Friday, November 22, 2013

Yeo Bee Yin's Speech in Selangor State Assembly on 21-Nov-2013

Here's the script my speech in the second sitting of Selangor State Assembly, which starts from 18 Nov to 2 Dec 2013. Speech delivered on 21 Nov 2013 in Bahasa Malaysia. This is the English translation without the official address and 'Dewan language'.  I could only touch on the surface for each topic as the time for debate is limited. I'll update more details (theoretical or empirical) when the State Assembly ends. 

The reason we are all here to discuss about the budget is to discuss how we can best spend every single ringgit we collected from the people into generating more benefits to the society. While there are many things to discuss on how to spend every ringgit, I would like to point out only 3 points in this sitting:-

1. When there is transfer of wealth between different segments of the society through state programs or subsidies, there should always be a net effect of wealth transfer from the top of the pyramid to the bottom of the pyramid. In another word, a progressive transfer.

2. For people not from the bottom of the pyramid, government should invest in budget items that generate good multiplier effect to the society. That is, if we invest RM1 to the project, it will generate more than RM1 of economic and social value.

3. Rakyat monies should not be wasted on the inefficiencies of GLC.

I shall elaborate further.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Goods and Services Tax (GST) 101: It is No Cure of Malaysia Financial Malaise

For those of you who are not quite familiar with the topic of GST, here is a summary from the media statement of Tony Pua, Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara on Tuesday, 22 October 2013, which gives you an idea of why GST is no cure of Malaysia Financial Malaise

The proposal to impose the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a direct result of the BN-led administration's waste, extravagance and leakages.

Idris Jala, the Minister in Prime Minister's Department, has issued a statement to strongly support the implementation of the GST as a panacea to the persistent deficit and increasing debt which Malaysia suffers today. 

Under such policies, the poor would be hit by a double whammy in tax burden. Firstly, the poorer income groups be forced to bear the burden of the reduced income tax of the higher income groups. On top of that, they will be hit by a regressive tax regime which taxes the poor proportionately more than the rich.  

For example a person who earns RM1,000 will be spending practically the full amount of his monthly earnings without any savings. This expenditure will be taxed at an assumed 5 percent GST.  

A person earning RM20,000 per month may spend RM12,000 of his income while saving or investing the balance. He will pay 5 percent on his RM12,000 expenditure, which works out to RM600. 
Based on this sum, the wealthier person is effectively paying only 3 percent tax on his income. Hence the natural impact of the GST is proportionately higher on the poor than on the rich.

This is diametrically opposite to the current progressive income tax structure which raises the percentage of taxes payable at higher income brackets.

Hence if the government were to impose the GST as an excuse to lower income tax rates, then it is effectively abdicating from its obligations and role of social justice and wealth redistribution. 
Instead, the GST and reduced income tax rate will only worsen the already worrisome income inequality in the country.

Cut extravagance instead

Instead of Idris arguing that "we need to broaden the tax base" because only approximately 15 percent of the working population pays taxes today, the government should be asking why the remaining 85 percent are not earning enough to pay taxes after decades of so-called rapid growth and economic development.  

We must remember that it is not because these 85 percent do not want to pay tax, but because they don't earn enough to be eligible to do so. 
It should be noted that the income tax brackets have not been modified for nearly two decades and the question is why the overwhelming majority of workers are still earning suppressed wages at less than RM2,500-3,000 per month. 

In addition, it should be argued that decades of strong and rapid economic growth boasted by the BN administration should have enriched the government with annual surpluses and record savings.

Instead, despite the chest-thumping over the government's ability to manage the economy, we now find ourselves in persistent deficit while the federal government debt has ballooned to RM546 billion, without taking into account another RM150 billion of known contingent liabilities.

The cure for the financial malaise lies not in taxing the people more, especially taxing those who barely earn enough to meet the rising cost of living. The panacea lies in the political will to cut wastage, patronage, extravagance and corruption in government expenditure.

Due to the fact that we are fortunately blessed with oil and gas revenues, as well as an enviable economic growth record over the past decades, the government actually have enough funds in its coffers. What it has however failed to do, is to ensure that these funds are properly utlised and invested. 

Until this government learns and proves to the people that it knows how to manage the rakyat's hard-earned monies in an honest, professional and efficient manner, it will have no right to raise more taxes from the people, especially from the middle-income and the poor


Saturday, October 19, 2013

3 Simple Reasons I Disagree with "Allah" Ban

Why should you care about the "Allah" ban, especially if you are not a Christian or Sikh? After all, it won't affect your lives right? Well, you might want to think twice. If you are still unaware of the issue, please take some time to read this as it will affect how we move forward as a country in the history of Malaysia. 


According to historical manuscripts, Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians and Jews have collectively used “Allah” referring to God for more than 1,400 years. In Malaysia, the Sikh and East Malaysian Bumiputra and Orang Asli Christians (who constitute 60% of the church in Malaysia today, and mostly Bahasa Malaysia-speaking), have been using the word “Allah” both before and after the independence of Malaya and the formation of Malaysia. The use of the word “Allah” by the people of other faiths had not been an issue in Malaysia all these years.


In 2007, the Home Ministry banned the use of "Allah" in the Malay section of The Herald, a weekly publication of the Catholic Church, arguing that it could confuse and cause offence among the Muslims in Malaysia, subsequently threatening national security. The Catholic Church challenged the order. In 2009, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the word “Allah” was not exclusive to Muslims only and that all Malaysians had the right to use the word under the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and religion.

 The government then filed an appeal and recently, the 3-member bench Court of Appeal unanimously decided to overturn the KL High Court decision. It pronounced the use of "Allah" in The Herald unlawful and unconstitutional. The Catholic Church will now go to the Federal Court, Malaysia’s highest court, to challenge the judgment of Court of Appeal. 


There are many good pieces written by different groups on why the Court of Appeal judgment is flawed (listed at the end). Before you read the 'heavy stuff' with more detailed explanations, here are 3 simple reasons why I say NO to the "Allah" ban: - 

1. Fundamental Human Rights for all Malaysians

It is simply unreasonable for any Malaysian to be denied their fundamental freedom to express their religious beliefs on the basis that it might cause confusion to some people. Isn't it better to educate the easily confused, instead of restricting the rights of others? As a matter of fact, before the "Allah" ban in Malaysia, Muslims around the world have not been confused sharing the word "Allah" with the Jews and Christians for more than one thousand years. 

2. It Is Simply Not Practical

Even if the ban is constitutionally and morally legitimate, the enforcement of the ban is simply not practical. 

Is the "Allah" ban only for The Herald? If yes, then the ban will not serve its purpose of avoiding confusion because other non-Muslim materials apart from The Herald can still use the term "Allah”. What's the point of imposing a ban which cannot serve its purpose?

Or does the ban apply to all materials of other faiths? If yes, what about a foreigner who comes to Malaysia with non-Islam materials containing the term "Allah"? Do we confiscate the materials in the airport? If yes, then our Customs will have trouble scanning all materials for the term "Allah" as there is no such scanning equipment available. And do we charge the foreigner in court for "smuggling" non-Islam materials with the term "Allah"?

As I am writing this, the government announced that the "Allah" ban will not affect the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak (knowing their fixed deposit is seriously at stake). That further complicates the practicality of the ban. Does the ban apply only in West Malaysia? What about the Christians from Sabah and Sarawak who reside in West Malaysia? How then can the enforcement unit decide on who and where "Allah" can or cannot be used? 

I shall not elaborate further. In short, this "Allah" ban is simply not practical. 

3. For the Future of Malaysia

Most importantly, the "Allah" ban will seriously hurt the unity of this already divided and segmented nation. 

How do we build an inclusive society when a certain segment can claim the exclusive right to use certain term? 

Imagine how we are going to tell our little children that only in Malaysia, "Allah" is exclusive for the Muslims and at the same time, convince them that Malaysia is a united country. You may think this situation is still bearable and hence can't be bother. Nevertheless, remember the story of the frog-in-the-boiling water? 

It is the little by little encroachment of human rights by the government and the little by little compromise by the society that  we may end up an oppressive and divided nation in the future. 

How we, as a society, collectively react to the "Allah" ban will shape the future of this nation. Therefore, speaking against it now is crucial if we are serious about building a united Malaysia where freedom is enjoyed by all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, culture, language and geography. 


We, the wakil rakyats, are elected to be the voice of conscience for all Malaysians. 

Just a month ago, I spoke up against workplace discrimination of women in tudung based on the principle of human rights and the right of Muslim women to be free from any forms of discrimination (link). By the same token, I wish to speak against the Court of Appeal ruling over the ban of using the word "Allah".   

I know many UMNO cyber-troopers who conveniently label me as a Christian evangelical politician will now use this political stand as their weapon of attack. However it is my duty as an elected representative to make a political stand without fear or intimidation based on the principle of human rights and in consideration for the future of this nation.

Therefore, I say NO to the "Allah" ban. 


Further readings:-

1. Media Statement by the Bar Council on Court of Appeal Judgement on "Allah" Issue 
2. In the Name of Allah, The Economist
3. No One Has Monopoly Claim to God, The Jakarta Post
4. Would Malaysia be formed if Court of Appeal Allah Judgement was the Law of the Land, by Lim Kit Siang

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Impian Sarawak: Road to a Better Future

Yes, DAP has started one of the most important efforts for GE 14 - Go Rural Sabah and Sarawak. We are still at the early stage of the project and a number of us have been tasked to pioneer it.  We'll start with Sarawak first as the state election is in 2 years' time. The project is called "Impian Sarawak". To me, the works in Sabah and Sarawak is more than just winning votes, its about building a nation with equal right and equal opportunity to everyone regardless of race, religion, income and geography. For more information about Impian Sarawak campaign, visit us at:

I made my visit to Sarawak native settlements 2 weeks ago. Kampung Sait is one of the native settlements I visited. It's a Bidayuh village, 40 minutes drive from Kuching to the village walking entrance followed by 2 hours walk to the village (there is no road that can be used by automobiles). 

For many of us who used to parking our cars just outside of our houses, it is probably hard to imagine having to walk 2 hours everyday just to get home. 

This is me on the way to Kampung Sait. 

Taking some rest here before continue on the journey. You see me smiling in the picture, but in my heart I had been asking "are we there yet?" many many times. :) :) 

Before I came to Sarawak, Kar Lye, who is the coordinator for DAP Sarawak projects, told me that I was arranged to go to a village that required me to walk 2 hours. Although I am not really a sport person, 2 hours walk was not a big deal, not until I saw this bridge half-way. 

It’s a traditional Bidayuh bridge made of bamboo that’s hanging between 2 big trees at the 2 sides of the river. There were two of these hanging Bidayuh bridges on the way to Kampung Sait. The longer one was about 100m long and 100ft above the river!

For a height phobia like me, it was excruciatingly frightening!  God knows, my legs shook in fear but I had no choice but to overcome it.  Here are some of the scenes we saw on the way in and out of Kampung Sait. 

While I was crossing the hanging bridge, this came to my mind: many city people pay a premium to do extreme sport or jungle trekking to get similar experiences, but the villagers here have to go through this journey every day in order to earn enough to pay for their daily expenses

What an irony. 

Another stark comparison: why is there wide tarred government-funded road leading to Borneo Height, where the rich and the connected have their bungalows for vacation, but people in many native settlements in Sarawak are still deprived of even simple roads?

This is pure injustice.

Here’s auntie Ria, who was sick and at emergency condition last month, and had to be carried down by his son Johari to the nearest hospital. Imagine carrying a person at your back and cross the Bidayuh bridge! No joke. Fortunately, she was admitted to the hospital in time.

What about this 4 year old little girl Veronica? She was following me everywhere when I was at Kampung Sait. ;)

When she get to school age, will she have to go through the same fate as her sisters - to walk so far to get to school? How will she be able to catch up with her study compared to her peers who live in town?

Above all,  how we as Malaysians, can do our part to ensure that little children at rural area of Sarawak like Veronica can be someone they dream themselves to be as long as they work hard? 

You may wonder if the elected representative ever visited the village. Yes, during the election campaign. BN candidate fly here every election with helicopter and land at the helipad shown at this picture (where the man stand). Fyi, every helicopter flight from Kuching to Kampung Sait costs RM 15,000! Of course, every time they come, they bring along election goodies so the villagers will continue to vote for them. 

Here are some of the pictures of Kampung Sait. 

This is the house of the village chief. 

No phone nor 3G coverage at Kampung Sait, this is a picture of me trying very hard to get phone reception. I gave up later. :) 

Look at how engrossed my PA, Lydia was when she finally got 3G line on the way out! :) 

The food in the village taste really like FOOD! Very organic, loving every bit of it! 

Some light moment with the villagers over Bidayuh style barbecue in the evening. It was simply awesome!

Here, we hold serious discussion session over dinner with the village leaders regarding the needs of Kampung Sait. 

I asked the leaders what was their most urgent need among the 3 basic needs they were deprived of - water, grid electricity and roads. All of them said clean running water.  

(The Government directed the whole Kampung Sait to relocate to higher ground to make way for Bengoh Dam, which would serve as a water reservoir to the nearest town. Ironically, it is this group of villagers who is most affected by the construction of Bengoh who have no access to the running water provided by the dam! Bengoh Dam cost about RM60 million to build and a gravity fed water system that can provide running water for every household in Kampung Sait only costs about RM20,000. This is pure injustice.)

I thought to myself, if this was a Pakatan Rakyat state, the ADUN can easily distribute the state allocation to fund this project just as the many allocations that I've given in Damansara Utama. Unfortunately, Sarawak is NOT a Pakatan Rakyat state. 

Since this was our study and exploration tour for Impian Sarawak campaign, I didn't promise the village leaders that we'll be able to raise enough fund for the water project. Someone told me later that the villagers thought the project was not going to happen since I didn't promise it. From their past experience, Barisan Nasional promised them many things but deliver little and now I didn't even promise anything, so they had really little expectation. 

Anyway, they didn't show their disappointment and were still very hospitable to me (I only knew their thought after coming out from the village). Here's the picture of the host family and I with a DAP flag that they prepared for the photo!  Fortunately, we have obtained enough fund for the project now and it is going to start in mid-Sept as our first Impian Sarawak project. 

After decades under the Barisan Nasional, our fellow Malaysians in Sarawak are still living without the most basic needs of life - water, electricity and roads. When the government fails us, we cannot sit back and watch. I would like to encourage all Malaysians to support "Impian Sarawak", to stand up and be the change you want to see in the country. Below are what you can do to make "Impian Sarawak" a reality. Please also help us to share with all of your friends about this campaign. 


We need more financial support from the public and NGOs so we can continue to do similar projects in many areas across Sarawak. One gravity fed water system, which cost RM20k, can give the whole village clean running water. One simple road, which is about RM30k-RM50k depending on the distance, can be a matter of life and death. No matter how little we can contribute, let's do our part as concerned Malaysians. I believe when all of us can contribute together, we are going to change many people's lives in Sarawak. And with that, the change we dream about will finally come. 

You can contribute to fund Impian Sarawak projects either through online or offline: -

1. Online Donation

Maybank2U or online banking to DAP Maybank account: 5141 7814 5866 (DAP Malaysia)



2. Offline Donation

Write check payable to "DAP Malaysia" and post it to the following address:
Attention to: Impian Sarawak Campaign
55M, Jalan SS21/1A, Damansara Utama,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: 016-8782472

Bank in check or cash direct to DAP Maybank account: 5141 7814 5866 (DAP Malaysia)


Under Impian Sarawak, we also seek to foster mutual understanding between the urban and rural Malaysians, so we've started a volunteer program too.  

Our first project is to build gravity fed water system at Kampung Sait. Like all the rural projects, this project will be done in gotong-royong style among the villagers. The volunteers will join the villagers in their gotong-royong either 28 Sept - 6 Oct (9 days) or 3 Oct – 6 Oct (4 days). 

As all of our funds will be allocated to running the project, volunteers will be required to pay for their own flights. On top of that, we will charge contribution fees of RM200 to cover the volunteers’ transportation, insurance, food and accommodation during their stay in Kampung Sait. 

For more information about the volunteer program:

To apply as a volunteer:

Recruitment deadline for Kampung Sait project: 21st September 2013. 

Note: We c
an only accept a limited number of volunteers due to logistic challenges and therefore not all applicants will be accepted.

Together, let us make a difference in our land. Selamat Hari Malaysia!