Press Statement Re Palm Oil Budget

This morning I gave a press conference in Parliament on the palm oil industry. You can read my statement below. You can access the videolink to my PC here.

Press Statement: Budget for Promoting and Defending Palm Oil Slashed, a mere 0.03% of Total Exports

The price of CPO is low at RM2,200 per MT and Malaysia is losing significant export sales. According to statistics from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), Malaysian exports to major buyers for the period Jan to Oct 2014, compared to the same period last year, has seen a drop of 530,000 MT.

Against this backdrop of challenging times for the industry, Parti Keadilan Rakyat is disappointed that the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities has decided to slash its 2015 budget for defending and promoting palm oil by 40%.

For 2015, the budget to counter the anti palm oil campaigns has been cut from RM16 million for 2014 to RM10 million for 2015. Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), the body responsible for the promotion and development of the industry has also seen a budget cut from RM25 million in 2014 to RM14.5 million for 2015. Overall, from the Budget 2015, this Ministry has allocated a mere RM24.5 million to defend and promote palm oil.

Palm oil is a RM80 billion export industry. To spend a mere RM24.5 million to defend and promote palm oil is a joke. RM24.5 million represents a mere 0.03% of total exports of palm oil. What is the appropriate spend rate for marketing and promotion of palm oil?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in promoting American agriculture produce spends close to 1% of its total exports. In 2013, USDA data recorded USD 144 billion in export sales with USD1.3 billion spent on promotional marketing of such exports. If we use the USDA spend rate of 1% as a guide, the Ministry should spend about RM800 million a year to defend and promote palm oil, not a mere RM24.5 million. As such, we urge the Ministry to increase its spending to a more reasonable amount of RM200 million a year to turnaround and safeguard the future of this very important industry.

Lastly, we also note that palm oil companies are subjected to both corporate tax 25% and a windfall tax of 15% and that the total tax revenue paid by such companies is estimated to be around RM10 billion to RM15 billion a year. Spending a mere RM24.5 million to help the industry is blatantly unfair to oil palm companies.

Wong Chen, PKR
MP Kelana Jaya, 18 November 2014

 

Kenyataan Media: Bajet Mempertahankan dan Mempromosikan Industri Minyak Kelapa Sawit Dipotong, hanya 0.03% daripada Jumlah Eksport

Harga terkini CPO adalah rendah iaitu sebanyak RM2,200 (per MT) dan pasaran market share Malaysia semakin surut. Mengikut statistik MPOC, jumlah eksport minyak kelapa sawit Malaysia kepada Negara pembeli-pembeli terbesar dari tempoh Jan hingga Okt 2014, berbanding dengan tempoh yang sama tahun lalu, telah jatuh sebanyak 530,000 MT. Dalam keadaan indusri sawit semakin susah, Parti Keadilan Rakyat berasa amat kecewa dengan keputusan Menteri Perusahaan Perladangan dan Komoditi untuk memotong bajet untuk mempertahankan dan mempromosikan industri ini sebanyak 40%.

Bajet untuk menangani kempen anti-minyak kelapa sawit telah dipotong daripada RM16 juta (2014) kepada RM10 juta (2015). Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), badan yang bertanggungjawab dalam usaha-usaha untuk mempromosikan dan membangunkan industri ini juga dipotong bajet daripada RM25 juta (2014) kepada RM14.5 juta (2015). Secara kesuluruhannya, Kementerian hanya memberikan peruntukan sebanyak RM24.5 juta untuk mempertahankan dan mempromosikan industri ini.

Minyak kelapa sawit merupakan industri eksport bernilai RM80 bilion setahun. Perbelanjaan RM24.5 juta untuk mempertahankan industri yang bernilai begitu tinggi adalah sangat memalukan kerana ianya hanya mewakili 0.03% daripada jumlah eksport minyak kelapa sawit. Apakah kadar perbelanjaan yang sesuai untuk pemasaran dan promosi minyak sawit?

Kementerian Perladangan Amerika Syarikat (USDA) dalam mempromosikan pemasaran produk perladangan Amerika membelanjakan lebih kurang 1% daripada jumlah eksport. Pada tahun 2013, data daripada USDA mencatat jumlah eksport sebanyak USD 144 billion dan sebanyak RM 1.3 billion dibelanjakan untuk mempromosikan pemasaran eksport tersebut.

Jika kita mengikut kadar perbelanjaan USDA sebagai satu panduan, Kementerian ini sepatutnya menyediakan sebanyak RM800 juta setahun untuk mempertahankan dan mempromosikan minyak kelapa sawit, bukan RM24.5 juta. Oleh itu, kami menyeru kepada Menteri supaya meningkatkan bajet kepada RM200 juta setahun, iaitu jumlah yang lebih munasabah bagi membangun dan melindungi masa depan industri yang begitu penting kepada Malaysia.

Akhir sekali, kami juga ambil perhatian bahawa syarikat-syarikat minyak sawit adalah tertakluk kepada dua jenis cukai; cukai korporat 25% dan cukai durian runtuh 15% dan jumlah hasil cukai yang dibayar oleh syarikat-syarikat sawit dianggarkan adalah RM10 bilion ke RM15 bilion setahun. Bajet kecil RM24.5 juta untuk membantu industri ini adalah memang tidak adil kepada syarikat-syarikat kelapa sawit.

Wong Chen, PKR
Ahli Parlimen Kelana Jaya, 18 November 2014

Debate on TPPA Budget

This is the video of my debate in Parliament today on the TPPA Budget. Here I attacked Najib (and Obama) and also the sorry state of budget allocation for TPPA negotiations. It appears that TPPA may already be a “done deal” and that the small allocation for negotiations is just superficial makeup.

My video starts at 16.06 minutes, after Seputeh and Kinabatangan.

The link to the video is here.

Press Statement Re TPPA

I just debated on the TPPA. I also gave a press statement immediately after. Here is a video of my press conference. And below is my Press Statement:

Government Not Transparent and Not Serious about TPPA

In reply to my questions in Parliament today, the Minister of International Trade and Industry said the following:

(i) That the cost benefit studies have two stages, an interim report and a final report. The interim reports have been completed but they were based on the state of play up till June 2013 for the ISIS report and August 2014 for the PricewaterhouseCoopers report. The Minister is non-committal about the release of these interim reports to the public. The Minister then said that that only the final reports will be presented to Parliament after the final round of trade negotiations of TPPA is completed.

(ii) That the Minister is also uncertain how much the cost benefit studies will cost taxpayers. He did not venture to give an estimate.

I urge the Minister to release the completed interim cost benefit reports to the public now. Otherwise, MPs and the public will continue to have the perception that the interim reports do not support the signing of the TPPA. Are these reports secret under OSA?

I am also perplexed by what use is the final reports AFTER the trade negotiations have concluded? Logic demands that the reports should be available to guide us through the final stages of the negotiations. A cost benefit report will have variable formulas and projections, it should create several scenarios and outcomes. Therefore the so called final reports should be made available to MPs before trade negotiations are concluded.

As for the matter of costs of these reports, Budget 2015 has provided a sum of RM1.3 million for all FTA trade negotiations, including the TPPA. This spending allocation is too small, relative to the size of the current trade between Malaysia and other TPPA negotiating countries. The current annual trade level is RM60 billion, spending RM1.3 million on FTA preparations is a mere 0.002%. The government must dramatically step up spending on economic and trade data, engage better experts and consultants and do more costs benefit studies. I believe at least RM20 million be allocated for better studies and then make these studies available to Parliament. Otherwise, from its budget allocation, the government is clearly not serious about TPPA and hiding the interim cost benefit studies from public will only galvanise opposition to TPPA.

 

Ini adalah kenyataan media saya mengenai TPPA:

Kerajaan Tidak Telus dan Tidak serius mengenai TPPA

Jawapan Menteri MITI kepada soalan-soalanTPPA saya di Parlimen pada hari ini, adalah berikut:

(i) Bahawa kajian kos faedah mempunyai dua peringkat, satu laporan interim dan satu lagi laporan akhir. Laporan interim telah siap tetapi adalah berdasarkan perkembangan semasa sehingga Jun 2013 bagi laporan ISIS itu dan Ogos 2014 bagi laporan PricewaterhouseCoopers. Menteri juga enggan membuat apa-apa komitmen untuk mendedahlan laporan interim kos faedah TPPA. Menteri cuma komit kepada laporan akhir dibentangkan di Parlimen selepas pusingan akhir rundingan perdagangan TPPA diselesaikan.

(ii) Bahawa Menteri juga tidak pasti berapa angaaran kos untuk kesemua kajian kos faedah. Beliau tidak memberi apa-apa anggaran kos.

Saya menyeru Menteri untuk melepaskan semua interim repot yang siap kepada orang ramai. Jika tidak, Ahli Parlimen dan orang ramai akan terus mempunyai persepsi bahawa kesemua laporan interim tidak menyokong Malaysia tandatangani TPPA. Adakah laporan-laporan ini rahsia di bawah OSA?

Saya juga tertanya, apa gunanya laporan akhir TPPA SELEPAS rundingan perdagangan telah berakhir? Logik menuntut bahawa laporan harus disediakan untuk membantu proses rundingan. Laporan kos faedah akan mempunyai pelbagai formula dan unjuran, dan akan mewujudkan beberapa outcome senario. Oleh itu laporan akhir TPPA perlu disediakan kepada Ahli Parlimen sebelum rundingan perdagangan selesai.

Mengenai kos laporan ini, Bajet 2015 telah menyediakan sejumlah RM1.3 juta untuk semua rundingan perdagangan FTA, termasuk TPPA. Peruntukan perbelanjaan ini adalah terlalu kecil, berbanding dengan saiz perdagangan semasa antara Malaysia dan negara-negara yang berunding TPPA. Tahap perdagangan tahunan semasa adalah RM60 bilion, MITI hanya membelanjakan RM1.3 juta pada persediaan FTA. Ini adalah ratio yang terlalu kecil iaitu hanya 0.002%. Kerajaan perlu secara mendadak, meningkatkan perbelanjaan untuk memperolehi data ekonomi dan perdagangan, melibatkan pakar-pakar dan perunding yang lebih baik dan melakukan lebih banyak kajian kos faedah. Saya percaya sekurang-kurangnya RM20 juta perlu digunakan untuk kajian yang lebih baik dan kemudian mendedahkan kajian-kajian ini kepada Parlimen. Jika tidak, dari peruntukan bajet, ia memang jelas kerajaan adalah tidak serius mengenai TPPA dan sikap menyembuyikan laporan kos faedah daripada orang ramai hanya akan menimbukan lebih bantahan terhadap TPPA.

Wong Chen
Ahli Parlimen Kelana Jaya

Desa Ria and Desa Mentari Deepavali Celebrations

Today I attended two Deepavali celebrations in Desa Mentari Block 3 and Desaria.

Block 3 is the most functional low cost flat in Desa Mentari. The social cohesion is strong and the Malay and Indian communities genuinely get along. A lot of credit goes to En. Azzim, the chairman and his team. Azzim is an Indian who converted to Islam and he is the bridge linking both communities. He has also ensured that both communities share responsibilities and powers in both the Rukun Tetangga and JMB.

The Desaria Deepavali event was sponsored by YB Nik Nazmi. Every year YB Nik will have a Deepavali event on a rotation basis between several Indian communities in Seri Setia. Congratulations to Yogen and the organising committee for a wonderful event.

deep

deep2

deep3

deep4

 

Subang Parade Dance Competition

At 1pm today I was at Subang Parade to launch a dance competition called Dare 2 Move. It is a 2 days event, ending tomorrow. There are about 100 dancers competing for RM10,000 in prize money.

Last year’s winners gave a solid performance. The event is sponsored largely by Subang Parade mall and Celebrity Fitness. Do drop by if you are a fan of dance. I gave a speech defending the rights of youth to express themselves, whether in politics or the arts.

youth

Free Mammogram Screening for Glenmarie and Desa Mentari Residents

On October 28th 2014, in conjunction with the launch of the new Breast Care Center, Sunway Medical held a free mammogram screening for underprivileged women above 40 years old. My office was involved with identifying and arranging the attendance of 30 women from the Taman Glenmarie and Desa Mentari areas. Many are single mothers and women from low income families. This was a great opportunity for the women to get a free checkup at one of the finest medical facilities in the Klang Valley.

We have just received the screening results yesterday. A special thank you to Sunway Medical Centre for organizing this successful mammogram screening and for taking the extra effort to follow up with some of the women. I certainly hope that there will be more of such screenings in the future as there are many other women within the Kelana Jaya constituency who need to be reached out to.

 

mamo

CSR Projects in Desa Ria

A big thank you to the CSR donors for our Desaria staircase repair project. Prior to this, the staircases of Desaria were in a terrible state. Vandalised and most of its metal rails stolen by drug addicts. It was a safety hazard for all, especially children.

So in early February this year, we started looking for solutions. As we could not raise sufficient funds from the state, we looked for corporate sponsors. We got an architect on board, engineers and quantity surveyors to do free work for us. Once we worked out the budget, we then looked for funds.

After we raised sufficient funds, work started in August. Project was completed on time and within budget. We raised RM90,000 for all 12 staircases. The open tender process was handled by Clement Architecture and JUBM, free of charge. The main CSR corporate donor gave us RM50,000 but wishes to be anonymous.

 

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Today, we also received RM1,250 from a group of Taylor’s college students who raised money for our Tabika Desaria project. We gave the tabika a small library a few months ago. However much more work is needed. Again we planned the process and raised funds. Work on the tabika will focus on tiling, painting and installation of extractor fans. Work will start when the tabika has a 2 weeks holiday in end November.

 

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This week we are also rolling out communal lights for corridors with some 100 units, courtesy of the 1Utama Group. The original communal lights were also stolen by drug addicts.

Lastly, a very big thank you to my volunteer team of Leong, Ho, Phang and Wyhow. They did the run around, met the residents, chased donors and handled contractors. They are the real heroes of Desaria.

 

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Parliamentary Replies III

11 November 3.49pm: 

Today in Parliament, PKR MPs had our meeting to plan ahead issues to be raised. Anwar chaired the meeting and advised us to prepare for all eventualities. We also sorted out the order of debate.

I am all set to debate tomorrow on the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities. This ministry has a relatively small budget of RM1.7 billion but I will be highlighting issues of misguided allocations. Stay tuned for that.

 

12 November 10.27am: 

Deputy Education Minister Mary Yap is exactly like the other Deputy Education Minister Kamalanathan.

They just cannot answer any unprepared questions in Parliament.

Last month Kamalanathan gave a one sentence reply. He said, the allegation is not true and then he just sat down.

This morning Mary Yap in reply to a question from YB Lim Guan Eng, she did slightly better. She replied in two sentences, thank you for the question, we will study the matter. Then she sat down.

The Dewan broke into laughter and Guan Eng can be seen shaking his head at the unbelievable reply from a minister.

 

12 November 10.55am: 

Ahmad Maslan has inadvertantly broken the biggest story ever about Malaysian govt finances.

He has said that letter of supports (LOS) are actually guarantees from the government BUT it is not captured by Bank Negara as a contingent liability of the govt. Currently contigent liability of govt is about RM250 billion. So how many LOS are out there? Just how big is the actual contingent liability?

 

13 November 3.45pm: 

Today in Parliament, Anwar gave a press statement that all PKR MPs are ready to debate on 1MDB. He challenged Najib to allow Parliament to do so.

As you may know, I have over the last year put in about 10 questions on 1MDB. I have never received a single satisfactory answer and to my questions on Jho Low, these were rejected outright by Parliament.

There is a mood in the halls of Parliament that
a deep panic has set in amongst the Najib camp. Hence the complete shutdown on 1MDB. Chua Tee Yong evaded the issue like the plague. Even the Speaker is at a lost what to do regarding Rafizi’s petition against Ahmad Maslan on 1MDB. Also another very strange but noticeable phenomenon is that not one single BN backbencher has ventured to defend 1MDB. With the UMNO meeting at end of November, will 1MDB be Najib’s Waterloo?

 

A Laptop for Rishi

Last month Mdm Saraswathy and her son Rishi came into my office seeking some help. Mdm Saraswathy is a single mom living in Desa Ria with three children. She has an eye disability but still does some work for an income of about RM600 a month. She wanted desperately to buy a computer for her eldest son, Rishi, a bright boy who appears to genuinely want to excel in Form 5 next year.

Considering my welfare allocation has been used up, I contacted one of my previous donors Annie from Sunway College to see if she knew anyone who might have a laptop to donate to this family, and she was kind enough to look into it.

Last night, Rishi received a laptop from a donor named Mr Ron Lew. The best part of the night was finding out that Rishi’s ambition is to become an aeronautical engineer.

Thank you to the donors for helping a single mother sustain her family in a time of hardship and for helping to equip Rishi with the tools to pursue his dream.

rishi