Saturday, January 23, 2021

Saving Jobs in MCO 2.0: 6 Months Automatic Loan Moratorium and Wage Subsidy similar to that given in MCO 1.0


Saving Jobs in MCO 2.0: 6 Months Automatic Loan Moratorium and Wage Subsidy similar to that given in MCO 1.0

1.         Even though the MCO 2.0 has just been extended, Malaysians have yet to see a decrease in the number of Covid cases. Investors’ confidence, both domestic and foreign hitting rock bottom and the stimulus package Perlindungan Ekonomi & Rakyat Malaysia (PERMAI) announced by the Prime Minister on 18 January 2021 is like a drop in the bucket in cushioning the impact of MCO 2.0 and the Emergency. 


2.         Unemployment is soaring. If there are no other aggressive measures, more SMEs will go under, leading to more job losses. To prevent this from taking a nosedive, we urge the government to urgently:


(a) impose automatic loan moratorium for 6 months for all similar to that introduced during MCO 1.0. This can remove anxiety and bureaucracy almost immediately. SMEs/individuals which are not affected can continue with their existing loan repayment. 6 months automatic loan moratorium will improve cash flow in the economy hence creating economic activities. Individuals and SMEs will have more cash at their disposal, which in turn will help to improve the bottom line for all businesses, encouraging them to keep and maybe increase employment (instead of cutting jobs) as they work through this pandemic. 


(b) to increase the PERKESO wage subsidy of RM600 per worker to a higher amount (for those earning below RM4000) and to extend it for at least 6 months. The current RM600 subsidy for one month only is insufficient as the aftermath of MCO 2.0 and the Emergency are still in the process of unveiling itself for some sectors. 6 months wage subsidy will greatly encourage employers not to resort to cutting jobs and help carry them through half of this year as they face reduced sales and cash flow. For some, it may also encourage them to start recruitment again. 


3.         This is an extraordinary time. The government should take extraordinary measures to save jobs. The full consequences of rising unemployment may hurt the nation in ways no future stimulus package can aid. The Perikatan Nasional government has already lost out to our ASEAN neighbours in their competitiveness to attract foreign investors because of sheer incompetence, inefficiency and political instability. Further denial and stubbornness to do more for the business sector is one more nail in the coffin for our bleeding economy.


1. Darell Leiking (MP Penampang)

2. Syed Saddiq (MP Muar)

3. Mohd Azis Jamman (MP Sepanggar)

4. Hannah Yeoh (MP Segambut)

5. Yeo Bee Yin (MP Bakri)

6. Baru Bian (MP Selangau)

7. Datuk Rozman Bin Isli (MP Labuan)

8. Salahuddin Ayub (MP Pulai)

9. Amiruddin Hamzah (MP Kubang Pasu)

10. Teo Nie Ching (MP Kulai)

11. Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (MP Kota Belud)

12. Mahfuz Omar (MP Pokok Sena)

13. Khalid Samad (MP Shah Alam)

14. Tengku Zulpuri Shah Bin Raja Puji (MP Raub)

15. Maria Chin (MP Petaling Jaya)

16. Wong Shu Qi (MP Kluang)

17. Teresa Kok (MP Seputeh)

18. Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (MP Kuala Selangor)

19. Dr Lee Boon Chye (MP Gopeng)

20. Kasthuriraani Patto (MP Batu Kawan)

21. P. Prabakaran (MP Batu)

22. M. Kulasegaran (MP Ipoh Barat)

23. Chong Chieng Jen (MP Stampin)

24. Nor Azrina Surip @ Nurin Aina (MP Merbok) 

25. Sivarasa Rasiah (MP Sungai Buloh)

Friday, January 8, 2021

Use Science & Best Practices to Battle Covid-19

Malaysia sees yet another Covid-19 positive record-breaking yesterday at 3,027 cases. The government seems to have lost control of the pandemic outbreak with our health system at the brink of collapse and front-liners have reportedly burnt-out. Ironically, just the night before, the ruling parties – UMNO and PPBM, have had their central committee meeting, discussing not about the pandemic but their political survival! There must be moratorium of politicking at this time of national tragedy.

We strongly believe that the government must heed the call of many medical experts to embark on mass testing exercise, starting with screening all high-risk areas such as foreign workers living quarters, prisons and the community living near to them. According to the parliamentary reply, the government facilities can do PCR tests of close to 19,489 tests per day (16,670 tests under Ministry of Health and 2,819 tests under Ministry of Defence) while the private sector can do 59,485 tests per day - that is a national total testing capacity of close to 80,000 PCR test a day. But if we dispute over the exorbitant cost of doing this screening, please resort to the inexpensive and faster turn-around time RTK Antigen tests, which arguably is more appropriate for the purpose of mass screening. Be that as it may, we are undoubtedly capable and have the capacity, to do mass testing for targeted areas.

Since many positive cases are asymptomatic (~80%), mass testing becomes very important to enable early isolation to take place and prevent further spreading and 'spillovers' into the community. Using a combination of epidemiological data and AI, a risk-ranking algorthms are achieved of community particularly those associated to big clusters. For example, Selcare, a Selangor government GLC, has been running a series of community testing in areas close to factories in Klang that are experiencing outbreak. 

For example, in Taman Bayu Perdana, two community testings have been organized: the first one on 23 December 2020 - out of the 915 tested, 63 are positive (60 locals and 3 foreigners) and the second one on 3 January – from the 75% sample analyzed so far, out of 1,021 samples, 45 are positive (33 locals and 12 foreigners). This represents 4.4% Positivity Rate. Remember, WHO recommends a Positivity Rate of <5% as a threshold of controlled community spread. Admitttedly, of the 8 mass community screening done, there were others ranging from ~ 7% to 25%.

Indeed, as we do more testings, the number of positive cases will increase temporarily. But this is no time to hide our head in the sand.  We must face it head on, find all the positive cases in the community then isolate them! The government must invest in doing mass testing because the human and economic cost that we have to pay later, are hugely in excess of the cost of doing mass testing.

In addition, we believe that there is a need for complete overhaul of the contact tracing system. It was reported that MySejathera has only directly detected 4% of total reported Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, indicating that the government may still primarily rely on manual contact tracing, i.e asking the positive patients who their close contacts are and test accordingly. It also shows that the government has not fully (or at all) leverage on big data analytics using the data collected through MySejahtera and combine it with other data available in government system as well as public data that can be mined, such as posts with meta-data and tags used on social media etc, and develop a more sophisticated way of tracing the positive cases in the community. 

We must keep on innovating and not sit complacently on our early successes and laurels. We've long overtaken China, the global epicentre, with 125,000 cases with over 515 deaths! We must act pre-emptively and proactively, to safeguard and defend our green zones and mitigate further cases and eventually deaths, through preventing outbreaks on ignition sites in factories, work places and construction sites settings, especially in urbanised Selangor, Penang  and Johor.

With that, we call upon for wider deployment of science and best practices of public health interventions, with excellent understandings in government response for a 'whole of government' and a 'whole of society' approach in managing the worsening 3rd-Wave crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (MP Kuala Selangor, Former Minister of Health)

Dr Lee Boon Chye (MP Gopeng, Former Deputy Minister of Health)

Yeo Bee Yin (MP Bakri, Former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change). 

Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (MP Kota Belud, Former Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change) 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Joint statement by 14 Opposition MPs dated 5 January 2021


Malaysia recorded a total number of 1741 new Covid-19 positive cases yesterday bringing the total number of infection to 120,818 cases. Some states are hit by severe floods and more than 15,000 Malaysians have been displaced. Current unemployment or reduced income for many families in this time of pandemic remains unsettling. With these in mind, we are appalled by the continuous demand by UMNO to hold snap polls in such a climate. 


Just last month, Parliament passed a budget of RM322.5 billion, the largest budget in the history of this nation purportedly to fight Covid-19. 


Barely 3 weeks after this supposedly people-friendly budget was passed, UMNO now wants to use fresh elections as a trump card to grab more power at the expense of Malaysians' wellbeing and health safety. They have bared their true colours for all to see. 


We are reminded of this - Najib Razak once urged UMNO members to defend Putrajaya at all costs. “Even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost, brothers and sisters, whatever happens, we must defend Putrajaya”. Malaysians must reject such wicked and selfish ambition for power. We have lost enough from years of misgovernance and corruption. 


This nation needs to heal and the time to heal is now. 


1. Darell Leiking (MP for Penampang, Former Minister of International Trade and Industry)

2. Syed Saddiq (MP for Muar, Former Minister of Youth and Sports)

3. Mohd Azis Jamman (MP for Sepanggar, Former Deputy Home Minister)

4. Hannah Yeoh (MP for Segambut, Former Deputy Minister of Women, Family & Community Development)

5. Yeo Bee Yin (MP for Bakri, Former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change)

6. Baru Bian (MP for Selangau, Former Minister of Works)

7. Sivarasa Rasiah (MP for Sungai Buloh, Former Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development)

8. Salahuddin Ayub (MP for Pulai, Former Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry)

9. Amiruddin Hamzah (MP for Kubang Pasu, Former Deputy Minister of Finance)

10. Teo Nie Ching (MP for Kulai, Former Deputy Minister of Education) 

11. Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (MP for Kota Belud, Former Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change)

12. Marzuki bin Haji Yahya (Senator, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs)

13. Mahfuz Omar (MP for Pokok Sena, Former Deputy Minister of Human Resources)

14. Khalid Samad (MP for Shah Alam, Former Minister of Federal Territories)

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Malaysia 2021 – Reset and Rise!

Many may remember the anticipation and hope we had when we welcomed the year 2020. After all, for the people of our generation, the year 2020 was “the” future during our school days - we did colouring, drew pictures and wrote essays about the year 2020 with all kinds of wild imagination. Then 2020 came. None of us expected Malaysia 2020 to be defined by the triple whammy of political, health and economic crisis. 


Sheraton Move in February 2020 and the political maneuvering thereafter have brought Malaysian politics to its lowest point. The current government got into power by backdoor operation and betrayal and stays in power by trading support with power and position. 


Even with a bloated cabinet, Malaysia doesn’t seem to be able to overcome the lives and livelihood challenges brought about by Covid-19. As of 30 December 2020, the total number of Covid-19 infection has risen to 110,485 cases with 22,562 active ones. Our hospital beds may not hold enough for long. 


In term of livelihood, the number of unemployed persons went up to 748,200 persons in October 2020, more than 50% higher than the national average of 494,000 for the period of 2016 to 2019.  This does not even include those who are temporarily jobless at 183,600 (they were not counted as unemployed by the government as they would return to work eventually) as well as those who are suffering income reduction. 


Most forecasts show that 2021 is going to be another if not more challenging year. Politicians from both of sides of the political divide must arrive at an amicable solution to the current impasse to provide political stability that will bring us out from Covid-19 health and economic crisis. The Prime Minister and the leaders of Perikatan Nasional should stop being obsessed with snap polls. The country does not need another General Election as we struggle to contain the spread of Covid-19 and manage its economic impact. We must remember that people come before power. 


For us in the opposition bench, it is our sincere desire for a reset in our direction next year. Firstly, let us draw a clear boundary of who we can or cannot work with, based firmly on clear principles and conviction. Secondly, the 108 Members of Parliament (MP) in the opposition must unite. Despite our differences, let us remember that we were (and still are!) the 108 MPs who did not jump or defect, knowing full well that the position of ministership, deputy ministership or GLC chairmanship awaits us if we did. Let us be once again reminded of our shared goals of clean governance, harmony, integrity, justice and competency. 


Indeed, 2020 has not lived up to our childhood imagination. In fact, Malaysian Politics 2020 is a display of the ugliest form of politics that no one would be proud to show to the next generation. However, this has not and will not crush us. As we welcome the year 2021, we still believe and are determined to pursue good politics; politics that focus on building Malaysia with the following seven characteristics: 


i.               A united country, of which citizens of all colours are free to practice their own cultures and religion, but still recognize themselves as Malaysians with a sense of common and shared goals;  

ii.              A prosperous society with educated and excellent workforce in a competitive, dynamic and resilient economy powered by creativity, innovation and technological advancement;

iii.             A just society, of which the fruit of economic development is shared fairly among different social classes and promotes upward mobility;

iv.             A democratic country with mature democracy, freedom to speak and assemble, free and fair elections as well as high civic-mindedness among people;

v.               A country that strives towards equity in opportunities for all in quality education and personal enhancement;

vi.             A low-carbon society that protects and preserves the forest, wildlife, and environment; and most importantly

vii.           A moral, ethical and caring society with strong family and community values, protecting our most vulnerable ones. 


When the light shines in the darkness, the darkness cannot overcome it. Let’s still believe in the power of doing the right thing together. 


In year 2021, let’s reset and rise! 


Syed Saddiq (MP for Muar, Former Minister of Youth and Sports)

Mohd Azis Jamman (MP for Sepanggar, Former Deputy Home Minister)

Hannah Yeoh (MP for Segambut, Former Deputy Minister of Women, Family & Community Development)

Yeo Bee Yin (MP for Bakri, Former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change)

Baru Bian (MP for Selangau, Former Minister of Works)

Maszlee Malik (MP for Simpang Renggam, Former Minister of Education)

Sivarasa Rasiah (MP for Sungai Buloh, Former Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development)

Salahuddin Ayub (MP for Pulai, Former Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry)

Amiruddin Hamzah (MP for Kubang Pasu, Former Deputy Minister of Finance)

Teo Nie Ching (MP for Kulai, Former Deputy Minister of Education) 

Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (MP for Kota Belud, Former Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change)

Monday, November 2, 2020

Creating Green Growth and Jobs as a Part of Post-Covid Economic Recovery

The country is waiting eagerly the announcement of Budget 2021 on the Government’s plan to bring us through Covid-19 crisis, to protect the social and economic wellbeing of the people. Undeniably, the outlook is challenging. Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) has just reported nearly 90,000 job losses so far this year and if the trend continues, the number will hit 100,000 by the end of the year. In addition to that, we already have 127,000 graduates still without jobs for more than 6 months and the number will keep rising as there are 300,000 new graduates every year. The country is in the search of new jobs and the government can play a big part to make it happen. 

 Income, jobs and growth used to be at the opposite ends of the scale with environmental protection. But it is no longer so as more countries around the world recognise the potential of green industry in the post-Covid world. According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretariat, at least 30 OECD and Key Partner countries have included green measures in their post-Covid economic recovery strategy, and rightly so. This article focuses on green measures that can be considered in Malaysia. In order to create green jobs, the government needs to facilitate more green projects on the ground, reducing bureaucracy and catalyse them by attractive financial incentives in terms of tax incentive, low-interest loans as well as grants. 

Renewable Energy 

I believe the lowest hanging fruit among all in terms of increasing the number of green projects and new jobs on the ground is renewable energy projects. The government should maintain or increase Pakatan Harapan’s renewable energy (RE) target of 20% in electricity mix by 2025 excluding large hydroelectric sources above 100 MW (33% if include large hydro.) Pursuing this target has the potential of generating RM 33 billion private investment and additional 50,000 RE jobs. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How MESTECC Address Climate Change Action Without Burdening the Government on Additional Fund

YAB Prime Minister had recently launched the establishment of the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Centre (MGCC) at the International Green Technology and Eco-Products Exhibition and Conference (IGEM) on October 10, 2019. MGCC is the result of the repurposing of Malaysia Green Technology Corporate (MGTC) which aims to prepare Malaysia moving towards a climate change resilience future and to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Instead of setting up a new agency that will require additional fund from the government, MESTECC has successfully optimized the ministry's internal agency by absorbing the functions of this climate change centre into its existing agency (MGTC).

The move of repurposing existing agency is consistent with Pakatan Harapan’s commitment to keep the civil service lean and to reduce expenditure by optimising delivery.

Was there really no allocation for climate change action in the Budget 2020?

The Malaysia Green Technology and Climate Change Malaysia will be funded through a RM10 million allocation from the saving of MESTECC ministry’s spending in 2019.

In conclusion, it is not no allocation for climate change, but the government is optimising the spending and using the savings to finance the climate change centre. This is the difference between the Pakatan Harapan and the Barisan Nasional.

Meanwhile, the government will also establish National Council of Climate Change Action as promised in the Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.

In addition to the RM10 million allocation, MESTECC is also actively building capacity to leverage international funds such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and to drive partnerships with private companies in Malaysia and international organizations.

In addition, YB Yeo had witnessed the exchange of a letter of cooperation between Malaysia Green Technology Corporate (now known as MGCC) and the United Kingdom on May 16, 2019.

This is a four-year collaboration programme under the United Kingdom Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions (UKPACT) Cooperation which aims to strengthen, promote and develop climate change and low carbon transition collaboration between two countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

This collaboration programme will benefit Malaysia on addressing critical climate change initiatives including the scoping study on a climate change legal and institutional framework, as well as capacity building through sharing of skills. It will also allow Malaysia to study and adapt the UK 2050 Pathway Carbon Calculator to the Malaysian context.

Pang Sock Tao
Special Officer to YB Yeo Bee Yin
Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC)

Yeo Bee Yin witnessed the exchange of letter of cooperation between MGCC and the government representatives from UK in Putrajaya on May 16, 2019.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Additional 15,000 units of LED Street Lights for Rural Areas

Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) has increased the allocation of LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights for rural areas. This is in addition to the initiative of 10,000 LED street lights allocated by MESTECC in collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development (KPLB).

On August 19, 2019, YB Yeo Bee Yin together with Minister of Rural Development Datuk Seri Rina Harun officiated the launch of the “Program Pemasangan Lampu Jalan Kampung" in Bangi, Selangor. MESTECC has allocated over 10,000 units of energy-saving LED lights for villages in need starting from 2019 until 2020 through the Incentive-Based Regulatory (IBR) initiative.

More than 10,000 units of LED street lights will be installed in the villages in Peninsular Malaysia under “Program Pemasangan Lampu Jalan Kampung” by Ministry of Rural Development through utility company Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB).

For Sabah and Sarawak, it will be funded under KPLB’s budget allocation and the Ministry will announce the installation accordingly.

The program received encouranging response resulting in increased application of LED street light. In collaboration with KPLB, MESTECC has allocated additional 15,000 LED lights to illuminate the streets in the villages. This initiative proves that Pakatan Harapan has always put Rakyat’s well-being at the forefront.

The scope of the project is to supply and install sets of lamps in poles, in public areas or in front of public buildings such as community hall, prayer houses and at street intersections.

Benefits of Installing LED Street Lights

In addition to its lighting features, LED street lights are an environmentally friendly option as they are more stable, durable, less heat-resistant and does not contains mercury. LED lights save energy and are brighter at a lower voltage.

With these LED lamps, the damage rate of street lamps can be reduced from 15-20 percent to 2 to 5 percent. Therefore, the failure of road lights can be controlled to a minimum and the maintenance cost can be reduced.

The installation of LED street lights is also one of a Government’s initiative to promote energy efficiency that can contribute to energy savings and cost savings of at least 30 to 40 percent.

Pang Sock Tao
Special Officer to YB Yeo Bee Yin
Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC)

Yeo Bee Yin and Minister of Rural Development YB Datuk Seri Rina Harun officiated the installation of LED street lights at Kampung Rincing Hilir in Semenyih on August 19, 2019

Monday, February 19, 2018

Reimagining Malaysia Part 15: Water Governance

Water is precious. However, just like air, people generally don’t spare it a thought until there is a shortage. This is probably the most boring topic of the book because it involves a lot of technical details but I want to dedicate this chapter to writing about the challenges of supplying water to Selangor and Kuala Lumpur as well as the ongoing water industry reform. This, I feel, will help the next generation to not take their water supply for granted. The same perspectives can also be applied to water management in other states.


Because of historical reasons, the water supply in Selangor is combined with that of Kuala Lumpur. (I’ll use Selangor water from now on for simplicity purposes but it should be understood that it stands for the water supply for Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.) Managing the Selangor water industry is far more challenging than it is in other states because it serves seven million users. That makes us the biggest water supplier in Malaysia with a water demand size almost triple that of the second largest water usage state (Johor) [1]. In fact, it is one of the biggest in the world.

In addition, there is rapid industrialisation along many rivers in Selangor, which leads to river pollution as well as the drying up of rivers. This poses a serious threat to the resilience of raw water supply to Selangor. At the time of writing, the water industry is still in the process of consolidation after being wrongly privatised for many years, resulting in a fragmented water industry.

The figure below shows the fragmented Selangor water industry before consolidation. All the private water companies, with the exception of SPLASH, have been taken over by the Selangor State Government and placed under Air Selangor since the end of 2015.