Hornbill Unleashed

October 7, 2013

Milking the country dry

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

Phlip Rodrigues

Year in and year out, the story is the same: the auditor-general will present his report card on the management of the country’s finances to Parliament and his job is done. The ball is with the government: it can either act or throw the whole report into the dustbin. Most of the time, the report will gather dust because the government is more interested in covering up its weaknesses and mistakes than to correct its many flaws.

From the time the late auditor-general Tan Sri Ahmad Noordin Zakaria created a storm over his audit report on the RM2.5 billion BMF loan scandal in the early 1980s, hardly any action had been taken to right the wrongs and bring the culprits to book. Instead of praising the fearless work of Ahmad Noordin, the then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had only harsh words for the auditor-general for telling the bare truth.

Blatant wastage, endemic corruption and glaring mismanagement are the hallmarks of the government’s financial bookkeeping. Yet such serious abuses of public funds do not get urgent attention. It is as if fiscal mismanagement has become a part and parcel of the administration and nothing can be done about it. It is like a chronic disease that has become incurable.

Hence, when the Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang released his 2012 audit report on the government’s financial management on Oct 1, it predictably created some noises. The news media, printed as well as online, went to town with all these juicy revelations, which surely do make good reading for all the ministries, government-linked companies and other institutions figured.

The litany of wastage and corruption is all too familiar: the Customs Department was caught wrong-footed when it paid some RM600,000 for shoes for its personnel that do not fit; equipment including firearms and handcuffs worth some RM1.33 million for the police force went missing; branded clocks costing more than RM3,000 each were bought by the Department of Broadcasting when the actual price is RM100 each; some RM2 billion was splashed to tighten security system in schools but it turned to be of dubious quality; a sewerage pipe project for the Sewerage Services Department costing RM81.45 million had ballooned to RM121.65 million because of delays; a senior officer claimed more than RM300,000 for an overseas trip when it should be worth only RM50,000… and the list goes on and on.

When the auditor-general presents his report to Parliament, it is the government that is in the dock. The government has to answer for all the financial abuses committed by the various ministries, departments, agencies and government-linked companies. All the money that had disappeared into the sinkholes is taxpayers’ money and not funds belonging to the prime minister and his ministers. If such gross wastage persists, there is very little hope that the country can make it to the list of developed nation.

The government cannot continue to be cynical, apathetic, or indifferent on all the yearly audit reports. It must collar the culprits and prosecute them without mercy. It must use the iron fist, instead of the velvet glove, to deal with errant officers. But, true to Malaysian style of politics, the Najib administration will not move a finger to weed out the crooks in its offices. Were all those who broke the law during the time of Ahmad Noordin charged? Unlikely.

When Ambrin uncovered the RM240 million “cowgate” loan scandal in his 2011 audit report, a minister had to resign because of the bad publicity her family received over the cattle-breeding project. But still the minister is very much in the good books of the prime minister. She is being coddled instead of being dumped for good. Cronyism goes hand in hand with fiscal abuses.

Malaysia has only seven years left to realise its bold and ambitious goal of becoming a fully developed nation. But this master plan fuelled by the Government Transformation Plan and Economic Transformation Plan may turn to ashes because of the colossal abuses of public funds. Malaysia should have long ago been on par with countries like Singapore, but the heavy hand of corruption and abuse of power has put the brakes on economic advancement.

For the next seven years the auditor-general will be releasing his reports and more unpalatable revelations will be made. But who cares? Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak does not care. His government does not give two hoots to the need for fiscal prudence, accountability and transparency. All the crooks will still be around, enjoying their ill-gotten gains. The storms created by the audit reports will pass away – and Malaysia will continue to be milked dry.

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2 Comments »

  1. Yes BN will bring the nation to bankruptcy!

    Comment by Badri — October 8, 2013 @ 6:29 PM | Reply

  2. Every minister claimed he or she was not present during a cabinet decision to award contract or project to his or her family members.That wss the culture and corrupt system established by Umno Baru led BN government. When head of department saw it fit to follow the corrupt behavior and practices of our ministers they too will plunder and squander the nation.

    Comment by Irene Kana — October 7, 2013 @ 1:22 PM | Reply


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