Malaysians ought to be thankful to the Auditor General (AG) Tan Sri Ambrin Buang for having been meticulous in auditing the government’s spending and to come out with a report that I believe is unbiased, truthful and reflects the factual state of the ministries/government agencies financial management. I have been reading some of his previous reports and I sense that the AG seems a highly principled person that does his work with passion, honest, forthright and without fear or favor.
What has been revealed in his latest report (though late) that appeared in the media thus far can be frightening to say the least? Frightening, because if nothing serious is done to check the manner in which government manages it’s spending, this country is destined towards financial and economic mayhem. If that were to happen, then we are in the same league with Greece and with some other EU countries. Who suffers? Certainly not for the rich and famous, but it is the ordinary people that suffers.
National debt rose by 12% to over RM407 billion last year, and billions more in external debt making us I think, one of the worse debtor nation in the world. I wonder how the government could be spending so freely, and disbursing money to ‘any dick, tom and harry’ as though the government assumes itself to be a huge mobile ATM machine. That is what our DPM and PM has been doing; doling cash (they call it financial aid) as if the money belongs to them at every ‘meet-the-people session’; the latest being the announcement made by the PM of a RM1 million education grant for children of former policemen, from the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad. This has been the talk of the town, and do they not know this? I just wonder how many retired policemen still has school going children, when they retire at the age of 58 or is it 60 now?. Or is the PM thinking of the grandchildren or great grandchildren of our policemen that were killed in the Bukit Kepong tragedy?
From what I read, nine government ministries have overspent to the tune of RM3.73 billion that includes the Home Ministry and Education Ministry. This means that the ministries were either weak in their financial management or were at the outset poor at working out a budget. I have so often heard people say that finishing off the allocation early show good financial management, and asking for more allocation means that the ministry is working hard to ensure a better performance. No one talks about prudent spending and a saving would mean that future allocation will be slashed.
What caught my eye is the over payment by the Tourism Ministry of nearly RM270 million for advertisement that was not carried via the open tender. And does the minister not know that direct negotiated tender or selective tender system is subject to abuse? This ministry has somewhat been setting records for spending public money all for the wrong reasons, and the minister seems to have all the answers and justifications for such spending. And can someone tell me how much will it costs to purchase 1000 racks for hold tourism brochures? The ministry spends RM1.95 million for that purpose and would you believe that? And having spent that much of money, they could not account for 149 racks that had gone missing. I suppose someone must have taken it home or resold it for scrap metal or had eaten it up. This is the state of our Tourism Ministry where wastage is not their concern since it is not their money, and who really cares.
I do not wish to list all other abuses in the financial management of ministries/agencies detailed out in the AG report, because it is obvious in public domain. But what I would like to say is the manner in which the KSN responded to these abuses i.e. that “we will ensure that such abuses do not occur again” or words to the effect. I get sick when I hear such words because I know it doesn’t mean anything and there is no will to ensure that such abuses will not be repeated, unless he proves otherwise.
I have also read that the Public Account Committee (PAC) will investigate seven ministries and agencies for weak financial management. I hope at the end of the investigation, and if it is found that there was a deliberate breach at financial mismanagement; then someone must be made responsible, accountable and appropriate action taken, regardless of the status of the official responsible. My question then will be - does PAC have the will and morale courage to recommend appropriate action upon those responsible for the financial mismanagement? My answer is a flat NO. I just wonder whether ministers or KSU’s will be called up to face the PAC. This, we will have to wait and see.
This AG Report is certainly a bad Deepavali gift, not only to Malaysian Indians but to all Malaysians.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION