Soon after the PM’s announcement of a project to establish the equivalent of London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park at the ‘dirt-cheap’ price of RM650 million for the 66 acre urban park, there has been a howl of protests from members of the public in the internet media especially on the project cost.
These complaints do not come from our rakyat. They are from Anwaristas, DAPsters, Pakatuns and other disloyal and selfish elements who have no love for the country and are unappreciative of nature as well as the government’s efforts at making KL a world class city and saving the environment.
In fact, according to reliable sources, the initial projected cost was considerably higher with a figure of over a billion ringgit mentioned. However, thanks to the ‘vigilance’ and ‘financial prudence’ of Khazanah Nasional’s leadership led by its Director General, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, the project budget has now been halved. The current one proposed is not only extremely cost-effective but can be considered to be a ‘bargain’.
Khazanah is the project’s main stakeholder together with KL City Hall, with the latter trying to recover from the latest round of corruption cases involving its highest level officials which accounts for its interest in redeeming its name by making sure that this a ‘clean, transparent and accountable’ undertaking.
Triple proofing against corruption
Besides the ‘rigorous’ internal monitoring that can be expected from these two stakeholders, this “not-for-profit” project will come under the special scrutiny of the MACC.
As we all know the MACC is not the toothless or impotent agency of its past. Its new chief has specifically vowed to wipe out corruption and abuse of power by civil servants.
Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad has solemnly pledged in his first public interview after taking office that “Even though the trust placed on me is very heavy, I promise to discharge my duties and responsibilities conscientiously as I am not only answerable to humans but I also need to carry out the trust of Allah”.
What higher guarantee can be given by anyone than to invoke the name of the Almighty!
Also we must not forget that Special Minister Paul Low will probably be administering his “Integrity Pledge” to participants in the project.
Earlier, the public will remember that Paul Low was instrumental in getting the Prime Minister in February 2013 to sign an election integrity pledge that “he will not give or accept any bribes, will uphold and give priority to interests of the rakyat (people), and comply with all the rules and regulations of Malaysia”.
Due to Paul Low’s initiative, the prime minister wrote that “I believe that as the BN leader, I have to set a strong tone. Only a candidate who is deemed to have fought a clean and fair election will lead to a trustworthy government respected by the people”.
Although this action overlapped with the US$681 million paid into the PM’s personal bank accounts that year, the public should not pay any attention to foreign-driven propaganda doubting the PM’s integrity and honesty.
This ‘triple proofing’ of the project against any corrupt practices will help ensure that there will be no cost overrun and as the Prime Minister has described it: “If Hyde Park is synonymous with London, and Central Park is synonymous with New York, …Taman Tugu will be synonymous with KL as a global city….Can you imagine – the people will have their very own mini tropical forest in the middle of the city”.
Perhaps, the Prime Minister omitted to mention that among the unique benefits of the new park – as what a world-class mini tropical forest would usually be – may have the world’s largest collection of leeches, snakes, crocodiles and jungle rats.
It is also rumoured that members of the cabinet have had a special meeting on this exciting feature and that several among them is also rumoured to have volunteered to add to the park’s collection their own outstanding specimen.
Local vs Foreign Leeches
While the great majority will be the indigenous, perhaps the home-grown species, a special attraction will be the the new leech species – dubbed Tyrannobdella rex, or “tyrant leech king”- which was recently discovered in the Peruvian Amazon.
The up-to-three-inch-long (about seven-centimeter-long) bloodsucker has large teeth, like its dinosaur namesake Tyrannosaurus rex. Apparently theT. Rex leech uses its teeth to saw into the tissues of mammals’ orifices, including eyes, urethras, rectums, and vaginas.
Some Malaysians would argue that the foreign leech is simply no comparison to our home grown leech which can grow to a world record shattering size (see photo) as well as is capable to penetrating into any opening, however small.
Con-sultans and other ‘experts’ from the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), a strong advocate for the project, may have estimated that the introduction of these foreign leeches, snakes and other unique flora and fauna including the dreaded Zimbabwe crocodile could run into the millions but this is a small price to pay for making our Taman Tugu a strong contender for the “World’s Best Leech or Snake Breeding Park” award.
Meanwhile, there has been a rush for membership of the MNS which is a project partner and whose MNS executive director IS Shanmugaraj has justified that it will add “green lungs” to the city.
Hundreds of park experts, environmental planners, botanists, zoologists, recreation professionals and academics, it seems, have joined the queue to ‘volunteer’ their services, especially on hearing the insider news that the project is likely to have several herd of “green elephants” in it.
An estimated 15 per cent of the costs is currently budgeted to go to the project’s fourth component (currently i.e. operations, maintenance, partnerships and community development of the park) so that there should be lots of incentive and payola for volunteerism, Malaysian style.
Lim Teck Ghee