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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Overcome the hindrances faced by talents returning to Malaysia

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw reiterates that in his efforts to publicize the Talent Roadmap 2020, the Prime Minister should pay special attention to hindrances such as promotion system, bureaucracy and drastic reduction of pay for those specialists who return to serve this country.

On 25.4.2012, Dr Tan comments on Datuk Seri Najib's extravaganza on Talent Roadmap 2020 to attract many peofessionals to work in Malaysia. There are three thrusts: Optimise Malaysian Talent, Attract and Facilitate Global Talent and Build Networks of Top Talents.

In the last 54 years, every time there is a new Prime Minister, he shows his interest in talents. Datuk Seri Najib is no exception. He sets up Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad with full publicity to attract and retain talents. He promotes, among other things, cooperation of public and private sectors and enhancing the management of scholarships. We hope he succeeds in getting truly able people.

Talent is a gift of nature. It gives the person greater freedom to move. Some countries like USA and Singapore offer attractive conditions for such people. Are those from the Prime Minister more enticing?

In the midst of the publicity, Najib has not explained how he would overccome obstacles faced by professionals who return to this country such as steep reduction in salary, lack of transparency in employment, inability to make use of  the skills of returnees, purchase of equipment only through Bumiputera companies, outdated institutions and racial factor affecting promotion.

In many institutions like a public university, racial factor, the difference between home grown personnel and returnee affect promotions. Faced with this dilemma, some keep mum, but others simply leave the country.

For example, a specialist returns to serve in a university hospital suffers a pay reduction of over 50%. But  there is a ruling that all home grown doctors who have had 8 years of service are promoted directly to the payscale of DU54. Returnees are offered DU53, which is one rung below, and under the instituion's regulations, this is the highest scale it offers a new employee. Even if a returnee qualifies and works  overseas for over ten years, that service is not counted. Further, he or she enters on a temporary contract. It takes six months to obtain a permanent contract and that pushes the starting date back by six months. Actually, the person would have to wait 18 months before the next pay increment.
In the private sector, a returning professional may not be restricted by instituional regulations as found in the public sector. In public institutions, hindrances such as promotion aand remuneeration regulations exist.
Superficially, Najib's extravaganza on talents is one thing, getting into the roots of things in the public institutions is another. Is the Prime Minister serious about Talent Roadmap?

Tan Seng Giaw

Friday, April 20, 2012

The House adjourned at 3.20 am, breaking record.

DAP National Deputy Chiarman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw maintains that members of parliament as legislators must fulfil one of their obligations to legislate whether the House sits in the morning, afternoon or in the early hours.

On 20 April, 2012, Dr Tan took part in the debate in the House on one bill and five motions in the early morning.

Article 12 (1) of the Parliamentary Standing Orders states that each sitting of the House shall begin at 10.00 am and continue until 1.00 pm and resume at 2.30 pm and continue until 5.30 pm or the earlier completion or deferment of business on the Order Paper.

Provided that a Minister may without notice move at any time a motion to be decided without amendment or debate to vary the time of sitting of the House.

Yesterday, just before midnight, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri moved a motion to allow members to debate the bills and motions until the House was adjourned. The clocks in the House stopped at midnight.

From midnight to 3.20 am, the House debated two bills and five motions, namely Capital Market and Service (Amendment) Bill 2012, Printing Machines and Publication (Amendment) Bill 2012 and five motions from the Finance Ministry. This broke the parliamentary record. Apparently, in 1977 during the Kelantan crisis, the House adjourned just after 2 am.

The Capital Market and Service (Amendment) Bill includes stock exchange and its irregularities. If these are not stamped out, the loss will be billions.
The Printing Machines and Publication (Amendment) Bill comprises of clauses that allow the Minister  to  issue permits. Even if the permit period is over, it is still valid. This seems relatively easier. But, he has the power to draw up reulations as well as to cancel any permit. Publishers, writers and journalists appear to be able to breathe better. There are still constraints. We hope the situation will improve further.

The first motion by the Finance Ministry is about Government Funding Act 1963 transferring RM28,500 millions to the Development Fund for various projects. Some MPs were impatient to go home early. The Government  should reconsider whether to allot development fund to their constituencies.

The second motion involves the 1957 Finance Procedure Act, changing the name odf one of the funds from the Research Council and National Science Development Trust Fund to the Science and National Research Trust Fund. The amount is about RM5 million. This is to give incentives to innovative scientists.
The third motion is also on the 1957 Finance Procedure Act, creating Public Sector ICT Project Trust Fund to encourage public sector ICT personnel to be self-reliant. The sum is still unknown.

The fourth motion deals with ASEAN Infrastructure Fund Limited, attempting to develop infrastructure within the 10 ASEAN nations together with Asian Development Fund. Malaysia contributes US$150 million whereas Indonesia RM120 million.

The fifth motion is on 1967 Customs Act, presenting the rate of customs duties on nine groups such as steel import duty that should not affect Malaysian steel mills, Malaysian common tariff agreements with ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Korea, Chile and others. There were negotiations with the World Customs Organization every five years. As these imply import duties amounting to billions, the House should take it seriously. Every cent that is collected and spent must be debated and passed in the House.
Tan Seng Giaw

Thursday, April 19, 2012

True freedom for students in universities

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw maintains that there must be genuine freedom for students in universities. But, student activities should not affect the well being and the peace of a university.

There must be true autonomy of universities in Malaysia. This is a main factor for them to achieve excellence.

On 19.4.2012, Dr Tan took part in the debate on the Bill to amend the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971(UUCA or AUKU, Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti).

I rise feeling happy that at least there is an attempt in the right direction to amend the act to allow students to have more freedom such as to take part in politics. At Leeds University, United Kingdom, I was active in the university for four years, taking part in societies and following politics. Here I am in this august House.

University students need the freedom to pursue academic excellence, to participate in societal activities and to be involved in politics. We do not condone any freedom to destroy the peace of a university or to deny other students their freedom.

The objectives of UUCA include many aspects such as administration and student activities. The Bill gives the Minister the right to appoint a Director General of Higher Education who shall advise him or her on matters pertaining to higher education. We hope a director general is wise, competent and fair. One of his or her duties is to maintain register on programmes conducted and provided by higher educational institutions.

Recently, the Minister announced the granting of autonomy to five universities including University of Malaya. I hope that there is genuine autonomy not just for the five univeristies, but also for 15 other public universities.

He should investigate (he has subsequently agreed to do so) the allegation that a palliative care programme from Ireland has been fixed for University Malaya Hospital to cater for the increasing number of senior citizens and seriously ill patients in the country. Apparently, getting Irish experts to train Malaysians costs a packet. Is there a possibilty of a kickback? Has the Dean of the Medical Faculty been consulted? We have Malaysian experts on palliative care. How many have emigrated?

The Bill allows a student of the University to become a member of any society, organization, body or group of persons, whether in or outside Malaysia, including any political party. There are provisos, comprising of a Board to regulate the activities of students and a society, an organization, a body or group of students of the Univerisity within the Campus.

The Students' Complaints Committee shall have such powers in conducting investigations or inquiries as to any complaint made by a student in the manner as may be prescribed by Statute. Then, there is the power of Minister to make regulations.

We hope that the Board, the Students' Complaints Committee and the Minister are wise and fair. Students should enjoy true freedom and universities genuine autonomy.

Tan Seng Giaw

Effective mechanism against the abuse of Security Offences Act

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw insists that there must be an effective mechanism to ensure the implementation of the safeguards stated in the House by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib that the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 will not be abused.

There are clauses in the Bill that are acceptable such as Clause 5(2): no person shall be arrested and detained under this section (power of arrest and detention) solely for his political belief or political activity. A few matters must be reviewed and improved like sensitive information. Hence, a special committee as proposed by the Opposition Leader YB Datuk Seri Anwar can revise and define these things more precisely before the Bill is passed. The most important is that it shall not be used against innocent people.

On 15.4.2012, Dr Tan took part in the debate on the Bill in the House.

I rise to speak on the Bill with a mixed feeling. I am sad because the Internal Security Act 1960 was often abused. I am happy as ISA is repealed after 52 years, to be replaced by the Bill.

I have repeated my wish in this House to repeal ISA, to be replaced by an anti-terrorism act. But, the Member of Parliament for Rembau (YB Khairy) has not paid attention. Instead, this morning he criticized the Opposition for asking for the repeal of ISA without an alternative. He charges like a bull.

We must always ensure national security. This includes the House. We do not know when terrorists will appear. For instance, Norway has been a peaceful and liberal country, rich with oil and gas. Last year, suddenly  a terrorist killed 77 persons, many of whom were youths with promise.

We can look at the Bill from legal, philosophical and theoretical aspects. Briefly, I only mention the legal aspect.

On 12 July, 1948, the British declared emergency in Malaya, followed by Emergency Regulation 17D. In 1951, they enforced Briggs Plan and Operation Starvation. On 31 July, 1957, the Emergency ended. On 31 August, 1957, this country achieved Independence.

In 1960, ISA was promulgated according to Article 149 of the Federal Constitution to fight the Communists.The the Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman said that the purpose of ISA was to deal with the Communists, not politicians (non-communist).

I do not have time to go through the clauses which cause concern. For example, Clause 3: interpretation; Clause 4:power of arrest and detention; Part VII: evidence; Clause 26: evidence of accomplice and agent provocateur. Clause 30: detention pending exhaustion of legal process. Clause 31: the minister may make regulations as may be necessary or expedient for giving full effect to or for carrying out the provisions of this Act. This depends on the wisdom of the minister. He is a human being; he may err.

YB Permatang Pauh, the Opposition Leader, YB Bagan Lim Guan Eng and other MPs have raised these causes and the ways to improve them.

The Prime Minister YAB Najib has given safeguards on the Bill in this House. Previously, all Prime Ministers gave an undertaking to ensure that ISA would not be abused. But, it was often abused as admitted by Tun Hussein Onn in his affidavit. He was the father of the Home Minister YB Sembrong, Hishammuddin.

Tun Hussein reminds us thus:"...I made every effort to ensure that the power under the ISA would not be miused to curb lawful political opposition and democratic citizen activity, were respected."

Tunku Abdul Rahman reiterated, " My Cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the Government under the ISA, 1960, would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent."

We need an effective mechanism such as a high court to interpret the definition of a terrorist and the need to detain further to ensure that the Bill will not be abused.

Tan Seng Giaw

Friday, April 06, 2012

Set up Parliamentary Select Committee specially to monitor the EC implementation of the PSC Report recommendations.

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw insists that the House set up a Special Select Committee to monitor the implementation of the recommendations contained in the PSC Report to improve the electoral system.

The Government must increase the human and financial resources of the Election Commission (EC) so that it can implement the proposals effectively. The Government should announce the increase in the number of EC staff members.

(The speech was made in the morning. YB Nazri replied in the afternoon, saying that the Government has created 422 posts in the EC with 35 temporary posts of Grades 41, 44 and 48 from 1.5.2012 to 30.4.2013.)

On 5.4.2012, Dr Tan took part in the debate on the supplementary Supply Bill 2012 at the committee stage on B4 RM48,770,200 for the cost of election matters.

The supplementary expenditure was used in the Tenang, Merlimau and Kerdau by-elections, the 10th Sarawak State Election and the preparation for the 13th General Elections.

EC tried to carry out its duties. But, there were weaknesses. For example, the electoral roll was suspected to be unclean, there was shortage of staff and non-citizens were said to have the rights to vote.

Two days ago, as the House was emotionally charged, the PSC Report was approved without debate.

There are many issues. The Majority Report has 18 proposals such as procedures for casting votes early and a new general election can only be declared four years after the last one. We hope that the four proposals contained in the Minority Report such as reducing the voting age from 21 to 18 and automatic registration of eligible voters can also be accepted by EC. These will help to overcome its weaknesses such as cleaning up the electoral roll and stop non-citizens being registered as voters.

The Government members tend to make mountains out of mole hills. Outwardly, they talk about democracy and clean electoral roll. But, in practice, we hope they really show the true democratic spirit.

The Minister, Datuk Seri Nazri, says the Cabinet will discuss the formation of a committee to oversee the implementation of PSC Report recommendations. We expect him to bring it up. He seems to behave like a toothless tiger.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib remarks thus: "The Government, too, wants a fair and clean election as it does not want to be elected based on any election fraud."

We agree. Lets hope that his action is as good as his words.

Tan Seng Giaw