Who Will Bear Responsibility?

By Lim Kit Siang

Who must bear responsibility for the deception and sleight-of-hand delaying tabling the 2010 Auditor-General’s reports on the annual and  continuing “horror of horrors” of government financial hanky-panky, mismanagement and misappropriations of public funds until after the general debate in Parliament on the 2010 Budget (except for the official Ministerial winding-ups) is over?

Is he the Prime Minister or Chief Secretary? Or nobody need be held responsible for this gross parliamentary disrespect and deception?
Although the Auditor-General’s Reports for 2010 rated most ministries and government departments as “excellent” in their financial management, the Auditor-General nonetheless made history producing two thickest and most voluminous reports in Malaysian history on the Federal Government’s Accounts totally over 1,330 pages – retailing the hair-raising pecaddiloes and major transgressions in the government’s public finances in the first full year of Najib’s premiership in 2010.
The first public conclusion from the 2010 Auditor-General’s Reports is that there is no difference between Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s National Transformation Policy and his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s “Islam Hadhari” – as horror tales of financial hanky-panky, mismanagement and misappropriations continue unchanged, year in and year out, whether under Najib, Abdullah or even Tun Mahathir’s time as Prime Minister.
Just before the political tsunami of the March 2008 general elections, Malaysians were outraged by the revelations at the end of 2007 of financial hanky-panky in the 2006 Auditor-General’s reports, eg:
·       National Youth Skills Institute (under the Youth and Sports Ministry) project where a car jack that cost RM50 was bought for RM5,700, a digital camera that cost RM2,990 was bought for RM8,254 and RM1,146 was paid for a set of technical pens with a market price of RM160;
·       Police Air Wing – purchase of two helicopters worth RM117.75 million, which could not be used, as they did not meet specifications. Another RM15.4mil was spent to train pilots to fly these helicopters.
·       Customs Department under-utilised its RM290mil information technology system but was planning to spend another RM451.30mil to develop a new one.
Now, on the eve of the 13th General Elections, Malaysians are equally outraged by the revelations of the 2010 Auditor-General Reports on the continuing financial scandals, hanky-panky and gross financial negligence in government, eg:
·       National Sports Institute acquired 23 horses totally RM5.66 million without a Financial Ministry go-ahead with none of the horses competed in two recommended international championships;
·       the RM142 million RazakSAT malfunctioned barely a year after being commissioned;
·       The Malaysian Marine Parks Department spent a whopping RM56,350 for a pair of night vision Marine binoculars, 29 times more than its market value of RM1,940; and paid the same amount for another pair of night vision Bushnell binoculars, or 1,893 per cent more than its actual price of RM2,827.

·       Decimal point and accounting mistakes which should not happen if there are efficient and proper internal audit systems as  resulting in a pensioner receiving RM21,433 a month instead of RM214.33 for 16 months and the Giatmara Centre mistakenly paying RM170 per kg instead of RM1.70 per kg for sugar for a poverty eradication programme or RM25,500 for 150 kg of sugar!

In his response to the 2010 Auditor-General’s Reports, the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Sidek Hassan has repeated his annual reaction and call to  all departments and agencies to take heed of  the Auditor-General’s comments and views.

Clearly, the Chief Secretary’s past responses to previous Auditor-General Reports had been ineffective, or there would have been no need this year to resort to the parliamentary sleight-of-hand of delaying the tabling of the 2010 Auditor-General’s Report to ensure that it would not completely overshadow Najib’s 2012 Budget by focussing on the over 1,300 pages of exposes of financial irregularities, hanky-panky as well as misappropriation of public funds in the first full year of Najib’s premiership.

Malaysians are still waiting for the Prime Minister or the Chief Secretary to own up to the parliamentary deception in delaying tabling the 2010 Auditor-General Reports until after the end of the parliamentary debate on the 2012 Budget – so as to prevent the 2010 Auditor-General Report from becoming the foremost parliamentary issue.