Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the 17th of September 2021

Malaysia Day Pointers for Younger Generation who are interested in politics and public policy

“I believe the children are our future….” is the start of a famous Whitney Houston song. I very much believe that the younger generation of political leaders, public policy thinkers and social activists are the future of the country, now more so than before. Many of them are disappointed and disillusioned with the current political landscape and many of them are standing up to be counted through activism such as the recent #LAWAN protests, through public advocacy such as the #UNDI campaign, and through the many discussions on CLUBHOUSE and ZOOM webinars which have been happening regularly throughout this COVID19 pandemic.

On this 58th Malaysia Day, I want to give a few pointers to all those young people out there who are interested in politics and public policy making so that your journey towards greater political and publicly policy awareness can be a more meaningful one:

  1. Get experience via meaningful internships

The internship landscape in Malaysia now is very different from when I was studying in university back in the mid-1990s. Most large corporations, consulting and professional services firms have their own established internship programs that are part and parcel of their recruiting strategy. There are far more public policy think-tanks of different ideological persuasions now – ISIS, IDEAS, REFSA, The Centre, EMIR, IDE, SERI, IMAN (just to name a few) – for those interested in public policy to seek internships with during their school breaks.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of interns since I came back to Malaysia in 2010 after completing my PhD in the United States. Not all of them have gone into full time politics or public policy making. But some have. One intern is a state assembly representative now in Selangor. Another had the opportunity to work in the office of the Minister of Finance after he graduated from his Masters program in the UK. Another worked for me as my special officer when I was Deputy Minister at MITI. Another is working as an assistant to a local councillor as he completes his undergraduate studies. Another was my parliamentary researcher for many years and just recently graduated from a Masters program in the US where she was a Fulbright scholar.

I still keep in touch with some of my interns. One of them was even kind enough to sponsor an internship program under my office in 2015![1]

During the past 3 months, despite the pandemic, I managed to work with 13 interns doing various research and on the ground projects. Most of them found their experience rewarding.[2] And they gave me some nice birthday presents too! (See Picture below)

Picture: Book and Cap from #TeamOKMInterns2021

2. Get a few good mentors

When I first started working at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as an Associate Consultant way back in 1999, I didn’t realize the need to have good mentors – senior people either in my own company or in my circle of friends whom I could talk to for career advice. Along the way, I realized that it was probably better for me to learn from different individuals – people who were more senior than myself as well as my own peers. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to learn from many people in the political sphere in Malaysia, from their many strengths as well as from some of their weaknesses.

I would strongly advise those seeking experiences in the political and public policy landscape to look out for good mentors to learn from. You may seek out these individuals explicitly to ask for career advice or you may learn from these individuals by observing them from a distance, for example, by reading their press statements and following them on social media.

3. Get together with like-minded people

It is much easier for the younger generation to seek out like-minded people with a passion for political activism and public policy these days. I was thoroughly impressed by how young activists organized themselves for a sit-in in front of parliament to protest the closure of parliament during the emergency and then later for the #LAWAN protests at Dataran Merdeka.

Of course, not all gatherings have to be public protests. Many discussions on various areas of public policy and politics are taking place among the younger generation on Clubhouse and on Zoom. There are also platforms such as Dewan Muda[3] where different youth from different backgrounds and geographical locations congregate to receive leadership and public policy training and engage with each other in rigorous debates.

I would encourage the younger generation to seek each other out not just to discuss politics and public policy but to undertake small but meaningful projects which can help marginalised communities around their midst. Only when the rubber hits the road can our theories about how to better govern the country can be tested and refined.

4. Get used to sharing your views and having them critiqued

In politics as well as in public policy, we have to get used to people disagreeing with us, sometimes in disagreeable ways. Thankfully, there are ‘safer’ ways to put our viewpoints to the test and for the younger generation to train themselves to debate and discuss issues, hopefully in a civilized manner.

Small clubhouse gatherings are one avenue. Carefully curated zoom meetings could be another. For those who are more adventurous, Twitter is the place to have more ‘robust’ but often less meaningful feedback. Each person should find the platforms which can help refine his or her skills not just for sharing viewpoints but also to listen to and understand other points of view.

5. Get exposure to and from social media strategically

These days, anyone can get a twitter account. But not everyone uses their twitter account strategically. The same can be said of the strategic use of other social media platforms. I advised my interns to subscribe to a twitter account so that they can follow politicians, public policy experts and political activists to see what these people are sharing on their respective timelines. For the more adventurous, I advised them to share their views on twitter and to monitor the responses to their views closely and carefully. Don’t lash out against others on twitter but instead, exercise constraint.

I also made it mandatory for my interns to get a Linkedin account for professional development. Articles, thoughts and comments shared on Linkedin are much more helpful and insightful for career development and business strategies compared to the more combative atmosphere on twitter.

Instagram is more for sharing your personal stories and branding in a positive way.

As for facebook, I’m not sure how many in the younger generation actually use it on a regular basis. I hear that Tiktok is the way to go but I haven’t gotten on it yet. Should I?

6. Get acquainted with data

I advised all of my interns this year to sign up for a Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) account, for free! [4] One of the frustrations I face is that most politicians and policy makers do not refer to statistics and information when speaking, writing or making decisions. The need for data driven decision making processes has been highlighted during this pandemic and if the younger generation is to make a meaningful contribution towards public policy discussion, it is imperative that they should get familiar with statistics and how to use these statistics to inform their public policy discussions and debates. And for those who have the opportunity to contribute to public policy research, the ability to convert data into meaningful analysis is crucial.

7.Get used to listening and learning from podcasts

We have access to plenty of content these days but one of the most enjoyable and insightful ways to learn about new content is through podcasts. You can listen to them in the car or while taking the bus or the train and even while you’re exercising or waiting for the lift. You get to listen to insights from smart podcast hosts and well-informed and articulate guests. And best of all, most if not all of the content is FREE! I would definitely recommend listening to BFM podcasts for the best local content and to the Economist, NPR, New York Times, BBC and Slate podcasts for international content. I’m discovering more and more interesting podcasts over time but am finding less time to listen to all of them!

8. Get some good recommendations for books to read

Our handphones are probably our best friends given the amount of time we spend on them. But once in a while, it’s good to put the phone away and to reach for a good book or two. There’s nothing like trying to understand the ideas and arguments put forth by an author (for non-fiction books) and to enjoy the prose and writing of an accomplished wordsmith (for fiction books). Ask your friends (and perhaps mentors) to recommend some good books to read. It can be on any topic as long as it’s a good, recommended read. And for those of you who have forgotten how to read a book, there’s always the audio book option.

9. Get professional exposure

I often advise my interns to get some experience in the corporate and non-political world, especially for those who want to dive into politics straight away after graduation. A few years in the corporate sector is tremendously helpful in learning the structures and processes of an organization, be it a large, medium-sized, or small company. I have definitely benefitted from my experiences in management consulting, policy research and academia before I joined full time politics in 2012 and was elected into office in 2013. I still use many of the concepts and frameworks from my management consultant days in my policy analysis and parliamentary debates.

10. Get ready to mentor others

Last but not least, it is never too early to think about passing the torch to the generation after you. This means that even as you are developing your own professional career and learning about politics and public policy making from others who are more experienced than yourself, be mindful of developing your own mentorship skills and abilities so that you can mentor others down the road. As the lyrics of a popular song goes … “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going” … So get ready to Pass It On!





Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Dr. Kelvin Yii, Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching on the 8th of September 2021

10 MySejahtera Wishlist items for the consideration of the new Minister of Health, Khairy Jamaluddin: Timely update of vaccination status on the MySejahtera App

  1. There is feedback that some individuals fully vaccinated under the PICK program are still waiting for their vaccination status to be reflected in the MySejahtera App. There are also individuals who have been vaccinated under the Selangor state government’s SELVAX program which have not gotten their MySejahtera digital vaccination certificates. This delay in the update presents obstacles for the affected individuals to go to workplaces which require employees to be fully vaccinated e.g. restaurants. The yet to be updated vaccination status on MySejahtera is also problematic when it comes to enjoying privileges such as dining-in and even buying groceries for those who are fully vaccinated.

2. Quick rectification of mistakes in updating the MySejahtera vaccination information

  • There are cases of a person’s name or IC number wrongly input into MySejahtera and/or in the Digital Vaccination Certificate. These kinds of issues should be quickly resolved when a request is made via the HELPDESK function on the MySejahtera App.

3) Updating the status of fully vaccinated individuals whose MySejahtera status cannot be changed at the PPV because someone else has “used” or “registered” their identity

  • Some foreigners have had their passports used to register another person to be vaccinated. This is akin to identity theft via MySejahtera.

4) The transfer of the vaccination certificates to dependents

  • Many adult children who registered their parents as dependents would like to transfer the digital vaccination certificate to their parents, especially those who do not live together or nearby. This should be done in a timely and transparent manner so that parents / dependents can enjoy the privileges of a fully vaccinated person.

5) Updating MySejahtera vaccination status based on overseas vaccinations

  • The current procedure, which requires an individual to go to the nearest District Health Office (Pejabat Kesihatan Negeri) needs to be changed, as it is cumbersome and not practical. It should be done through online verification and “interoperable” block-chain recognition where possible (in the case of Singapore for example, where we are supposed to have a mutual recognition system for the digital vaccination certificates). The current process which takes 4-5 weeks is far too long and not practical. A proper SOP to be undertaken at the MySejahtera level should be put in place rather than burdening the state or the district health offices with another responsibility that can be better administered by non-health specialists.

6) Updating of MySejahtera status post COVID19 recovery

  • If an individual who has recovered Covid19 does not report his or her status daily, the MySejahtera status may still reflect the positive case after 14 days of quarantine. This process should be streamlined such that individuals who do not update their daily status at the end of the day will receive a call from MySejahtera the next day. This process can be easily automated.

7) Allow those returning from overseas to have shorter quarantine times or home quarantine if they are fully vaccinated (This requires faster processing by MOH and updating of MySejahtera vaccination status); Allow those who are fully vaccinated to travel to countries with the low number of cases for leisure e.g. Singapore (This requires timely updating of the MySejahtera digital vaccination certificate)

Further ahead, we may want to consider issuing temporary vaccination certificates to tourists who have been fully vaccinated abroad, so that they can enjoy the same privileges as residents who have been fully vaccinated. This is one of the ways in which our tourism sector can be opened safely and securely to foreign tourists.

Increase capacity of MySejahtera HELPDESK and HOTLINE, including the use of technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots

The increased economic activity resulting from a faster response rate to vaccination certification related issues will justify the additional funds spent on increasing MySejahtera capacity.

9) Establish clear KPIs for processing requests for MySejahtera, eg. “X” no. of working days for processing overseas vaccination status

Once there is a critical mass of applications that have been processed and approved – automation can be applied to speed up and simplify the process.

10) Improve the MySejahtera digital contact tracing capacity to be able to trace at least 80% of all close contacts within 24 hours and provide better alert notifications of possible close contact immediately and advise on the next step of action.

This should be part and parcel of the Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) national testing policy to ensure that the number of COVID19 related cases remain low and under control when the full effect of the national vaccination program is in place.

May be an image of 2 people and text that says "Aad SOWIHPT. ARKUCHING Dr.Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen, Member ofPariament for Bandar Kuching & persor Chairperson of Special Select Committee on Health, Science and Innovation Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi & Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) DR.ONG Our 10 MySejahtera Wishlist items For the consideration of the new Minister of Health, YB Khairy Jamaluddin"

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Teo Nie Ching, Member of Parliament for Kulai and DAP International Secretary on the 6th of September 2021

CLP Exams for 2021 should be conducted safely and soon

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic had severely impacted several groups from progressing forward in the next stage of their career by hindering national examinations from being held physically, amongst others, are the candidates of the Certificate of Legal Practice (‘CLP’) or the “Peperiksaan Sijil Amalan Guaman (‘PSAG[GSG1] ’)” examinations which consist of 1500 to 2000 candidates each year. The CLP or PSAG examinations are a pre-requisite for candidates to be admitted as an Advocate & Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya and/or Sabah and Sarawak.

As of the 17th of July 2021, the Legal Profession Qualifying Board (‘LPQB’) had merely announced that the CLP or PSAG examinations for batch 2021 are expected to be held between the months of, subject to the approval National Security Council (‘NSC’), February 2022 to April 2022 without any indication of an exact date.[1]

Undoubtedly, it is exceedingly unfair to the CLP or PSAG candidates for batch 2021 (‘Batch 2021’) as they are left in the dark with neither confirmation of the exact date of their CLP or PSAG examinations nor updates on any progress made thereof. We propose the following measures be taken to help find a resolution to this problem: –

  1. The Legal Profession Qualifying Board (LPQB)[2] should proposed its own Standard Operation Process (SOPs) for organizing the exam and for students to take the exam rather than having to wait for the National Security Council (NSC) to decide the SOPs. As more and more adults in Malaysia are fully vaccinated, physical exams should be able to be conducted subject to strict SOPs. If 400,000 students were allowed to sit for physical SPM exams in February 2021 during MCO 2.0 and when the national vaccination program hasn’t even started yet, it should not be that challenging to arrange for a physical exam for 2000 students or less.

2. The Malaysian Bar Council and private institutions of higher learning should play a more active role in advocating the cause of the CLP students and the CLP program more generally. Although these CLP students are not yet members of the Malaysian bar, a certain portion of them will qualify to be called to the Malaysian bar and will work for legal firms. There is no reason as to why the Bar Council cannot take a more proactive role in advocating for the rights of those who are taking their CLP exams. At the same time, a few institutions of higher learning which offer law degrees and also CLP programs should also advocate for these students who have studied law and want to qualify to be called to the Bar as lawyers. They should also take a more proactive position to advocate for the need for their students to take the CLP as soon as possible in a safe and responsible manner.

3. Finally, all of the stakeholders should come together to discuss the possibility of having hybrid / online exams for the CLP. In 2020, the Rules of Court 2012 had been amended to embrace remote communication technology and this had allowed proceedings in Court to be conducted online [3.]. Similarly, the LPQB ought to make sense of the new normal and welcome the possibility for the CLP or PSAG examinations to be held online with safeguards such as e-Procotoring [4] being implemented. If there are concerns that the structure of the current examinations relies primarily on rote learning and memorization, which is not suitable for online examinations, then there should be serious consideration on the need to change the structure of the CLP exams.

The relevant stakeholders cannot just sit back and wait for another year to pass. More proactive measures need to be discussed now so that the welfare and careers of the 2021 batch of CLP students are not jeopardized further.





May be an image of 5 people, people sitting, people standing and text that says "Teo Nie Ching, Member ofarmt for Kulai & Democratic Action Party (DAP) International Secretary Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi & Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) Law students who are supposed to take the Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) exam should not be kept in the dark until after the exam date."