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Throw away the AG report

Posted: 04 Oct 2013 03:38 PM PDT

There is no point in the Auditor-General coming out with his report every year when those consistently bleeding the nation's coffers are let off the hook every time

G Vinod, FMT

Year in year out, the Auditor-General's Report tells us a story. It tells a true story on how billions in taxpayers money go down the drain through corruption and wastage.

Year in and year out, a lot of oppositions MPs and NGOs would demand for the government to take action against those responsible for the mess.

Year in and year out, the law enforcement agencies such as the MACC would make bold announcements that they would get to the bottom of the matter.

And year in year out, none responsible are hauled up to the court of law despite the initial tough rhetoric by the enforcement agencies.

And the same vicious cycle repeats itself again and again.

Now, the government is mulling releasing the audit report thrice a year. But the simple question here is, what the hell for?

We can even release the audit report weekly but if no action is taken against those responsible for bleeding the nation's coffers, it will be status quo till the end of time, or until Malaysia goes bust.

And Malaysians, while they may not be so forgiving on issues like race and religion, seems to be very forgiving on this matter. Yes, a little noise in the beginning and but it would water down after a few months.

So with such apathy and lack of enforcement, do we really expect anything to change? Worse, we still seem to be voting in the same government every five years.

No one to blame but ourselves

And where is PAS Youth with all this happening? Instead of frothing at mouth and holding demonstrations when foreign artistes come to perform here, they should come out demonising wastage and corruption, which in fact, is the real cause of decadence in a society.

From what it seems, many of us do not realise how much damage corruption is doing to the country. A lot of us do not realise that Malaysia does not have deep pockets to sustain the economy.



An all-familiar story of the non-Malays

Posted: 04 Oct 2013 10:38 AM PDT 
The Malay population is increasing while the non-Malay population decreasing. Said The Star group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, "Going by current trends, the projection is that the non-Malays will continue to drop further with some saying that by 2050 there could be 80%  bumiputras in Malaysia and just 15% Chinese and about 5% Indians."
Mohsin Abdullah, 
IF I'm a non-Malay, Chinese in particular, I'll be worried sick. Scared even. For my future and that of my children. In this beloved country. What with the likes of Perkasa, Jati, Isma, Jaringan Melayu Malaysia etc running round "threateningly". And even Umno seem to be turning rightist.
Am I justified in feeling scared and worried?
Before we continue, I would like to state that the people I spoke to for comments in this piece are all Malaysian Chinese. Or should that be the other way round – Chinese Malaysian. Anyway, they are Chinese and they are Malaysian. All are professionals. Some are not named upon their request, 
The reason for talking to a strictly Chinese respondents is to have a "truly" Chinese perspective on the matter. Theirs would encompass the perspective of the other non-Malay communities.
The country seems to be more and more "Malay". Both look and feel – to use the branding jargon. To emphasise, well sort of, I'll lift a quote or two from journalist Stephanie Sta Maria when she was interviewed by writer Kristina Mariswamy last month.
"Because of what I've seen of late, I can sort of anticipate where the country is going," said Sta Maria. And she is moving to Australia soon because "the direction the country is heading and because I wanted a better future for my children". Without going into specifics, I think what she was driving at is clear enough.
"The non-Malays are doomed. The country will go to the dogs," said a gentleman whom I met a couple of days ago in Bangsar.  Angry words indeed. Said another: "The country risks becoming another Burma by being inward – all can go back to wearing sarong." More angry words.
Then there's this question of population. The Malay population is increasing while the non-Malay population decreasing. Said The Star group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, "Going by current trends, the projection is that the non-Malays will continue to drop further with some saying that by 2050 there could be 80%  bumiputras in Malaysia and just 15% Chinese and about 5% Indians."
"Not too concerned about numbers. The Chinese in Kelantan never felt threatened despite being the minority," said the first gentleman I quoted earlier –  going on to say "what scares me is what lies in the hearts of Malays like Ibrahim Ali, Zul Nordin", referring to leaders of hardline Malay group Perkasa. Both continue to be seen by non-Malays as "racists" despite their several denials.
But there are those who feel groups like Perkasa shouldn't be given too much attention. One of them is Hu Pang Chaw, the chairman of PAS supporters congress, the party's non-Muslim wing.
"Chinese do not have much worry as they (the likes of Perkasa etc) are just small groups. With globalisation and internet access, more and more educated Malays are becoming more moderate," said Hu. 
Still to a political analyst, "young Chinese have a big resentment towards the racial overtones of right-wing Malay organisations and politicians. They include the young politicians active in the DAP. 
They subscribe to the Malaysian Malaysia concept. They like the 1Malaysia concept which is not dissimilar to DAP's Malaysian Malaysia but that (1Malaysia) concept is now temporarily halted for Umno party election".
Now, that view of 1Malaysia concept taking a back seat for Umno elections has struck a chord with a political observer I spoke to: "Umno is fighting to be jaguh kampung. The concern is they'll get the cheers and lose the war", he said, implying Umno is playing to its own gallery and risks losing future elections.
And said another political observer, like it or not Umno needs to "get back Chinese support as they cannot survive on Malay support alone. And also it's impossible that Umno can get 100%  Malay support. So they must win back the Chinese or they lose GE14".
No easy feat that. Considering the current Chinese sentiment and with Umno, Perkasa and so on making things more difficult. "The Chinese have little or no choice now but to support DAP. The MCA can't be depended on – what more with the infighting now," said the observer.
Are we straying form the topic? Not really, as what the duo are saying is –  Chinese still feature prominently despite their small numbers and "problems" faced now. 
But the political analyst mentioned earlier in this piece had this to say: "The young Chinese are naïve to think that by this time, after we achieved independence for 56 years, all Malays will accept them as equal Malaysians.
"To be accepted by the Malays they must first be fluent in the national language. But as Malaysians, they are not proficient in Bahasa Malaysia. So it is common for them to be criticised by the Malays. They ignore the criticism and continue to fight for fair treatment in this county."
But this "failure" to speak good Bahasa, said the analyst, is due to to "the leniency of the BN government as Chinese are free to choose education in their mother tongue and in this case Chinese (in Mandarin) – from kindergarten right up to secondary school  via Chinese independent secondary schools or Du Zhong.
And some may continue with tertiary education using Chinese in Taiwan and China. Or 100% English in private colleges and universities in the country or abroad.
"At least half of them cannot speak decent Bahasa Malaysia to communicate with the Malays," said the political analyst.
I remember asking an Indonesian journalist friend of mine some time ago why Chinese Indonesians speak Bahasa Indonesia as if it was their mother tongue. His reply was simple: "We do not have bumiputra and non-bumiputra in Indonesia. When you classify people as such, you are dividing them into groups and they tend to keep to their group and naturally, protect their language culture and all."

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The harsh reality of our politics

Posted: 04 Oct 2013 10:23 AM PDT 

Despite PAS members telling the Malays to discard their siege mentality, the Malays still continue to think of the Chinese as their bogeyman. 

Umno therefore has a 100% hold on the Malay mind. Again there is nothing anyone in Pakatan can do about this.

Selena Tay, FMT 

Truly, Barisan Nasional looks set to win the 14th general election. The reason is simple enough: it is because BN has managed to win over the larger portion of the Malay voters.

Malays make up 67.9% of the population and the voting pattern resembles the population demographics. And with Malays now going back to BN due to BR1M and other incentives, the opposition is losing ground.

This is the reason why the ulama faction in PAS are advocating for PAS to leave Pakatan Rakyat (PR). The ulamas think that PAS will garner more Malay votes by being a stand-alone party.

In a local English daily dated Sept 16, 2013 under the title 'MCA: Do not sideline any ethnic group', MCA president, Dr Chua Soi Lek was quoted as saying: "It would be politically more difficult for the Barisan Nasional to get support from the non-bumiputeras if government policies sidelined any particular group…Najib had reiterated he had initiated a lot of policy changes that benefited the non-bumiputeras and he was often criticised by the bumiputeras."

Chua is just saying those above words for the sake of saying something. More on this later.

Logically speaking, once BN obtains total Malay support, they have more than enough votes to win the general election. Even if all the Chinese and all the Indians were to vote for Pakatan, it is futile.

One has to take into consideration that BN has a massive fixed deposit vote bank in the form of the 1.4 million civil servants, 700,000 pensioners, teachers, uniformed personnel, the Felda, Felcra and Risda folks, the Orang Asli and the indigenous peoples in Sabah and Sarawak not to mention the BN-friendly foreign workers who arrived 10 years ago and will surely be getting their citizenship papers and voting rights come the 14th general election.

With the re-delineation exercised scheduled to take place end of this year, Pakatan will be facing a wipe-out. One must not forget that after the re-delineation exercise in year 2003, the opposition experienced a wipe-out in the 2004 general election.

Thus the coming re-delineation exercise is a bad omen for Pakatan Rakyat.

Back to Chua's statements – the government is not going to listen to Chua or any other Chinese leader because they know they can do without Chinese votes unless PAS can step up their game to woo the Malays.

The bogeyman

On the other hand, PAS members and politicians have always did the utmost to woo the rural Malays by attending all their events for example weddings, funerals and baby-naming ceremonies but all in vain.

PAS has also donated to rural victims of floods and fires and organised gotong-royong, activities for the Malay youths and mosque programmes but all these have not yielded fruit – the rural Malays are still 100% loyal to Umno.

So much so that when they come to the PAS Service Centre for financial assistance, Mohamad Sabu, the PAS deputy president asked them why they voted for Umno then.

Mohamad also told them that as PAS is not in the federal government, PAS has very limited funds.

"Another reason for PAS' failure to capture Malay votes is that Umno has succeeded in using the Chinese to scare the Malays. Malays voted for BN because they think that the Chinese want to become the prime minister and turn the nation into a republic. These baseless fears imbued into the heart and soul of the Malays will always make them vote for BN," said Nizar Jamaluddin the PAS state assemblyman for Changkat Jering.

Despite PAS members telling the Malays to discard their siege mentality, the Malays still continue to think of the Chinese as their bogeyman.


A-G Spot-on, IGP All at Sea

Posted: 04 Oct 2013 10:15 AM PDT 

If the police can't solve the mystery of how their assets got lost and who was responsible for losing and/or stealing them, how can they be entrusted with solving crimes in society? 

Kee Thuan Chye 

The Auditor-General's report for 2012 is alarming. And this is so not only because it exposed huge wastage committed by government departments last year, but also because nothing seems to have changed all these many years.
Year after year, the A-G tells us of cases of improper payment; of purchases made at astronomical prices;  of unreasonable project delays; of poor asset management; of non-adherence to procedures, etc, etc. But year after year, nothing is done to address the shortcomings.
It seems as if our civil service just continues to plod on, continues to waste, continues to be inefficient, continues to make corrupt transactions. And the overriding controller – i.e. the Government – just lets it be.
The Government knows from the A-G's reports that corruption is rife in the civil service, but it probably realises it doesn't have the moral standing to haul in the culprits. After all, the civil servants are following the example of the country's leadership. And since the Government has also not shown itself to be accountable for a lot of things, how can we stop the rot?
Worse, our civil servants seem to have acquired a tidak apa mindset because the money that is being wasted, that it being improperly used, that is going into the pockets of some of them, is not theirs. When I was in school, we used to characterise such an attitude with the jeering taunt: "You think this is your grandfather's money ah?" It's still applicable here and now.
The A-G's latest report tells us of
·        the Department of Broadcasting's purchase of 20 wall clocks at RM3,810 each, 38 times more than the estimated RM100 each, and three A4 size scanners at RM14,670 a unit, more than 70 times the estimated price of RM200 each;
·        the Customs Department's having to destroy RM600,000 worth of shoes it had purchased because they did not suit its officers;
·        the Melaka state government's illegal building of its Customs and Immigration Quarantine Complex on private land, which eventually cost it an extra RM10.8 million to compensate the landowner, plus an extra RM40 million in building costs that had shot up because of the delay.
These are only a few examples. But they are enough to shock us into asking if something will ever be done to prevent misdeeds of such nature from happening again. This also makes us ask if the misdeeds of the past have been addressed.
For example, in 2011, the A-G reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) bought two pairs of binoculars at 2,805 per cent more than the market price, which translated into RM56,350 more than the estimated market price of RM1,940!
MACC Deputy Commissioner Shukri Abdul responded by saying there was no corruption involved, but who would pay nearly RM55,000 more for a pair of binoculars and be innocent about it?
Shukri suggested taking action on the matter. What has been the outcome of that?
We have a civil service made up of 1.4 million personnel, and yet no bright sparks have emerged from among them to clean up the rot, to change the mindset, to turn the civil service into a professional machine. That's quite certainly because meritocracy is not part of the system. Therefore, the best people – with the best brains and the right work ethic – are not heading the department. Unlike in, say, Singapore.
And yet Prime Minister Najib Razak has been rewarding our civil servants with salary adjustments under the new Malaysian Remuneration System and two increments this year. Do they deserve these? No doubt it was to buy their votes before the last general election and to thank them after that, as well as to ensure their continued support.
To me, the highlight of the A-G's report this time was its showing up of the failure of the police department to look after its own assets, and its inefficiency as a public agency. What turned out to be the icing on the cake was the response made by its chief, who appeared to be all at sea!
The report revealed that between 2010 and 2012, the police lost assets worth over RM1.33 million. Among them were 44 loaded firearms. And the police don't seem to have retrieved them. Holy gunsmoke! Did these guns go to those gangsters who have been shooting people dead in the streets the last few months?
The Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar, was quick to point out that they didn't. "The missing guns may not have fallen into the hands of criminals but they could have fallen into the sea from boats ... and the weapons could not be recovered," he said.
What? Fallen into the sea? Reading that, I nearly fell into a nearby drain.
And how convenient, too, that the guns fell into the sea, because it explains why they couldn't be retrieved. In which case, the public should ask to see the reports filed by the police personnel who lost those guns. From there, we should be able to see if they really did fall into the sea, and how.
Not that we don't believe the IGP, but when he gave that explanation, he didn't seem like a police officer. He came across like a stand-up comedian.
It's almost as comic that Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi endorses that explanation because, he says, "sometimes, the guns [could get] lost in operations". Yes of course they could, but how does he account for so many guns falling into the sea?
Zahid accepts the explanation without even questioning the logic behind it. Just like the civil service, Najib's Cabinet is apparently not founded on meritocracy.
The IGP also said, "Of the 37 missing guns, ballistic reports show that none of them have been used by criminals."
OK, what about the remaining seven out of the 44 cited by the A-G's report? Are the police also having trouble with simple arithmetic?
Apart from the guns, they have also lost 156 handcuffs, 26 walkie-talkies, 22 radios, six cameras, four computers, and – get a load of this – 29 vehicles!
How did they lose so many handcuffs? Would a sweep of kinky brothels help to get them back?
How did they lose the computers? Some thief came into the police station and took them away? Under the noses of the police? Or was it an inside job? 

And vehicles! How do cops lose police vehicles? Thieves got into the driver's seat while the cops were not looking and drove the vehicle away? Were the cops, say, pumping air into the vehicle's tyres at the time? Or popping into a shop to buy cigarettes while the engine was left running? Or did it happen that while a few police vehicles were being transported on a ferry, they somehow slid into the sea?

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