Thursday, November 03, 2016

Tutorial for DAP MP Steven Sim

1.     Yesterday, Steven Sim wrote a lengthy article about why he wants to refer Najib to the parliamentary privileges committee here

2.     Today, in Parliament, Steven Sim was kicked out of Parliament by Tan Sri Speaker because of his persistence in pursuing it.

3.     He shamelessly created a fuss and accused Najib of misleading the Parliament in the recent Budget 2017 Speech, not knowing that it is all because of his lack of knowledge, ignorance and effort in doing his own research.

4.     Steven Sim said that the development expenditure for the Communications and Multimedia Ministry for 2017 is expected to be about RM495 million. But Najib announced RM1 billion for upgrading broadband infrastructure.

5.     As a policymaker and the Director of the famed and "reputable" Penang Institute which takes pride in their researches, I expected more from Steven Sim. Now, he is sending a signal to the nation that perhaps Penang Institute is nothing more than a collection of 'talent' worse than what we can find in a neighborhood college.

6.     The Federal Budget is called the Supply Bill. That is why in any of the Prime Minister's speeches, he will always start off with the title "Rang Undang-undang Pembekalan".

7.     Article 100 of the Constitution says that

"The expenditure to be met from the Consolidated Fund but not charged thereon, other than expenditure to be met by such sums as are mentioned in Clause (3) of Article 99, shall be included in a Bill, to be known as a Supply Bill, providing for the issue from the Consolidated Fund of the sums necessary to meet that expenditure and the appropriation of those sums for the purposes specified therein"

8.     The keyword here is Consolidated Fund. Now what is the Consolidated Fund? It is clearly stated in Article 97 (1) of the Constitution.

"All revenues and moneys howsoever raised or received by the Federation shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution and of federal law, be paid into and form one fund, to be known as the Federal Consolidated Fund"

9.     The consolidated fund is strictly money that is received by the Federation. Corporate taxes, personal income taxes, proceeds from sale of Federal Government owned assets, proceeds from sale of Federal Government owned shareholdings in entities, and many many more will come here.

10.     In the Malaysian Government, we also have statutory bodies. The agencies (I repeat, agencies) were established with specific roles, usually to cater to industry requirements and for their development.

11.     Examples of statutory bodies in Malaysia include

a)     Penang State Government's Penang Development Corporation

b)     Federal Government's RISDA, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), the Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Commission (MCMC) and many others.

12.     Statutory bodies are established by law - Akta/Act - in the Parliament or State Assembly. This also means that the objectives, the governance structure and the articles in the Act have been studied thoroughly and debated in Parliament or State Assembly.

13.     Under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988, a fund was established under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). This is clearly stated under Article 38(1) of the Act.

"There is hereby established a Fund to be known as the "Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Fund" to be administered and controlled by the Commission."

 14.     Let us be clear on governance also. The Commission consists of:

a)     a Chairman
b)     three members representing the Government
c)     not less than two but not more than five other members.

15.     In 2002, MCMC then established the Universal Service Provision fund under the Act. Any telecommunications company whose weighted net revenue exceeds RM 2 million will have to contribute 6 percent of their earnings from designated services to the USP fund.

16.     Again, the USP fund is governed under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988 and it is used for various initiatives like providing broadband infrastructure with speed of up to 20Mbps (as announced in the 11th Malaysia Plan and in the recent Budget).

17.     So why is Steven Sim accusing Najib of misleading the Parliament when clearly you have not done your homework? Najib announced a project on behalf of the fund, on top of expenditures of the Consolidated Fund for Budget 2017 as stipulated under the Constitution. Is that illegal?

18.     Let me point out another agency that I am extremely familiar with - the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).

19.     MPOB was established in 1998 by law that was approved in Parliament. Refer to Akta Lembaga Minyak Sawit Malaysia 1998.

20.     It is public knowledge, except to Steven Sim I'm sure, that Malaysian Palm Oil Board collects cess (a form of tax on industry), and uses it for the development of the industry - research on genomics, developing better yielding planting materials, branding and marketing forums, and others.

21.     Article 32 (1) of the Act clearly says that

"Maka adalah ditubuhkan, bagi maksud Akta ini, suatu kumpulan wang yang hendaklah dikenali sebagai "Kumpulan Wang Lembaga Minyak Sawit Malaysia", yang hendaklah ditadbirkan dan dikawal oleh Lembaga".

22.     The governance of MPOB is even more respectful. The Board consists of:

a)     a Chairman
b)     the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities
c)     the Ministry of Finance
d)     FELDA
e)     smallholders representative
f)     oil palm producers representative
g)     refiners representative
h)     mills representative
i)     oleochemical industry representative
j)     4 additional industry representatives appointed by the Minister
k)     Director General of MPOB

23.     It is also a practice in this statutory body where they have annual consultation on their Budget with the industry, with not a single expenditure hidden.

24.     Their annual expenditure is not governed by Steven Sim or Parliament. It is governed by the Act and industry members, similar to all other Statutory Bodies in the country - be it state or Federal.

25.     So, what is Steven Sim trying to prove? His intellectuality or lack of it? Steven Sim clearly did not read enough and have not been paying attention in Parliament.

26.     I am also unsure if he is learning anything from his unjustified stint in Penang Institute, a body under the State Government.

27.     I have a few words of advice for DAP - gag Steven Sim. He is causing DAP to lose the 1 million strong votes from civil service and industry members who know about these facts.

28.     The entire nation is laughing at you, Steven.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why investigate Najib, Speaker?

Let me begin by asking, when will the media stop reporting Ong Kian Ming's statements?

Earlier today, Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said that he will investigate claims that Najib misled the Parliament with his Budget 2017 speech.

It was in response to a motion filed by DAP Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim against the Prime Minister.

Apparently Steven Sim and my favourite MP Ong Kian Ming cited an example where Najib said  Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission will receive an allocation of RM1 billion to improve the quality of broadband services and expand coverage nationwide BUT the Communication and Multimedia Ministry, MCMC's parent Ministry, has a line item of RM57.5 million as “development expenditure” for a “Broadband Project”.

For transparency, here's the budget speech line that Najib said

"207. At the same time, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will provide RM1 billion to ensure the coverage and quality of broadband nationwide reaches up to 20 megabytes per second."

Here's the Federal Expenditure Document for the Communication and Multimedia Ministry which Steven and Ong Kian Ming referred to.

Zoom in to the last line:

Looks like Najib screwed up? I don't think so.

Let me make it clear here that the Budget was prepared by thousands of civil servants and combed through thoroughly by the Prime Minister, Second Finance Minister and the main man - Treasurer General. In fact, preparations begin every year as early as March.

No one, I repeat, no one, make mistakes when it comes to the Budget. Those in the due diligence line can be charged, suspended or sacked.

In this case, there are only two people who misled the August House - Steven Sim and Ong Kian Ming.

I do not have details on the Communications and Multimedia Ministry but based on my knowledge, there could be two reasons.

1. It is a staggered investment by the Government. OR

2. Here's probably why - the Universal Service Provision (USP) fund.

The USP fund was established under provision of Section 204 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. (Here's the Law, here's the latest Annual Report)

The implementation of this law started many, many years ago. It started off with a RM30 million fund by the Government in 2002.

Any telecommunications company whose weighted net revenue exceeds RM 2 million will have to contribute 6 percent of their earnings from designated services to the USP fund.

In fact, during Rais Yatim's days, it was heavily discussed in the media and by senior bloggers like Rockybru, politicians such as Wee Choo Keong.

A fair question next - what is this fund used for?

It is used primarily to provide access to communications in underserved areas and to underserved groups. In simple terms, broadband penetration and mobile network coverage.

However, the Fund has also been used for various other initiatives such as to upgrade our facilities (ie not just coverage lah, quality too).

Take for example, if you look under Suburban Broadband (SUBB) initiative, the  USP fund is used to provide broadband infrastructure with speed up to 20Mbps in suburban and rural areas by upgrading the exchanges, the core network and the cabinet.

Again, in simple terms, it means that the cabling and communications tower will be able to provide better internet connections and speed.

Now, who misled the public and the Parliament?

Not too long ago in May, Ong Kian Ming actually wrote about USP here:

And not too long ago on 21 May 2015, this 20 megabits per second story was spelled out in the 11th Malaysia Plan, page 7-28.

Takkan dah lupa dan tak baca? Was it the time when you were photographed to be sleeping in Parliament?

And today you claimed that the Prime Minister misled the Parliament?

Countless times we have seen Ong Kian Ming create drama only to be embarrassed the next day. Yet, the media continue to entertain him and publish his nonsensical statements despite his poor credibility over the years. And today, even the Speaker fell into his trap.

Tan Sri Speaker, the only ones who misled the August House were both Steven Sim and Ong Kian Ming.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Misconception and Lies against the Prime Minister’s Department

With the Budget 2017 around the corner and rumours of the 14th General Election getting louder by the day, we can see that some politicians are beginning to spin stories and shape public perception on the Government negatively.

One clear example is the attacks on Budget allocation to the Prime Minister's Department. Some politicians like Liew Chin Tong took the path of painting the picture of a bloated Budget that can be used at the whims and fancies of the Prime Minister.

But that’s fine, I shall educate him.

First of all, after being an MP for so long, surely you must know the distinction between the Prime Minister's Office and the Prime Minister's Department, as well as their functions.

They are not the same and administratively, they are run separately as well.

The Chief Secretary, with Ministerial status and sits in the Cabinet, runs the Prime Minister's Department while the Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff manage the Prime Minister's Office.

Secondly, the Prime Minister doesn't have the final say or veto power on the Budget and expenditure of the agencies under the Prime Minister's Department. It is the responsibility of the Chief Secretary as financial controller. Every department and Ministry has one.

Having made these clear, now let’s take a look at Chin Tong’s accusations against the Prime Minister's Department of having a bloated budget of billions.

No doubt, there are many agencies, units and offices here under the Prime Minister’s Department and my last count shows that there are 72 of them.

Let me list them down for you.

If you look at number 13 in the list above, the Prime Minister's Office is one of the 72. No, not the other way round, certainly not the Prime Minister’s Office overseeing the Department.

Even the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Datuk Iskandar Mohd Kaus, is appointed by the Chief Secretary and he is a civil servant.

And no, the reason why we have so many agencies under the Prime Minister's Department is not because our Prime Minister is power hungry or they are all political units.

In fact, if you are hardworking enough with your research, Chin Tong, you will find that the Chief Secretary is the Chairman or chairperson of many of the agencies under the Prime Minister's Department.

I have personally seen the Chief Secretary chaired a meeting of an agency under the Prime Minister's Department because the deliverables cut across many Ministries. Due to the equal stature of the Ministers, they are not in the position to order one another to complete tasks and in some cases, the ball will be passed around.

That whip function, has been centralized and placed under the Prime Minister's Department, and in this case it was the responsibility of the Chief Secretary. The Ministers were mere members of the meeting by the way and they had to abide by Chief Secretary's decisions.

Let’s talk about money next.

The Financial Procedure Act 1957 Section 16 makes it mandatory for the Chief Accountant to prepare the audited Malaysia Federal Government's Financial Statements for the year ending 31 Dec to be presented in Parliament and for the use of all.

The funds allocated to the Prime Minister's Department are fully accounted for, audited, and reported in Parliament. The funds are not, and never, used for personal interests or gains.

There are two types of budget – operating and development.

Over the years, despite the many agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department and being criticised or accused of all sorts publicly, we have reduced operating expenditure which includes salaries and recurrent expenditures, and doubled up Development Expenditure.

There are strict rules governing Development Expenditure, a one-off expenditure, and it must be spent on items that bring benefit to the people and country.

For example, out of the RM14.3 billion in 2015, PR1MA was given RM 1.3 billion to build homes for some of you in the urban and semi-urban areas so that you have a shelter above your head, and another RM1.3 billion was given to the Economic Corridors for infrastructure development and investment attraction so that people in the East Coast, Northern Region, Southern Region, Sabah and Sarawak have jobs and bread on the table to feed their families.

Of course, these may include special allocations announced during visits across the country as well as fulfilling requests by locals or by state leaders that will only benefit the people. These projects are effectively implemented and monitored by agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department as a follow up to his announcements, never by the Prime Minister’s Office itself.

I don’t think anyone wants to question this money which at the end of the day, goes into the pockets of the people.

When it comes to operating expenditure, in 2015, the Prime Minister’s Department budget of RM5.8 billion is smaller than the Health Ministry (RM21.7 b), Education Ministry (RM39.3 b), Defense Ministry (RM13.4 b), Home Affairs Ministry (RM12.6 b), Higher Education Ministry (RM12.2 b), Rural Development Ministry (RM5.9 b) and the list goes on.

I can share with you some of the line items. One of the agencies under JPM is Bahagian Pengurusan Hartanah (BPH). They purchase, maintain, and manage Federal Government owned assets nationwide, including quarters, buildings in various states and others. Their budget expenditure was about RM377 mil (6.5% of total operating expenditure allocation).

Next, Bahagian Hal Ehwal Undang-undang spent RM119 mil in 2015. This is the legal advisory unit.

Then, we have the Office of the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court with RM 412 mil budget expenditure line. I am sure DAP lawyers know better than me about the role of this office.

We also have the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, a very important agency tasked to enforce maritime laws in Malaysia, conduct search and rescue operations in our waters and shores as well as provide assistance to foreign countries when asked for. Their expenditure? RM398 mil.

Department of Statistics? RM 191 mil. If I add just these 5 agencies, it is already RM1.5 bil or 26% of total operating expenditure under the Prime Minister’s Department. I don't need to go on, you get my point.

Sure, now tell me, do we cut the Budget for our Maritime Agency? Or the Federal Court? Or Statistics Department instead because Penang Institute and REFSA can provide us with figures?

To accuse the Prime Minister of having absolute discretionary power and the Prime Minister’s Department of having slush funds for cronies, it is just absurd.

Abuses of funds, if any, would have been reported transparently by the Auditor General and Sarawak Report will probably have a copy the next morning if it wasn't.

If PEMANDU's role, in your words Chin Tong, is to massage numbers to make the Government look good, you must be our master and the bigger devil trying to mislead the public.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Penang Institute's Loyalty to Guan Eng

I refer to Lim Guan Eng's latest press statement on 8 July 2016. You can read it here  if you want to but let me summarize it for you.

This is worth your time. Just compare the two lines below, extracted from the statement.

1.     "...., as the principal funders of Penang Institute, the state government expects loyalty."

2.     "I had contrasted the Penang state government’s liberal position with the Federal government which would act against and punish those who dare to dissent publicly."

I didn't know 2+3 and 10-5 will produce different answers. Did Guan Eng just shoot himself in the foot again?

So, can Guan Eng guarantee that the State Government, or he himself, will not act against and punish those who dare to dissent against DAP, Pakatan Harapan and the State Government openly?

Does this mean that Penang Institute can openly criticise or express different opinion than that of the State Government and DAP now with blanket immunity?

I am quite sure you are confused about your political gender. You can't behave like an Opposition member and a Government leader at the same time.

I don't think you are drowning your sorrows with alcohol, Guan Eng.

Which leads me to wonder why you said these especially when Penang Institute is filled with DAP leaders. Netizens, yes, Penang Institute is a DAP State Government funded think tank, with DAP leaders in it. You join the dots and do the math.

The leaders who are in Penang Institute include:

  • DAP MP Bukit Mertajam - Steven Sim Chee Keong as Director
  • Chief Minister, DAP ADUN Air Puteh, MP Bagan - Lim Guan Eng as Director
  • Deputy Chief Minister, DAP ADUN Perai - P Ramasamy as Director
  • DAP MP Kluang - Liew Chin Tong as Director
  • DAP MP Bukit Bendera - Zairil Khir Johari as Executive Director
  • DAP MP Serdang, Ong Kian Ming as General Manager of Penang Institute (KL office - yes Penang issues but office in Kuala Lumpur, don't ask me why)

... and so on but the rest are small potatoes, if any.

Before any of you tries to discredit me, here are the documents that were submitted by Penang Institute to the Companies Commission of Malaysia . Take it and go, for free, from me.

Have you lost control of these politicians in DAP, Guan Eng? What are they up to? What are you worried about?

And netizens, yes, all of the above are DAP politicians in Penang Institute, a think tank funded by Penang State Government which Guan Eng expects loyalty and advised against "biting the hand that feeds you". 

What, are you all surprised? Please, DAP is not a church and they are no Vatican or Mecca. It's a political party.

Just imagine if Najib and UMNO had said this.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Kenyataan Media MP Serdang

Kenyataan Media oleh GOH WEI LIANG, warganegara Malaysia dan penyokong setia Ahli Parlimen Serdang pada 26 Mei 2016.

Saya merujuk kepada kenyataan media oleh Ong Kian Ming yang dimuatnaik ke laman Facebook beliau pada 25 Mei 2016 di

Pertama, YB Ong Kian Ming telah bertanya mengapa PEMANDU harus terlibat dalam memberikan perkhidmatan perundingan kerajaan kepada agensi kerajaan yang lain serta entiti di luar negara, sebagaimana yang sedang dibuatnya sekarang?

Saya ingin bertanya kepada YB Ong Kian Ming, apakah salah bagi sebuah agensi kerajaan untuk memberi perkhidmatan perundingan kepada kerajaan lain yang telah mengemukakan permohonan rasmi dan meminta khidmat nasihat kita sendiri?

Di laman Twitter, beliau juga telah seolah-olah menyoal mengenai pembayaran atau keuntungan yang diterima oleh PEMANDU untuk khidmat nasihat kepada kerajaan atau entiti luar negeri. Saya ingin bertanya kepada YB Ong Kian Ming, bukankah baik kepakaran Malaysia diperlukan oleh kerajaan lain?


Bukankah ini satu cara untuk meningkatkan hubungan diplomatik antara negara dan satu perkongsian pendapat, pengalaman dan kepakaran juga yang hanya akan membawa manfaat kepada kedua-dua pihak?

Apakah salahnya jika PEMANDU, sebuah unit Kerajaan Persekutuan, menerima pampasan bagi masa dan kos yang telah ditanggung sepanjang tempoh perkhidmatan perundingan di luar negeri?

PEMANDU tidak pernah mengabaikan mana-mana kerja, tugasan atau tanggungjawab di Malaysia. PEMANDU sentiasa meletakkan kepentingan Malaysia sebagai keutamaan dan ini jelas terbukti dalam laporan tahunan Program Transformasi Negara yang dibentangkan setiap tahun oleh Perdana Menteri, ketua kerajaan Malaysia.

Kedua, YB Ong Kian Ming telah bertanya kepada PEMANDU, sebuah unit hak milik penuh Kerajaan Persekutuan, mengapa dalam laporan tahunan PEMANDU kepada Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia, perolehan dan keuntungan / kerugian yang dicatatkan adalah sifar?

Dalam perbualan Twitter, Datuk Lee Hwa Beng telah mencelah dan berkata bahawa adalah tidak normal jika sebuah entiti ada aset dan liabiliti tetapi tidak ada perbelanjaan. YB Ong Kian Ming telah meminta penjelasan PEMANDU.

Saya ingin bertanya kembali kepada YB Ong Kian Ming mengapa perolehan dan keuntungan / kerugian yang dicatatkan dalam laporan tahunan Penang Institute, di mana beliau memegang jawatan sebagai Pengurus Besar, adalah sifar juga? Kenyataan ini adalah berdasarkan kepada dokumen yang telah dikemukakan oleh Penang Institute kepada Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia.

Isu dan persoalan yang YB Ong timbulkan mengenai PEMANDU, berlaku juga di Penang Institute. Kedua-dua badan berkanun PEMANDU dan Penang Institute mempunyai ciri-ciri laporan dan perakaunan yang sama.

Kedua-dua entiti, PEMANDU dan Penang Institute, tidak menerima status EPC iaitu "exempt private company". Syarikat yang menerima sijil EPC tidak perlu mengemukakan sebarang penyata kewangan. Walau bagaimanapun, kedua-dua badan berkanun tersebut telah mengemukakan Penyata Imbangan secara konsisten.

Saya nasihatkan YB Ong Kian Ming untuk mencari jawapan kepada persoalannya di Penang Institute sebelum bermain politik dan memalukan diri dengan bertanya soalan kepada PEMANDU sedangkan isu yang sama timbul di entitinya sendiri. Malu bertanya, sesat jalan YB Ong. Jika inginkan publisiti, sila keluarkan kenyataan media dan persoalkanlah Penang Institute.

Saya sedia menerima didikan dan pengajaran dalam hal ini sekiranya telah melakukan kesilapan. 

Ketiga, YB Ong Kian Ming mempersoalkan adakah wajar mengapa pembayar cukai perlu menanggung kos RM3.9 juta untuk penganjuran Global Transformation Forum selama 3 hari pada tahun 2015, memandangkan pemotongan bajet sedang dilaksanakan di agensi-agensi kerajaan yang lain, termasuklah institut pengajian awam?

Mungkin YB Ong tidak sedar bahawa Global Transformation Forum telah dianjurkan bersama oleh PEMANDU dengan United Nations Development Programme. Forum ini telah menerima kehadiran kira-kira 3,000 orang dari 70 buah negara dengan 30 speaker antarabangsa.

Saya juga ingin jelaskan kepada YB Ong Kian Ming bahawa kerajaan di serata dunia, termasuklah Malaysia, sentiasa menganjurkan pelbagai Forum dengan pelbagai matlamat dan objektif, antaranya untuk meningkatkan imej dan keyakinan terhadap sesebuah produk, perkara atau negara.

Dalam konteks Malaysia, walaupun menghadapi kekangan bajet, ini tidak bermakna kerajaan Malaysia harus menghentikan segala kerjanya di luar dan dalam negara seperti misi perdagangan, promosi pelaburan (yang juga memanfaatkan Selangor dan Pulau Pinang), serta platform lain yang meningkatkan imej negara dan keyakinan pelabur terhadap keadaan ekonomi, kestabilan politik dan keupayaan kami yang kerap diperkecilkan dan telah dimusnahkan oleh pihak tertentu di Malaysia seperti rakan-rakan YB Ong Kian Ming.

Akhir kata, saya nasihatkan warga media agar lebih berwaspada dan berhati-hati mentafsir sebelum menulis mengenai sebarang kenyataan media oleh YB Ong Kian Ming, yang jelas terbukti penuh kelemahan dan kesilapan. Lihatlah ini sebagai satu khidmat untuk masyarakat, demi kesejahteraan semua termasuk YB Ong Kian Ming agar beliau tidak berasa malu setiap kali kelemahannya dan kesilapannya terbongkar.

Friday, April 29, 2016

No water and electricity in Sarawak?

A few days ago, I read Malaysiakini's headlines "DAP: PM promises 4G internet but no water, electricity after 53 years".

In that article, Mr Leon Jimat Donald who is DAP's candidate for Simanggang slammed the Prime Minister for dangling 4G internet if BN wins but failed to provide electricity and water to some in the state.

He said the BN government should be focusing on rural long houses which are lacking basic services.

I actually flipped open the Auditor General Report 2014 Series 2 page 55 and 56.

The Auditor General Report said that as at 31 October 2014, the 24 hours electricity coverage in rural area had benefited 536,278 applicants or 92.8% of them.

The Auditor General was referring to the Rural Electrification Scheme that was introduced to improve the system and quality of electricity supply from 12 hours to 24 hours.

It is thus extremely incorrect for any party, especially Malaysiakini, to use the phrase "no water or electricity after 53 years". The remaining 7.2% of applicants actually have electricity, although limited.

All of us, including politicians, journalists and even the man on the street, We must stop painting a false picture as though Malaysians live in the jungle like Tarzans or Mowgli from the Jungle Book.

The World Bank actually lists Malaysia as one of the 89 countries in the world where 100 percent of the population has access to electricity.

Rural basic infrastructure is a key focus under Najib's Government Transformation Programme. Since the GTP was introduced, Sarawak has received the largest share of the Budget. Billions, every year.

Just on rural electrification under the RES scheme, Government has spent RM2.15 billion in the span of 6 years between 2009-2014.

But we must not forget a very important point. The Government is not dragging its feet on those who are currently receiving 12 hours electricity only and want 24 hours. The Rural Electrification projects in Sarawak are not easy. There are geographical challenges and management of resources to consider.

Not an excuse, yes the Government must and is working on it, but we must not neglect development in other areas of focus.

That is a recipe for disaster, DAP. Look at other countries.

In the ASEAN region, take Philippines as an example, only 87.5% of its citizens have access to electricity. But the country spent about RM6 billion last year on infrastructure for better mobile internet.

Elsewhere in India, where poverty is widespread and some say it is home to a third of the world's extreme poor, only 78.7% of its population have access to electricity. I don't even want to talk about clean water there.

But while the Indian Government is actively working on improving access to basic necessities, the telcos there are building infrastructure and analysts expect 4G smartphone users to grow from a mere 5 million last year to 180 million in 3 years.

So, why belittle or question Najib and BN's offer to develop other areas of focus?

Why can't Sarawakians enjoy 4G internet, while Government also spends billions in upgrading the quality of access to electricity and water?

Third world mentality politicians in DAP.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Why gag and bind TMI?

I do not agree with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's decision to block access to The Malaysian Insider (TMI).

According to Salleh Said Keruak, the decision to block came after TMI published an article which quoted anonymous sources from the MACC's Operations Review Panel.

It is common for media portals to quote unnamed sources. There are cases where the source requests to speak on condition of anonymity.

News portals like Bloomberg, CNN, and BBC have all quoted unnamed sources in their reports.

In cases where articles which quoted anonymous source have broken laws - eg if it was seditious, misrepresented facts etc - a clarification and response should be issued by the affected party.

Most of the time, if not all the time, media portals will carry that clarification and in some extreme cases, the media portals will apologize for the 'error' and for damaging the reputation of the affected party.

I must say that TMI have been fair to readers like me who often send in articles for publication on TMI's site, some of them were clarifying and explaining issues when the Government came under attack by netizens. I appreciate the space and opportunity given by TMI and I made full use of my relationship with TMI, why can't the Government?

The Government and MACC could have chosen a more democratic path. Issue statements to clarify the points in the article, not block access to the news portal.

Also, the Government and MACC have an alternative option which is to take legal action against The Malaysian Insider if they have broken any law. We have sufficient laws in our country to sure that all parties are protected.

Blocking access to The Malaysian Insider is an act against freedom of the press and information.

It is also quite pointless since netizens can easily access the site through proxy sites, or read the articles either on mirror sites or Facebook.

We must seek to engage media portals and journalists, not gag and bind them. We must learn how to work together in this ecosystem, not engage in war with high handed tactics like this.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Zahid Hamidi and his Bangladeshis

I am extremely disappointed with the way our Government handles its communications. We have a million people in civil service and every single Ministry has a corporate communications unit.

No one stepped up to help explain about this 1.5 million Bangladeshis issue and left the Deputy Prime Minister alone in this mess.

All sorts of allegations and questions are being thrown at the Government recently:

(a) BN wants to bring in 1.5 mil Bangladeshis for GE14
(b) Why 1.5 million? Where did this number come from?
(b) Government doesn’t care about providing jobs for locals

Let us spend some time to discuss them.

(a) 1.5 mil Bangladeshis for GE14?

GE14 is about 24 months away. We are talking about 1.5 million Bangladeshis here.

There are about 6 flights between Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur, serviced either by an Airbus A320 or a Boeing 737 with 180 seats in each plane. 

Assuming that the Government reserves all the seats in the 6 flights and tell the rest of the commercial passengers to take the sampan instead, that's 1,080 Bangladeshis a day and it takes 4 years for the entire 1.5 million to reach our shores.

And please, 1.5 million Bangladeshis to rig the electoral roll of which seats in Peninsular Malaysia? We are talking about bringing in extremely visible and noticeable humans, nearly twice the population of Subang Jaya and Petaling Jaya combined, not hamsters.

(b) Why 1.5 million? Where did this number come from?

I am disappointed that none of the industry associations stood up to defend the Government. Every year, you knock on the doors of Ministers and Ministry officials to complain about shortage of workers and you want the Government to open the flood gates to bring in foreign workers.

Now that the Government is being criticized for helping you, you chose to stay silent?

The Government has no agenda or interest at all for bringing in foreign workers. I can assure you this.

The entire 1.5 million is based on industry demands over a certain period. Not the whole lot of 1.5 million Bangladeshis are coming in tomorrow morning on a Boeing plane.

And the 1.5 million workers are most certainly not just to top up the existing pool of foreign workers that we have here already. Most of them, I believe, are to replace those who have to return to their home country annually, either by choice or because of regulations.

Take the oil palm industry for example. It is an extremely labor intensive sector. Did you know that there are over 400,000 workers in the upstream sector where 24% are locals and 76% are foreign workers?

In 2013 alone, the oil palm sector applied for permits to bring in 65,000 foreign workers via the Home Ministry. A majority of them were brought in to replace the outgoing pool of foreign workers at that time.

And every year, the plantation companies submit labour requirements statistics to the Government and we are always short of 30,000 workers. Yes, till today.

This is just the oil palm upstream industry. I've not even touched other sectors such as the domestic services, construction, manufacturing, food eateries, cleaning services etc.

Imagine the number of foreign workers that are leaving our country every year which require replacement. Yes, hold that thought and understand that these are the number of foreign workers that industry associations want the Government to help bring in.

(c) Government doesn’t care about providing jobs for locals?

Never in my 5 years of working in Government, have I ever missed a single year of complaints from industry captains in sectors that I cover - from upstream plantations to downstream manufacturing.

The truth is, Government has always been making it difficult for our local industries to hire foreign workers.

The Government adopts a three-pronged strategy for this.

First, through incentives to automate. MIDA provides a 200% capital allowance on automation expenditure to high labour-intensive industries.

Second, by making it expensive to bring in a foreign worker or maid with those levies, visa payments, security bonds, provision of housing and insurance etc.

Third, through fixed ratios of 1 local worker to 3 foreign workers or 1 foreign worker to a specified area

For oil palm plantations, it used to be about 1 foreign worker to 8 or 10 hectares. I am not so sure what it is now. You can't just simply bring in any number of workers that you want.

For manufacturing, I know that the Government regulation was 1 local worker to 3 foreign workers. One cannot simply just hire foreign workers without providing jobs for locals also.

In fact, before the employer is allowed to bring in a foreign worker, the employer must first made the job offer available to locals first via the Job Clearing System or Jobs Malaysia.

Every employer knows this. It is stated clearly on the Home Ministry's website:

Sebelum membuat permohonan pengambilan pekerja asing, majikan perlu mendapatkan perakuan daripada Jabatan Tenaga Kerja Semenanjung Malaysia (JTKSM) yang mengesahkan bahawa majikan telah menggunakan perkhidmatan Job Clearing System (JCS) / Jobs Malaysia untuk mendapatkan pekerja tempatan.

So, if any of you yourself or you want your kids to clean tables and plates, pick up oil palm fruits, tap the rubber tree, clean the washroom, work at the production lines and others, please my dear, don't waste your time attacking Zahid or the Government on Twitter and Facebook. Just go to any Jobs Malaysia or Jabatan Tenaga Kerja's office and apply for it.

As for me, I prefer to see my fellow Malaysians move up a notch with greater ambition in the labor market. I want to see my fellow Malaysians as administrative and legal clerks, as teachers, as lawyers, engineers and accountants, as executives and managers.

And I hope the industry associations start to find their voice again on this foreign workers issue. Or if Tan Sri Apandi gives the green light, do you want the Government to divulge the specific requests for foreign workers by each and every one of you?