• Message to Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 is not 1990

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 28th of August, 2017

    Message to Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 is not 1990

    I was a little surprised to read that the Minister for Communications, Datuk Seri Penglima Said Salleh Keruak, responded to my media statement on the possibility of a 15% swing in the Malay vote against BN in the 14thGeneral Election. Usually, Barisan National (BN) Ministers do not like to respond to my media statements which contain facts and figures. I congratulate the Minister for Communications for his awareness of the swing in the Malay vote as we approach the 14th GE.

    I agree with a number of points he made in his blogpost.[1]

    Firstly, I agree that Pakatan Harapan (PH) cannot assume that young voters are more supportive of the opposition even though in GE2008 and GE2013, based on research on the voting streams, the support level for the opposition in the younger voting streams was higher than that in the older voting streams. It cannot be denied that the BN’s main weapon to court younger voters, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, is well received among the younger generation, especially through social media. In my opinion, Khairy’s social media strategy is more effective than that of our Prime Minister’s. His popularity has taken another step upwards after ‘going to the ground’ to encourage and support our SEA Games athletes as well as representing our country in the sport of polo.

    Secondly, I agree that our country is not currently experiencing an economic crisis, at least for now, unlike the situation approaching GE1999.

    But Said Salleh should be aware that 2017 is not 1990.

    Prior to GE1990, the opposition parties only held 27 out of 177 parliament seats or 15% of total parliament seats. Prior to GE14, the opposition parties (including independent MPs) hold 89 out of 222 parliament seats or 40%.

    Prior to GE1990, the opposition did not control a single state government. Prior to GE14, the opposition are the state governments in three states.

    Prior to GE1990, all the media were controlled by the government. Prior to GE14, the online media is giving the mainstream media a run for its money in terms of the number of users. Social Media has given another channel to the opposition to send its message to voters.

    Prior to GE1990, the opposition was led by a former Minister of Finance who had left UMNO. Prior to GE14, the opposition is led by a former Prime Minister, two former Deputy Prime Ministers, the leader of the opposition, a former Menteri Besar (Kedah), a Menteri Besar (Selangor) and a Chief Minister (Penang).

    Prior to GE1990, the young leaders in the opposition were not well known by many. Prior to GE14, the young leaders in Pakatan Harapan who are 40 and under include Nurul Izzah, Syed Saddiq, Nik Nazmi, Wong Kah Woh, Hannah Yeoh, Zairil Khir Johari, Steven Sim, Yeo Bee Yin, Kasturi Patto and many others. Other than Khairy Jamaluddin, the most well-known young leader in the BN is arguably Jamal Yunos who aspires to run for the UMNO Youth Chief position.

    Prior to GE1990, GST did not exist while petrol, sugar, cooking oil and other subsidies were still in place. Prior to GE14, the implementation of the GST and the withdrawal of various subsidies have decreased the income of the people and increased the cost of living from the cities to the kampungs.

    Prior to GE1990, the Prime Minister at that time was not involved in any mega scandals which stained the country’s reputation all over the world. Prior to GE14, Malaysia is more well known as a kleptocratic state as a result of the 1MDB scandal where billions of ringgit are suspected to have been stolen from the Malaysian people and used to buy diamonds, bungalows, paintings and posters, and yachts, among others.

    All these factors do not mean that a Malay swing of 15% from the BN to the opposition will take place. But, one wonders, does Said Salleh’s blogpost show that UMNO itself is afraid that this Malay vote swing to the opposition will become a reality in GE14?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] https://sskeruak.blogspot.my/2017/08/analisis-ong-kian-ming-menarik-tetapi.html?m=1

  • Is a 15% Malay swing against the BN in GE14 realistic?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 26th of August 2017

    Is a 15% Malay swing against the BN in GE14 realistic?

    My colleague and Member of Parliament for Kluang, Liew Ching Tong, has been discussing the possibility of a Malay tsunami in the upcoming 14th General Election which will allow Pakatan Harapan (PH) to win power at the federal level.

    DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has written about a 10 and 5 formula whereby a swing of 10% against the BN by Malay voters and a swing of 5% by non-Malay voters would enable PH to win 113 out of 165 parliament seats (or 68% of seats) in Peninsular Malaysia, thereby paving the way for PH to get to Putrajaya.

    How much of a Malay swing against the BN is needed for PH to win Putrajaya? Is a Malay tsunami in the form of a 15% Malay vote swing against the BN something realistic?

    To answer the question of whether a 15% Malay vote swing against the BN is a realistic projection in GE14, we must examine vote swings among other voting ‘blocks’ in previous general elections in Malaysia.

    Table 1 below shows the estimated support for the BN by racial group and changes in racial support for the BN from 1995 to 2013.

    Table 1: Estimated support for the BN by racial groups in Peninsular Malaysia, 1995 to 2013

    1995 1999 2004 2008 2013
    Malay 81% 54% (-27%) 65% (+11%) 59% (-6%) 64% (+5%)
    Chinese 55% 65% (+10%) 75% (+10%) 35% (-40%) 14% (-21%)
    Indian >90% >90% (NA) >90% (NA) 48% (-42%) 38% (-10%)

    (Change from one election to the next is in brackets) (NA = Not Available)

    Source: Estimates by Dr. Ong Kian Ming

    From Table 1, there has been one instance of a more than 15% swing in Malay support against the BN, which was during the 1999 ‘Reformasi’ election where BN’s support among the Malays fell by 27% from 81% in 1995 to 54% in 1999. PAS emerged as the largest opposition party in parliament after the 1999 general elections. The loss in support for the BN was felt most in the northern states of Kedah, Teregganu and Kelantan where PAS won most of its parliament seats. What ‘saved’ the BN in the 1999 GE was its high level of support among non-Malay voters. Chinese support for the BN increased by an estimated 10%, from 55% in 1995 to 65% in 1999. Indian support for the BN remained high at over 90%.

    In the 2004 GE, Malay support for the BN rebounded somewhat when it increased by 11% from 54% to 65%. BN support among the Chinese increased by a further 10% to an estimated 75%, one of the highest levels in Malaysian history. This was the Pak Lah tsunami effect which allowed the BN to capture 91% of parliament seats.

    In the 2008 GE, the BN suffered a tremendous drop in its non-Malay support. BN support among the Chinese voters fell by 40% (from 75% to 35%) while BN support among the Indian voters, mostly because of the Hindraf movement, fell by at least 42% (from more than 90% to 48%). BN support among the Malays fell by a smaller amount, from 65% to 59%, a drop of only 6%.

    In the 2013 GE, BN support among the Malays increased slightly, by 5%, from 59% to 64% while BN support among the Chinese and Indians fell by a further 21% and 10% respectively to 14% and 38%.

    To go back to the initial question, how much of a Malay swing can we expect in GE14? A Malay swing of 10% is not out of the question given the impact of Tun Dr. Mahathir and the formation of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and later on, the creation of Pakatan Harapan which includes PPBM. With a historically unpopular Prime Minister, the 1MDB scandal, and the impact of the GST and rise in the cost of living, the Malay vote is likely to swing against the BN in GE14. A Malay swing against the BN of 15% would bring BN’s Malay support to about 50% which would leave BN teetering on a knife’s edge. A swing of 15% or more in any voting block doesn’t usually occur but we are living in unusual circumstances. It happened in 1999 among the Malay voters and it happened again in 2008 among the non-Malay voters. If I had been told in 2013 that Dr. Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin would form a new political party to fight UMNO in GE14, I would have said that you were out of your mind. And yet, what was then unthinkable is now reality. As unlikely as a 15% swing may sound, it is not out of the realm of impossibility.

    Of course, if there is a 15% swing in the Malay vote against the BN, the next question we have to ask is how much of this swing would go to PH and how much of this would go to PAS? To answer this question would require another media statement…

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • Full details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act must be known before a decision to support or not can be made

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 30th of March 2017

    Full details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act must be known before a decision to support or not can be made

    Yesterday, on the 29th of March, 2017, myself together with my colleagues, Anthony Loke (Seremban), Teresa Kok (Seputeh), Chong Chien Jen (Bandar Kuching), Julian Tan (Stampin), Oscar Ling (Sibu), Jeff Ooi (Jelutong) and Ng Wei Aik (Tanjong) met with Senator Datuk Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to discuss the details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act.

    The recommendations[1] of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing were published on its website on the 30th of September 2016.[2]

    We expressed our disappointment that this committee chose to only focus on political donations and expenditure without addressing larger issues of reform which are linked to political donations and expenditure including the independence of the Election Commission as well as the office of the Attorney General (AG).

    We also highlighted some of the shortcomings of the recommendations including the proposal to lift all spending limits and not to have a cap on political donations to political parties and individuals. This will skew an already uneven playing field in favour of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

    At the same time, we welcome the following recommendations:

    • The creation of an office of the Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure and the assurance of a transparent and fair process to appoint the Controller
    • The creation of a parliamentary standing committee on political financing to scrutinise the work of the Controller on behalf of Parliament
    • That state funding be provided to support the effective operations of the constituency offices of the elected Members of Parliament and elected State Legislative Assembly members
    • The ban on state owned companies and companies receiving government contracts and concessions from making any political contributions
    • Steps to be taken to criminalise discrimination or victimisation of donors and the creation of a mechanism to enable donors who feel they have been unfairly treated to seek justice

    We informed the Minister that state funding for MPs should include access to constituency development funds which are currently being denied to opposition MPs.

    We also took note that many of the finer details to do with the implementation of the proposed act have not yet been confirmed and is in the process of being ironed out by the technical committee.

    We appreciate the assurance by the Minister that he will keep us informed of any future developments with regards to this proposed bill and that he ‘will not spring any surprises’ on us.

    We will await the full details of the proposed bill before we decide on whether to support the bill or not.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Photo: DAP MPs meeting with Paul Low

    [1] http://transparency.org.my/what-we-do/reforming-political-financing/full-report-from-the-national-consultative-committee-on-political-financing/

    [2] http://politicalfinancing.my/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Media-STATEMENT-JKNMPP-English-final-290916.pdf

  • 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

  • Will the political financing regulations be used selectively against opposition parties and its supporters?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 3rd of October, 2016

    Will the political financing regulations be used selectively against opposition parties and its supporters?

    The recently released report from the Consultative Committee on Political Financing (JKNMPP) has some recommendations which are not without merit. Indeed, some of these recommendations have been supported by the opposition in the past including the recommendation for state-funding to be provided for the operations of constituency offices of elected Members of Parliament and state legislative members regardless of political affiliation. The recommendation to create a parliamentary standing committee on Political Financing merits consideration but needs to be discussed in the larger context of creating a number of parliamentary standing committees. The recommendation for greater transparency in the awarding of Public Private Partnership contracts has been reiterated countless times by opposition Members of Parliament for many years.

    The recommendation that state-owner enterprises of all types, be it at the federal or state or local levels, and all their subsidiaries be banned from making direct, indirect or in-kind contributions to politicians or political parties is long overdue. In fact, this can be done with a directive from the PM or the chief executive of the state, without necessarily involving additional legislation.

    But one cannot also turn a blind eye to some of the obvious shortcomings of some of the recommendations. Notably, the lack of any limits or caps on the amount which can be donated to political parties or to individual politicians and the lack of any spending limits by a political party or individual tilts an already uneven playing field even more to the favour of the ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional (BN). There were also no recommendations for public disclosure of assets by politicians, especially those holding government positions.

    But the greatest shortcoming of this report is something which is outside the power and scope of work for this committee. There is nothing to prevent the BN from selectively implementing or modifying the recommendations of the committee in such a way as to enhance its own powers and put greater pressure on opposition parties and its supporters.

    For example, under the proposed Political Donation and Expenditure Act (PDEA), a very powerful “Office of the Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure” will be created. Political parties and politicians must report their political donations to this Controller who will have powers to audit the accounts. In addition, this Controller also has the power to confiscate donations if they are suspected to be from ‘dubious’ sources. We have seen how institutions which are supposed to be independent have been used to benefit the BN. The Elections Commission is the most important example and we have proof of this in the recently proposed 2016 delimitation exercise. We have no assurances that when the pressure in put on this Controller, he or she will not buckle to the needs of the BN leadership.

    Worse still, the proposed PDEA may be modify the recommendations of the JKNMPP by allowing the Controller to ban political parties from taking place in elections because of the non-compliance of one branch in the party with regards to political financing disclosure. A compliant Controller may then be pressured to use his or her power to target opposition political parties.

    Even though the JKNMPP recommends that steps should be taken to criminalise discrimination or victimisation of donors by introducing provisions in existing anti-discrimination laws or the introduction of a complete new law, it would not be surprising if this recommendation is totally ignored by the BN.

    We have too many examples of how laws which are supposed to ‘good’ for democracy and political activity be abused by the BN government. The Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 which was supposed to strengthen the right of assembly in the country, according to the establishment, ended up being used by the current regime to charge NGO activists like Bersih’s Maria Chin and Jannie Lasimbang as well as opposition politicians such as Nik Nazmi and Chong Chien Jen (among many others). Who is to say that this PDEA will not be abused in a similar manner?

    While there are merits in some of the recommendations proposed by the JKNMPP, the current political climate makes it very difficult for opposition parties and politicians to trust that the BN government will NOT implement or modify these recommendations in a selective and biased manner that is in its favour and which is detrimental to opposition parties and the practice of democracy here in Malaysia.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

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