Press Statement: Govt Pushes Prices Up Despite Fall in Petrol Prices

This morning I had a press conference on the rising cost of living despite the fall in petrol prices. Below is my full press statement.

You can also read the media’s coverage of this issue here.

PRESS RELEASE: GOVERNMENT PUSHES COURIER PRICES UP DESPITE FALL IN PETROL PRICES.

Last Tuesday, 13th January 2015, PKR expressed concerns that prices of goods and services have not come down despite the fall in petrol costs. PKR also rejected the Minister’s claims that the inflated price of goods and services are caused by profiteering businessmen beyond their control. We noted that the BN government has created an environment whereby these profiteering practices thrive by failing to address structural and governance issues such as competition and monopoly. In fact, the BN government, via its GLCs, GLICS and its connected cronies, have a major controlling influence over the pricing of most basic goods and services.

Instead of bringing prices down, today, we expose how a government agency has helped to increase profits for a company, Pos Malaysia which is controlled by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar since 2011. On 15th December, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) issued a notice that the minimum price for Courier service will increase to RM5.00 for letter below 500 grams. Whilst this notice seems innocent enough, we have learnt that Poslaju, a subsidary of Pos Malaysia used this to then increase all its courier charges by an average of 51%.

The fall in global oil prices has led to a decline in local petrol prices. Common sense dictates that prices of services such as transportation and shipment including courier service industry should come down. So why then has the courier charges for Pos Malaysia increased dramatically? We also note with concern that Pos Malaysia still maintain a 15% fuel surcharge in its prices.

Pos Malaysia is not a loss making concern. In 2013, they made a whopping RM 151 million in profit after tax with revenue of RM322 million from its courier service alone. This price hike could effectively push its courier service revenue to an all-time high of RM500 million. Coupled with further savings from cheap petrol, Pos Malaysia would record extreme profits in 2015, all thanks to MCMC’s generous but illogical support for a price hike. Ultimately, the rakyat and consumers suffer while the crony billionaire laugh all the way to the bank.

MCMC is under the supervision of the Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. We call upon the Minister to do his job and bring the prices of courier down in light of falling petrol prices. It is important that the government send the right message that it will seriously fight rising costs of living, in particular since the GST is just a few months away.

Wong Chen
PKR Chief of Investment and Trade Bureau / MP Kelana Jaya
16 January 2015

Gurdwara in Subang Jaya

Last week I was at the groundbreaking of the Subang Jaya Gudwara with YB Hannah. The local sikh community aims to raise RM4 million for the construction of the Gudwara. So far they have raised RM1 million. YB Hannah (RM10k) and I (RM1k) pledged some money from our community funds; my budget is much more limited.

I told the crowd that the Kelana Jaya Parliamentary allocation under Federal government, amounting to around RM1.5 million is currently given to MCA and UMNO to “manage”. It’s not given to me. So I promised the association that as the local MP, I will write to the Federal Government for the funds that rightfully belong to Kelana Jayans to enjoy. Attached below are the letters requesting for funds.

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PKR to counter UMNO racist perception

I spent the morning in PKR Party HQ and did a press conference with YB Rafizi and YB Manivanan.

YB Rafizi argued that prices and costs of most goods and services should be coming down due to the fall in petrol prices. However this cheap oil knock on effect has yet to materialise. Prices are still high. When asked to explain, the 2nd Finance Minister blames this squarely on the greedy business community. This then has taken on a racist element on pro UMNO cyberspace that “Chinese Tauke” are profiteering by maintaining high prices.

PKR aim to counter this racist perception by exposing the supply chain of most of our basic needs are in fact controlled by government and cronies. Thus the government cannot just wash their hands and blame “businessmen”.

The profiteering is not about race but a failure of government policy and anti-competition activities such as monopolies. We urge the government not to play the race card but to carry out their fundamental duties of dismantling monopolies, inject in more competition and improve enforcement to punish price hikes.

Specifically, I will be focusing on telcos, logistics and Astro.

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Norway is ready. What about Malaysia?

Most are aware that Norway represents a model oil producing nation with its immense sovereign wealth fund. It also scores extremely high in terms of per capita income and general happiness. So when prices of oil started to fall, their government decided to be on “alert” and started making economic preparations.

This is what the Norwegian PM said: Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the government is now “on alert” to respond to the rout. “If the economic situation requires it, we can react quickly,”
Read more in the Bloomberg below:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-08/norway-on-alert-as-oil-losses-have-government-exploring-options.html

What about Malaysia? It appears that the government is still taking it easy. It’s still on “Tidak apa” strategy. Instead of preparing, it is still going to town saying that they will meet the 3% deficit target. I wrote on December 16th that the government need to activate an emergency economic team and produce a plan. Today, I reiterate the call for action.

Pusat Khidmat Kelana Jaya Constituency Newsletter: Issue 4

The fourth issue of our Kelana Jaya Constituency Newsletter has been published online for all to download and read.

We also plan to distribute some copies around the Kelana Jaya area soon.

You can read the newsletter by following the links below:

English version

Bahasa Malaysia version

All issues of our Pusat Khidmat Kelana Jaya Constituency Newsletters are available on the “Reports” section of our website.

Press Release: Ahmad Zahid Must Explain

We have been getting complaints from business owners (with foreign workers) about the new charges of up to RM38 to renew/process foreign workers. The scandal here is the project has been given to MyEG, essentially securing MyEG revenue estimated at RM87 million per year, whereas previously, it was done by Imigresen Malaysia for free.

PKR’s Dato Johari and Lee Chean Chung, jointly issued the following statement:

Kenyataan Media: AHMAD ZAHID MESTI JAWAB SEBAB MENUTUP KAUNTER PEMBAHARUAN PLKS DAN MEMBERIKAN KONTRAK RM87.4 JUTA KEPADA MYEG

6 Januari 2015

Kami terkilan dengan pengumuman Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia di bawah Kementerian Dalam Negeri bahawa semua urusan pembaharuan Pas Lawatan Kerja Sementara (PLKS) pekerja asing secara manual di kaunter akan dihentikan di Semenanjung Malaysia.

Mulai 5 Jan 2015, majikan yang ingin membuat lanjutan PLKS pekerja asing hanya boleh mengemukakan permohonan secara online melalui perkhidmatan MyEG. Ini bermaksud MyEG mendapat kontrak monopoli daripada pihak Jabatan Imigresen, Kementerian Dalam Negeri untuk menguruskan pembaharuan PLKS pekerja asing.

MyEG tidak memberikan khidmat secara percuma seperti di kaunter Jabatan Imigresen, sebaliknya mengenakan caj sebanyak RM38 setahun untuk seorang pekerja asing. Berdasarkan jumlah pekerja asing yang berdaftar di Malaysia iaitu sejumlah 2.3 juta orang, MyEG bakal mengaut keuntungan durian runtuh sebanyak RM87.4 juta setiap tahun.

Menurut pihak berkenaan, keputusan ini adalah bagi mengurangkan kesesakan di kaunter-kaunter imigresen yang menguruskan pekerja asing dan mengelakkan majikan daripada menggunakan orang tengah.

Kami menganggap alasan di atas tidak dapat diterima pakai kerana isu pengurusan pastinya boleh diatasi melalui kaedah dan teknologi baru. Penjelasan tersebut seolah-olah memperlekehkan fungsi kerajaan dan kewibawaan penjawat-penjawat awam.

Keputusan ini juga akan memberi kesan mendalam kepada majikan yang terpaksa menanggung kos lebihan pada masa yang mencabar ini sempena pengenalan Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan (GST) dan kemurungan ekonomi. Mereka sudah membayar levi, visa dan bon jaminan pekerja asing yang mencecah ribuan ringgit setiap tahun, tetapi sekarang terpaksa membayar lebih untuk perkhidmatan sambungan PLKS.

Yang lebih membimbangkan adalah, perkhidmatan pembaharuan permit yang sepatutnya dibekalkan oleh kerajaan, telah ditugaskan luar (outsource) kepada syarikat swasta untuk meraih keuntungan.

Dengan itu, kami mendesak Menteri Dalam Negeri Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi memberikan penjelasan atas persoalan berikut:

1. Bilakah kontrak tersebut dianugerahkan kepada MyEG, dan adakah ianya melalui proses tender terbuka?

2. Mengapakah MyEG mengenakan caj RM38, sedangkan perkhidmatan di kaunter adalah percuma sebelum ini?

3. Mengapakah perkhidmatan kaunter secara percuma tidak boleh diteruskan sebagai satu pilihan kepada majikan/rakyat?

YB Dato’ Johari Abdul, Ahli Parlimen Sungai Petani

YB Lee Chean Chung, ADUN Semambu, Ketua Penerangan Angkatan Muda KEADILAN (AMK) Pusat


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Press Release: AHMAD ZAHID MUST EXPLAIN REASON FOR CLOSING COUNTERS TO RENEW PLKS AND FOR AWARDING RM87.4 MILLION CONTRACT TO MYEG

7 January 2015

We are shocked and disappointed with the news that all manual procedures to renew foreign workers Temporary Work Permit (PLKS) will be suspended at all counter within West Malaysia. This was recently announced by the Immigration Department of Malaysia under the supervision of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

As of 5th January 2015, all employers who wish to renew their foreign workers PLKS can only do so online via the MyEG services. This only means that MyEG has received a monopoly contract awarded by the Immigration Department and the Ministry of Home Affairs. They have been tasked to manage all procedures regarding renewing foreign workers PLKS.

Unlike the Immigration Department counters, MyEG does not provide services without a fee but charges up to RM38 per year for each foreign worker. MyEG is expected to earn as much as RM87.4 million yearly as there are around 2.3 million foreign workers officially registered working in Malaysia.

Apparently, this step was taken to reduce congestion at immigration counters that handles foreign workers and to ensure employers stop using the services of a middle person (runners).

We feel that this reason is unreasonable because management issues can always be resolved with techniques and the most up to date technology. The explanation seems to have undermined the function of the government and the integrity of these public servants.

This decision will also heavily affect all employers who have to fork out more for service fees, the trying times in welcoming the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the current economic downturn. They have already paid thousands yearly for levy, visa and assurance bond for foreign workers, and will now need to fork out extra to renew all Temporary Work Pass (PLKS).

What worries us is that the services to renew work permits should by right be provided by the government, but has now been outsourced to a private company for the sake of raking in huge profits.

Hereby, we would like to urge the Minister of Home Affairs, Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as Minister in charge of the Immigration Department to answer these few questions:

1. When was the contract awarded to MyEG, and was it done through the open tender process?

2. Why is MyEG charging a fee of RM38 while the services over the counter are free of charge?

3. Why can’t the free services over the counter be allowed to continue as another option for the employers/citizens?

Dato’ Johari Abdul
Parliament Member of Sungai Petani

Lee Chean Chung
State Assembly Member of Semambu, Pahang
Information Chief for Youth Wing of the People’s Justice Party (AMK)

Press Statement: 1MDB Another Failure

Here is my short statement on 1MDB’s latest screw up.

The failure of 1MDB to repay its RM2 billion loans owing to RHB and Maybank on time is very worrying. We wish to remind the government that the rakyat via the EPF, owns substantial stakes in both RHB (41%) and Maybank (14%). As such 1MDB should not be given special “national interest” treatment and all dealings by the banks must be transparent and above board. Due to the size of the loans, if 1MDB misses the new 30th January 2015 deadline, legal proceedings should immediately proceed. We urge Maybank and RHB to publicly commit to this tough position to safeguard the reputation of the banking sector.

We are also very worried about the damage this episode has on the expected March 2015 IPO of 1MDB Energy. It sends a very negative perception of the viability of the IPO when the parent company itself can’t get its financial act together.

We continue to urge 1MDB to immediately return the Cayman Island money and use that to pay off the RM2 billion debt.

Wong Chen, MP Kelana Jaya, 7 January 2015 

New Faces and Service Night Tuesdays

We had a busy day yesterday. We have two new interns, Amir and Nicholas. They join Wai Min in the current intern pool. Amir is a sociology graduate and Nicholas in anthropology. Usually we get law students and graduates. So we now have two social scientists. We decided to get them focused on poverty eradication in the poor areas of Desa Mentari. So we took the morning off to visit the poor parts of the constituency and talk to locals.

Then at service night we met two associations, one temple and the other a Chi Gong group. We looked into a curious case regarding voter registration. We also planned a medical camp for 25th January in Block 2 Desa Mentari with volunteer doctors and a pharmaceutical company that has agreed to provide free vaccines.

Lastly, we helped an anonymous lady donor who provided 4 big boxes of diapers for the Kelantan Flood relief efforts. Our office will take in any donations for tin food, milk and sanitary toiletries. We are currently working with two local volunteer groups in Subang Jaya.

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New Year

Our office resumes service today. Happy New Year to all.

This morning my office is busy finalising our 2014 accounts and newsletter covering the period 1st July 2014 to 31st December 2014. We target to have these published by this coming Thursday. We strive to practice a transparent reporting system for our constiuents.

On the matter of the floods in the East Coast, some of my friends and readers have been asking about my hometown of Kota Bharu. Kota Bharu is slowly recovering, currently very dusty as the mud dries up. But there is also widespread illness. Personally, we were very lucky to have my parents’ home relatively free from the flood. For some strange reason, Taman Maju was not flooded out. So when the homes of our staff and friends were hit, they moved into our home for shelter.

Politically, 2015 is going to be very tough year. The court decision on Dato Seri Anwar’s trial is due. Within Pakatan Rakyat, Hudud has resurfaced again in Kelantan. For BN, things are even more uncertain, UMNO members are openly attacking Najib, signaling that an all out fight is near.

More problematic than politics, is the economy. Whilst politics may create news, it does not actually create jobs or put food on the table for the rakyat. For 2015, we may have to bear great economic problems. How will BN manage the country in a low oil price scenario? I am bearish on the economic front. Be that as it may, we pray and hope for the best but we should always be prepared for the worst.

Press Release on 1MDB Cayman Islands Money

I am issuing the following press statement in response to 1MDB refusal to repatriate all the Cayman Islands money by year end.

Press Release: Bring back Cayman money as promised to Parliament

PKR does not share the views of 1MDB that it cannot repatriate an estimated total of RM18 billion worth of funds parked in Cayman Islands due to fears of exposure to currency fluctuations.

PKR is of the view that the estimated RM18 billion parked in the Cayman Islands must be in the form of US Dollars. According to reports, the funds were migrated to the Cayman Islands in or around September 2012 via the Segregated Portfolio Company structure. In September 2012, the then average exchange rate was USD1 to RM3.07.

Since then the Ringgit has weakened sharply and the current exchange rate is now USD1 to RM3.48.

In other words, the Cayman Islands money has in fact made substantial exchange rate gains since September 2012 equivalent to RM0.41 sen or 13%. Having made substantial foreign exchange gains, why can’t 1MDB repatriate all its money back to Malaysia?
Therefore the statement by 1MDB Chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin that the Cayman Islands moneys should remain there is therefore financially illogical.

More importantly, his statement is also against the very promise made by Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan in Parliament on 6th November 2014 to return all the Cayman Islands money to Malaysia by year end.

This illogical stand that is contrary to the Minister’s promise to Parliament, raises a serious question; does the so called money in the Cayman Islands still exist or has it completely disappeared in the nearby Bermuda Triangle?

PKR therefore demands 1MDB immediately discloses and publishes a full account of all its money in the Cayman Islands and we also demand the Finance Minister Najib Razak to direct 1MDB to return the money to Malaysia before year end.

 

Wong Chen, MP Kelana Jaya

23rd December 2014