Continue with the Public Park project known as Taman Tugu as a legacy for the Malaysian people

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Assistant National Director for Political Education for the DAP and Member of Parliament for P102 Bangi, on the 3rd of August, 2018

First of all, I would like to thank Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar for his 14+ years of service in Khazanah. Under his leadership and that of the senior management team, the asset base of the company grew healthily to what it stands today. During his tenure, the 10-year GLC transformation program resulted in the strengthening of the performance of many GLCs and the creation of a number of regional champions including Axiata and the CIMB Group.

Secondly, I would like to make the case for the continuation of the Public Park project known as Taman Tugu[1] which was initiated by Tan Sri Azman in 2016. While the overall cost of the project may be subject to review, the idea behind the park is an excellent one. For far too long, many green lungs in Kuala Lumpur have been sold to property developers, often in not fully transparent ways. The Taman Tugu project represents a reversal of this trend whereby a piece of land in the heart of Kuala Lumpur that could have potentially been sold off to the private sector is now in the process of being protected permanently as a public space.

Continue reading “Continue with the Public Park project known as Taman Tugu as a legacy for the Malaysian people”

Of wildlife sanctuaries and semiconductor production

(This article can also be read at the Penang Institute in KL Column in the Malaysian Insight, 23rd July 2017)

WHAT does an elephant wildlife sanctuary have in common with semiconductor production? Both require a supply of clean water to be sustained. Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant which is run by the Penang Water Supply Corporation (Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang or PBA for short). This water treatment plant supplies more than 80% of the water used by residential and commercial users in Penang.

The Sungai Dua water treatment plant’s water source is the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve, which is where I also spent a few days. The reserve also serves as the water catchment area for the Muda dam as well as the Pedu and Ahning dams. (See below)

Most Malaysians have never heard of Ulu Muda, let alone visited this national treasure. It is home to 50-60 wild Asian elephants (the estimated total population in Peninsular Malaysia ranges between 1200 to 1600).

I was fortunate enough to spot two schools of elephants during my first evening in Ulu Muda as our boat was slowly gliding down the river. Other than the Asian elephant, Ulu Muda is also inhabited by other large mammals including tapirs, sambar and barking deers, spotted leopards, sun bears and the agile gibbons, as well as 10 species of hornbill including the helmeted, great and rhinoceros hornbills. We spotted many groups of hornbills flying in majestic formation during our evening rides down the river.

Apart from the animals, there are vast varieties of plants and insects in the forest including the tualang tree, which can hold over a hundred beehives and the kundur trees with their massive buttresses (see below).

Sadly, logging of the secondary forest, which has been ongoing for many years, is starting to edge closer and closer to the areas critical to the elephant habitat, namely the salt licks. These are areas in the forest that produce minerals consumed regularly by the elephants and other large mammals to supplement their diet.


(The Ayer Hangat Salt Lick, the only salt lick which is also a hot spring. Notice the elephant droppings all around the place)

We spotted an old logging road skirting the bank of the Muda dam and upon visiting the area where the logs were collected before being transported out, we found plans for a new road going into the heart of the Ulu Muda forest reserve, very close to the eco-resort where we were putting up.

This sort of irresponsible logging not only has a significant impact on the animal and plant life in Ulu Muda, but it also will have an impact on the quality of water supply to the residents in Kedah and Penang.

As it is, the many years of logging on the outskirts of Ulu Muda have turned the river brown with sand and sediment. If more and more logging is allowed, it is possible that the quality and quantity of water taken in at the Sungai Dua treatment plant may be jeopardised.

Of course, the state government of Kedah will argue that it needs revenue from logging for its coffers. One way in which the Kedah state governments (or any state government in Malaysia, for that matter) can be compensated for keeping its forests intact is through international funding under the Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (or REDD+) initiative. Funding, for example, is available through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and in South-east Asia, our neighbours Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are part of this initiative but sadly, not Malaysia. The federal government needs to work together with the relevant United Nations bodies under the UNFCCC framework so that a clear and transparent path towards obtaining funding through REDD+ can be obtained. Strong leadership from federal government on this matter has become even more urgent given that irresponsible parties and companies are trying to dupe certain state governments into participating in so-called REDD schemes.

A semiconductor plant, which requires a regular and clean supply of water, may seem very far removed from the elephant sanctuary in Ulu Muda, but in fact, they are part and parcel of a larger ecosystem. The preservation of the Ulu Muda water catchment area, which is part of the elephants’ habitat, is crucial to ensuring a clean and regular water supply to the largest water treatment plant 200km downstream in Penang.

* Dr Ong Kian Ming is the Member of Parliament for Serdang, Selangor and is also the General Manager of Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University, an MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Why hasn’t Prime Minister Najib spoken up against President Trump’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 3rd of June, 2017

Why hasn’t Prime Minister Najib spoken up against President Trump’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement?

President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, signed by 195 countries in 2015, on Thursday, 1st of June, 2017. Immediately, a number of world leaders responded by criticizing Trump’s decision as well as to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron chimed in on the US decision[1] while China[2] and Russia[3] reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

I commend and agree with the statement made by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, when he said that “Malaysia would like to express its profound regret and deep concern at the latest action by the United States of America”.[4]

But the silence, till now, from our Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, is deafening. While Malaysia was one of 30 countries which was part of the joint communique issued at the end of the Old Belt One Road Conference in China in May this year, where the commitment of the Paris Climate Change Agreement was reaffirmed, the recent declaration from Trump necessitates a response from the leader of our government, who is our Prime Minister.

Is Prime Minister Najib staying quiet on this issue as part of a larger strategy not to offend President Trump so as to get the Department of Justice to drop the 1MDB kleptocracy case and not to pursue the individuals involved, including Jho Low? Let us wait to see how long Najib maintains his deafening silence on this issue.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/world/europe/paris-agreement-merkel-trump-macron.html?_r=0

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/world/europe/climate-paris-agreement-trump-china.html

[3] http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/russia-paris-agreement-climate-change-donald-trump-us-decision-global-warming-moscow-putin-a7766481.html

[4] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/4203/