Saturday, November 5, 2016

Selangor Budget 2017 Policy Debate Transcript

Below is the transcript of my policy debate in the current state assembly session. 


The top picture was taken by my intern who's attending the session as observer. Sorry for the quality, she needed to take from the TVs in assembly because of the sitting. :) 



Transkrip Perbahasan Dasar Yeo Bee Yin pada 2 November 2016 (Rabu) di Dewan Undangan Negeri Selangor. 

Terima tuan speaker kerana memberi ruang kepada Damansara Utama untuk turut serta dalam perbahasan belanjawan negeri selangor 2017 yang telah dibentangkan oleh Dato Menteri Besar pada hari Isnin.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ucapan Belanjawan Negeri Selangor 2017 - Azmin Ali

BELANJAWAN 2017 NEGERI SELANGOR MEMBANGUN BANGSA, MEMAKMUR NEGERI



A. PENDAHULUAN

Ahli-Ahli Yang Berhormat sekalian,

1. Kita menutup tirai 2016 dengan pelbagai kegembiraan untuk rakyat dan negeri. Pada 31 Ogos 2016, tatkala negara menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan, rakyat Selangor bergembira mendapat berita bahawa DYMM Sultan Selangor selamat diijabkabulkan dengan Tengku Permaisuri Selangor, Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin. Marilah kita mendoakan semoga Duli-Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku akan kekal bahagia dan terus bersemayam di atas takhta Negeri Selangor.

2. Dua minggu yang lalu, rakyat Negeri Selangor sekali lagi meraikan Istiadat Menjunjung Duli sempena Pemasyhuran Gelaran Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Tengku Amir Shah Ibni Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj sebagai Raja Muda Selangor ke 7 yang mewarisi Takhta Kesultanan Selangor. Majlis yang penuh dengan istiadat dan warisan ini menjadi tumpuan generasi muda tentang kelangsungan institusi kesultanan Melayu Negeri Selangor.

3. Kerajaan Negeri berikrar mempertahankan institusi Raja Berperlembagaan. Selagi ada bulan dan matahari, begitulah kesetiaan rakyat kepada Raja dan Negara kekal abadi.

4. Institusi Raja Melayu bagaikan sauh, agar bahtera bangsa tidak dihanyutkan oleh taufan dan badai. Raja dan rakyat berpisah tiada. Institusi Raja Berperlembagaan adalah payung kestabilan dan kemakmuran Negeri Selangor untuk kekal sebagai sebuah negeri maju yang peduli rakyat.

5. Di bawah naungan ini, kita bertemu sekali lagi untuk membuat persiapan menghadapi tahun hadapan. Pertemuan pagi ini turut dihadiri oleh Imam-Imam dari semua daerah, Penghulu dan Ketua-Ketua Kampung, Ahli-Ahli Majlis, wakil-wakil NGO yang mewakili budayawan dan penggiat seni, Persatuan Veteran Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (PVATM) dan aktivis masyarakat. Muafakat membawa berkat.

6. Kita akan membentangkan belanjawan dalam serba keyakinan. Kita telah mencipta kejayaan demi kejayaan. Pada 30 Oktober 2015 yang lalu, saya membentangkan belanjawan defisit sebanyak RM 630 juta untuk menjana pembangunan demi kesejahteraan rakyat dan kemakmuran negeri. Kita bersyukur sehingga 14 Oktober 2016 kedudukan kewangan negeri berada pada tahap lebihan sebanyak RM 351.38 juta.


7. Kutipan hasil negeri sudah mencecah 96.9 peratus, sementara belanja pembangunan sudah mencapai tahap 60.0 peratus manakala belanja mengurus pula pada tahap 77.1 peratus. Sehingga 14 Oktober 2016, rizab negeri berada pada tahap RM 3.62 bilion.

8. Kejayaan hari ini bukan helah untuk mengambil sikap selesa. Berkat kewangan yang kukuh, kita merangka Belanjawan 2017 untuk membangun bangsa dan memakmur negeri. Dasar mesra pasaran telah meningkatkan pelaburan domestik dan luar negara.

9. Pelabur mahukan kepimpinan yang mempunyai visi yang jelas, dasar yang tuntas dan berpegang kepada prinsip integriti dan kebertanggungjawaban dalam urus tadbir negeri.

10. Sementara Kerajaan Negeri bersikap mesra pasaran, kita tidak percaya tangan ghaib pasaran boleh membawa kemakmuran yang merata. Bahkan pasaran bebas yang tidak terkawal akan menyebabkan kesenjangan pendapatan dan peminggiran golongan berpendapatan rendah. Fenomena ini akan menyemai benih konflik sosial. Maka, kerajaan mempunyai peranan strategik untuk mencapai keadilan sosial sebagai asas pembangunan bangsa dan kemakmuran negeri.

11. Pelaksanaan GST telah menguncupkan pendapatan isi rumah dan menyumbang kepada ketidakupayaan melebarkan domestic consumption.

12. Sebagai sebuah Kerajaan yang peduli rakyat, Belanjawan 2017 akan memperkenalkan beberapa inisiatif untuk meringankan bebanan kos sara hidup rakyat khususnya di kalangan kumpulan isi rumah berpendapatan 40 peratus terendah (B40).

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Near to Impossible for BN to Fulfil Election Promise of 500,000 PR1MA Units

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama on Sunday 30 October 2016 in Petaling Jaya.

Noh Omar should pay more attention in fulfillng Barisan Nasional’s election promise of building 500,000 PR1MA units by 2018.

Instead of  blaming the Selangor government, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar should give a more professional reply on the issue of affordable housing in the parliament last Thursday.

In fact, Noh Omar should pay more attention in fulfilling Barisan Nasional manifesto in 2013 on affordable housing, which was “building 1,000,000 affordable homes - driven by public & private sectors - including 500,000 PR1MA houses.[i]” The recently announced Federal Budget 2017 shows that the cumulative total of PR1MA units built by the end of 2015 was only 10,291. For 2016, the cumulative total of PR1MA units approved were estimated at 145,000 with 60,000 expected to be completed by end of this year (see below the part ).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

One-Sided 1MDB Forum in UM Another Reminder UUCA Must Go

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama on Saturday 15 October 2016 in Petaling Jaya.

The one-sided 1MDB forum at Universiti Malaya (UM) organised by the UM students representative council (MPPUM) and Department of Special Affairs (Jasa) featuring 1MDB number one propagandist Arul Kanda Kandasamy was another reminder to us that the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) must be abolished.
It is sad to see Universiti Malaya, which was once a hotbed for student activism and idealism, has become a place for a one-sided-story. When the students held up placards that read ‘1MDB don’t spin’, ‘1MDB - Return the people’s money’, ‘Students want answers’, etc, they were labelled by Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz, a former Umno Youth leader, as “uncivilised”. But seriously, what could be more uncivilised than shamelessly stealing people’s monies?
While we are asking in Malaysia why there was no other side of the 1MDB story presented to the students in UM; across the Pacific Ocean, Washington University in St Louis was the venue for the United States’ second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What a stark difference. When will we see the day that Universiti Malaya or any university in Malaysia become the host of election debates between political parties?
Although the UCCA was amended in 2012 to allow students to participate in politics outside of the campus, Section 15 still prohibits political activities inside campus and imposes restrictions on students from organisations that the university board determines to be “unsuitable to the interests and well-being of the students or the University”.
Section 15, coupled with Section 4 that strips away autonomy from the universities, makes critical thinking and objective debates impossible in campuses across Malaysia.
Since the enactment of the UUCA, tertiary students in Malaysia have been scared away from national issues. Many students are fearful to participate in political activities. In my short journey as a politician, I have met countless of students who asked me whether their scholarships would be taken away or whether they would be expelled from the universities if they participate in rallies, forums, events or programmes organised by the opposition political parties.
The culture of fear is prevalent. In addition, it is ironic and laughable to see many tertiary institutions offering subjects related to “critical thinking” when the very core spirit of the law that governs them is based on restrictions and controls.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Can we talk about affordable childcare now?

This article is written to raise awareness about the need to ensure good quality childcare are available at affordable price in Malaysia. 

Picture with my nieces and nephew, who like every Malaysian child,  
deserve good quality childcare when it is needed, regardless their parents income level. 


Why is affordable childcare an important topic? 

I have no children but affordable childcare is something that is very close to my heart because making childcare affordable is a serious matter in terms of human development as well as social and economic justice. 

1. Childcare is a financial burden to many families. 


Now, full-day childcare monthly fees in Klang Valley ranges from RM 350 to more than RM2,000 per child depending on the quality of the childcare centers. Childcare expenses have become an increased burden to many young families. 

2. The quality of childcare depends on who can pay more. 

Only those who are well-to-do can send their children to good quality childcare centers. In another words, children of the haves and havenots will have completely different starting points, feeding into the vicious cycle of inequality. 

3. Unaffordable childcare increases inequality. 

The lack of good quality childcare at affordable price drives women out of the workforce as it is more economical for them to stay at home to teach and take care of their children. When women stop working, the households go from dual-income and single-income, reducing the total household incomes. Worse still, various reports have shown that this is more likely to happen in low and middle income families, resulting in increased gap between the rich and the poor.

4. When women don't work, it is an economic loss to the country.

Women dropout from the workforce is an economic loss to the country. This is especially true for Malaysia as our women are increasingly better educated than men -  the enrollment to tertiary education is currently about 60% women and only 40% men.  As of now, Malaysia has one of the lowest female labour participation rate in South East Asia with only 54% of women in working age in the workforce. The United Nation Development Program (UNDP) calculated that increasing female participation rate to 70% would boost Malaysia gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.9%, which is equivalent to around RM 33 billion every year.

5. Investment in children gives the best return on investment for government in term of human development. 

James J. Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics and an expert in the economics of human development, has been advocating government invesment in early childhood care and education (ECCE). Heckman’s Equation proves statistically that investing in early childhood saves taxpayer monies in the long run - good ECCE results in lower social welfare cost, decreased crime rate and increased tax revenue.  In fact, ECCE investment produces the highest rate of return on investment in human capital development (as shown in the figure below).



What can we do about it? 


To provide good and affordable childcare, Malaysia can learn from Singapore, Australia, Finland and many other Scandinavian countries. Childcare in those countries are subsidized by the the government whereby tiered subsidies are given - amount of subsidies differ according to household income level. The childcare centers in those countries are mainly run by private operators at competitive market. To be eligible for the subsidies, they must meet certain requirements set by the government, which usually comprise of student-teacher ratio, qualifications of the teachers, safety standards and so on, to ensure good quality childcare.The amount of subsidies are computed in such a way that households spend similar percentage of disposable income on childcare. 

In addition, Government must also identify the structural barriers faced by the childcare industry and work to improve macro-environment so that childcare businesses can be run more competently and efficiently, offering better services at cheaper price. 


What does the Selangor government do about it? 

The Selangor government has similar subsidy programs such as TUNAS (Skim Bantuan Tadika Selangor) and Si Kembar (Skim Bantuan Asuhan Selangor). However, they are only limited to households with the income level less than RM2,500 and provide only small amount of subsidies. To expand the program to middle income families and increase the amount of subsidies to include better quality childcare centers are beyond the state government’s financial capability and jurisdictions. The Selangor state government budget is only 1% of the federal government budget and childcare is supposed to be developed by Education Ministry as well as Women, Family and Community Development Ministry. Therefore, we need political will from the federal government to make a more holistic reform in childcare industry. 

Ending

I hope that Putrajaya can consider the proposal above and derive a comprehensive and strategic plan to ensure that good quality childcare is available at affordable price, so that all our children will have equal opportunity to learn and develop in the early age, regardless of the income levels of the families. 






Rosmah Mansor, PERMATA and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in Malaysia

Article written by Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama on Thursday 29th  September 2016 in Petaling Jaya.

Rosmah Mansor, PERMATA and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in Malaysia

For the past two weeks, Rosmah Mansor, PERMATA and her supposedly “UNESCO” award have flooded the news portals. While how the story develops is rather interesting to follow, I believe an important issue that we should also look into is PERMATA, which was first conceived to develop early childhood education in Malaysia. 

James J. Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics and an expert in the economics of human development, has been advocating government invesment in early childhood care and education (ECCE). Heckman’s Equation proves statistically that investing in early childhood saves taxpayer monies in the long run - good ECCE results in lower social welfare cost, decreased crime rate and increased tax revenue.  In fact, ECCE investment produces the highest rate of return on investment in human capital development (as shown in the figure below).



Therefore, any government initiatives to develop ECCE including PERMATA should not be brushed off immediately just because of the person who advocates is not likable.  Nevertheless, despite funding PERMATA generously every year, there is generally a lack of strategic direction by Putrajaya in ECCE development. There is no plan to ensure there are good quality childcare and pre-school education at affordable price for all Malaysian children. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This is not the time to politicize water disruptions.

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman of Damansara Utama on Tuesday 27 September 2016 in Petaling Jaya.

This is not the time to politicize water disruptions.

I was appalled watching video clips of Noh Omar’s press conference this evening about Selangor water disruptions. I have expected more substantial suggestions from a minister, but apparently he was more interested to score political point over Menteri Besar Azmin Ali.

First of all, I would like to remind Noh Omar that monitoring river quality is the responsibility of both Jabatan Alam Sekitar (JAS), which is a federal agency, and Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (LUAS), which is a state agency. Both the federal and state government should take collective responsiblities in controlling river pollution. In any case, the focus right now should be to work together to quickly identify the source of the pollution to ensure there is no reoccurence. After that, both governments need to ensure that the main culprit is charged at court and get the heaviest punishment possible as provided by the relevant laws.