Words into practice

By R. Nadeswaran
Mon, 13 Jun 2011 | Sun2Surf

EVERY right-thinking Malaysian will certainly have to agree with the prime minister’s remarks made last week at the World Islamic Economic Forum in Kazakhstan that characteristics like openness, honesty and transparency are vital if the people are to have faith that their government is working for them and not for itself.

Saying that these guiding principles would also show that leaders and politicians were striving to lift the whole economy and not to “line their own pockets”, he sent this powerful message: “As political leaders and statesmen, it is up to us to show the resolve, dedication, commitment and political will required to do what is right, to right what is wrong and to prevent corruption from becoming a norm in our societies.”

This is not the first time that he has spoken out against the ills that afflict our society.

A month ago in Oxford, he spoke on religious moderation and the need to allow people of all faiths to express their views. But are his thoughts, philosophies and views being ignored if not defied by those in the corridors of power? Are our civil servants embracing openness, honesty and transparency? Are religious leaders taking cognisance of how they should conduct themselves?

Examples of their refusal or non-acceptance of these policies are too many to cite and the archives are full of reports which contain information on dishonesty and lack of transparency and accountability.

Why should the cost of producing the newsletter for a local authority be kept away from the public? Why is land alienation by the state government limited only to the “Minutes of the state exco” which fall under the purview of the Official Secrets Act? Why are the costs of purchasing items which are not “defence-sensitive” still being kept secret as if the whole country’s security will be compromised if the rakyat know about how much the army paid for a packet of instant noodles?

The prime minister is making all the right statements which will ensure a better quality of life for all Malaysians, but it appears that it is not going down the line to some people who have been accustomed to doing things their way.

Working in London and observing how Malaysian agencies conduct their business shows that many do not care how government money is spent. There’s no sense of accountability, transparency or openness, let alone honesty.

A case in point – the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) whose stand is totally in contravention of the prime minister’s views.

It has been eight months since a simple query was raised: “Which supermarket chain in the UK has 64 Malaysian products on its shelves?” Four reminders to the London office with copies to its director-general and the chairman in Kuala Lumpur drew no response.

A car arranged by the High Commission here to take us to Oxford to cover the prime minister’s visit was quoted at £350 (RM1,750). When asked about the exorbitant cost, the answer was that the service provider had been “efficient throughout all this (sic) years”.

It would be difficult to justify spending such a sum of money to our bosses, let alone the auditor – a car was hired for £21 (RM105) and with £30 (RM150) of petrol, the journey was done. No one wants to know or explain how that astronomical figure was arrived at because it has never been a practice to ask for quotations or compare prices.

Where’s the openness and honesty which the prime minister is preaching? Doesn’t anyone want to practise it? As for Tourism Malaysia, the less said the better because they have been caught being dishonest on more than once occasion. Saying anything more will result in accusations of “you are picking on us”!

The prime minister is singing the right tunes and drawing the right parameters for a prosperous Malaysia. If followed to the letter, all Malaysians irrespective of colour or creed can share the prosperity and happiness that it brings.

The choice is not of the majority but the select few who draw up policies and another group which implements them. At all times, the three magic word espoused by the prime minister – openness, honesty and transparency – must ring in their ears each time they want to do something.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Monday, 13 June 2011 - 4:39 pm

    Don’t waste time on rhetoric preacher.

  2. #2 by pulau_sibu on Monday, 13 June 2011 - 4:45 pm

    The person who wrote the speech does not have any influence on politics. The puppet just read from the speech note.

  3. #3 by Winston on Monday, 13 June 2011 - 6:08 pm

    What’s wrong with Malaysians?
    Anyone can say one thing and then do something entirely differant!
    Don’t they know that?
    Ever heard of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds?
    Wake up!!!!

  4. #4 by cskok8 on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 - 12:45 am

    His daughter also happened to get married during the trip. What a nice coincidence.

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