Government of Malaysia Inc

By KJ John

I cannot agree with bloggers Art Harun and Lim Kit Siang more. Both have basically argued a similar concern; why is the government acting as if they privately own the country.

Yes, to their minds the chief secretary to the government and chief justice are both CEO appointments – one for the executive branch of the public services, and the other for the judicial services. Both are accused of “doing things as they like”, as if they are in a private corporation and answerable to no one outside of the “cabinet” as their board of directors.

Allow me to repeat their arguments for those who did not follow them.

Art Harun, a lawyer in his own right, and a very articulate one at that, argues that the chief justice has basically over-stepped his bounds if he asked the two errant judges to resign privately, without being charged officially and publicly. He has basically no authority to ask them to leave privately; as this is neither a private appointment nor a private matter. This is not Government of Malaysia Private Limited!

If these two senior judges have in fact not carried out their oath to public office diligently and dutifully, as per their code of conduct; they must he charged and due process followed as per the constitutional provisions for the sacking of judges. I cannot agree more with Art Harun. We must move away for the so-called privatisation of the Malaysian government.

Now, for Lim Kit Siang’s argument about the secretary to the cabinet and the only cabinet rank chief public servant and the executor of the cabinet decisions.

The question asked by LKS (Lim Kit Siang) is why chief secretary Mohd Sidek Hassan did not oversee the previous decisions of the cabinet. LKS wrote: “I see it as a major step backwards in public accountability and good governance, as it smacks of being a super ‘cover up’ task force for the PKFZ (Port Klang Free Zone) scandal.”

He continues, “he (Sidek) should explain to the Malaysian public why he had failed in the past two years to carry out the cabinet decision in July 2007 when it resolved on the RM4.6 billion bailout of PKFZ, including giving retrospective approval to the four illegal Letters of Support unlawfully given by the two previous transport ministers, Dr Ling Liong Sik and Chan Kong Choy, that the chief secretary should conduct an inquiry as to how the four Letters of Support could have issued unlawfully and to take the necessary disciplinary actions against the culprits who have now landed the country with a RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.”

As an ex-public servant of 30 years service, and a senior of Sidek, I fully agree with LKS: The chief secretary to the government and the secretary to the cabinet must answer LKS’ query as to why there was no serious follow-up to the relevant cabinet decisions, if they were in fact actual cabinet decisions.

If there was wrongdoing who was really responsible for that ‘close-one-eye culture’ in this instance?

Public service morally bankrupt

In fact, for the public that does not know, I visited the Prime Minister’s Department website and found out that there is a whole division called, ‘The Cabinet, Constitution, and Inter-Governmental Relations Division’ under the chief secretary headed by another deputy chief secretary-general with five secretaries to divisions, eight chief assistant secretaries, two system analysts, and eight whole units – all to service the cabinet.

In my calculation, that should be about at least 30 officers, if not 50, in that cabinet division headed by a very senior officer.

What were they doing to follow-up and follow-through the cabinet decisions? If my memory does not fail me, every other week we used to get reminders from this division about follow-up matters of cabinet meeting decisions and we were required to give updates, failing which we could be hauled up.

When such an elaborate and excellent system of follow-up and follow-through exists, why were these decisions not followed up and adequately reported in a timely matter?

Now that even the former finance minister who oversaw much of the privatisation which became ‘piratisation” has spoken up too, maybe it is time for the chief secretary to come clean and speak up for the truth on all such matters. There really is no reason for anymore cover-up; let the whole truth and nothing but the truth be known.

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