Vaccinating Legislators: No More Excuse For Emergency And Parliament Suspension

The Prime Minister has announced that Members of Parliament are eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19 during the first stage later this month.

As an MP, I am grateful for this. Personally, I would have preferred for other frontliners like healthcare workers, police officers and teachers to receive the vaccine first but I also understand that we have a responsibility to persuade sceptics amongst the public in order to increase uptake.

Vaccinating our MPs also means the government do not have any excuse to continue with the Emergency and suspension of Parliament. After all, almost all sectors of the economy have been opened.

The same principle should be applied to Parliament, where we can meet to discuss matters of the Rakyat whilst adhering to the strict SOPs as we did before.

The most important part of our duties as elected representatives is to represent our constituents in Parliament by bringing up the issues they are facing on the ground and ensuring that legislation is appropriately debated and passed.


Police Investigation Against Anwar Unjustified

The police investigation against Anwar Ibrahim for his call for an end to the current Emergency is unjustified and unwarranted.

It should be noted that Anwar has sought a judicial review to challenge, not the actions of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, but rather the advice that was tendered by the current government.

The lawsuit is hence against the government and not the institution of the monarchy.

Several other public figures have also filed lawsuits in regard to the current Emergency.

It should furthermore be noted that Anwar’s judicial review attempt mirrors a the challenge PAS had pursued in relation to the 1977 Emergency Declaration in Kelantan.

As such, the courts should be allowed to determine the merit of his legal arguments without interference from any other party.

As a citizen of Malaysia, Anwar has a right to seek legal redress for any wrongs that he believes has occurred in the public sphere.

Using the police force to investigate and intimidate a serving MP and Leader of the Opposition exercising his duty as check and balance of the government runs counter to the principles of democracy.

This remains even during a state of emergency.

As such, the investigation towards him cannot in any way be justified and ought to be dropped.


Federal Territory Day

Today, we celebrate Federal Territory Day. Today, we celebrate Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya—not only these very special cities but also the diverse, hardworking and virtuous people who make them come alive.
This year’s celebrations unfortunately take place during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the on-going Movement Control Order (MCO) and Emergency.
The Prime Minister has spoken and in his remarks outlined the various initiatives his government has undertaken to assist the people of the Federal Territories.
Unfortunately, the fact is that his government’s inadequate, flip-flopping response to both the public health and socio-economic crises triggered by the pandemic has negated whatever good the initiatives he has introduced may do.
Indeed, the lives of Malaysians in the Federal Territories and other urban areas in key sectors—including employment, education, infrastructure, the environment and public safety—leave much to be desired, especially for the B40s and M40s.
The best “gift” the current government can give Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya this Federal Territory Day is to commit to work more closely with its elected MPs and civil society, to listen and implement the mountains of sensible advice given in good faith, including on how to bring the pandemic under control.
This cannot take place while Parliament is not sitting, nor when members of his administration seem determined to take an adversarial relationship with a great many of the FT MPs.
The voices of the people of the FT appear to be ignored, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged such as the young, single parents, the homeless, mentally ill and migrant workers.
The FT needs change desperately. There is no use talking about all the aid given when the MCO—which has yet to show positive results despite several weeks—hurts livelihoods without helping to bring down the soaring infections. There is still time to reverse the perilous course we are still on.
In the longer term, self-governance ought to be returned to Kuala Lumpur, in the form of restoring local council elections in the city. The best way to ensure its continued development as a world-class city will be to allow Kuala Lumpur to be governed in the interest of its residents.
The recent Court of Appeal judgement in the Taman Rimba Kiara case is proof that the Federal Government does not always know best when it comes to the lives of our great cities.
In Setiawangsa, we have the Taman Tiara Titiwangsa case, where the residents have won at the Court of Appeal level.
The Federal Territories can definitely emerge as international hubs that draw people from all over the world. But it must first be able to take care of its own people—to keep them healthy, safe and employed and that requires real leadership that has the people at its heart.
Kuala Lumpur and the Federal Territories are special cities. And their people are special. With wisdom, cooperation and genuine leadership, there’s no reason why it will not be able to recover and eventually, thrive.

Notice Of Demand From Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan In Relation To Taman Tiara Titiwangsa

I received a Notice of Demand from Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) dated 4 December 2020 through their law firm, Shahul Hamidi & Haziq.

The Notice is with regards to a press conference held in Parliament on 18 November 2020, in response to the Report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) entitled “Penjualan Tanah Milik Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan (KWP)”.

Amongst other demands, YWP is requesting RM10 million as compensation for statements I made on the above matter.

In pages 19-20 of the Report, PAC concluded that the Federal Territories Minister and the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur are exposed in a potential position of conflict of interest. This is because by virtue of their posts as the Federal Territories Minister and the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, they both automatically hold the positions of Chairperson and Trustee of YWP respectively.

The PAC proposed that YWP’s structure be looked into and that the entity be reconstituted as a statutory body for it to be accountable to the government.

The PAC Report was based on proceedings held in 2019, when YB Dato’ Dr Noraini Ahmad (Parit Sulong) was the Chair of PAC. She is currently Minister of Higher Education and UMNO Wanita Chief.

YWP has an ongoing project in my constituency in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa. I have worked with the Taman Tiara Titiwangsa Residents Association prior to the 2018 elections, which continued during the Pakatan Harapan era until today.

The residents have been opposing the project.

For the record, the residents have won the case on the project against DBKL at the High Court and Court of Appeal.

YWP has similarly issued notices to four other MPs YB Wong Kah Who (current PAC Chairperson and Ipoh Timur MP), YB Tan Kok Wai (Cheras), YB Hannah Yeoh (Segambut), YB Lim Lip Eng (Kepong) as well as myself for our press statements where we were merely commenting on conclusions and recommendations made on the PAC Report.

On 26 December 2020, our lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, replied to YWP’s lawyers.

Why has YWP not taken any action against other members of the PAC including Noraini Ahmad who is both a fellow Cabinet minister and UMNO leader like Federal Territories Minister and YWP Chairperson YB Tan Sri Annuar Musa?

I will not be intimidated by their action and will continue to exercise my duties as a legislator and stand up for my constituents.


MCO 2.0: Proposals For The Education Ministry

Yesterday I raised the issues that the Ministry of Education must deal with following the 2nd Movement Control Order.

These are some proposals for the Government to consider.

The Ministry should announce the exam dates for both exam batches—especially the batch of 2021 – so students and their schools can prepare accordingly.

For the 2021 batch : will the November date for SPM be postponed to give students and teachers more time? Remember the latter will now have to teach 2 batches of exam classes this year.

Under the circumstances, the Ministry must set the number of school days for the year for exam and non-exam students where holidays may be trimmed.

This will also be an opportunity for the Ministry to consider focusing on simply teaching a trimmed down syllabus and centralised online testing for key subjects only.

If JPA can already do online testing for candidates applying for the civil service, why not the Ministry of Education?

As for states under CMCO and RCMO, keeping the SOPs—and hence the students, teachers and their respective families safe—can be facilitated through a staggered approach in bringing students back to school.

For instance, for primary school, only Standard 4—6 students—should be allowed to return to school as they will have exams to prepare for and are old enough to understand and follow the SOPs. It is extremely difficult for teachers to help Year 1 students especially to follow SOPs.

For secondary schools, perhaps keeping Forms 1 and 2 at home will help towards this end.

Of course, staggering returns to face-to-face learning may compel parents who are working in essential industries to have to arrange day-care for their school-going children and hence increase their financial burdens.

The government must look into the mental health of teachers and students, which have been adversely affected due to Covid-19. When the time comes to open schools, teachers and students must be reassured to prevent schools from becoming pandemic clusters.

As it is, schools often act as “day care centres” even for parents who are working from home, as having children in school—especially the younger ones—will help improve productivity. Perhaps the government can subsidise the cost of day care in these cases.

Besides this, the Ministry must obviously ensure that there will be enough bandwidth and data in schools and in the Matriculation Colleges for teachers to prepare and conduct online classes.

The Ministry must also announce what actions they have taken in supporting teachers and schools in providing good quality online teaching and learning as well as ensuring the tracking of student attendance for online classes.

As I have also said before, perhaps it is about time we review our whole education system in terms of its philosophy, goals and objectives so we can prepare our children to live in a world threatened by disease, climate change and weakened institutional structures and values.

The sad fact is that successive governments keep trying to fit the current education system into a structure that no longer exists thanks to Covid-19 and other dislocations.

Bold action is needed. But the government has instead chosen to undertake another hard MCO lockdown and a divisive Emergency.

This is clearly not the actions of an administration that has the interests of its people at heart. But it is not too late for it to change tack and help ensure that the “Generation Covid” does not become a lost one.


Education Ministry Must Answer Questions On MCO 2.0

I would like to raise a few points with regards to education in light of almost all states in Malaysia being put under Movement Control Orders (MCOs) or Conditional MCOs (CMCOs) except Sarawak and Perlis, which are under Recovery MCOs (RMCOs), as well as the nationwide Emergency.
For states under MCO, what the government, via the Ministry of Education, is basically asking is for all exam students—and their teachers—to return to school.
As I have previously noted however, we now have 2 batches of exam students to care for: for instance, we have the SPM class of 2020 (who have yet to sit for it) and 2021.
The work of teachers—which is never an easy job—will be more complicated now. They will have to manage and teach double their usual load of exam classes, while adhering to the SOPs.
This is on top of teaching online lessons to the students who must remain at home.
I have seen no indication that the Ministry or Government is providing preparation, resources, and support for teachers under these circumstances—to balance both requirements, especially for those who may be unfamiliar with the subjects they may have to teach at exam level.
At the same time, there have been reports that non-exam secondary school students are losing interest and focus on their online lessons.
What is the Ministry doing to help these students and their teachers? To reduce the risk of high dropouts when schools reopen?
What support systems are being provided for teachers, students and parents to navigate the MCO 2.0 and now Emergency restrictions? Where are the hotlines, databases for lessons and assessments? Where are the virtual
townhalls to communicate with parents?
This should have been done in the first few weeks of the pandemic in 2020.
Is the government making full use of tuition centres, individual tutors, online tuition providers and NGOs to provide space for virtual learning for B40 children who might not be able to learn at home virtually?
Only the Ministry of Education can answer these questions.