Posted on 18 December 2012 – 07:36pm Last updated on 18 December 2012 – 07:41pm
R. Nadeswaran (The Malay Mail)
OVER the past few months, Malaysians have been led to believe that changes are taking place on fighting corruption, misuse and abuse of public funds, abuse of power and other discrepancies which have resulted in loss of taxpayers’ money. Besides our leaders proclaiming that our efforts have intensified and even cited the improvement in the standings in Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as evidence.
Over the past few months, Pemandu has issued numerous statements on the success of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and deemed it as a success. To back its claims, it has produced a slew of statistics which make compelling reading for analysts and those devoted to figures.
Over the past few weeks, this column has highlighted two issues – the case of the “missing” funds from the Malaysian Paralympics Council (MPC) and the accounts for the “Road to London” project undertaken by the National Sports Council.
A little background for the uninitiated: The MPC wrote off RM3.8 million invested in an events management company helmed by its president, Datuk Zainal Abidin Abu Zarin, and his family. The money was written off due to the “irrecoverability” of the investment. Subsequently, the Penang Sports and Recreation for the Disabled Association (Pesron) president, Dr Tiun Ling Ta, lodged a police report on Oct 18 saying that there could be a breach of trust and conflict of interests.
A month after the report was lodged, the police sent a note to Tiun and said the matter has been referred to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for further action and closed their files. Tiun did not complain of corruption or bribery. He inferred that the transfer of the monies could be illegal and hence it could be breach of trust.
In the case of the NSC, in August, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, in line with the prime minister’s promise of change and openness told Malaysians that the accounts of the RM20 million allocation for the “Road to London” programme would be open for public scrutiny.
But the NSC director-general Datuk Zolkples Embong over-ruled the minister and decreed that the public does not have access to the expenditure and deemed it non-obligatory.
These two are high points of the so-called transformation which is not taking place. They reflect the work culture and attitude of our civil servants and police force. They still express their “I know better” cavalier attitude in their own way.
So, what happens next? Almost RM24 million of taxpayers’ money is unaccounted for and no one cares about it. The minister has gone into his cocoon, the police have passed the buck and on the statistical chart, these will appear as “case closed or solved”. In annual reports, they will be paraded as “success” and pat themselves on the back for “improving” over the previous year.
So, what happens next? Are we supposed to sit back, relax and say: “That’s the way our system works” or say “Malaysia, semua pun boleh”? It would be foolhardy to take either approach but what can the ordinary Malaysian do in the wake of such attitudes? Last week, a man claiming to represent disabled athletes called, saying that he wanted to hold a protest in front of the police station and wanted my support for the cause.
In this instance, holding placards is not going to bring about the desired results because as far as the police are concerned, they have handed the matter to the MACC and their job is done. So, do you go to the MACC with your placards? They will say that there is no element of corruption involved. What do you do?
Can anyone in the establishment fathom the discontent among the people caused by so-called decision-makers who seem to be making the wrong calls most of the time? Do the powers that be accept the fact that a good proportion of the civil service by its inept handling of issues has caused the people to mistrust the government?
Civil servants are not policymakers. They merely implement the policies of the state. So, if the minister says make the accounts public, it has to be done – saying “no” is not even an option and there should be no “ifs” and “buts”.
Similarly, when a crime has been allegedly committed, it has to be investigated and the evidence has to be obtained. The attorney general or his representative will finally determine if the case should go to court.
Therefore, time has come to pose some questions:
Is the minister going to live up to his undertaking or is he going to be labelled as a “promising young man, full of empty promises?”
Is the police force going to move lest it make the whole anti-crime campaign and the GTP a laughing stock?
Is Pemandu, through its various meetings with government agencies, going to tell them that they are giving the government a bad name because of such inadequacies?
We can only wait with bated breath for the answers.
R. Nadeswaran will continue to remind those who wield power that they are accountable to the people. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org