Kenyataan Media Dr Ong Kian Ming, Ahli Parlimen Bangi dan Penolong Pengarah Pendidikan Politik Kebangsaan Parti Tindakan Demokratik (DAP) pada 23 Januari 2021

Majlis Keselamatan Nasional (MKN) gagal dalam tanggungjawab memerangi pandemik COVID-19 apabila membenarkan merentas negeri pada bulan Disember 2020 ketika kadar “peratus positif” saringan COVID-19 melebihi 5%

Pada 18 Januari 2021, saya telah menerbitkan senarai 10 soalan berkaitan COVID-19 yang ditujukan kepada Ketua Pengarah Kesihatan (KPK), Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham. Salah satu soalan yang saya ajukan ialah adakah KPK akan menerbitkan nilai Rt mengikut negeri supaya orang ramai dapat mengetahui tren COVID-19 yang diramalkan untuk setiap negeri dan juga bagaimana nilai Rt dapat digunakan untuk menentukan bilanya MCO akan dihentikan bagi setiap negeri. Saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada KPK kerana menerbitkan nilai Rt terkini mengikut negeri semalam, pada 21 Januari 2021. Ramalan terkini menunjukkan bahawa jumlah COVID-19 harian mungkin mencecah 8000 kes pada akhir bulan Mac 2021 jika nilai Rt kekal pada tahap 1.1 untuk seluruh negara.

Selain daripada nilai Rt, kita juga harus memberi perhatian pada kadar “peratus positif” (“percentage positive”) harian saringan COVID-19. Saya juga meminta agar angka ini diumumkan secara nasional dan juga mengikut negeri. Walaupun kadar saringan positif tidak diumumkan secara terbuka oleh Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM), angka-angka ini diberikan kepada Pertubuhan Kesihatan Sedunia (WHO) dan kemudian dipaparkan di laman web “OUR WORLD IN DATA”.

Mengapa kadar “peratus positif” harian adalah ukuran yang penting? Menurut pakar di Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “peratus positif adalah ukuran kritikal kerana ia memberi kita petunjuk betapa meluas jangkitan di kawasan di mana saringan sedang dijalankan — dan adakah tahap saringan sesuai berbanding dengan tahap penularan penyakit. ” Bagaimana harus kita tafsirkan angka “peratus positif “ini? Apakah tahap yang harus dianggap terlalu tinggi?

Menurut WHO, ambang “peratus positif” adalah 5%. Hanya apabila angka ini turun menjadi kurang dari 5%, kerajaan harus melonggarkan peraturan dan syarat yang sedia ada untuk mengawal penyebaran COVID-19. Pada 21 Januari 2021, CodeBlue melaporkan bahawa kadar “peratus positif” Malaysia telah melebihi 5% sejak 6 November 2020 dan tidak turun di bawah 5% sejak itu. (Lampiran 1 di bawah) Oleh kerana kadar “peratus positif” melebihi 5% pada bulan November dan Disember, mengapakah Majlis Keselamatan Nasional (MKN) membenarkan perjalanan merentas negeri bermula pada 7hb. Disember 2020 di bawah Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan Bersyarat (PKPB)? Adakah langkah ini menyumbang kepada peningkatan jumlah kes COVID terutamanya memandangkan jumlah perjalanan merentas negeri yang tinggi ke tempat-tempat seperti Langkawi semasa percutian akhir tahun?

Ini adalah salah satu contoh lagi di mana langkah yang tidak konsisten ditunjukkan oleh pihak Majlis Keselamatan Nasional (MKN) dari segi dasar kesihatan awam untuk memerangi wabak COVID-19. Keputusan untuk menyekat pergerakan dan kemudian meningkatkan sekatan sepertinya tidak berdasarkan peraturan atau garis panduan yang konsisten. Kerajaan Perikatan Nasional (PN) sekali lagi gagal meyakinkan orang ramai bahawa ia mempunyai rancangan yang konsisten, koheren dan komprehensif untuk mengawal wabak ini.

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 22nd of January, 2021

The National Security Council (NSC) failed the country in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in allowing inter-state travel in December 2020 when the “percent positive” testing rate for the virus was over 5%

On the 18th of January, 2021, I published a list of 10 COVID-19 related questions directed to the Director General (DG) of Health, Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham.[1] One of the questions I asked was whether the DG would publish the Rt Values by state so that the public can know the projected COVID-19 trends for each state and also how the Rt value can be used to determine when the current MCO 2.0 can be lifted for each state. I would like to thank the DG for publishing the latest Rt values by the state yesterday, on the 21st of January, 2021.[2] These projections show that the number of daily COVID-19 could reach 8000 cases by the end of March 2021 if the Rt value remains at 1.1 for the entire country.

Apart from the Rt value, we should also focus on the daily “percent positive” rate of COVID-19 tests. I also called for this figure to be revealed nationally and by state. Although the positive testing rate is not published publicly by the Ministry of Health (MOH), these figures are provided to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and subsequently published in the “OUR WORLD IN DATA” website.[3]

Why is the daily “percent positive” rate an important measure? According to experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the percent positive is a critical measure because it gives us an indication how widespread infection is in the area where the testing is occurring—and whether levels of testing are keeping up with levels of disease transmission.“[4] How should we interpret this “percent positive” figure? What levels should be considered too high?

According to the WHO, the threshold of “percent positive” is 5%. Only when this figure drops to less than 5% should a government relax existing public health measures put in place to control the spread of COVID-19. On the 21st of January 2021, CodeBlue reported that Malaysia’s “percent positive” rate has been more than 5% since the 6th of November 2020 and has not dropped below 5% since.[5] (Figures reproduced in Figure 1 below) Since the “percent positive” rate was more than 5% in the months of November and December, why did the National Security Council (NSC) allow for inter-state travel to take place starting on the 7th of December 2020 under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO)? Could this have contributed to the spike in the number of COVID cases especially given the high amount of travel to places like Langkawi during the end of the year holiday?

This is another example of the lack of consistency on the part of the National Security Council (NSC) when it comes to public policies in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Decisions to restrict movement and then later increase restrictions do not seem to be based on any consistent rules or guidelines. The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has once again failed to convince the public that it has a consistent, coherent, and comprehensive plan to control this pandemic.


[1] https://www.facebook.com/ongkianming/posts/3659240927464274

[2] http://covid-19.moh.gov.my/semasa-kkm/2021/01/unjuran-r-naught-12092020-hingga-31052021

[3] https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus

[4] https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/covid-19-testing-understanding-the-percent-positive.html

[5]https://codeblue.galencentre.org/2021/01/21/malaysia-under-testing-for-covid-19-since-november/

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 20th of January, 2021

Why we need to move away from Trump and Najib

The 20th of January 2021 will mark the end of the tumultuous four years Trump’s presidency. The 9th of May 2018 marked the end of Najib’s kleptocratic prime ministership. The Republican Party and its leadership will not find it easy to move away from Trump and his legacy, just as UMNO and its leadership has not found it easy to move away from Najib and his 1MDB baggage. But for the sake of the party and country, the Republicans must leave the legacy of Trump behind. And for the sake of Malaysia, UMNO and its leaders must move away from Najib and his ignominious 1MDB legacy that current and future generations of Malaysians will continue to pay for many years to come.

Republican supporters of Trump and UMNO supporters of Najib suffer from “denial syndrome”. For the former, they do not want to admit that Trump is a serial liar because admitting this means that they have been fooled by Trump throughout his presidency. Whether it is his lies about the crowd size during his inauguration or saying that the 2020 presidential elections were ‘stolen’ from him, his ardent supporters have to believe his message in totality – hook, line, and sinker – in order to preserve their own credibility.

For the latter, they don’t want to believe that Najib was complicit in the mega-1MDB scandal because to do so means that they were fooled into defending him in the first place when news about this scandal broke out. So they hold on to the myth that Najib took the 1MDB money to help the poor, he took the money to help UMNO leaders in their constituencies, and that he was fooled by the ‘mastermind’ behind this scandal, Jho Low.

For the Republican and UMNO leaders respectively, I suspect that most of them are cognizant of the fact that Trump is a serial liar and that Najib was complicit in the 1MDB scandal. But they dare not say this publicly because this would shatter the ‘myth’ that Trump is really out there fighting for the little guy and that Najib is an honest Prime Minister who wants the best for Malaysia. Other than a few brave souls like Mitt Romney (Republican Senator representing UTAH) and Khairy Jamaluddin, not many leaders from their respective sides have publicly denounced the actions of Trump and of Najib.

For the Republican leaders, some of them may feel beholden to Trump for helping them win their seats in past elections. Trump may have helped raise money for some of them. Many of them probably fear the prospect of being challenged in the Republican primary if they do not show absolute loyalty to Trump.

For the UMNO leaders, many of them would have been ‘helped’ by Najib when he was Prime Minister. Some may feel beholden to him for their current political position. They would also acknowledge that Najib is still a powerful personality and leader within UMNO.

Trump will likely continue to command public attention after his presidency ends. He will find new ways of reaching out to his supporters if he remains banned on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And he will want to continue to influence his Republican base.

For Najib, he (or rather, his team) is probably the most effective user of social media among all the politicians in the country. His attempts at rebranding himself as “BOSSKU” is well-known nationwide. His Facebook posts continue to receive significant public attention and also news coverage. He is probably the best social media ‘troll’ in Malaysia in his use of social media to cast ‘shade’ against his political opponents. His popularity on social media may be one of the reasons why UMNO leaders still fear him and do not want to offend him publicly.

But it would be a mistake to think that Trump and Najib’s social media popularity translates into majority voter support. While Trump has a very vocal support base, he still lost the 2020 presidential elections by approximately 7 million votes (please check). His popularity would certainly have fallen further after his instigation to his supporters to attack the Capital building in Washington DC on the 6th of January 2021. There will probably be new legal cases filed against Trump after he leaves office and this will serve as a stark reminder of his abuses of power during his presidency.

Najib may still have many supporters on social media but every time he appears in court for a 1MDB related hearing, it is a public reminder that this scandal will follow him for the rest of his life. (Not to mention his wife, Rosmah’s, court appearances in the RM1.25 billion hybrid solar project bribery case) Najib (and Rosmah) would certainly be a political liability for UMNO if he were to play a prominent leadership role in the next general election.

I do not presume to know what is the best way for the Republican party and UMNO to move on from the toxic hold which Trump and Najib have on these parties, respectively. What I DO KNOW is that the future prospects for both parties would be much brighter without the influence of Trump and Najib. And the future of the United States and of Malaysia would be significantly better if both these figures can be marginalized politically in their respective countries. For the sake of America’s democracy, the Republicans and the country need to move on from Trump. For the sake of Malaysia’s future, UMNO and the country need to move on from Najib.