Citizen Nades - By R. Nadeswaran
THE TELEPHONE in the sports minister’s office has been ringing incessantly ever since he was appointed. Some call to extend their congratulations, others to touch base, but some with ulterior motives, One caller, a former minister’s son is desperate. He had a contract to undertake some projects, but with the changing of the guards and more importantly the policies, the money-making machine has come to a standstill. Another, from Singapore, wants to seek an appointment to “sort out matters”. ESPN wants to continue its lucrative arrangement in which the ministry pays millions for “Sports Centre Malaysia” – a 30-minute programme aired on weekdays. In short, the ministry has been buying airtime so that footages of power-hungry people can be seen by a selected few, and someone can collect hefty fees as the middleman in such deals. Has anything changed?
Back in the Selangor State Secretariat, members of the executive council walked into bare offices, save for a table, after they were sworn in. Everything was missing – from staplers to fax machines. So, they all got new ones. The state government paid more than RM1,500 each for the fax machines. You could get the same model for one-third the price at any electrical shop. But then, the purchases had to be made from “registered contractors”. So, what the contractor does is walk to the shop, pick it up for RM500 and sell it for three times the price. No questions asked. Despite all the publicity given to the Auditor-General’s annual report, no one is bothered about getting quotations or seeking the cheapest possible price. By the way, who cares what he says in the report? After all, for a few days, all kinds of statements will be made and then, it’s business as usual. And don’t blame the exco members. They make their requisition and the civil servants do the procurement. It’s not their money and what is the incentive for practising prudence? Has anything changed?
In Putrajaya, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has taken umbrage to my comments on its efficacy even after it is granted “commission” status. The director-general was quoted as saying that with such a status, the ACA will be “really independent”. He let the cat out of the bag by implying that all the while, the agency was not independent! The telephone call from the agency was flattering indeed. “You mould public opinion. You cannot write about us like that ...” Sorry sir, you took six months to investigate and close the files on attempts to cheat the government. Yet it took five days after media reports on extravagance by the Women in Sports Fitness Foundation Malaysia to close the case and issued a statement.
Part of the statement read: “ACA investigations revealed that the Minister of Youth and Sports at that time acted only as the patron of the foundation and was not involved in any expenditure.” Well, who ever said or accused the minister of wrongdoing? So, why go out of the way of your terms of reference? Is it the new “really independent ACA” or the old “independent ACA”? Did anyone bother to check on other aspects of the expenditure, including conflict of interests and the RM800,000 on rental of equipment? No, the investigators were ordered to wear blinkers when carrying out the probe. Will anything change?
In Shah Alam, an unemployed dentist is occupying a bungalow at a rental of RM25,000 per month. His last drawn salary was RM12,000. He is now drawing a couple of pensions not exceeding RM9,000. But he needs to feed himself and the family, maintain a fleet of cars and pay for treatment to look “fair and lovely”. So, how does he balance his budget? But this chap has come a long, long way from the days of selling ice cream … Has anything changed?
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