My worst fears confirmed – Abdullah does not read letters sent to him

My worst fears have been confirmed — the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi does not read letters sent to him or get a briefing on them and these letters disappear into the “black hole” of the Prime Minister’s Department.

When Abdullah was asked yesterday about a Japan Times report which allegedly implicated Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud in a 1.1 billion yen (RM32 million) timber export kickbacks, he said no formal reports had been presented to him.
However, he said, he had asked the ACA to investigate the matter.

This is most shocking indeed as it was exactly a week ago that I had sent him an urgent letter to draw his attention to the Japan Times report asking him to personally reply in Parliament on Monday in the winding-up on the Royal Address debate in view of the recent snowballing of serious corruption allegations against high-profile leaders in his administration.

If the Prime Minister does not read and is not bothered to get briefed about an urgent letter from the Parliamentary Opposition Leader on serious corruption allegations against high-profile leaders in his administration appearing in the international media, gravely undermining Malaysia’s image and international competitiveness, who will expect the Prime Minister to have time for anyone who send him letters, petitions or appeals as their hope of last resort for justice?

In my urgent letter to the Prime Minister dated 6th April 2007, which was faxed to the Prime Minister’s Office which confirmed receipt when my office immediately checked with it, I had described the Japan Times report as “the latest instance of more and more adverse international reports about corruption in Malaysia, such as the adverse rankings given to the country by the corruption surveys of the Transparency International and the Political and Economic Risks Consultancy (PERC)” which warranted immediate action by Abdullah to salvage his reform agenda and pledge, in particular to make ant-corruption campaign the top priority of his administration.

According to the Japan Times report, quoting sources, nine Japanese shipping companies which transport lumber from Sarawak had allegedly failed to report some 1.1 billion yen of income in total during a period of up to seven years through last March. It was alleged the money constituted kickbacks to Sarawak officials via a Hongkong agent connected to Taib and his family.

I even mentioned my urgent letter to the Prime Minister in Parliament on Monday during the winding-up debate by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz, where I had also asked why the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had not conducted investigations into the billionaire astronomical wealth of Taib Mahmud in his quarter-century as Sarawak Chief Minister.

How can Abdullah say one week after my urgent letter to him that no formal report had been presented to him.

The Star report “Up to ACA to probe claims” carried a very significant paragraph pregnant with implications, viz:

Acting ACA director-general Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan, who was also at the press conference, when met by reporters later, said that the ACA would look into the matter.

This paragraph says many things — that the ACA is just a “paper tiger” with no independence, freedom or power of investigation into matters involving “high profile” personalities in the Abdullah administration, whether at national or state level — which is why the ACA could not move although the Japanese media had splashed the Sarawak “32 million kickback” scandal for more than a fortnight.

Furthermore, although Abdullah has said publicly that “It is up to the ACA to handle it”, the ACA big bosses know that this is a statement meant more for P.R. and not to be taken seriously, which explains the very reluctant, unenthusiastic and even lifeless response of the Acting ACA chief that “the ACA would look into the matter”.

The media reported Abdullah as mounting “an impassioned defence of his record on battling corruption, saying he was ramping up efforts to battle the scourge” in his speech at the launching ceremony of the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Academy (MACA) yesterday.

It was however a very weak and tepid defence, lacking the three Cs of conviction, commitment and credibility.

When Abdullah said that “Malaysia is making strides and not stagnating in its fight against corruption”, Malaysians will generally agree — as the problem is not one of stagnation but regression by big strides as illustrated by the seven-place plunge in Malaysia’s Transparency International Corruption Perception Index from No. 37 in 2003 to No. 44 in 2006, with all indications that Malaysia is heading further south towards No. 50th position on the occasion of the nation’s 50th Independence Anniversary.

Abdullah’s assertion that “the experience of some countries has shown that stern action against corruption and the accompanying media focus is often accompanied by worsening rather than improving perception of the situation” is eyebrow-raising as it invites two questions — firstly, what are these countries he is referring two and secondly, what are these “stern action against corruption and the accompanying media focus” he is referring to, when the 18 high-profile “big fishes” could be allowed to escape scot-free into the “South China Sea” and remain immune from arrest and prosecution in the past 41 months?

In his speech yesterday, Abdullah called on “everyone to work with him in the fight against graft”, but it is sadly obvious that not a single Cabinet Minister, Barisan Nasional leader or MP has come forward to work with him to fight corruption, to the extent that Abdullah had abandoned his call for “zero tolerance for corruption” when he first became Prime Minister.

Abdullah is right when he said the biggest enemy of the anti-corruption agenda was “public cynicism and apathy” — except he should be frank to admit that he was the author of such public cynicism and apathy in single-handedly turning the high hopes and euphoria that he had generated when he became the fifth Prime Minister into ashes. It was because of the public high hopes and euphoria that he will lead the country in an all-out war against corruption which was the reason for Barisan Nasional winning an unprecedented 91% sweep of the parliamentary seats in the 2004 general election!

It is no use opening the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Academy, establishing the Institute of Integrity of Malaysia or proclaiming the National Integrity Plan when the Prime Minister has very little credibility left, whether national or international, about his commitment to “walk the talk” the agenda against corruption.

Let Abdullah come to Parliament next week to convince MPs and the nation that he has not abandoned his anti-corruption agenda and commitment.

  1. #1 by madmix on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 11:30 am

    The ACA boss says if there is a report, he will investigate. If no report, he will not do anything. So, Kit, lodge a report and see what he does.

    Bernama) — Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is leaving it to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to investigate a report of a RM32 million in logging kickbacks implicating Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

    The prime minister said he had not received any report on the matter so far and no proper report had been lodged by any party for an investigation to be carried out.

    “This is a newspaper report. We are not sure of the facts. If there is something serious and people make a report, then we can probe him (Taib).

    “We just cannot go on the basis of what the newspapers say,” he told reporters after opening the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy (MACA) and the Guidelines on the Implementation of a Values Audit System in the Public Sector.

    Abdullah was asked to comment on the newsreport in Japan Times which claimed that Japanese shipping companies paid RM32 million to a Hong Kong agent allegedly linked to Taib.

    Meanwhile, ACA acting director-general Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan said the agency would investigate the matter if reports were lodged.

  2. #2 by Taiko on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 11:37 am

    It’s astonishing he put it so bluntly. He could have responded more tactfully with better excuses like “no comment” but he’d rather present his insouciance to state matters explicitly.

    This is the type of ‘leader’ that over 90% of Malaysian voted in.

  3. #3 by blueheeler on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 11:45 am

    I’m sure he read it, or his secretary infromed him about the contents. He took the last week to consult all the important people, including Taib and ACA staff, regarding the fallout of a full-on investigation. Who would be implicated? How much money is really involved? Importantly, time to work out if a cover-up is possible. But the sceptic in me says that all will blow over, and the family millions in Sarawak will not only be untouched, but continue to make more millions.

  4. #4 by hiro on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:11 pm

    I am feel abivalent about the result of Machap by-election. I feel that it would have been a tremendous opportunity for Malaysians to tell the government that it’s not doing a good job. Instead, DAP only gained a bit. If this portends things to come in the general election, I am afraid that much will be lost in Malaysia. It goes to show that blogosphere does not have its impact in rural area still, and there is still enormous inequities in terms of the way the opposition and the government effectively spreads its message. And so it goes without saying that the opposition needs to double their efforts, because despite grave issues, it is only able to dent the BN armour a bit.

    The PM’s impassioned defence is a non-starter. For someone who does not have an ear on the ground, finding out which corruption scandal is about to burst at its seams, he could hardly claim that he’s doing everything possible to fight graft. The claim becomes almost ludicrous when he keeps people under investigation in active office, refuses to turn ACA lose into an independent body answerable (note: not micro-managed) by Parliament, and enact whistle-blower and freedom of information legislation which are critical to fighting abuse of power and corruption.

    He may be theoretically right that in some instances, when the spotlight is trained on anti-graft fight, the index suffers. But his theory is misapplied in Malaysia because the rakyat’s cynism is very well grounded.

    It simply is as follows: How does an administration that controls 92% of Parliamentary seats not do something to fight corruption? With that kind of majority, it could turn the country into a republic if it so wishes to. The simple conclusion is the graft fight is not going anywhere because he is wearing kid’s gloves when he deals with his constituents in UMNO, and they are the source of the corruption scourge.

    It is high time we have a PM that is sensitive to the demands for progress on all fronts. We are already lagging behind our previous contemporaries, and it is especially embarrassing to have lost out to Singapore for decades now. Our leaders need to, within their deepest being, understand that there are extremely urgent things that needs doing, which should have been done 10 years ago, and not to only muse about doing them in the next 10 years. We as a nation need to work triply hard to get where we want. The nation will only move as fast as the leader, and right now, we’re not even cruising. It’s a sad reflection of what may yet come especially when BN is returned to power in the next GE.

  5. #5 by hiro on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:15 pm

    Sorry, the first line in the first paragraph should read : “I am ambivalent…”

  6. #6 by pamelaoda on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:21 pm

    In actual fact Hiro, do you think UMNO have any better replacement to be PM, you wait and see, NAJIB even worse really DRACULA COUNT!

  7. #7 by pamelaoda on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:22 pm

    However, it is true that Oppostion is not hardworking enough…coverage more coverage….

  8. #8 by burn on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:25 pm

    yang berhormat should let “THE SUN” paper know about it!

    kata hiro…
    ” i am feel abivalent about the result of Machap by-election.”

    kalau kat kampong kampong bandar kecil yang dipegang oleh BN UMNO… memang dah guarantee diaorang akan menang. coba try kat bandar… sure lingkup! masa akan menentukannya.
    diharap, DAP akan membuat tinjaun lebih disemua bandar bandar besar maupun kecil untuk mendengar masaalah masaalah yang dihadapi rakyat. janganlah sampai nak tunggu election mai, macam BN UMNO dan kuncu kuncunya.

  9. #9 by Godfather on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:38 pm

    Therein lies the difference between AAB and TDM. The former PM is sharp, sarcastic, witty and starts his day at 7 a.m. He has an elephant’s memory. AAB starts much later – some accounts say that he shuffles in at about 9.30 a.m. or later each day, falls asleep at meetings, and does not remember what he said in the morning when asked about it in the afternoon. The only AAB is awake is when he plays golf.

    Knowing his lack of retentive memory, the level 4 boys now selectively tell him what he needs to know – and letters from opposition leaders are not a priority.

    His favourite phrase “Saya tak tahu” has no michiavellian intent – he truly does not know.

  10. #10 by tsn on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:41 pm

    No other way, Malaysians just have to pray hard so this sincere, used to be noble hearted man, Abdullah with his still remain bit of wisdom & dignity, doing a favour to Malaysia, step down from the helm as soon as he could. He certainly is not endowed with the needed ability & capability to be the PM. He makes himself a public fool, Malaysia as a laughing stock in the world stage.

    After him, Who is the next PM? Regardless who is the successor, the future leaders must be realistic, no more space tehtarik nonsense, tallest building, crooked bridge…We the rakyat too must adjust our expectations, actions orientated, whatever you profess/condemn is what you do/don’t , this is particularly important in graft reduction/elimination. Probably we can reinstall certain degree of government very needed creditability.

    It is pointless continously condemn, insinuate, feel hopelessness with the government you have to put on with (likely) till your last breath of life. Sometimes someone acted arrogantly, unnecessarily, excessively is not due to his/her superiority complex, but is due to his/her inferiority complex. To publicly condemn, insinuate will actully make the situation worse.

  11. #11 by Loh on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:49 pm

    PM abdullah cannot even control people in UMNO, and that is why he cannot take actions on the 18 high profile cases. He is willing to be spit on for not aking action so that he can continue in his PM post.

    Now the King of Sarawak is another problem. Can he afford to trun Sawarak into opposition? The PM is a practical man, and to him end justifies means, which is no action. Besides, it is impossible to have ministers who have political muscle to stay un-corrupted, so a report from Japan showing that people outside Malaysia have evidence of corruption just serves to confirm one more corruption case has taken place.

    The onus of proof of proper sources of income rests with the ministers to clarify why they are unusually rich in comparison to their official income. Clearly their salaries are not higher than ministers in Singapore, and yet Singapore ministers are not as wealthy as their Malaysian counterparts.

  12. #12 by smeagroo on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:50 pm

    Maybe our PM doesnt know how to read. Illiterate perhaps? Has anyone check if he is so? If not then why so many “tak tahu” and “I am not aware” cases?

    Maybe he is not a bookworm as Najib is and he only reads books on Lifestyle Living and have eyes on yachts, jets and mansions.

    Looks like in Msia everyone can be a PM…well not exactly everyone though.

  13. #13 by fm2 on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:53 pm

    What to do, we are in a …………. country

  14. #14 by pulau_sibu on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 12:58 pm

    I will help ACA in the investigation if I will get only1% of what Taib got, and if my personal security will be assured.

    ACA should not sleep, this is just the tip of an iceberg. He must be getting kopi-o from many other sources. I think he should be asked to declare all the overseas bank accounts.

  15. #15 by Libra2 on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 1:13 pm

    Can the Machap by election results be taken as an exoneration of the PM’s weaknesses , failures and inability?
    He can turn round and say “Why all this fuss, if the government is that bad, how come the voters in Batu Talam and Macap continue to support us?”
    Thus being the case ,the government will continue to do what it wills with impunity and it will continue to get the votes.
    We get the government we deserve.

  16. #16 by Winston on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 1:19 pm

    “In actual fact Hiro, do you think UMNO have any better replacement to be PM, you wait and see, NAJIB even worse really DRACULA COUNT!”pamelaoda Says:

    We don’t want anyone from UMNO or for that matter the BN to take over the premiership.
    The chance should be given to the DAP. The BN has ruled this country for fifty years and we are in deep shit because of them. Do we want more of the same?
    At least give the DAP a chance to see how they perform.

  17. #17 by k1980 on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 1:46 pm

    If an opposition member instead of Taib is implicated in the RM32 million timber export kickbacks, you can be sure that person is already in the custody of the ACA and the court ready to sentence him by this week.

  18. #18 by negarawan on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 1:58 pm

    AAB has etched for himself as the worst PM in Malaysian history, and most probably the shortest time in office too. He will be remembered as “Bapa Mertua Malaysia”.

  19. #19 by accountability on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 2:51 pm

    AAB is the worst PM in the history of Msia!
    no action, talk only… and worst of all – most corrupt!

  20. #20 by Counterpoint on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 4:48 pm

    LKS’s media statement dated 10/11/2003:

    The new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday called on Barisan Nasional leaders and members to “tell me the truth”about the problems faced by the people “even if it hurts”.

    After chairing his first Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting on Friday, Abdullah singled out education and corruption as the two most important issues requiring immediate and full attention of the government.

    DAP calls for a nation-wide “Tell the truth to the Prime Minister” campaign starting with education and corruption.

    He never said anything about wanting to hear the truth from non-BN leaders.

    So I guess the moment he sees the letter with the Rocket title head, he would immediately bin the letter.

    Since no BN leaders ever want to tell him the truth, and in his usual dreamlike stupor he actually believes evertything is OK.

    This PM needs a real strong dose of smelling salts to arouse him from his surreal utopian make believe world.

  21. #21 by Fairview on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 5:09 pm

    It is time that DAP should change strategy. The Machap election has indicated that the current strategy is not working. With so many issues against BN, the voters still vote for them. DAP has an image problem. It must start taking up issues affecting the Malays and other races as well, and not only those affecting the Chinese. The reality is that, not all chinese will vote for the opposition, but if DAP does not change, it is a fact that Malays will definately not vote for DAP. If this is so, how can DAP be able to grow and gain strength? DAP needs to be championing the oppressed Malays as well.

    Another thing is that, it is pointless to field the same candidate who has been defeated over and over again. There must be a reason that the candidate is not elected. So it is better to field a new and better candidate – one that the locals take a liking. Sometimes it got to do with chemistry.

    DAP must relate issues not only to the locals directly but also how such issues will affect the next generation. The Chinese are more concern about issues affecting their children and grand children – so DAP must show how the current issues will affect their children and grand children. Only then, will the locals be willing to give up immediate gains for their future generations.

  22. #22 by Libra2 on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 5:19 pm

    If he doesnt read your letter, it could also mean that he doesn’t read your blog.
    I think he derives more peace by adopting a “Hear no evil, read no evil”, mentality.
    So he can safely say “Saya tak tahu” and get away from giving any embarassing explanation”.
    There is also a likelihood that he reads, but lies with the “Saya tak tahu” answer to take the easy route out of a tricky situation.
    This man can lie without flinching his eyes.

    Another thing about him.
    He is in a state of auto -hypnosis i.e deluding himself into believing that things are moving as he had planned and that corruption is under control, that the economy is good and the people are solidly behind him. That he is a great PM and saviour of the country from the tyranny and mismanagement by his predecessor.

  23. #23 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 5:38 pm

    LKS says: “…the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi does not read letters sent to him or get a briefing on them and these letters disappear into the “black hole” of the Prime Minister’s Department.”

    It was Tun M who once confirmed that Tun Hussein was slow in reading and underlines the things he reads with care…which slowed him down. What some counts as slowness is meticulousness to another.

    Compared to Abdullah, Tun Hussein was a hare and he a tortoise. Then again, Tun Hussein reads with care…Abdullah mostly doesn’t read; he most k.i.d. (keep in drawer!). Tun HUssein, a British-trained lawyer evidently understands what he reads….Abdullah, a locally-trained ‘ulamak’ probably doesn’t understand half the implications of what he reads. (Understanding the meaning of individual words is not the same as understanding long complex sentences on technical and difficult subjects; then its ramifications is yet a different kettle of fish.)

    MACHAP-ites, that was a BAD, BAD mistake! I hope you live to regret your stupid decisions even though you have every right to be stupid. Nobody can stop you if anyone wants to be STUPID, notwithstanding the most ardent appeals and persuasion.

    Let’s all work to prevent the rest of the nation following the stupid path set by the LEADER WHO NEITHER LEADS NOR READS. If BN wins the next GE, then sorry for all MALAYSIANS; then those who want to migrate should get out doubly fast before the boat sinks.

  24. #24 by akarmalaysian on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 8:15 pm

    did u send the letter by post YB?u knw how the delivery system is in malaysia…

  25. #25 by Godamn Singh on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 11:01 pm

    Now get ready for this!

    His aide tells me that Abdullah Badawi does not read unless absolutely necessary because he cannot keep himself awake each time he picks something up to read!

  26. #26 by UFOne on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 11:21 pm

    I am not surprised he does not read a lot of letters, considering the length of the opening salutation of any official government letter / circular. But may be he has read and he does not want to give a reply, that is to him, too early. Probably he has a few tricks up his sleeves and he does not want to be swayed by the contents of any other letters. It is good that there are some Barisan Nasional politicians who have their own websites. We have to make full use of it. Even the UMNO website or the MCA website. At least it is getting through to the people who will most probably relay it to their big bosses. Since P.M. himself has said that existing laws are enough to make sure bloggers stay on the right track, bloggers can continue to blog but with discretion.

  27. #27 by grumpy on Friday, 13 April 2007 - 11:31 pm

    He is not the only one who doesn’t read the letters. I have seen comments in other blogs that his ministers also never acknowledge or reply. It is a defensive mechanism on their parts by claiming that they did not receive the mails. So, if you confront them in the public arena for not taking actions, they can pretend they did not get your mails and you have no proof you sent them. How can one prove that one sent an email and that he received it? I once sent Ong Ka Ting’s ministry an email asking for his direct email address and a secretary replied with his email address ([email protected]). But now, when I sent OKT an email directly, the email seemed to have lost in cyberspace…no reply.

  28. #28 by fido on Saturday, 14 April 2007 - 12:31 am

    We have a BIG problem….

    Most of the time you can read from the news of ministers keep telling people to write/call/approach them….BUT they do not provide their contact #/email address/address. If they provide also it would mostly be the generic address/# that, god knows if letters/messages can ever get to them.

    Are these the kind of leaders that we are voting for? Where is the accountability and transparency, if we ever have one.

  29. #29 by toyolbuster on Saturday, 14 April 2007 - 1:05 am

    This PM really reminds me of my favorite British comedy titled YES MINISTER and later YES PRIME MINISTER. Difference is, in our case, its not funny anymore, its bloody scary. Its for real.

  30. #30 by hang tuah on Monday, 16 April 2007 - 5:39 pm

    my worst fear confirmed,

    kit sending official letters to the wrong person instead of khairy.

    for your info, in future please send your official letter to khairy residing at the 4th floor. tdm know about it how come u did not?

    shake head………

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