Hornbill Unleashed

October 7, 2013

Adding insult to our injured wallets

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Hazlan Zakaria

At a time when Malaysians are told to “change their lifestyle” in the face of subsidy cuts and government “rationalisation” to reduce expenditures, the excesses and wastage again revealed in the 2012 Auditor-General’s (AG) Report are like adding insult to our injured wallets.

Excesses which continue year in and year out, and wastage which recurs annually, almost with impunity as actions to redress the issues or prosecute officials involved seem few and far between.

Excesses which in other national jurisdictions would have been followed with public dismissals or legal actions or both.

In Malaysia though, they remain unimpeded, the wastage cycle continues.

Even the problems the AG pointed out is almost the same: Lax project management, lack of monitoring, lack of knowledge, no proper planning and items bought for way above their value in government procurement.

As of now, reports highlighted from the audit: millions paid for a Korean K-Pop performance, welfare claims paid to dead people, overpayment for security devices for schools, overpriced clocks, bonuses for government-linked company staff though the firms are financially in the red, among others.

As the report is processed further, we can wait to see tales of more millions and even billions of ringgit lost down the proverbial rabbit hole last year.

Though unlike Alice, those monies will never come back out. Money that is probably more than any savings made from ongoing subsidy cuts.

Indeed lack of fiscal discipline and irregularities in procurement process have been the downfall of Malaysian financial standing like the recent downgrade of its sovereign debt rating by ratings agency Fitch.

Worse is the fact that we are no longer shocked by such revelations. Malaysians have become so inured and numb to the annual recurrence that most would just shrug and ask “So what?” in an almost helpless acceptance of what has become our reality.

One point to be noted though is that in general, states under the opposition seem to be doing better in the audit than those that aren’t, which makes a strong case for those urging for a change in government.

A point that may be more ammunition for the opposition come the next polls, unless the government can do an about-turn and really work to turn things around.

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