Menu Close

Category: Public Policy (page 1 of 16)

Meetings, Meetings and More Meetings

Today has been a day of meetings. At 10 am, Elvin a PhD student from Emory University, US dropped by for a long chat on Malaysian politics. He is writing a thesis on Malaysian Opposition politics and wanted to know my views on a range of matters. Elvin visited me last year and I bumped into him again this year at my RSIS talk in Singapore.

After that I had a meeting with a former reporter who is now trying his hand at electronic business. He wants to test out his new app in Subang Jaya and decided to give me a heads up of his plans. It is a social enterprise venture. I am often surprised that Malaysians are truly never short of business ideas.

Then I had a lunch meeting with some middle age friends from the business, media, investment and banking sectors. Inevitably when they invite me once every 3 or 4 months, they want to hear the latest political gossip. And towards the last dishes, they turn the table and want to lecture me about what we should be doing to win! As they say there is no such thing as a free lunch! It’s all in good fun as I get some valuable updates too on the pulse of corporate Malaysia.

Later tonight I have another event. Tomorrow I have on schedule 7 events from 7.30 am to 9 pm. It’s gonna be a very long day tomorrow for me.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Corruption: A Rumination

Good morning. I want to talk about the subject matter of corruption this morning. Corruption is the single most important issue facing Malaysia and has been a topic of many of our Monday Night Chats.

While I was in Jakarta last week, I learned of the story about the Samsung heir being sentenced to 5 years jail for corrupting the S.Korean President. And during my conference in Jakarta, the common woe told by MPs from Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines was of corruption and abuses of power. Then last Saturday, I was part of a group of judges for the KPUM finals, where the topic was on the MACC and Whistleblower Act.

What is the state of corruption in Malaysia? Has the level of corruption increased or decreased? Is corruption so widespread that it encompasses both sides, the federal government and also the Opposition governments?

Common people and the chattering professionals talk about “one side steals millions and the other side steals billions”. There is a lot of despair and disillusionment out there. What future is there for real change, if the next PM may just be another shade of the same, what one of friends describe as “UMNO light”.

Well, I just came back from Indonesia and had the chance to speak to Indonesian policy advisors to Jokowi as well as Indonesian MPs. They tell a story of gradual but fundamental change, and it is a story of hope and a call for patience.

The Indonesian experience in combatting corruption has many valuable lessons for us. Indonesian culture is similar to that of the Malay culture here, therefore there is a belief that change must be gradual to make room for consensus building. On the other hand, the Singapore culture is also similar to the Malaysian Chinese culture here, there is therefore an expectation that with stern leadership we can quickly achieve a corrupt free society.

The key point is whoever comes to power, there must be a commitment to carry out 3 key policy reforms. Policy 1: Establish press freedom, let the press shame and name corrupt politicians without fear or favour. Policy 2: Empower MACC to be completely professional and independent, accountable only to Parliament. Policy 3: Pay your MPs reasonably well so that you eliminate the need to be corrupt.

The 1998 Indonesian Reformasi planted these policy reform seeds and it then took close to 10 to 15 years before the anti corruption system became fully functional. Today, everyone in Indonesia, including the ruling politicians, fears the KPK (the Indon MACC).

It is my belief that the two big cultural and policy influences of Indonesia and Singapore, will see Malaysia achieving significant anti corruption results faster than Indonesia, that is within 5 to 10 years.

So if you are part of the despairing public on the state of corruption in both federal and opposition politics, don’t give up! Demand your MPs to do better and monitor them carefully. Scrutinise their asset declaration forms. Note if they are living beyond their means; the cars they drive and the watches they wear always invariably gives them away!

Lastly, voting UMNO BN will bring zero prospects of any change. Despite the existence of bad apples, voting Opposition will at least guarantee the planting of the seeds of anti-corruption reforms. We then have to wait 5 to 10 years for full results. The Indonesian experience tells a positive story of hope moderated by patience.

That’s it for my long Monday morning chat (stay tuned for tonight’s Monday Night Chat video), I wish all a very productive week ahead.

Am attaching our latest P104 family photo of current and past staff, volunteers and interns. Our P104 family has grown to about 70 plus now from 4 years ago!

A Short Recap of a Long Weekend

Hi just doing a short recap of community activities this weekend. I (a) attended the national conference to discuss Malaysian Indian policies, (b) took part in judging the finals of KPUM public policy competition of university students, (c) rallied the Desa Mentari Block 5 free family photo shoot, and (d) officiated the Dare2Move dance competition in Subang Parade.

Later tonight, my office will be having our farewell dinner for Nadirah and Tania, and also for some of my summer interns. Nadirah will be leaving us in mid September having won a Chevening scholarship to do her masters in public policy at University College London. Tania will be leaving in the 1st week of September to Oxford University to do her masters in public policy, having won the Rhoades scholarship.

Hello, Jakarta!

This morning I was given the honour to moderate and reply to the first session with a panel of 4 technical trade experts on RCEP. One is the deputy chief of staff from Jokowi’s office, a trade diplomat from the Indonesian government, a senior international law academic and a trade expert from an NGO. I gave a wrap up speech outlining the multi-faceted issues regarding RCEP and free trade and coordinated the open discussion that followed.

The conference is attended by 27 Members of Parliament from ASEAN. It will continue till 5.30 pm and continue tomorrow from 9 am to 1 pm. I will be flying back to KL after lunch.

I will be flying back to KL straight after the conference ends at lunch. It has been two very interesting days discussing RCEP with my fellow ASEAN MPs. It is strange and sad to note that political problems of corruption and abuse of power is very widespread in so many ASEAN countries.

Monday Night Chat with Wong Chen: Episode 37

Good evening team! On tonight’s #MondayNightChat with Wong Chen, YB will be:
(1) Answering the billion dollar question of why are the rakyat not angry about the 1MDB scandal, for Policy Monday; and
(2) Discussing his opinions on Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad’s arrest, Menteri Besar of Selangor’s negotiation with PAS, and his holiday (sort of) in Penang (spoiler alert: he ate a lot of good food but neglected to tapao some for his diligent staff), for Q&A.

We also have a special farewell segment for our intern Paul Mae—Boss said bye, she said bye, we then cried (in our hearts). She left the office last Friday, but we already miss her like crazy!

Skip to the timestamps below for the following segments:
00:15 – Policy Monday
03:42 – Q&A
07:54 – Farewell Paul Mae!