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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Same old shameful story

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 05:26 PM PDT

Every year, we recoil in shock when we read the Auditor-General's Report and yet we hear little about punishment being meted out to those responsible for the colossal loss of billions of ringgit.

Wong Chun Wai, The Star

IT'S simply disgusting and shameful. Whether the colossal loss of billions of ringgit is due to negligence, slipshod decisions, incompetence, stupidity, criminal breach of trust or, worse, plain corruption, Malaysians are finding it too painful to bear.

Every year, we read of such horrible accounts and yet we hear little about punishment being meted out to those responsible.

Who can blame taxpayers if they have the perception that the Auditor-General's reports are tabled in Parliament yearly only because it is mandated by law? Aside from the fiery debates, for a little while at least, there is really not much that can be done.

Rightly or wrongly, many of us think the recalcitrant civil servants do not have any fear of the consequences of their actions in, for example, approving the purchase of over-priced items.

How can one explain the purchase of 20 wall clocks at RM3,810 each when the actual price is only RM100 a piece?

The crappy answer given by the Informa­tion, Communications and Culture Ministry was "that the board of procurement awarded contractors which provided the best value for money".

Yes, that was the reply – "the best value for money". And here's the best part, the ministry also told the Auditor-General that "the ministry obtained the best technical evaluation grades board to compare prices of items offered by companies online before making its decision".

I doubt any of us sees the need for "technical evaluation" in the purchase of 20 wall clocks. And we shudder at the thought that "having the best technical evaluation" resulted in a decision to buy those clocks at such an exorbitant price!

Seriously, the whole board needs to be sacked because what was needed was plain common sense. That, however, seems to be uncommon at that level. Well, we are told these are "branded" clocks, thus the difference in price.

But try explaining to the people how three A4-sized scanners were bought for RM14,670 per unit, which was more than 70 times the estimated price of RM200 each.

Seriously, where is that sense of responsibility, dignity, accountability and credibility? How can such blatant wastage of funds be allowed to continue year in year out?

The reports of Health Ministry staff filing dubious claims for RM550,000 to RM600,000 on tailoring and footwear must surely be a clear-cut case for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency to investigate

Audit checks had revealed that 1,014 of the ministry's employees in 10 centres responsible for the tailoring claims had produced dubious receipts. The premises stated in the receipts simply do not exist.

Then there is the RM1.3mil in police assets lost over three years, including 136 pairs of handcuffs, 44 firearms, 27 cars, 26 walkie-talkies and 22 radios.

Let's put this in context. There are over 100,000 policemen in our country. It is a huge machinery and the loss of these handcuffs, walkie-talkies and radios is actually a tiny figure. Policemen are humans too and the loss of such items in a rough operating environment is not unusual.

We also acknowledge that our policemen put their lives at risk daily to keep our streets and homes safe.

But the loss of firearms is serious, more so when the current spate of serious crime has been attributed to the ease in getting weapons. Surely, we do not want the criminals to be using guns that belong to the police.

What we would also like to know is how 27 cars can go missing. Hopefully, we will not only get to know the answer but also the clear-cut actions taken on those responsible.

The burning question that Malaysians continue to ask is: "Has the civil service learnt from the weaknesses highlighted by the Auditor-General?"

The Public Accounts Committee, which under parliamentary tradition is the most powerful committee in the august House, must also do more than just deliberate on the alarming findings in the Auditor-General's reports.

In other countries, ministers and civil servants shudder when they are called up by the PAC to explain anything amiss in the money allocated to them for spending.

The Auditor-General is one institution which has stood the test of time, from the days of the late Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin Zakaria. And credit should be given to the government for not tampering with the report and releasing it as it is. Only constant, at least in the eyes of the public, is the lack of action taken against the culprits.

The MACC must be proactive and commence investigations to get to those who not only inflate the prices of purchased items but also receive kickbacks in the process. It's plain corruption at the expense of taxpayers' money.

All the efforts to reduce government subsidies on essential items and calls for the people to be prudent are meaningless if such blatant wastage and leakages continue unchecked.


Does BN care about the AG Report?

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 04:58 PM PDT

Had the Auditor-General's Report carried any weight, it would have played a role in bringing about the much needed changes.

Jeswan Kaur, FMT

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has wasted RM28.8 million to rent and another RM5.5 million as maintenance costs on for his private jet for a year – this is just the tip of the iceberg coming from the Auditor-General's 2012 Report.

Unlike Najib, Singapore premier Lee Hsien Loong has no qualms travelling first class on Singapore Airlines and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on economy class. So why does Najib and the other VVIPs be pampered with a private jet?

Malaysia has seven executive jets for official use by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, to carry out official businesses of the nation.

If pampering the seven VVIPs with one jet each was not sinful enough, the government between 2010 and 2012 gladly wasted US$25.2 million (RM80.53 million) for rental, RM16.515 million for maintenance and RM3.32 million on improvement of the VVIP jets.

This is not all. If Najib is all for digging into the nation's coffers, the Royal Malaysia Police on the other hand needs a rapping for its being highly irresponsible, to the extent that it lost assets worth RM1.33 million in the past three years, including firearms, handcuffs and even vehicles.

The AG report noted that between 2010 and 2012, the police lost 156 units of handcuffs, 44 units of firearms, 29 vehicles, 26 walkie-talkies, 22 radios, six cameras, four computers, one cell-phone and 21 unspecified items.

Now, how does the Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar expects the rakyat to digest this piece of news, of comprehending the fact that the police and 'safety' do notgo hand in hand?

If this piece of revelation was not damaging enough to the already battered and bruised PDRM, the IGP in his folly took the foolish way out when he decided to placate worried Malaysians that the missing guns did not fall into the hands of criminals and had instead fallen into the sea during certain operations.

How sure is Khalid that criminals are not in possession of police weapons? Or for that matter does it not give Khalid sleepless nights that his subordinates recklessly 'lose' their firearms during operations?

Khalid later clarified that 37 and not 44 guns belonging to police personnel went still missing, with seven having been recovered post- the AG's report.

Would Khalid have made the attempt to retrieve the stolen guns had the matter not been made public by the AG report?

Khalid also told FMT that the missing guns could also be due to police negligence and car break-ins.

"There are also cases involving car break-ins and negligence from our officers," he added.

In other words, the PDRM has a big problem in not just keeping the country but also its possessions safe, does it not?

AG report not taken seriously

While the Audtor-General's Report has done it again – detailing with brutal truth the the ineffiency of the federal government and the splurges by prime minister Najib and other VVIPs, it sadly will once again be dismissed by the BN government.

Had the AG report carried any weight, it would have played a role in bringing about the much needed changes. It was the AG report that revealed the misappropriation of RM250 million loan meant for the cattle rearing project carried out by the National Feedlot Centre ( NFC) which was headed by Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail and who is spouse of former Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Shahrizat Jalil.

It was the NFC fiasco that brought down the curtains on Shahrizat's political career. Despite that, Najib went against the rakyat's wishes and reappointed the Wanita Umno chief as his advisor on women affairs.

Throwing his support behind a politician rejected by the people to safeguard his political survival puts paid to the question as to whether the AG report is given due respect by the BN government.



Malaysia is worse

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 02:20 PM PDT


In Malaysia alone, 253 Nepalis migrants died last year (officially), making it easily the deadliest destination for Nepali workers.  

Ishwar Rauniyar, Republica 

Recent revelations on the state of Nepali migrant workers in Qatar garnered worldwide attention. They revealed how Nepali workers are needlessly losing their lives in Qatar and are routinely exploited by their employers who burden them with extra work, but offer little in return. 

The news comes at a time Qatar is preparing for the 2022 football World Cup. Though the issue was not new for Nepal, the way it was reported in one of the prestigious international newspapers forced national and international officials, human rights activists and Qatar government to take it seriously. 

Now the debate is whether Qatar should host the 2022 event at all. As in Qatar, the situation of Nepalis migrant workers in Malaysia and other Gulf countries is pathetic as well. Neither the receiving countries nor the sending country has been able to properly manage migrant workers, though both are deriving huge 'benefits' from them. 

Nepal has sent a record number of workers abroad in the past few years. On average, around 1,600 leave the country every day to work in the Gulf, Malaysia and South Korea. The money sent home by more than 2.5 million Nepali migrant workers is the largest foreign exchange earner for the country. 

More than 400,000 people come into the job market every year; ninety percent of them find employment overseas. Money sent home by workers makes up a big chunk of the Nepali economy. Last year, remittances were worth roughly US $4.5 billion, almost a quarter of Nepali GDP.

Recently Maya Kumari Sharma, former ambassador to Qatar, got dismissed from her post after commenting that "Qatar is an open jail" in BBC Sajha Sawal a few months ago. Her statement invited huge controversy both in Nepal and Qatar. Since then, the Qatar government has asked her to leave the country. But Qatar is only the tip of the iceberg. 

A recent report released by the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) claims that at least 726 Nepalis migrant workers died in the East Asian and Gulf countries in last one year. The actual numbers are likely to be higher still as these statistics discount illegal workers. In Malaysia alone, 253 Nepalis migrants died last year (officially), making it easily the deadliest destination for Nepali workers. 

The Guardian reports highlight the pathetic state Nepalis workers are forced to live under in Qatar as well as their wretched work conditions. Similar is the case with Malaysia. 
Studies have shown that a migrant worker is cheated an average of 16 times during his journey from his village to the foreign destination of his choice. It starts with the loan shark in the village, then it's the turn of the manpower company to profit, all the way to the profiteers in the final destination. 

One of my colleague's brothers was asked for Rs 125,000 to go to Malaysia, though the government rate is only Rs 80,000. Looking for help, he contacted the Director General of the Department of Foreign Employment; however the DG failed to do anything claiming he simply didn't have enough staff. 

Later, when the Secretary at the Labor Ministry was contacted, he too expressed his helplessness. The issue was taken to the prime minister's office. But even so, nothing could be done. You can imagine the plight of those who don't have such robust connections. 

How can common people get justice in this country? Poor migrants become the victims of this government apathy. Not only are they overcharged during the application process, they don't even get the promised jobs and salaries when abroad. 

Read more at: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=62586 

Kill National Service Before It Kills Again

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 02:07 PM PDT


In years to come, how many more are going to suffer eating food infested with maggots, how many more are going to be sexually harassed, how many more are going to die? Whose child will it be next?

Kee Thuan Chye 

Let me be upfront about this. I've never been in favour of our National Service (NS) programme, and I think it should be scrapped immediately.
From the day it was implemented in December 2003 – in fact, even when it was first proposed about two years before that – I had thought of it as nothing but a propaganda opportunity for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government, as another medium it could exploit to pollute young minds with its warped ideas about nationalism and patriotism. And goodness knows what else.
In fact, one of its declared objectives is – brace yourself for it – developing a generation that is obedient and loyal to the Government.
This of course is totally uncalled-for and misplaced. And it confirms my fear that our young are getting wrongfully indoctrinated during their NS stint. Loyal to the country – yes. But loyal to the Government (and it may not just be the BN government; it could one day be the Pakatan Rakyat one) – an absolute no. There is a big difference between country and government.
I had also thought of NS as nothing but another money-making scheme for the Government's money-grubbing cronies. Think of the extra ringgit embedded in the marked-up costing for the provision of camps, trainers, supplies, etc. Extra ringgit that would go into the pockets of those involved in the racket as kickbacks. Extra ringgit that would be duly paid by the unsuspecting public, i.e. you and me. And all for what?
Compared to Singapore's National Service, ours is a farce. There, the trainees are attached to the armed forces or the police or the Civil Defence Force and trained for two years. When they come out, they are ready to take up arms if they are called upon to defend their country, or to serve as emergency rescue personnel.
Here, our boys and girls undergo a three-month programme that does not quite train them to be battle-ready. How could you do that in three months anyway? Instead, our orientation is towards developing a young generation who are patriotic, caring, willing to volunteer, active, intelligent, confident and imbued with positive characteristics and good values.

Wow! That's a big job to do! And again, how could it be accomplished in three months? Whoever thought up those aims must have had unrealistic ambitions.

Read more at: http://news.malaysia.msn.com/community/blogs/blog-kill-national-service-before-it-kills-again#page=1 

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