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Tag: YB Rafizi Ramli (page 1 of 7)

Rafizi’s BAFIA Trial

Good morning from Shah Alam Sessions Court. My interns Seng Kiat and Sean Ferdinand are with me to attend the trial of Rafizi Ramli over the BAFIA Shahrizat Cowgate RM250 million scandal.

Until now the Cowgate scandal has resulted in zero jail time and not even one sen of fine for the people who took cow money to buy luxury condos. Instead, Rafizi Ramli is facing Bank Negara charges for allegedly disclosing bank accounts that helped to expose the Cowgate scandal. This is the sad state of Malaysian justice.

Today, Rafizi is answering questions posed by the public prosecutor. The trial may last a few more days.

A Not So Busy Day

Good morning. I have a not so busy day ahead. I have a lunch meeting with academic Lee Hwok Aun. Hwok Aun is currently a senior fellow at ISEAS, Singapore. He was formerly at Universiti Malaya where he did groundbreaking studies on work and racism. His research helped Rafizi Ramli and office to craft an en equal employment policy.

After that I will be joining Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to meet senior visiting diplomats from Germany. The meeting will take place in Parliament. Then I will head to my office for service night. Today will be the last day of intern Kevin; he is going to ANU, Australia to do his masters. Kevin was a key help in the asset declaration exercise last month.

Here is a quick roundup of my other events this weekend with pictures; namely a fundraiser event for a local church (where I met up with my former intern, Irin!) and the back to school charity program organised by Subang Jaya Buddhist Association.

 

Alternative Budget 2018 Launch

Good morning. This is Budget Day and MPs will be heading to Parliament around 2 pm. The finance minister will read the budget speech at 3.30 pm. As usual there will be 4 sets of documents; economic report, budget document, federal revenue report and finance minister text.

During and after the budget speech, I will be posting up views via Facebook. I have also been asked by ntv 7 to air some views. Then at 8.30 pm, I will be back at INVOKE Malaysia with Rafizi Ramli and Tony Pua to shoot a livestream of our budget reactions. So stay tuned for that.

The entire weekend will then be spent reading and analysing the budget documents and my officers and interns will join Leader of the Opposition, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her team to prepare the very important Budget Reply.

The Budget Reply slated for next Monday at 11.30 am, is a formal Parliamentary event and Dato Seri Wan Azizah’s speech is expected to take about 1.5 hours. In all Westminster based Parliament, the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and key cabinet members are required to attend, but not in Malaysia. Last year’s attendance to the Budget Reply from UMNO BN cabinet was close to zero. The non-attendance reflects badly on UMNO BN but they seem to be absolutely shameless.

This culture of ponteng in Parliament is deeply ingrained and reflects the attitude of UMNO BN leaders treating Parliament as a rubber stamp. So far in the first 4 days of Parliament, Najib Razak leads in ponteng; he has yet to come into the Parliament hall. In contrast, his deputy Zahid Hamidi has made 3 appearances to answer questions as home minister.

Sponsor an Intern!

In the midst of being overworked and all the madness that comes with the budget season, I have been informed by my accountant WWW (former intern) that this year we have completely overblown our budget on our internship program. We are going to end up spending close to RM30,000 on our interns by year end.

When I became an MP in 2013, I must admit that my first year was confusing and difficult. I had just won a massive majority in Kelana Jaya, 2nd biggest after Rafizi Ramli in Pandan for PKR, but was “rewarded” the very last seat in Parliament. Getting the furthest seat from the Speaker meant that I had little chance to be noticed, and as such, little chance to speak in Parliament. I joined PKR as a policy technocrat but had to quickly navigate party politics.

However with help and guidance from YB Hannah Yeoh and her wonderful team, and with my two original staff of Tim and Deb, we started our community office somewhat clueless but determined. We asked many senior MPs on how to set up the Parliamentary office accounts and the only MP to step up to help was YB Tony Pua. Thank you Tony!

In many ways we were left to completely fend for ourselves, and it turned out to be a blessing. My team and I, together with my super bunch of loyal volunteers, Leong, Wyhow, Ho and Phang wrote our own rules on how to run an MP office.

We made up the rule that we should spend minimally on the richer communities of Subang Jaya and focus 70% of our very limited resources on the hard core poor in Seri Setia. We wrote the rule that we will not allow party interference in our office business (all my interns and volunteers till today, are non party members).

We made a decision not to award any contract work, simply because contractors were profit oriented. However, in 2016 we were forced by the Selangor government to reverse this policy. We also wrote the rule not to accept any big donations. That is why every year we sell RM50 movie tickets to raise funds. We reached out and became friends with several medical NGOs to jointly carry out medical camps for the poor.

We also created our Bulan Kebajikan program for the hard core poor. The poorest in Desa Mentari and Desa Ria responded positively to the program. In return, my constituents taught my interns and I very valuable lessons on humility, dignity and “poor economics”. I am sure I have said this many times before, as we became closer to our urban poor communities, we started seeing faces of poverty rather than mere economic numbers.

However the greatest program we created was to run our internship program. What started as a simple program in late 2013 has grown more and more intensive over the years. Frustrated by politics and stifled in Parliament, I decided that I should put my time to better use, that is to mentor the next generation of leaders. It is my secret hope that as many of my interns end up becoming good and honorable MPs. From the same pool of interns, we hired our brilliant officers; Gillian, Amir, Nadirah, Tania, Abigail and Tina. Former interns Megan and Paul Mae will also be joining my office soon.

As of today, we have had 67 interns, these are my padawans from our P104 Jedi Academy and I am unashamedly and immensely proud of every one of them! Our volunteers have also grown in tandem; we now have Jarratt, James, Melody, Crazy Shin and WWW being part of our volunteer family. We also have a parallel set of phone bank volunteers, who are absolutely committed to Abigail!

By taking up the task of mentoring my interns, I forced myself to work harder on public policies. That is how Monday Night Chat started with our Policy Monday segment.

When Dato Johari Abdul (MP for Sungai Petani) became the PKR Chief Whip in Parliament in 2016, he promoted me to a middle seat in Parliament, allowing me to better debate and represent my constituents. That simple act of kindness went a long way to restore my faith in party politics. Last year, after failing to convince the leadership to adopt big data analytics, Rafizi and I set up INVOKE Malaysia. Our hope is to continue to push for a better form of politics.

So it has been almost four and half years since my election and it has been a heck of a journey. The long and short of this long posting is the following appeal to you.

If you are interested to invest in the next generation of Malaysian leaders who are committed to clean politics and real reforms, do consider becoming a sponsor to our internship program. Essentially, we are looking for 60 generous donors willing to commit RM500 per year. If you are keen to support our interns, please write to abigail.wongchen@gmail.com.

Thank you for your kind attention and I wish all a very good night. I leave you with some pictures of the P104 family, my officers, volunteers and interns.

The End of a Long Week

I got home at 1.30 am (past midnight) from the INVOKE Malaysia event on Tuesday night. My loyal, hardworking and underpaid staff and interns stayed till the very end. Rafizi Ramli did most of the briefing, I played a minor role. Am attaching pictures of the event.

The Alternative Budget 2018 is now being translated by an external source. We have been working on this document for 45 days. With the work now outside of our control, we can rest a few days. So I have decided to take a short holiday with my wife and kids tomorrow. The kids have been restless during this one week of school break and I have been neglecting them of late.

We will be doing a cuti-cuti Malaysia short trip. First stop will be Gua Tempurung, then Kellie’s Castle and some local Gopeng makan. After lunch we will go to Ipoh and explore why the Lonely Planet has named Ipoh as a top 10 destination in Asia! Ipoh food is expected to be glorious. Yesterday, at the imoney talk, Prof. Jomo told me that Ipoh is now a great arts destination with artists resettling there due to cheaper property and lower cost of living.

We will be staying at Sekeping Kong Heng and tomorrow night I will meet up with some local PKR leaders to answer questions on economic policies (I can’t really stop working). On Friday, we will continue to explore Ipoh and eat more stuff before heading back to KL after lunch.

My staff will see me on Saturday and Sunday as we prepare the final layout of the Alternative Budget. My staff will also read and research the first 4 legislative bills that will be tabled in Parliament starting next Monday. This weekend is going to be pure legislative work. We have deferred all community events so that we can focus on the upcoming Parliamentary debates. I will try to debate as many bills that I can handle in this sitting. In the last July/August sitting, I debated 7 bills. I want to try to top that record. I am also expected to debate extensively on the budget itself. I must emphasise that this budget session is the most important event of the year for MPs.

On the Deepavali visits today, I want to thank YB Manivanan Gowin and Guna/Uma for being wonderful hosts. I also managed to drop by Desa Mentari to visit the scene of the fires. I spoke to En. Zaini and En.Norizan, the local community leaders who explained the complex issue of racial politics in dense urban poverty zones. I also asked YB Manivanan for his valued opinion on the matter of fireworks in the context of Deepavali. This issue clearly needs sensitivity to cultural needs as well as public safety.

The local leaders lamented that despite being banned, fireworks are openly being sold on the streets. These traders have obviously taken care of the enforcement authorities, who then turn a blind eye. The ban is not only failing but actually promotes corruption and abuses of power. YB Manivanan proposed a different solution; legalise but control the sale and usage of fireworks. He proposed the banning of all extreme fireworks, thus allowing the sale of milder fireworks for cultural purposes. In addition, he argued a designated and supervised open space should be allocated for 5 nights, rather than the current free for all dangerous discharge of fireworks in common properties of flats.

I want to explore more options on the issue. I will ask one of my new interns to look into this and see if we can discover any successful policies applied in other countries. We may do a Policy Monday on this topic in the near future.