• Despite millions of ringgit spent on anti-corruption measures, Malaysia’s ranking on the 2013 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) only improved marginally

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 4th December, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur

    Despite millions of ringgit spent on anti-corruption measures, Malaysia’s ranking on the 2013 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) only improved marginally

    In the latest 2013 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) Rankings by Transparency International, Malaysia’s position marginally improved from 54 in 2012 to 53 in 2013 and Malaysia’s overall score improved from 49 in 2012 to 50 in 2013. This marginal improvement is unacceptable given the hundreds of millions of ringgit spent on improving transparency and reducing corruption, including the efforts under the Anti-Corruption National Key Results Area (NKRA) as part of the Government Transformation Program (GTP).

    As an example, the operating budget of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for 2013 was RM252m and the operating budget of the National Audit Department for 2013 was RM148m giving a total for RM400m for these two agencies alone. Additional millions were also spent on the labs and workshops for the GTP 2.0 labs, workshops and open day as well as advertisements in 2013 which included initiatives under the Anti-Corruption NKRA.

    The end result was only a marginal improvement. Malaysia improved by one position, overtaking Georgia, which fell from 51st position in 2012 to 55th position in 2013. This is hardly an achievement to be proud of. Malaysia is still lags behind our neighbours in Asia and the Middle East including Singapore (5), Hong Kong (15), Japan (18), United Arab Emirates (26), Qatar (28), Bhutan (31), Taiwan (36), Brunei (38) and South Korea (46).

    Malaysia’s score on the CPI has also hardly changed. Although the score has increased from 49 to 50, the devil is in the details. The minimum and maximum score received by Malaysia on the 9 surveys used to calculate Malaysia’s score is the same in 2013 as it was in 2012 which is 31 (minimum score) and 62 (maximum score) respectively. This means that Malaysia’s score improvement is probably the result of a marginal improvement in ONE of the NINE surveys used by TI to calculate Malaysia’s overall score.

    While the intentions of those in charge in the National Audit Department, in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and in the Anti-Corruption team in PEMANDU’s Government Transformation Program (GTP) may be good, the intention to seriously address corruption is lacking among the BN leaders. As an example, in a recent briefing that was organized by IDEAS and supported by PEMANDU on the 3rd of December 2013, where Members of Parliament were briefed by the Auditor General, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, the Head of MACC, Tan Sri Abu Kassim and the Head of the Malaysian Institute of Integrity, Mohd Nizam Mohd Ali, not a single Barisan Nasional (BN) member of the Dewan Rakyat showed up. In comparison, 30 Pakatan MPs were in attendance. The only government representative present was Datuk Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department overseeing integrity, good governance and human rights.

    Public perception with regards to regulatory and enforcement agencies, transparency in government procurement and the willingness to tackle grand corruption – the three main thrusts of the anti-corruption NKRA – remain low especially after ‘big fish’ such as Tun Ling Liong Sik was not successfully prosecuted and convicted over his role in the PKFZ scandal and whose judgement was not even appealed by the Attorney General.

    The budget of MACC for 2014 has been increased to RM298m and the budget for the National Audit Department has been increased to RM169m giving a total budget of RM467m for these two agencies. Given this increased budget, the improvement in Malaysia’s CPI score and ranking for 2014 has to be significantly better than 2013.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming

    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • Minister of Human Resources, Richard Riot should clarify the details of his degrees

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang and Zairil Khir Johari, MP for Bukit Bendera in Parliament on the 27th of June, 2013

    Minister of Human Resources, Richard Riot should clarify the details of his degrees

    When it was revealed that Datuk Richard Riot had obtained his undergraduate and Masters degrees from degree mills, the Minister responded by saying that he obtained his undergraduate and Masters Degrees in Human Resource from the University of Hertfordshire, London.[1]

    The Minister was also reported to have said that “he did not know where Ong got the information about the “fake degrees” and that wherever they got the information was immaterial.”[2] Appendix 1 below shows that it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website that lists Richard Riot as having “obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration from Chartered Institute of Business Administration (Ireland), Teoranta in 1994 and Masters of Business Administration from Preston University, United States of America”.[3] As of 11.52pm, 26 June 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s website still shows this entry although Richard Riot is no longer the Deputy Foreign Minister.

    We call upon the Minister to explain why the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was the Deputy Minister for a number of years in the previous parliament, would list down his qualifications as such rather than to state that the Minister had obtained his undergraduate and Masters degrees from the University of Hertfordshire in Human Resource as he claimed in numerous online newspaper reports yesterday (26th of June 2013).

    If the Minister did indeed graduate from the University of Hertfordshire with an undergraduate as well as a Masters degree in Human Resource, then we call upon the Minister to show his degrees to the public in order to dispel any lingering doubts about his academic qualifications.

    We also want to note that the website of the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation no longer shows the details of the current Minister, Datuk ‘Dr’ Ewon Ebin as of 12.01, 27th June 2013.[4]

    We attached in Appendix 2 a previous screenshot of the Minister’s webpage from the MoSTI website which shows that the Minister obtained his degree from the Golden State University, Wyoming, USA.

    We call upon the Minister, Datuk ‘Dr’ Ewon Ebin to clarify whether or not he obtained his Masters in Business Administration from the Commonwealth Open University and his Doctorate in Business Administration from the Golden State University, Wyoming, USA.

    Finally, we call upon the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, to ask for the immediate resignation of one or both of the Ministers in question if it is proven that they have not been truthful about where they obtained their educational qualifications or if they had obtained ‘dodgy’ degrees from degree mills.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming

    Zairil Khir Johari

    Appendix 1: Screenshot of Richard Riot’s background according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    http://www.kln.gov.my/web/guest/deputy02 (As of 11:43 pm, 26 June 2013)

    Appendix 2: Screenshot of the Education Qualifications of Datuk ‘Dr’ Ewon Ebin, Minister of Science Technology and Information (No Longer Available)


    [2] Ibid

  • Is this transformation when two Ministers with fake degrees are responsible for human development in our country?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang and Zairil Khir Johari, MP for Bukit Bendera and Julian Tan Kok Ping, MP for Stampin in Parliament on the 26th of June, 2013

    Is this transformation when two Ministers with fake degrees are responsible for human development in our country? It is truly disappointing that on the first day for Ministerial replies in the first parliamentary sitting since the 13th General Election, Malaysians have to accept the reality that Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak has appointed two Ministers with two ‘dodgy’ degrees each from institutions which are degree mills.

    The first Minister in question is Richard Riot, formerly the Deputy Foreign Minister and now the Minister for Human Resources (MoHR). According to a previous entry in the website of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was listed as having a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Chartered Institute of Business Administration (Ireland), Teoranta in 1994 and a Masters in Business Administration from Preston University in the USA.

    Not only could we not find any website belonging to the abovementioned Chartered Institute of Business Administration (Ireland), Teoranta, Preston University is a well-known bogus university as reported by numerous newspaper reports.[1]

    The second Minister in question is “Dr” Ewon Ebin, the new Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI). The MoSTI website lists the Minister as having obtained his Doctor in Business Administration (DBA) from Golden State University, Wyoming.[2] Although not stated in the MoSTI website, we were informed that the Minister obtained his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Commonwealth Open University which is based in the British Virgin Islands. Both of these ‘institutions’ are listed down as ‘unathorized schools and invalid degrees’ by the state governments of Oregon and Maine in the United States.[3]

    What makes this revelation more ironic is the fact that both Ministers are in charge of ministries where human capital development, proper accreditation, certification and standards are key responsibilities. For example, the Ministry of Human Resources has the responsibility “To revise, update and develop the syllabus of skills training (NOSS), Skills Certification System (MOSQ) and skills standard for implementation.”[4] The Department of Skills Development / Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran, which is under the Ministry of Human Resources, has to manage the quality assurance and accreditation of the Malaysian Skills Certification program.[5]

    Not only does the MoSTI give out millions of ringgit in grants (ScienceFund, TechnoFund, InnoFund, NanoFund), it is also responsible for the protection and safeguarding of Intellectual Property (IP) rights. One of its agencies, the Departments of Standards Malaysia, is also responsible for the accreditation process for many laboratories across Malaysia.[6]

    Therefore, to entrust two Ministers with fake degrees with the serious responsibilities of human capital development and the management of certifications and standards is not only a gross embarrassment but also most ironic for a Prime Minister who has made transformation his clarion call.

    In February earlier this year, German Education Minister Annette Schavan had to resign because it was discovered that part of her doctoral thesis had been plagiarized.[7] Given the much more serious nature of this discovery, we call upon Prime Minister Najib to immediately ask these two Ministers to resign if he is serious about protecting the integrity and credibility of his Cabinet.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Zairil Khir Johari
    Julian Tan Kok Ping
    26 June 2013


  • Malaysia safest country in South-East Asia. Really?

    The issue of crime, especially in the urban areas, has once again surfaced as a hot political issue.

    NONEHome Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was quoted as saying that the fear of crime is a result of ‘public perception’ while Pemandu chief executive officer Idris Jala was reported as having asked the media to focus more on the crimes that have been solved, rather than those which have been committed.

    Meanwhile, DAP MP for Petaling Jaya Utara Tony Pua seems to have been given conflicting sets of crime data on Selangor and has called for Pemandu and the Home Ministry to release detailed crime statistics by the type of crime and the places where they were committed.

    It is very difficult to question the validity of the crime statistics since this data is collected, compiled and later disseminated to the various ministries and later the public at large by the police. An in-depth audit is required in order to get a better handle on the veracity of these statistics.

    However, what we can do is to take a closer look at some of the international indexes which the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and various ministers including the prime minister, the home minister and the Pemandu CEO have used as ‘external validation’ that the National Key Results Area (NKRA) on reducing crime is working as planned.

    This ‘evidence’ falls apart upon closer examination.

    1) Global Peace Index

    Take the Global Peace Index (GPI) as an example. The 2011 Government Transformation Programme Annual Report says:

    “In the fifth edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI) released in May 2011, Malaysia was declared the most peaceful country in South-East Asia and the fourth safest in the Asia Pacific region behind New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

    “The country rose three spots to 19th place, supplanting Singapore as the highest-ranked South-East Asian nation.

    “In its GPI rankings, the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace also placed Malaysia as the 19th safest and most peaceful country out of 153 nations worldwide. This is the fifth successive year that Malaysia has improved on its GPI score.”

    None other than Prime Minister Najib Razak has used Malaysia’s ranking on the latest 2012 GPI to argue that “one of our country’s achievements that we should be proud of is our ranking by the Global Peace Index, which ranked Malaysia as the safest country in South-East Asia.”

    NONEBut what should be made clear is that safety and security is only one of the three broad themes which the GPI is concerned about – the other two being ‘the extent of domestic or international conflict’ and ‘the degree of militarisation’.

    This index is made up of 23 sub-indicators out of which only six have direct connection to crime and safety.

    These are: (i) level of perceived criminality in society, (ii) number of internal security officers and police per 100,000, (iii) number of homicides per 100,000, (iv) number of jailed population per 100,000, (v) ease of access to small weapons and light weapons, and (vi) level of violent crimes.

    All the other indicators have to do with military conflicts and military expenditure and political and civil violence. Out of the six sub-indicators which are linked to crime, only one – the number of jailed population per 100,000 – have improved since 2007.

    (We are jailing fewer people as a percentage of the population which doesn’t necessarily mean that crime has fallen. We may be less efficient in catching criminals and putting them behind bars).

    NONE

    The rest have remained the same. Where we have made improvements is by decreasing military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, the number of armed personnel per 100,000 and in our relations with our neighbours (below). All are laudable achievements but have nothing to do with the state of crime and safety in our country.

    NONE

    The GPI cannot be used as evidence that Malaysia has become ‘safer’ than Singapore under the GTP.

    Yes, Malaysia became more ‘peaceful’ than Singapore in 2010 according to this index. But this was driven largely by a significant increase in the number of military imports to and exports from Singapore, which obviously has nothing to do with crime and safety.

    In the latest 2012 GPI, Malaysia is ranked 20, three spots ahead of Singapore, which is at 23. It would a very brave (or ignorant) man to say that Malaysia is safer than Singapore from a crime and safety perspective.

    And in fact, this is not what the index is trying to say since crime and safety is less than one third of the total indicators. It is therefore misleading for to use this indicator in the GTP 2011 Annual Report as evidence that the NKRA on reducing crime has been successful.

    It is even more misleading for Najib to equate the Global Peace Index to safety and then make the leap to claim that Malaysia is the safest country in Southeast Asia.

    2) Positive Peace Index

    Sadly, the prime minister forgot to read the second part of the Global Peace Index (GPI) where details of a new index, the Positive Peace Index, were unveiled.

    According to the GPI report, “the Positive Peace Index (PPI) is a measure of the strength of the attitudes, institutions, and structures of 108 nations to determine their capacity to create and maintain a peaceful society.”

    It is important to note that the PPI is not a measure of crime and safety but rather, it describes ‘the optimum environment for peace to flourish’.

    The components of this index include the following domains: (i) well-functioning government, (ii) sound business environment, (iii) equitable distribution of resources, (iv) acceptance of the rights of others, (v) good relations with neighbours, (v) free flow of information, (vi) high levels of education, and (vii) low levels of corruption.

    According to the PPI, Malaysia is ranked at 47 out of 108 countries.

    More worryingly, Malaysia is flagged as one the top 10 countries with the largest positive peace deficit, which is the difference between a country’s GPI and PPI rank.

    NONE

    These countries with a high positive peace deficit are described as “relatively peaceful but theoretically lack the institutions to adequately deal with external shocks or move closer to peace”. These high deficits also “suggest that while these countries have relatively moderate levels of violence, they comparatively lack positive peace”, meaning that they are “vulnerable to external shock or violence”.

    In the Malaysian context, for example, this deficit, which points to shortcomings in the rule of law and respect for democratic rights and due process, may indicate a future rise in violence in the event that there is a transition in power at the federal level.

    3) World Justice Report’s Rule of Law Index 2011

    According to the GTP Annual Report 2011, “the World Justice Project (WJP)’s Rule of Law Index 2011 too has ranked Malaysia safest among 19 upper-middle income countries and 12th globally.

    “Malaysia’s 12th position out of 66 countries covered under the WJP’s assessment on ‘Order and Security’, has placed the country ahead of the United States (13th position), followed by Britain, Belgium and France.”

    But only one in three of the components of the ‘Order and Security’ factor have to do with crime and safety. The WJP assessment on the extent to which ‘Crime is effectively controlled’ is the most relevant component.

    ‘Civil conflict is effectively limited’ is an assessment of the extent of armed conflict and terrorism in the country, which Malaysia is thankfully free from but is also not directly related to crime and safety. A drug-infested area, for example, may have little civil conflict but would have a high crime rate.

    ‘People do not resort to violence to redress personal grievances’ is the third component of this factor and while we should be thankful that vigilante justice is not practiced in Malaysia, this is not a measure which directly touches on crime and safety. Malaysia’s ranking for these three components are 37, 1 and 6 respectively (out of 66 countries).

    NONEIn other words, Malaysia’s ranking of 12 out of 66 in this index is largely driven by the fact that we do not have any serious civil conflicts and that we do not practice mob or vigilante justice or revenge killing.

    For the one component which actually relates to crime directly, Malaysia did poorly, coming in at 37 out of 66, putting it at sixth position in South-East Asia – behind Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.

    The GTP Annual Report also fails to highlight the fact that Malaysia was ranked 33 out of 66 on ‘Effective Criminal Justice’, the other crime and safety-related indicator in the WJP Rule of Law Index 2011.

    NONEWhile Malaysia’s ranking on some of the sub-components are commendable, e.g. 18th for ‘Crimes are effectively investigated’ and 14th for ‘Crimes are effectively and timely adjudicated’, its performance on other components which contribute to the overall crime and safety environment are quite appalling, for example, 49th for ‘The correctional system is effective in reducing criminal behaviour’ and 57th in ‘The criminal justice system is free of improper government influence’.

    4) World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Report

    The GTP Annual Report 2011 says: “In the 2011 Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) conducted by the World Economic Forum in the sub-category of ‘Business Costs of Crime and Violence’, Malaysia’s ranking improved by 30 positions from 93rd in 2010 to 63rd place in 2011.”

    Malaysia’s ranking in the ‘Business Costs of Crime and Violence’ sub-category did improve by 30 places from 93 in 2010-2011 to 63 in 2011-2012. Indeed, Malaysia’s ranking on the ‘Organised Crime’ ranking also improved from a high of 83 in 2009/2010 to 54 in 2011-2012.

    NONEBut if these rankings are to be used as ‘external validation’ for the success of the ‘Reducing Crime’ NKRA, then an explanation also has to be provided as to why Malaysia’s ranking for the reliability of police services, at 39, although an improvement from the 50th ranking in 2010/2011, is still worse than the 2008-2009 ranking of 37.

    ‘Publicity first, deception now’

    It is frankly silly to erroneously quote indexes as ‘evidence’ that Malaysia is safe country from a crime and safety perspective, especially if the index in question – the Global Peace Index – only partly measures crime and safety.

    For indexes such as the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law 2011, an examination of the components of the ‘Order and Security’ factor shows that Malaysia does poorly in the only component which measures crime and safety.

    police crime roadblock frontimageEven for the Global Competitiveness Report sub-category rankings which measure crime and safety, one important measure – ‘the reliability of police services’ – actually shows a result that it is worse than the 2008-2009 figure.

    If street crime has dropped by 40 percent since 2009 as reported in the GTP 2011 Annual Report and if these results are genuine and can be sustained, the public would naturally feel safer and perhaps even have the confidence to terminate the services of the private security companies which patrol most of the middle-class neighborhoods in the Klang Valley.

    If it was truly ‘People First, Performance Now’ rather than ‘Publicity First, Deception Now’, the people will validate the results by voting with their feet by walking on the streets without being scared of snatch thieves and robbers.

    Indeed, there will be no need for ‘external validation’ to tell the people what they are already experiencing for themselves.


    ONG KIAN MING holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University. His house was attacked by three thugs while he was doing research for this article. His account of the attack can be read here.

    This article was published by Malaysiakini.

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