A-G Spot-on, IGP All at Sea

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
5th October 2013

The Auditor-General’s report for 2012 is alarming. And this is so not only because it exposed huge wastage committed by government departments last year, but also because nothing seems to have changed all these many years.

Year after year, the A-G tells us of cases of improper payment; of purchases made at astronomical prices; of unreasonable project delays; of poor asset management; of non-adherence to procedures, etc, etc. But year after year, nothing is done to address the shortcomings.

It seems as if our civil service just continues to plod on, continues to waste, continues to be inefficient, continues to make corrupt transactions. And the overriding controller – i.e. the Government – just lets it be.

The Government knows from the A-G’s reports that corruption is rife in the civil service, but it probably realises it doesn’t have the moral standing to haul in the culprits. After all, the civil servants are following the example of the country’s leadership. And since the Government has also not shown itself to be accountable for a lot of things, how can we stop the rot?

Worse, our civil servants seem to have acquired a tidak apa mindset because the money that is being wasted, that it being improperly used, that is going into the pockets of some of them, is not theirs. When I was in school, we used to characterise such an attitude with the jeering taunt: “You think this is your grandfather’s money ah?” It’s still applicable here and now.

The A-G’s latest report tells us of

· the Department of Broadcasting’s purchase of 20 wall clocks at RM3,810 each, 38 times more than the estimated RM100 each, and three A4 size scanners at RM14,670 a unit, more than 70 times the estimated price of RM200 each;

· the Customs Department’s having to destroy RM600,000 worth of shoes it had purchased because they did not suit its officers;

· the Melaka state government’s illegal building of its Customs and Immigration Quarantine Complex on private land, which eventually cost it an extra RM10.8 million to compensate the landowner, plus an extra RM40 million in building costs that had shot up because of the delay.

These are only a few examples. But they are enough to shock us into asking if something will ever be done to prevent misdeeds of such nature from happening again. This also makes us ask if the misdeeds of the past have been addressed.

For example, in 2011, the A-G reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) bought two pairs of binoculars at 2,805 per cent more than the market price, which translated into RM56,350 more than the estimated market price of RM1,940!

MACC Deputy Commissioner Shukri Abdul responded by saying there was no corruption involved, but who would pay nearly RM55,000 more for a pair of binoculars and be innocent about it?

Shukri suggested taking action on the matter. What has been the outcome of that?

We have a civil service made up of 1.4 million personnel, and yet no bright sparks have emerged from among them to clean up the rot, to change the mindset, to turn the civil service into a professional machine. That’s quite certainly because meritocracy is not part of the system. Therefore, the best people – with the best brains and the right work ethic – are not heading the department. Unlike in, say, Singapore.

And yet Prime Minister Najib Razak has been rewarding our civil servants with salary adjustments under the new Malaysian Remuneration System and two increments this year. Do they deserve these? No doubt it was to buy their votes before the last general election and to thank them after that, as well as to ensure their continued support.

To me, the highlight of the A-G’s report this time was its showing up of the failure of the police department to look after its own assets, and its inefficiency as a public agency. What turned out to be the icing on the cake was the response made by its chief, who appeared to be all at sea!

The report revealed that between 2010 and 2012, the police lost assets worth over RM1.33 million. Among them were 44 loaded firearms. And the police don’t seem to have retrieved them. Holy gunsmoke! Did these guns go to those gangsters who have been shooting people dead in the streets the last few months?

The Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar, was quick to point out that they didn’t. “The missing guns may not have fallen into the hands of criminals but they could have fallen into the sea from boats … and the weapons could not be recovered,” he said.

What? Fallen into the sea? Reading that, I nearly fell into a nearby drain.

And how convenient, too, that the guns fell into the sea, because it explains why they couldn’t be retrieved. In which case, the public should ask to see the reports filed by the police personnel who lost those guns. From there, we should be able to see if they really did fall into the sea, and how.

Not that we don’t believe the IGP, but when he gave that explanation, he didn’t seem like a police officer. He came across like a stand-up comedian.

It’s almost as comic that Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi endorses that explanation because, he says, “sometimes, the guns [could get] lost in operations”. Yes of course they could, but how does he account for so many guns falling into the sea?

Zahid accepts the explanation without even questioning the logic behind it. Just like the civil service, Najib’s Cabinet is apparently not founded on meritocracy.

The IGP also said, “Of the 37 missing guns, ballistic reports show that none of them have been used by criminals.”

OK, what about the remaining seven out of the 44 cited by the A-G’s report? Are the police also having trouble with simple arithmetic?

Apart from the guns, they have also lost 156 handcuffs, 26 walkie-talkies, 22 radios, six cameras, four computers, and – get a load of this – 29 vehicles!

How did they lose so many handcuffs? Would a sweep of kinky brothels help to get them back?

How did they lose the computers? Some thief came into the police station and took them away? Under the noses of the police? Or was it an inside job?

And vehicles! How do cops lose police vehicles? Thieves got into the driver’s seat while the cops were not looking and drove the vehicle away? Were the cops, say, pumping air into the vehicle’s tyres at the time? Or popping into a shop to buy cigarettes while the engine was left running? Or did it happen that while a few police vehicles were being transported on a ferry, they somehow slid into the sea?

And after losing the vehicles, what did the police do? They are the police. They are crime-busters. Did they not go after the thieves? And they couldn’t find them? They couldn’t get those vehicles back?

At this rate, what good is reporting to the police when our cars get stolen? If the cops can’t get back their own lost vehicles, can they get back ours?

The even bigger question is: If the police can’t solve the mystery of how their assets got lost and who was responsible for losing and/or stealing them, how can they be entrusted with solving crimes in society?

What does this say of our police force?

No wonder they needed the newly passed amendments to the Crime Prevention Act to make their job easier.

* Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the new book The Elections Bullshit, now available in bookstores.

  1. #1 by firstMalaysian on Saturday, 5 October 2013 - 10:05 am

    To end the endless possibilities and endless realities of rampant corruption in the civil service, our government with endless records of failures to stamp out endless cases of corruption in the civil service, should revamp the civil service and trimming it to a size that is manageable and endless oversight possible. This will also include hiring the best talent to head the civil service. If the present government has no political will to execute this, then we have to change the government who will have the endless interest and well being of the people in mind.

    • #2 by cemerlang on Saturday, 5 October 2013 - 10:00 pm

      This is because of endless money or rather endless supply of money.

  2. #3 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 5 October 2013 - 10:59 am

    Do people really believe that these “revelations”, on their own, really move that many voters away from UMNO/BN? Firstly they don’t get reported in MSM. Secondly, even if they tell them in ceramah again and again, UMNO/BN is well-trained with excuses.

    Like it or not, the supporters of UMNO/BN are indulgent of them. Its not what will make them change their votes. What will change their vote is that when UMNO/BN has to pull the plug on them on the hallucination of subsidies and GST-reality and they will ask why they don’t get to shoot up on them when UMNO/BN can still shoot up on corruption and abuse of power.

  3. #4 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Saturday, 5 October 2013 - 11:37 am

    Dear Mr Kee,

    Know what?

    I am begining to think that the IGP has got Mr Spongebob Squarepants to serve as his public relation adviser.

    And why say that the guns fell into the ocean? It would surely serve the purpose equally well just to say that the officers concerned mistook the guns for cigars; then lit them up and, yes, then puffed them away.

  4. #5 by tuahpekkong on Saturday, 5 October 2013 - 10:16 pm

    Our marine police patrol boats have never capsized before while on duty, so how could the guns have fallen into the waters? If the Singapore Police Chief were to give such an explanation, he would be severely castigated by all parties but here the IGP still had the endorsement of the Home Minister. This is really shocking. The fact that no one had used any of the lost guns to fire a shot did not mean that the guns had not been used in a robbery. The sight of a gun is sufficient to scare off many people. No shot needs to be fired. I agree with you that the authorities lack the moral high ground to act against the culprits. The AG has highlighted the wrong doings for many years, not just this year.

  5. #6 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 5 October 2013 - 10:17 pm

    They went fishing and used their guns to shoot and handcuff the fishes ? They got seasick and dropped their guns overboard ? Maybe their boats sank and the guns went with it. Or maybe it was lost in the tsunami.

  6. #7 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 5 October 2013 - 10:20 pm

    They are still looking for a new ‘Sei Ngan Chai’, that Four-eyed kid. They have informed Interpol.

  7. #8 by Noble House on Sunday, 6 October 2013 - 1:58 am

    Those who intend to take a trip out to the sea: “Beware of missing guns in the sea”.

    This warning comes from the Home Minister & IGP themselves!

  8. #9 by Cinapek on Sunday, 6 October 2013 - 1:02 pm

    As an anti corruption officer once told me, that if they were to really investigate and prosecute the corrupted civil servants, some of the depts. might have to close down. The rot started from the top and goes all the way down. Most of them would have to be locked up and there will not be enough staff to man those Govt. depts./agencies. That is the real reason why action cannot be taken.

  9. #10 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Sunday, 6 October 2013 - 3:09 pm

    Try looking for the missing guns in Bikini Bottom, mr IGP and Zahid.

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