a start and finishing point

    4) Must be integrated and accessible

    I am glad to note that the Taman Tugu masterplan has taken into consideration the issue of connectivity to public transportation and other nearby recreational attractions such as Muzium Negara, Lake Gardens and the KL Bird Park, just to name a few (See Figure 4 below).

    Figure 4: Connectivity of Taman Tugu to other attractions and public transportation[12]

    But this is not sufficient. For example, according to google maps, it takes 35 minutes to walk from the Bank Negara KTM station to Tugu Negara via the proposed pedestrian walkway showed in Figure 4 and 30 minutes to walk via Jalan Parlimen (See Figure 5 below).

    Not many Malaysians would be willing to walk that far (even if the walkway is covered). In addition, not many people would be willing to use the KTM Komuter services (30 minutes during peak hours and 60 minutes during non-peak hours, according to KTM’s latest announcement on its twitter feed[13]). Khazanah needs to provide for better public transportation to Taman Tugu than what is currently on its Taman Tugu website.

    Figure 5: Walking time and distance from the Bank Negara KTM to Tugu Negara

    5) Taman Tugu must be sustainably managed

    Finally, Khazanah must reveal its plan on how Taman Tugu will be managed. Taman Tugu should not be managed as a for-profit endeavour in order to ensure continued free public access. At the same time, it must also be run sustainably so that its maintenance costs can be covered. One possible model is the Central Park Conservancy, a private not for profit entity, which has a long term contract to manage Central Park in New York.[14]

    Initial reports indicate that Taman Tugu will be placed under a public trust and that it will be preserved as a green lung in perpetuity.[15] Details of this trust and the management of Taman Tugu should be announced as soon as possible in order to assure the public that this project is not a money making venture but a project which will truly benefit the public.

    I call upon Khazanah to honour the promise of its Managing Director, Azman Mokhtar who said that Khazanah will be “embarking on a public outreach program through multiple channels to seek feedback and suggestions from the public at large, as well as broadening the number of development partners and donors”.[16] I hope that this will be a sincere public outreach effort and not an empty public relations exercise.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.khazanah.com.my/Media-Downloads/News-Press-Releases/2016/Prime-Minister-of-Malaysia-launches-Taman-Tugu-Pro

    [2] https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiN5ubM6PrOAhUaSo8KHVwKBscQPAgD#hl=en&q=double+hill+bukit+tunku

    [3] http://www.klbotanicalgarden.gov.my/

    [4] http://rafiziramli.com/2016/09/apa-jaminan-perdana-menteri-rm650-juta-kos-taman-tugu-tidak-digunakan-untuk-mengumpul-dana-pru14/

    [5] http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/354776

    [6] http://home.eperolehan.gov.my/home

    [7] http://etp.pemandu.gov.my/Greater_Kuala_Lumpur_Klang_Valley-@-Greater_Kuala_Lumpur_-_EPP_7-;_Creating_Iconic_Places_and_Attractions.aspx#sthash.MwnQiDJv.dpuf

    [8] http://www.travelandtourworld.com/news/article/malaysia-truly-asia-centre-project-suspended-land-issues/

    [9] http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1183898

    [10] http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/central-park-zoo.html

    [11] http://tamantugu.com.my/en/things-to-see-do/

    [12] http://tamantugu.com.my/en/connectivity/

    [13] https://twitter.com/ktmkomuter/status/773070515346952192

    [14] http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/about-cpc/

    [15] http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/09/04/taman-tugu-project-launch/

    [16] http://www.khazanah.com.my/Media-Downloads/News-Press-Releases/2016/Prime-Minister-of-Malaysia-launches-Taman-Tugu-Pro

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