• President Trump’s Muslim Ban must be strongly condemned including by Prime Minister Najib

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 29th of January 2017

    President Trump’s Muslim Ban must be strongly condemned including by Prime Minister Najib

    President Donald Trump’s executive order, signed yesterday, to stop Syrian refugees from entering the United States and to stop non-US citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries – Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the United States, must be strongly condemned.

    It is an inhumane action especially for those Syrian refugees who already have been granted approval to travel to and seek asylum in the United States.

    It is an unjustified action that affects thousands of students and employees who are studying and working legally in the United States.

    It is hugely disturbing action that points to further steps that may be taken by Trump including making it harder for citizens from other predominantly Muslim countries such as Malaysia, to travel to, study in and work in the United States.

    Ironically, Trump’s executive action affects citizens from these seven countries that have been invited by the United States government to visit or study or do research in the US via US state department programs such as the International Visitors Program (IVP) and the Fulbright Scholarship / Fellowship Program, just to name a few. As a former recipient of the Fulbright scholarship to the US, where I completed my PhD in political science at Duke University, I strongly condemn this action by Trump as it stands against the principles of non-discrimination and openness represented by the United States.

    Many world leaders have already criticized this executive action by President Trump.[1] Prime Minister Najib, on the 21st of January, 2017 sent out a congratulatory message to Trump on his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States. Will PM Najib also send a message to Trump to condemn this executive action that affects the citizens of these Muslim majority countries?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/world-leaders-condemn-donald-trump-muslim-ban-170128134635041.html

  • 1918 children currently being detained at detention centers for immigrants must be treated properly

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 21st of October 2015

    1918 children currently being detained at detention centers for immigrants must be treated properly

    I received a parliamentary reply yesterday to my question on the number of people who are currently being held at detention centres for immigrants nationwide. I was shocked to find out that there were 1918 children (‘kanak-kanak’ or KK) among the 71,362 detainees. This comprises almost 3% of total detainees.

    The issue of children in detention centres for immigrants came to public attention in an Aljazeera 101 East documentary entitled “Malaysia’s Unwanted” which showed a small child in a detention centre where the journalist in question had entered as an undercover priest.[1] The statistics given in the parliamentary reply clearly shows that this is not an isolated incident. In fact, there are children in each of the 13 detention centres with the highest number in Bekenu, Sarawak (299) and the lowest in Semuja, Sarawak (9).

    The nations with the highest number of children are Myanmar (813), followed by Indonesia (422), Philippines (295) and Cambodia (121). These four nations make up 86% of the children who are in these detention centres.

    I call upon the Minister of Home Affairs to do the following:

    • Ensure that the welfare and safety of these children are given the highest priority in accordance to the provisions of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC)[2] of which Malaysia is a signatory.
    • Work with the embassies of the countries involved especially among the ASEAN countries to expedite any process to resettle or repatriate these children together with their parents.
    • Work with SUHAKAM, NGOs and other interested parties to allow these children, together with their parents (if applicable), to be released from these detention centres and housed in other more suitable accommodation.

    As a start, I call upon the Minister of Home Affairs to organize a trip for interested MPs to visit a detention center in the Klang Valley (Bukit Jalil, KLIA or Semenyih) for us to examine the conditions under which these children are being detained.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang


    [1] http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2014/11/malaysia-unwanted-20141118111742722400.html

    [2] http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

  • Strongly Urge US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to raise the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia in his discussion with his Malaysian counterpart, Anifah Aman

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 2nd of August, 2015

    Strongly urge US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to raise the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia in his discussion with his Malaysian counterpart, Anifah Aman

    I read with interest a recent newspaper report stating that the US Secretary of State John Kerry will press Malaysia to improve its efforts to combat human trafficking in his upcoming visit to Kuala Lumpur.[1] Recently, Malaysia was upgraded from its previous Tier 3 status under the US State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2014 to its current updated Tier 2 Watch List status in the 2015 TIP report.

    Earlier last month, a group of 19 Senators, led by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, wrote a letter to Secretary John Kerry expressing their concern of a premature upgrading of Malaysia’s status in the TIP report.[2] Their concerns were validated when Malaysia’s status was indeed validated in the 2015 TIP report. It should also be noted that Senator Menendez was the author of an amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation – or better known as ‘fast track’ – that would have disallowed the US from making any trade deals with a country with a Tier 3 status on the TIP report. This obviously would have affected Malaysia’s inclusion in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.

    I strongly urge Secretary Kerry to bring up an issue that was ignored in the Malaysian section of the 2015 TIP report which concerns the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia.

    The issue of forced labor involving North Korean workers was highlighted in the country reports for Russia, China and Mongolia in the 2015 TIP report. But no mention was made of the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia, even though reports by the Asian Institute for Policy Studies[3] and the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights[4] had reported that there were approximately 300 North Koreans working in Malaysia.

    The presence of North Koreans working in Malaysia was reported in the local press in November 2014 when a deadly mine explosion in Sri Aman, Kuching, claimed the lives of 3 miners (out of whom 1 was North Korean) and injured a further 29 (out of whom 7 were North Korean). It was further reported that a majority of the 119 workers at the mine were from North Korea.[5] A visit by two local journalists indicated that the mine was not only hard to find but that it did not seem to be run and managed professionally.[6] I note that this accident occurred before the March 2015 cut off date for the TIP 2015 evaluation.

    The presence of North Korean workers in Sarawak was confirmed by the then Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Wan Junaidi, shortly after the coal mining accident was reported.[7] It was also confirmed to me in a parliamentary reply dated on the 17th of June, 2015, that 3 companies involved in construction and 1 in mining had received approval from the Human Resources Department in Sarawak to employ a total of 348 North Korean workers, out of which 287 permits had been used at the time of the parliamentary reply.

    The use of North Korean forced labor abroad has been well documented. I hope that the exclusion of the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia in the latest TIP 2015 report was not because of political expediency to allow Malaysia to enter into the TPP agreement at the end of this year.  If this was the case, then it would call into question the accuracy of the TIP report and the commitment on the part of the US State Department to combat trafficking of persons in Malaysia and around the world.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    (Please find original and translation of the parliamentary reply attached)

    [1] http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/kerry-to-press-malaysia-on-human-trafficking-not-scandal

    [2] http://www.menendez.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/071515%20Letter%20to%20Kerry%20re%20Malaysia%20TIP%20Upgrade.pdf

    [3] http://en.asaninst.org/wp-content/themes/twentythirteen/action/dl.php?id=30324

    [4] http://nkdb.org/en/library/Books_list.php

    [5] http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/23/Sarawak-mine-blast/

    [6] http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/23/Mine-has-no-signage-and-is-difficult-to-find/

    [7] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/24/-sp-north-korea-malaysia-mine-labour

  • UKM should start having open dialogues with its students instead of punishing them for expressing their views

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 27th of June, 2015

    UKM should start having open dialogues with its students instead of punishing them for expressing their views

    On Monday, 29th of June, 2015, the Student Office Affairs at UKM will call up 13 students who were involved in a protest on the 27th of March, 2015, over the issue of water disruptions to a number of residential colleges in the university, some of which had been without water for more than two weeks.

    The freedom to assemble peacefully is enshrined in Article 10.1(b) of the Federal Constitution and the students’ demonstration on the 27th of March, 2015, was definitely peaceful.

    One of the accusations being levelled at the students by UKM is the fact that they handed me a memorandum during the protest on the 27th of March (See Attachment 1). I was informed that the students were organizing this protest and as the MP for Serdang, which UKM is part of, I felt that it was my duty and responsibility to listen to the problems facing the students as a result of these water cuts.

    I was also told that the students had asked UKM to organize a briefing involving SYABAS, the UKM authorities and student representatives so that more information could be given to the students including the reasons behind the water cuts and the possible solutions moving of forward.

    After the protest on the 27th of March, 2015, I wrote to the Vice Chancellor of UKM on the 16th of April (see Attachment 2) to seek for a meeting for us to discuss the best way to work together to solve the water problems in UKM which are not new and has been happening over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, till now, I have not received any information or correspondence from UKM in response to my letter.

    This kind of attitude reflects the larger problem at hand – which is the unwillingness of UKM to engage in an open and transparent dialogue with all the stakeholders including student leaders over an important issue which seriously impacted the well-being of students in the affected residential colleges. Rather than punishing them, the UKM authorities should be working together with the students and other stakeholders such as SYABAS, the local ADUN and MP, the local authority and the state government in order to solve the problem at hand.

    As long as this sort of attitude prevails in our public universities, whatever talk of trying to attain the status of a world class university will be empty rhetoric, devoid of substance. How can a public university speak about attaining academic excellence when it continues to shackle its own students?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Attachment 1: UKM 13: Tatatertib Protes Air

    Attachment 2: UKM 13: Surat 16 April 2015 Krisis Air UKM

  • If Malaysia does not tolerate any form of human trafficking, why does it occupy the lowest tier (Tier 3) in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 16th of May, 2015

    If Malaysia does not tolerate any form of human trafficking, why does it occupy the lowest tier (Tier 3) in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report?

    Prime Minister Najib, in a statement released yesterday, in response to the escalating Rohingya immigrant crisis, said the following:

     “Malaysia does not and will not tolerate any form of human trafficking. Anyone found to be perpetrating this injustice and contravening our laws will be held accountable.”

    The Prime Minister’s statement is a joke given Malaysia’s atrocious record on human trafficking and the lack of political will to undertake meaningful steps in order to address these serious shortcomings.

    The US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report had put Malaysia on the Tier 2 Watch List from 2010 to 2013. Being on the Tier 2 watch list means that Malaysia is a country which is one of the “governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act (TVPA)’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts bring themselves into compliance with those standards”.  After not showing any progress to improve its human trafficking record, Malaysia was automatically downgraded to a Tier 3 status country in 2014 which is one of the countries “whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”[1]

    Among some of the problems highlighting in Malaysia are the following:

    “Refugees in Malaysia lack formal status or the ability to obtain work permits under Malaysian law, making them vulnerable to trafficking. Many incur large smuggling debts; traffickers use these debts to subject some refugees to debt bondage.”[2]

    The issue of human trafficking and the treatment continues to be a serious one in Malaysia despite the enactment of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.[3] The effective enforcement of this Act[4] as well as underlying weaknesses in this Act that opens itself up to abuse have not been addressed.[5]

    This problem has become so serious that Malaysia’s participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be jeopardized as a result of its Tier 3 status in the Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report.[6]

    As long as the Malaysian government refuses to have an honest examination of its policies towards refugees and migrants, our human trafficking record will continue to languish. The recent humanitarian crisis involving the Rohingyas is but the tip of a much larger iceberg of the human trafficking problem in our country which the Malaysian government, led by the Prime Minister, refuses to acknowledge even exists.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2014/226649.htm

    [2] http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/226847.pdf

    [3] http://www.agc.gov.my/Akta/Vol.%2014/Act%20670.pdf

    [4] http://www.thestar.com.my/story/?file=%2F2009%2F2%2F15%2Ffocus%2F3272925&sec=focus

    [5] http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/142533

    [6] http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/68376779/malaysias-human-trafficking-may-doom-trans-pacific-partnership

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