President Trump’s Muslim Ban must be strongly condemned including by Prime Minister Najib

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 29th of January 2017

President Trump’s Muslim Ban must be strongly condemned including by Prime Minister Najib

President Donald Trump’s executive order, signed yesterday, to stop Syrian refugees from entering the United States and to stop non-US citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries – Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the United States, must be strongly condemned.

It is an inhumane action especially for those Syrian refugees who already have been granted approval to travel to and seek asylum in the United States.

It is an unjustified action that affects thousands of students and employees who are studying and working legally in the United States.

It is hugely disturbing action that points to further steps that may be taken by Trump including making it harder for citizens from other predominantly Muslim countries such as Malaysia, to travel to, study in and work in the United States.

Ironically, Trump’s executive action affects citizens from these seven countries that have been invited by the United States government to visit or study or do research in the US via US state department programs such as the International Visitors Program (IVP) and the Fulbright Scholarship / Fellowship Program, just to name a few. As a former recipient of the Fulbright scholarship to the US, where I completed my PhD in political science at Duke University, I strongly condemn this action by Trump as it stands against the principles of non-discrimination and openness represented by the United States.

Many world leaders have already criticized this executive action by President Trump.[1] Prime Minister Najib, on the 21st of January, 2017 sent out a congratulatory message to Trump on his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States. Will PM Najib also send a message to Trump to condemn this executive action that affects the citizens of these Muslim majority countries?

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

[1] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/world-leaders-condemn-donald-trump-muslim-ban-170128134635041.html

1918 children currently being detained at detention centers for immigrants must be treated properly

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 21st of October 2015

1918 children currently being detained at detention centers for immigrants must be treated properly

I received a parliamentary reply yesterday to my question on the number of people who are currently being held at detention centres for immigrants nationwide. I was shocked to find out that there were 1918 children (‘kanak-kanak’ or KK) among the 71,362 detainees. This comprises almost 3% of total detainees.

The issue of children in detention centres for immigrants came to public attention in an Aljazeera 101 East documentary entitled “Malaysia’s Unwanted” which showed a small child in a detention centre where the journalist in question had entered as an undercover priest.[1] The statistics given in the parliamentary reply clearly shows that this is not an isolated incident. In fact, there are children in each of the 13 detention centres with the highest number in Bekenu, Sarawak (299) and the lowest in Semuja, Sarawak (9).

The nations with the highest number of children are Myanmar (813), followed by Indonesia (422), Philippines (295) and Cambodia (121). These four nations make up 86% of the children who are in these detention centres.

I call upon the Minister of Home Affairs to do the following:

  • Ensure that the welfare and safety of these children are given the highest priority in accordance to the provisions of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC)[2] of which Malaysia is a signatory.
  • Work with the embassies of the countries involved especially among the ASEAN countries to expedite any process to resettle or repatriate these children together with their parents.
  • Work with SUHAKAM, NGOs and other interested parties to allow these children, together with their parents (if applicable), to be released from these detention centres and housed in other more suitable accommodation.

As a start, I call upon the Minister of Home Affairs to organize a trip for interested MPs to visit a detention center in the Klang Valley (Bukit Jalil, KLIA or Semenyih) for us to examine the conditions under which these children are being detained.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang


[1] http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2014/11/malaysia-unwanted-20141118111742722400.html

[2] http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

Strongly Urge US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to raise the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia in his discussion with his Malaysian counterpart, Anifah Aman

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 2nd of August, 2015

Strongly urge US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to raise the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia in his discussion with his Malaysian counterpart, Anifah Aman

I read with interest a recent newspaper report stating that the US Secretary of State John Kerry will press Malaysia to improve its efforts to combat human trafficking in his upcoming visit to Kuala Lumpur.[1] Recently, Malaysia was upgraded from its previous Tier 3 status under the US State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2014 to its current updated Tier 2 Watch List status in the 2015 TIP report.

Earlier last month, a group of 19 Senators, led by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, wrote a letter to Secretary John Kerry expressing their concern of a premature upgrading of Malaysia’s status in the TIP report.[2] Their concerns were validated when Malaysia’s status was indeed validated in the 2015 TIP report. It should also be noted that Senator Menendez was the author of an amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation – or better known as ‘fast track’ – that would have disallowed the US from making any trade deals with a country with a Tier 3 status on the TIP report. This obviously would have affected Malaysia’s inclusion in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.

I strongly urge Secretary Kerry to bring up an issue that was ignored in the Malaysian section of the 2015 TIP report which concerns the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia.

The issue of forced labor involving North Korean workers was highlighted in the country reports for Russia, China and Mongolia in the 2015 TIP report. But no mention was made of the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia, even though reports by the Asian Institute for Policy Studies[3] and the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights[4] had reported that there were approximately 300 North Koreans working in Malaysia.

The presence of North Koreans working in Malaysia was reported in the local press in November 2014 when a deadly mine explosion in Sri Aman, Kuching, claimed the lives of 3 miners (out of whom 1 was North Korean) and injured a further 29 (out of whom 7 were North Korean). It was further reported that a majority of the 119 workers at the mine were from North Korea.[5] A visit by two local journalists indicated that the mine was not only hard to find but that it did not seem to be run and managed professionally.[6] I note that this accident occurred before the March 2015 cut off date for the TIP 2015 evaluation.

The presence of North Korean workers in Sarawak was confirmed by the then Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Wan Junaidi, shortly after the coal mining accident was reported.[7] It was also confirmed to me in a parliamentary reply dated on the 17th of June, 2015, that 3 companies involved in construction and 1 in mining had received approval from the Human Resources Department in Sarawak to employ a total of 348 North Korean workers, out of which 287 permits had been used at the time of the parliamentary reply.

The use of North Korean forced labor abroad has been well documented. I hope that the exclusion of the possible presence of North Korean forced labor in Malaysia in the latest TIP 2015 report was not because of political expediency to allow Malaysia to enter into the TPP agreement at the end of this year.  If this was the case, then it would call into question the accuracy of the TIP report and the commitment on the part of the US State Department to combat trafficking of persons in Malaysia and around the world.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

(Please find original and translation of the parliamentary reply attached)

[1] http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/kerry-to-press-malaysia-on-human-trafficking-not-scandal

[2] http://www.menendez.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/071515%20Letter%20to%20Kerry%20re%20Malaysia%20TIP%20Upgrade.pdf

[3] http://en.asaninst.org/wp-content/themes/twentythirteen/action/dl.php?id=30324

[4] http://nkdb.org/en/library/Books_list.php

[5] http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/23/Sarawak-mine-blast/

[6] http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/23/Mine-has-no-signage-and-is-difficult-to-find/

[7] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/24/-sp-north-korea-malaysia-mine-labour