Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi, on the 11th of September 2020

I will not be intimidated and will continue to speak up on important higher education issues

I have received a Notice of Demand, Cease and Desist and Intimation of Legal Proceedings via the DAP Headquarters, on the 4th of September, issued by the lawyers of Dato’ Gail Phung, Senior Vice President of LimKokWing University of Creative Technology (LCUT). This notice purports that I have retweeted a defamatory tweet against Dato’ Gail Phung. Amongst others, the said Notice demands that I pay the sum of RM50 million to Dato’ Gail Phung purportedly for compensation and damages.

This appears to be a case of intimidation on the part of a senior executive of LCUT against a Member of Parliament who is raising a legitimate public interest issue. The accusation of corruption in the case of LimKokWing University of Creative Technology (LCUT)’s operations in Sierra Leone was a subject of an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in that country and has been widely reported in the press in that country.[1] Any accusations of corruption against the founder and senior management of a well-known Malaysia university overseas will have a serious impact on the branding of Malaysian universities in other countries. As a Member of Parliament, it is well within my right and my duty to raise these issues to the attention of the officials in government, in this case, the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Noraini Ahmad (@drnorainiahmad) and her officers at the Ministry of Higher Education (@MOHEOfficial), which I tagged in my tweet above. I was not agreeing or disagreeing with the tweet by @IamTheAdeline which I referenced in my tweet. I was referencing the tweet by @IamTheAdeline to give context to the accusations raised so that the relevant authorities in Malaysia can be made aware of this case and conduct the necessary investigations.

As far as I know, this is the first time that a party in Malaysia has tried to take legal action against a Member of Parliament over a tweet / retweet involving a legitimate public interest issue.

I will not issue any public apologies over my tweets and public statements with regards to LCUT and their senior management as I firmly believe that the issues I have raised are a matter of public interest and consistent with my role as a Member of Parliament who has spoken and written consistently on matters to do with Higher Education. I definitely will not be paying ‘compensation’ of RM50 million to Dato’ Gail Phang purportedly for my public statements and tweets on this matter.

Indeed, I will continue to highlight matters to do with LCUT which have to do with public interest and which may affect the reputation of the higher education landscape in Malaysia.

I have instructed my lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, to reply to the notice issued by the lawyers of Dato’ Gail Phang and state my position on the legal notice issued to me.



[1] https://www.politicosl.com/articles/acc-interrogate-former-sierra-leone-education-minister-over-limkokwing-agreement

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 21st of August 2020

Wage Subsidy Program (WSP) was not enough to save jobs especially in the tourism sector

The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government proudly states that 2.6 million jobs have been ‘saved’ through the Wage Subsidy Program (WSP) which has paid out RM8.97 billion to 311,191 companies as of the 24th of July 2020. While this program has assisted many SMEs in the form of the RM1200 in wage subsidies for 3 months for companies with fewer than 76 workers, a closer examination of the labour force statistics indicates that the amount of wage subsidies given were not attractive enough for many SMEs. This program could have saved MORE jobs if the amount of subsidy were higher similar to the amount given in Singapore.

The total number of companies registered under the Companies Commission of Malaysia was 1.361 million as of 30th of June 2020. Since only 311,191 companies successfully applied for the WSP1 , this means that only 22.3% of companies benefited from the WSP. For the majority who did not apply for the WSP, their main reason was probably because the subsidy was not sufficient for them to pay the wages of their workers during the MCO. It is highly likely that the majority of companies which did not apply for the WSP probably did so because they had no choice but to reduce the number of their workers during the MCO period.

I will illustrate using the example of the hotel industry which is one of the worst hit sectors of the economy.

I went through the member listing of three hotel associations namely the “Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners” (MAHO),Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) dan Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) to check the number and percentage of these hotels which were recipients of the WSP. 2 For MAHO, 49 out of 98 members (50%) received the WSP. For MAH, only 174 out of 844 members (21%) received the WSP. For the budget hotels, only 381 out of 1542 members (25%0 received the WSP. This shows that a majority of hotels did not receive the WSP.

Continue reading “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 21st of August 2020”

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 15th of July, 2020 Art, Art, Wherefore art thou, Art?

The change in government in Malaysia which took place in February 2020 was painful for many reasons. For one, it overturned the mandate given by the voters to Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the 14th General Election. It was also a major setback for democracy in the country as many of the reforms initiated by the PH government will likely be ignored or even reversed under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government. Personally, it was painful to see former colleagues whom we campaigned with during the 14th GE and who stood with us against the kleptocratic BN government now sitting on the other side with some of the very people they vehemently criticized before.

But one may say that those who betrayed PH were politicians who were largely looking after their own personal interests. We could still rely on the non-politicians, technocrats, and activists who were appointed by the PH government and could not be easily removed by the PN government. Or so we thought. The decision by Azhar bin Azizan @ Harun, better known as Art Harun, to accept the appointment as the new speaker for the Dewan Rakyat shocked many of the PH MPs. I am sure that many of Art’s friends were also shocked by this. Let me explain in detail why many of us were shocked by this decision.

Firstly, Art, before accepting the nomination as Speaker for the Dewan Rakyat, was occupying a very important position which is the chairman of the Election Commission (EC). The independence of the EC Chairman is even more important given the high likelihood of a general election in the near future and also the upcoming Sarawak state elections. The members of the Election Commission, which includes the chairman, cannot be easily removed by the PN government. It is stated very clearly in the Federal Constitution under Article 114 (3) that a member of the EC “shall not be removed from office except on the like grounds and in the like manner as a judge of the Federal Court”. Art did not have to step down just because he was requested to step down by the Prime Minister. It is noteworthy that to date, NONE of the other members of the Election Commission have announced their resignation.

The Prime Minister probably knows that he needs a more compliant EC chairman when facing the 15th General Elections. He also probably knows that it would not be easy to replace an EC chairman. Hence, the offer for the Dewan Rakyat speakership to entice Art to step down as the EC chairman.

Art DID NOT have to accept this offer by the Prime Minister. He had already carried out some positive reforms in the EC such as allowing NGOs to be appointed as election observers during the by-elections which took place after GE14 and to allow political parties to once again appoint Assistant Registrars to help with voter registration. There are still many outstanding reforms to be carried out by the EC including ensuring automatic voter registration and implementing the lowering of the voting age to 18 years old. From a check and balance on the PN administration standpoint, Art could have played a much more effective role as the EC chairman compared to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.

By accepting the nomination for the position of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, he is allowing the following to take place:

Continue reading “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 15th of July, 2020 Art, Art, Wherefore art thou, Art?”