万宜区国会议员暨民主行动党全国副政治教育主任王建民博士于2021年12月2日发表文告:

直辖区赢球特假乃不负责任且扰乱社会经济的决定

身为吉隆坡同善医院出生者,我要恭喜吉隆坡足球队阔别32年再捧马来西亚杯。然而,联邦直辖区部部长沙希淡为此宣布吉隆坡、纳闽和布城于12月3日(星期五)放特假,这突如其来的决定在政治上可说是不负责任,尤其这会对经济与社会造成扰乱。

吉隆坡2160亿令吉的国内生产总值当中,有90%是由服务业所贡献。我国金融服务业以吉隆坡作为心脏地带,还有许多会计与税务顾问公司,以及跨国公司,也都在吉隆坡设立营运总部。突然宣布假期,将会使到很多公司面对过百万令吉的产量损失。一些公司也得赔上额外的加班费,以确保他们的核心业务在公假期间继续运作。粗略计算,这突然宣布的假期将带来高达4亿令吉的产量损失,这数字对于从新冠疫情复苏中的马来西亚实在难以承受。 公司的实体会议被迫取消,包括培训和大型会议也得展延,而吉隆坡购物中心的人潮必定会减少,尤其是那些以上班族作为主要客源的业者将受影响,这些都只是一部分的例子。有些需要到布城跑政府部门的公司,只能等到下个星期一,这会影响他们的时间与生产。

社会也被突然宣布的假期打乱。有些父母居住在吉隆坡,平日在把孩子送到吉隆坡的学校上课后,再到雪州上班。突然放假,他们得要临时安排他人看顾孩子。吉隆坡高庭原定于12月3日的审讯也将面对展延,进而影响之后的所有审讯。

我们好奇部长在昨天12月1日宣布特假之前,是否有认真想过以上种种的经济与社会后果。这一次并不是马来西亚赢得首枚奥运金牌,或在任何国际体育赛事创新历史。部长是否做出了不好的先例,让其他州属的州务大臣与首席部长在各自足球队夺冠后也效仿宣布假期。部长民粹的所作所为,不禁让我质疑他是否已经没有能力和想法提出更好政策,把吉隆坡打造为世界级城市。

Kenyataan Media Dr Ong Kian Ming, Ahli Parlimen Bangi merangkap Timbalan Pengarah Pendidikan Politik Parti Tindakan Demokratik (DAP) pada 2 Disember 2021

Pengisytiharan cuti umum yang tidak dirancang untuk Wilayah Persekutuan pada 3 Disember selepas pasukan KL memenangi Piala Malaysia adalah satu tindakan tidak bertanggungjawab yang mengganggu aktiviti sosial dan ekonomi

Sebagai seorang yang dilahirkan di Hospital Tung Shin, Kuala Lumpur, saya ingin mengucapkan tahniah kepada Pasukan Bola Sepak Kuala Lumpur (KLFC) kerana memenangi Piala Malaysia selepas 32 tahun. Tetapi, menjadi satu perkara yang tidak bertanggungjawab untuk Menteri Wilayah Persekutuan, Shahidan Kassim, mengisytiharkan cuti umum di Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, dan Putrajaya pada 3 Disember ini memandangkan pengisytiharan secara tiba-tiba ini menggangu aktiviti sosial dan ekonomi untuk ramai orang. 

90% daripada KDNK RM216 billion Kuala Lumpur bergantung kepada sektor perkhidmatan. KL adalah nadi sektor perkhidmatan kewangan dalam negara dan juga merupakan ibu pejabat operasi pelbagai syarikat perakaunan dan perunding cukai dan juga syarikat-syarikat antarabangsa. Cuti umum yang diumumkan secara tiba-tiba ini akan menyebabkan syarikat-syarikat ini terpaksa menanggung berjuta ringgit dari kehilangan hasil yang tidak dirancang. Sesetengah syarikat mungkin terpaksa membayar kadar lebih masa yang tidak dijangka untuk memastikan perkhidmatan utama mereka terus berjalan semasa tempoh cuti ini. Kiraan mudah menunjukkan yang cuti tidak dirancang ini mungkin telah menyebabkan kerugian sehingga RM400 juta dari segi keluaran yang hilang, suatu perkara yang kita tidak mampu hadapi semasa kita sedang cuba pulih daripada kesan pandemik COVID19. Mesyuarat secara bersemuka mungkin dibatalkan, tempahan untuk sesi latihan dan persidangan mungkin dibatalkan, begitu juga dengan trafik pelanggan di pusat beli belah di Kuala Lumpur, terutamanya yang bergantung kepada pekerja pejabat akan menurun, antara beberapa contoh yang dapat disenaraikan. Perniagaan yang menjalankan urusan dengan pejabat kerajaan di Putrajaya juga akan terpaksa menangguhkan urusan mereka kepada minggu hadapan, yang menyebabkan kehilangan produktiviti yang tidak dirancang. 

Cuti umum yang tidak dirancang ini juga mengganggu aktiviti sosial. Terdapat ramai ibu bapa yang tinggal di Kuala Lumpur dan menghantar anak mereka untuk bersekolah di KL tetapi bekerja di Selangor. Kini mereka terpaksa membuat aturan saat akhir untuk anak-anak mereka yang tidak perlu ke sekolah. Mereka yang mempunyai urusan mahkamah yang dijadualkan di Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur pada hari Jumaat, 3 Disember 2021 juga terpaksa menangguhkan urusan mereka dan perkara ini akan memberikan berpanjangan kepada kes-kes lain yang mungkin ditangguhkan juga. 

Seseorang tidak dapat mengelakkan daripada terfikir sama ada Menteri telah berfikir mengenai semua gangguan kepada aktiviti ekonomi dan sosial ini semasa beliau secara tiba-tiba mengisytiharkan cuti umum semalam pada 1 Disember 2021. Bukannya Malaysia baru memenangi pingat emas pertama kita di Sukan Olimpik atau mencapai apa-apa peristiwa bersejarah di acara sukan antarabangsa. Adakah tindakan Menteri seperti ini akan menjadi duluan yang tidak sihat untuk Ketua-ketua Menteri dan Menteri Besar di negeri-negeri lain, untuk mengisytiharkan cuti umum yang tidak dirancang apabila pasukan mereka memenangi Piala Malaysia? Tindakan populis oleh Menteri seperti ini membuatkan saya terfikir sama ada beliau tidak mempunyai idea yang lain untuk ditonjolkan dari segi perubahan dasar yang beliau hendak bawa untuk menjadikan KL sebuah bandar berkelas dunia di bawah seliaan beliau sebagai Menteri Wilayah Persekutuan. 

Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Malaysia China Entrepreneurs Conference (MCEC) by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Former Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) on the 21st of November 2021

Yang Amat Berhormat Dato Seri Amirudin Bin Shari, Menteri Besar of Selangor,

His Excellency Ouyang Yu Jing, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia,

Datuk Tan Yew Sing, President of the Malaysian China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC)

Mr Loo Kok Seong, Organizing Chairman of the Malaysia China Entrepreneurs Conference (MCEC)

Mr Han Shengjian, Director General of the Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development (EDEB)

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Selamat pagi and a good morning to all. 大家早上好!

It is indeed my honour to address all of you who are gathered here today in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center and those who are watching online from China. I am sure we are all looking forward to the day when we can gather in one place together whether in Malaysia or in China to interact face to face. I have very good memories of my official trips to China when I was the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI). In fact, in my 20 months as Deputy Minister, I visited China a total of 6 times – to Nanning, Qinzhou, Xiamen, Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Shenzhen and Guangzhou – which the most of any country I visited. This is testament of the value we place on our trade and investment relationship with China. But for now, we will have to meet virtually, and we have to thank technological innovations that has enabled us to have this hybrid conference today.

I would like to thank Mr Loo Kok Seong for inviting me to share a few thoughts today on the economic impact of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The importance of the flow of goods and services in the global supply chain has been made more apparent by the COVID19 pandemic. As an example, the disruption in the supply of different products such as semiconductor chips have affected the production of many goods ranging from cars to electronic consumer goods. These disruptions in the supply chain makes even more clear the need to have proper rules and regulations governing free trade in the global economy. At the same time, these disruptions also present a unique opportunity for governments and companies to show concrete examples to the larger public of the benefits of the free movement of goods and services across borders which are facilitated by Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). This is why I have entitled my address today “Communicating and Realizing the Shared Benefits of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)”.

There are 5 points I would like to make on communicating and realizing the shared benefits of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). I will refer to the RCEP FTA as a reference point for these shared benefits.

Firstly, the government needs to explain the technical details of FTAs such as RCEP to the business community so that entrepreneurs can use this information to expand their trade in goods and services to existing and new markets overseas. FTAs are very technical in nature and most business people will not have the experience to understand the technical language in these documents. This is why it is important for government officials from the relevant ministries such as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in Malaysia to explain these FTAs in a language that can be easily understood by the business community. For example, one of the key benefits of the RCEP is the simplification of the Rules of Origin (ROO) of manufactured products. This aspect of RCEP means that as long as the contents of a product come from anywhere within the 15 RCEP countries, it can be exported to any of these 15 countries without any changes in the formulation of the product. For example, the ingredients of shampoo that is made in Malaysia can come from Thailand, Japan, and New Zealand and can be exported to China using a common tariff for this product within the RCEP FTA.[1] I am sure that there are other benefits of the RCEP FTA to the business community which is why more briefings need to be conducted by the government to all of you, for example, so that you can increase your understanding of this FTA and find out how you can benefit from it!

Secondly, the business community needs to share best practices among themselves on how to align their business strategies to penetrate existing and new markets based on the interpretation of the different FTA rules and regulations in different countries within the FTA. Even after government ministries like MITI explains the technical details of the RCEP FTA to the business community, it may not be easy to translate this knowledge on paper into actual business practices of penetrating new markets within the FTA countries. This is where associations such as the MCCC can play an effective role. I have seen how many of the members of the MCCC have shared knowledge and best practices among themselves when going into the large and complicated market in China, for example. I am sure that there are also organizations in China that can help the business community there to enter into new markets in the RCEP countries including Malaysia.

Just as how government ministries such as MITI should share technical know-how with the business community, the business community should also share with each other the business know how of aligning your business strategies using the opportunities provided by the RCEP FTA. If there is something good, we should not be afraid to share it so that the overall business pie can grow. This will result in all of us being able to enjoy shared and common prosperity.

Thirdly, the business community needs to find effective and trustworthy partners within the FTA countries so that win-win business initiatives and partnerships can be created to enhance business opportunities. For example, in a large market like China, it would be very risky for many of the SMEs in Malaysia to go into this market alone. It would be much better as a business strategy to look for trustworthy partners in China that can work with Malaysian SMEs to grow the business together in China for Malaysian products and services. Of course, the nature of these kinds of business partnerships can expand to beyond the RCEP countries. For example, I recently heard of a business initiative whereby a Japanese company send its raw wagyu beef to Malaysia to be processed and certified as halal for export into the Middle Eastern market where the JAKIM halal logo is widely recognized and accepted. I encourage all of you here to day to look for such win-win opportunities.

Fourthly, the government and the business community need to showcase how previous FTAs have benefitted the country’s economy in the creation of new jobs, an increase in innovation and healthy competition and the increase in good quality Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The benefits of FTAs usually take some time before they can be seen and felt in a country’s economy. For example, the China-ASEAN FTA was signed in 2010. But it did not immediately result in a significant increase in trade as well as FDI between China and ASEAN. But now, more than 10 years later, China is the largest or second largest trading partner for most of the countries in ASEAN. Many Chinese companies started to invest in ASEAN over the past 5 years and many more are looking for investment opportunities in ASEAN including and especially Malaysia. Without this public communication on the larger benefits of FTAs which are spread out over an extended period of time, members of the public in countries like Malaysia would now know about and cannot feel the benefits of these FTAs. Without public knowledge of these benefits, the public support for current and future FTAs including for RCEP and CPTPP would also not be very high.

Fifthly, governments need to reassure the public that there are government policies in place to help those who may be negatively affected, in the short term, by FTAs. We cannot deny that there will be some companies and individuals that will lose out from FTAs especially those which cannot compete directly with the products and services from overseas. But if the government can help these affected companies and individuals to transition and upskill to other better business and job opportunities in the medium to long term, these negative effects of FTAs can be reduced significantly. For example, I know of companies in my own constituency which used to produce sport shoes or sneakers but because of global competition, many of them have shifted their business strategy to producing safety shoes for a niche market as well as coming up with their own brands of office shoes for the domestic and export market.

If all these five points which I have presented can be properly implemented, the benefits of FTAs such as RCEP and CPTPP will be felt by all – governments, the business community and also the members of the public.

Here, I want to take the opportunity to share a few thoughts on the CPTPP. The CPTPP represents the future direction of FTAs which are currently and will be negotiated between trading nations and regional entities such as the EU. Future FTAs will not just cover trade in goods and services but encompasses other aspects of economic activity including increasing the standards of transparency and openness on areas such as government procurement; increasing the standards by which workers, especially foreign workers, are being treated by companies and the regulatory environment which these companies operate in; and enhancing the protection of intellectual property especially in the production and trade in the service sector.

These are areas that all trading nations should aim to strengthen within the framework of their domestic laws and regulations. But FTAs such as the CPTPP can help speed up the process of reform within individual countries. In the long run, adherence to better standards in these areas will benefit all of the countries involved. For example, China as a country is leading the charge in terms of patent registration on many innovative products and services. Many Chinese technology companies are among the most innovative in the world and have a lot of Intellectual Property assets to protect. Most people with a smartphone or with young kids would know of TikTok, owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company, even if you don’t use the app yourself. By strengthening such standards using the push from FTAs such as the CPTPP, countries like Malaysia and China will be more competitive and more resilient in the long run.

One final note on the CPTPP – Malaysia should welcome the application by all countries and economies which want to join the CPTPP including China, the United Kingdom, and others who have expressed interest. But Malaysia also has to firstly ratify the CPPTP by amending a number of domestic laws and regulations so that we are in adherence to the rules spelled out in the agreement. MITI and the government of Malaysia must do more to convince the public of the benefits of the CPTPP. If Malaysia does not ratify the CPTPP, it will not be able to have a say in who is able to join the CPTPP and the terms of entry for such countries. This would apply if the United States, for example, were to want to re-join the CPPTP which it left during the start of the Trump presidency back in 2016. It would be in Malaysia’s interest to have a seat at the negotiating table to influence the terms and conditions under which interested countries and economies apply for entry into the CPTPP.

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[1] http://asiantradecentre.org/talkingtrade/using-rcep-creating-products-for-asia