In this episode, Wong Chen recaps what has happened in the past week: Parliamentary sitting, water cut crisis, China and Najib: purchasing of battleships. He also talks about education policy.
On the eve of Deepavali, I just finished visiting my poorest constituents in Desa Ria. The residents there under the new leadership of Prakash, pulled together some money and raised RM1,500 to provide a bag of rice and an uncooked chicken each to 60 of the poorest families. This is a program not initiated by me and is funded 100% by the local residents. I was informed this morning to drop by if I can. And I am so glad to have dropped by.
In darkness, all it takes a small spark to create light. In extreme hardship, there is still hope, charity and community. The Desa Ria residents are the poorest 10% and their good deed today gives hope that Malaysia can still be better for all.
May light triumph over darkness. Happy Deepavali to all my constituents.
For this post, I want to talk about the water crisis affecting one million residents in Selangor. I have been following closely the water crisis in Selangor, affecting a large part of my constituents in Subang Jaya. YB Hannah Yeoh has been updating regularly, she is on the ground distributing water and engaging residents. Residents are going into their 5th day without water. And we had a water crisis barely a month before.
In Parliament, I bumped into Minister Wan Junaidi and also separately the Deputy Minister Hamim on several occassions. I keep asking for their quicker action. They keep saying that Selangor must also do their bit. I have also relayed some of my ideas to YB Zuraida to pass on to the MB.
Wan Junaidi do not believe the current pollution crisis to be an act of deliberate political sabotage. Deputy Minister Hamim, who is an engineer and someone I enjoyed working with on the TPPA (when he was Deputy Minister of MITI), will not speculate but says that the problem is not new. The federal government has resources but water is a state matter.
I am of the view that with the economy slowing, more and more companies will try to cut costs by dumping pollution straight into the river.
Enforcement in Malaysia has always been a challenge. A widely held view is the enforcement officers are either stretched thin, overworked or at the other end of the spectrum, just plain corrupt being paid by polluters to turn a blind eye.
If enforcement officers are not effective, then we have to bring in the accountants.
The obvious solution is to track historical records of industrial waste output of each factory and counter check with their disposal costs. If a factory is found to have slashed spending substantially on disposal of industrial waste in the last year, then we can assume that they are engaging in illegal dumping. A major discrepancy in the accounts should be a basis for a full investigation and raid by enforcement officers.
The state should also set up a benchmark of waste output for each industry to red flag any unusual data volatility. Setting up patrol units along the rivers is not going to help as much as sending in the accountants.
Bottom line is this. If the economy deteriorates, we can expect more and more water cuts stemming from increased pollution activity.
Irate residents will not listen to excuses or causes. Understandably, they just want water and they want this crisis to not repeat. As such, Selangor must dramatically improve its emergency water delivery system. We need more water tanks and we need delivery to be on schedule and to be regular.
We need to also beef up security monitoring at our rivers. We need night time road blocks to monitor all suspicious trucking activities. More importantly is we need new people to lead such enforcement. A fresh start with new officers.
We need to bring in the accountants. We need all factories in Selangor to disclose their waste inventory. And we need to catch the culprits, severely punish them to end this cycle of water cuts.
Lastly, I beg the residents to also empathise with the authorities. You will not find a harder working ADUN in Malaysia than YB Hannah Yeoh. If you see her on your streets at midnight distributing water, give her a pat on the back.
For this session, the Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya’s has posed a question on the National Blue Ocean Strategy. In response the Finance Minister has responded evasively.
The following are the transcripts of the press statement in English and BM from YB Wong Chen in response to that answer.
Finance Minister’s Reply about the National Blue Ocean Strategy
I asked the Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak, to give me simple answers on the total cost of the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS), who were the consultants, and how much was paid to them.
Instead, the written reply that I got from him does not answer any of my questions, provides no figure whatsoever, and does not identify the consultants involved and how much were paid to them. The reply is entirely evasive and unbecoming of a Finance Minister. It merely identified the NBOS coordinator as the National Strategy Unit (NSU), a unit of the Ministry of Finance (MOF).
In view that the Finance Minister is too lazy to tabulate how much the entire NBOS programme has cost the country, my office has gone through the 2016 and 2017 budgets and done the math for him.
We found that allocations towards the NBOS programme totalled RM210mil in 2015, RM157mil in 2016, and RM148mil is expected to be spent in 2017. This represents only three years of NBOS activities. We do not know what is the total overall cost.
I repeat my call for the Finance Minister to give me the total cost of this programme that started back in 2009 in Malaysia. I also demand he tell us how much money the consultants have made from the NBOS programme.
We have identified the consultant in Malaysia to be UCSI Consulting Group Sdn Bhd (774433-w). This consultant has a monopoly for blue ocean strategy in Malaysia.
What is the Finance Minister trying to hide from us? Since his reply is so evasive, my office will definitely dig deeper into the issue and find out the reason. I demand the Finance Minister to give us a reply tomorrow. When the economy is suffering, every money spent must be accounted for and must be for good value.
YB Wong Chen
Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya (P104)
25th October 2016
Jawapan Menteri Kewangan Mengenai Strategi Lautan Biru Kebangsaan
Saya telah menujukan persoalan yang mudah kepada Menteri Kewangan, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak, mengenai jumlah perbelanjaan pelaksanaan Strategi Lautan Biru Kebangsaan (NBOS), siapa perunding-perundingnya, dan yuran yang telah dibayar kepada mereka.
Sebaliknya, saya telah menerima jawapan bertulis yang tidak menjawab soalan saya, tidak mengemukakan sebarang data, dan langsung tidak menyatakan para perunding yang terlibat serta jumlah yuran yang telah dibayar kepada perunding-perunding tersebut. Jawapan tersebut hanya merupakan satu dalih dan tidak padan dengan tanggungjawabnya sebagai seorang Menteri Kewangan. Ia hanya menjelaskan bahawa penyelarasan NBOS dilaksanakan oleh Unit Strategi Nasional (NSU), iaitu sebuah unit bawah Kementerian Kewangan (MOF).
Memandangkan Menteri Kewangan terlalu malas untuk mengenal pasti jumlah perbelanjaan yang telah ditanggung negara kita untuk melaksanakan NBOS, pejabat saya telah meneliti dokumen belanjawan persekutuan 2016 dan 2017, serta mengira jumlah kos strategi tersebut.
Kami mendapati bahawa jumlah peruntukan NBOS adalah sebanyak RM210 juta pada tahun 2015, RM157 juta pada tahun 2016, dan anggaran RM148 juta pada tahun 2017. Ini hanyalah tiga tahun pelaksanaan aktiviti-aktiviti NBOS. Kita tidak tahu jumlah perbelanjaan keseluruhan strategi ini.
Saya mengulangi persoalan saya kepada Menteri Kewangan untuk menyatakan jumlah kos program ini yang bermula sejak tahun 2009 di Malaysia. Saya turut memintanya agar menjelaskan jumlah yuran yang telah dibayar oleh kerajaan kepada para perunding NBOS.
Kami telah mengenal pasti UCSI Consulting Group Sdn Bhd (774433-w) sebagai perunding NBOS di Malaysia. USCI Consulting Group mempunyai monopoli dalam strategi lautan biru di Malaysia.
Apakah yang disembunyikan oleh Menteri Kewangan? Oleh sebab jawapannya begitu kabur, pejabat saya sudah tentu akan menjalankan penyelidikan dengan lebih mendalam dan akan menentukan penjelasan di sebalik jawapan dalih tersebut. Saya meminta Menteri Kewangan untuk membalas persoalan saya ini selewat-lewatnya esok. Dalam kemelut ekonomi, setiap wang ringgit yang dibelanjakan mesti diambil kira dan mesti menjanjikan pulangan yang baik.
YB Wong Chen
Ahli Parlimen Kelana Jaya (P104)
24hb Oktober 2016
24th October 2016: Tit-for-tat
Today, Kak Wan delivered a very good budget reply speech. The PM did not turn up. No senior ministers were present and after lunch, BN had only one person in the hall to receive her speech.
By convention, in all Westminster based Parliaments, the Prime Minister or the Minister of Finance has to attend and receive the Leader of the Opposition’s budget reply speech. Well, this snub is not new but is sadly a tradition. It has been going on since Dr Mahathir’s time just after Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as Finance Minister in 1998. Anwar Ibrahim was the last Finance Minster to grant some respect to the then Opposition Leader.
Some of you may think this is a justifiable tit for tat action over our walkout last Friday. It is not. It is not a one off thing. This is standard BN government practice, to completely disregard the Opposition voice. We must consider that in 2013, we, the Opposition won the popular vote so this long standing and ongoing snub is now an insult to the majority of Malaysians.
Today in Parliament, I gave a briefing to 14 Members of Parliament of Pakatan Harapan, 5 research officers, plus 2 PAS MPs on how to disect and analyse the budget documents. The briefing was for about an hour and was well received. There were very good questions asked and despite giving the briefing, I learnt a few things too from the more senior MPs.
25th October 2016: Minor Rebellion or a Clever Tactic?
The BN government presented 2 new bills. One very long bill on taxes and another bill on birth and death. What this means is the Hadi Awang 355 motion will now be pushed further down. Is Najib going to disappoint his buddy Hadi Awang again? Is this how Najib rewards PAS for not taking part in the walkout last Friday?
Shafei Apdal, who is now in the Opposition also criticised Najib and his administration.
However, what is very unusual is before that, YB Jasin (UMNO) gave a speech questioning the state of the economy. He seemed to go off script and questioned the fundamental problems of the national debt. After this unexpected critical speech, Kinabatangan (UMNO) also stood up to attack the government for failing to help his constituents. When pushed by us whether he will leave BN, he said he will not blackmail but will negotiate. Then he went on to list down more complaints again the government.
Is this the start of a minor rebellion from UMNO backbenchers? Or is this a clever tactic to extract something for their constituents?
26th October 2016: You Make Kleptocrats Proud
Another day another astoundingly stupid answer from the PM Department. I asked how much was spent by the government on Najib’s air travels for official and unofficial visits by him and his wife for the entire of 2015.
The Minister replied that the Airbus Corporate Jetliner 319 was used 61 times in 2015 for official use by Najib. The Minsiter also state that the government paid for fuel, airport charges, cabin crew and catering. NO AMOUNT WAS PROVIDED.
And here is the most stupid aspect of the reply, the Minister Azalina Othman went on to state that government took cost savings measure, resulting in almost 100% reduction in cost compared to 2014. Wow! 100% reduction, is that even possible? The Minister can provide a percentage on the so called savings but cannot state how much was actually spent!
This quality answer will make any kleptocrat proud.