By Wong Chen
May 2023 was a very busy month of activities, events and new positions for me.
My month started with me in the United Nations, New York for a conference on science and technology for the SDGs. I was there in my capacity as a member of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Working Group on Science and Technology, where I am a representative of the Asia Pacific region. Other than attending the conference, I had eight additional side meetings with scientists and policy makers from Austria, China, India, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.
The biggest surprise was meeting my UWC high school senior, Dr Narashima Rao, who is currently the head of the environment department in Yale. We have not seen each other or kept in touch since 1987. Then there we were, in the same meeting in the United Nations.
Upon my return from New York, I was a panellist in a special roundtable titled Deepening Democracy in Malaysia, organised by Bersih in Parliament Malaysia. I spoke on the subject of political financing and the MoU. My fellow panellist on the same topic, was my dear friend, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi, the former minister of law who spearheaded and delivered the historic anti-hopping laws. I had drafted the MoU which enabled these historic reforms during the last year of the Ismail Sabri government.
As I haven’t seen Wan Junaidi since the last Parliament was dissolved in October 2022, it was very good to catch up with him again. We reminisced about the unbelievable few months of work that eventually paid off in the shape of real reforms. We shared and admitted to the fact that there were so many instances when the negotiated terms could have collapsed. We were so lucky but the stars aligned for us, and as a result, Malaysia progressed.
In the third week of the month of May, Parliament resumed for its second session of the year. On the second sitting of the session, on 22nd May, I was elected by my peers in the Special Select Committee of International Relations and Trade (CIRT) as chairman of the committee. On the same day, I was also appointed by the Ministry of Finance to be the non-executive Chairman of Malaysia Debt Ventures Berhad (MDV).
On the election to the select committee chair of CIRT, I was most honoured and touched to be unanimously supported by my peers; five government MPs and three Opposition MPs. I had been the very first chairman of CIRT in 2020, but my term was short-lived after the Sheraton Move and Covid-19. As such this election has presented me a second chance to carry out my original plans for the committee. Most importantly, I want to utilise CIRT as a platform to develop and showcase how a select committee ought to be run and as such create a culture of practices and norms for Parliament Malaysia.
As for MDV, my appointment came as a complete surprise, as I was not asked or consulted before receiving the congratulatory appointment letter. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the financing of science and technology policies of the government via MDV. Since the appointment, I have visited MDV twice to receive onboarding notes and briefings from the management of MDV. The team has been most welcoming and forthright on the state of MDV and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead. Eleven years ago, I left the corporate world to be an MP; now it appears that I have a leg in again in the corporate world.
With these two new appointments, my work as your MP, going forward will be busier than ever. In totality, I now have five positions; (a) Asia Pacific representative of the IPU Working Group of Science and Technology, (b) Chairman of the Malaysian chapter of ASEAN Parliamentarian for Human Rights, (c) Chairman of the APPGM of Political Financing, (d) Chairman of CIRT and (e) Chairman of MDV.