Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg should show proof that the North Korean workers who were and are still in Sarawak are specialist workers

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 10th of March, 2017

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg should show proof that the North Korean workers who were and are still in Sarawak are specialist workers

On the 8th of March, 2017, Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Amar Johari Tun Openg was reported to have said that the North Koreans who are working in Sarawak are “mostly specialist workers in coal mining, bridge and hydroelectric dam projects”. [1] I received a parliamentary reply on the 17th of June, 2015 to my question on the number of North Korean workers who was then working in Malaysia. The reply stated that all of the North Korean workers in Malaysia were working in the construction and mining industries (See Figure 1 below)

Figure 1: Parliamentary Reply received on the 17th of June, 2015

I visited the Selantik coal mine in the Sri Aman district on the 25th of September, 2015. I did not speak to the North Korean coal miners because of concerns of safety and the language barrier. I did see that the living conditions of these workers were very basic. I also saw a woman who looked Korean coming out from one of the run-down accommodations at the mine to wash some plates. My guess at that time was that she was a cook for the North Korean workers. (See Pictures below)

I also asked the villagers living near the coal mine and they all said that they had very little interaction with the workers there. I find it hard to believe that ‘specialist’ coal miners from North Korea would be willing to live in such basic and inhospitable living conditions which I saw at the mine. There is also nothing from my parliamentary reply to indicate that these coal miners were ‘specialist’ workers.

Chief Minister Amar Johari can convince the public that these were indeed specialist workers by releasing information about the background, qualifications and work experience of these specialist workers as well as proof that the company employing them had advertised for these positions and were unable to fill them with Sarawakian workers.

At a time when relations between Malaysia and North Korea is at an all-time low and with the global media’s attention focused on Malaysia because of the recent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, it is imperative that we demonstrate to the global community that proper operating procedures were followed in the employment of the North Koreans in Sarawak. Failure to do so would put Malaysia in a negative light and may even cause the downgrade in Malaysia’s position in the US state department’s Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

Picture 1: Coal Mining operations in Selantik, Sri Aman in Sarawak

Picture 2: One of the accommodation housing the North Korean workers in Selantik, Sri Aman in Sarawak

Picture 3: One of the accommodation housing the North Korean workers in Selantik, Sri Aman in Sarawak

Picture 4: One of the accommodation housing the North Korean workers in Selantik, Sri Aman in Sarawak

Picture 5: A Korean looking woman coming out of one of the accommodation at the Selantik coal mine in Sri Aman to wash some dishes

[1] http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/03/08/north-koreans-in-no-rush-to-go-home/#4grlAk1YbeqsO6oV.99

The 2nd public display of the delimitation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia without Selangor is highly questionable and unconstitutional

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming on the 9th of March, 2017

The 2nd public display of the delimitation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia without Selangor is highly questionable and unconstitutional

Yesterday, on the 8th of March, 2017, the Election Commission (EC) published a notice to announce the official start of the 2nd round of the public display for the 2016 constituency delimitation exercise. This announcement was published in the mainstream press and as a Federal Government Gazette. This move by the EC is unprecedented in the history of delimitation exercises in Malaysia because it excludes the parliament and state seats in the state of Selangor in the 2nd public display. This move is also highly questionable and very likely, unconstitutional.

According to Article 113 (6) of the Federal Constitution, there shall be separate reviews undertaken in each delimitation exercise for the “States of Malaya and for each of the States of Sabah and Sarawak”. The Federal Constitution also clearly states that the delimitation exercise for the States of Malaya (or ‘Tanah Melayu’) – in other words, Peninsular Malaysia[1] – must be undertaken as a single unit of review. The delimitation exercise for the States of Malaya cannot be presented in parliament without the inclusion of Selangor.

This begs the question of why the EC is pushing through with this 2nd public display without Selangor. The delimitation exercise for Selangor is currently being challenged by the Selangor state government in the High Court. This legal challenge – the first time that a delimitation exercise has been challenged by a state government – has prevented the EC from starting the local enquiry process and hearing the objections to the delimitation exercise in Selangor. The legal challenge by the Selangor state government is a highly important check and balance on the ability of the EC to redraw boundaries in an arbitrary fashion, not just in Selangor, but also in other states in Peninsular Malaysia that is part of the same ‘unit of review’.

Going by past precedent, the EC should wait for the decision of the High Court on the Selangor case before taking the next step in the delimitation process. But in the event that the High Court rules in favor of the Selangor state government, the EC cannot proceed with the public inquiry in Selangor. The EC would instead be forced to appeal the decision in the Court of Appeals and perhaps all the way to the Federal Court in order to seek a favorable ruling. This would delay the EC from presenting the completed delimitation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia to the Prime Minister for parliamentary approval.

The EC’s decision to announce the 2nd public display for all the states in Peninsular except for Selangor shows that it may want to push through a delimitation exercise that leaves the boundaries in Selangor as it is but with the proposed changes in the other states, many of which favours the BN. If the High Court rules in favor of the Selangor state government, the EC may propose a delimitation plan to the Prime Minister with no changes in the state of Selangor to be passed in the July / August 2017 parliamentary sitting.

The 2nd public display of the constituency delimitation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia must be challenged in court because it is unconstitutional. The actions of the EC have once again shown that it is not the independent body it should be and that Malaysians must continue to advocate for a strong and independent Election Commission.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

[1] Including the Federal Territory of Labuan

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