Wednesday, November 04, 2009

When it is better to be big fish!

Here we go again. Those anti-Corruption guys are doing their jobs, blind colour (as claimed by that Minister in-charge) and nothing to do with politics (huh, I believe you sir like I believe pigs can fly to the moon).

Looking at the figures in the graft charges, nothing much compared to billions in certain infamous scandals or millions like that huge bungalow in Section 7, Shah Alam.

I do not how much we have spent on the MACC establishment. Or what are their KPIs. Since MACC is not reporting to the parliament, a lot of things are always "Yang mengikut arahan". No transparency. No accountability. No credibility and no real work done. If MACC is really independent, most of our cabinet ministers will be charged for salah kuasa and corruption (remember Anwar's corruption case?)

Billions or our hard-earned rakyat money have been wasted, exploited, robbed, siphoned and pocketed through various development or project scams. Billions more with the current leadership and so many loopholes of the weak system. There is no solution with the current bunch of leaders and systems.

MACC can catch all the small fishes in the sea of robbers, conmen, corrupted politicians and civil servants.....still, it is not justified in terms of its existence as corruption is already a culture. "Biar mati anak, jangan mati adat!"

Slow boat to catch big fish

TODAY
, the action by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has made the front page of every newspaper. Well done but are we serious about going after the big fish who have milked the government? The consolation that can be taken is that something is better than nothing but then there are some important questions that ought to be answered. Are we serious about fighting corruption, abuse and misuse of power and funds and moral decay? Do we continue making statement after statement expecting people to change? Do we go after those with soiled hands without fear or favour? Do we seriously want to see that taxpayers’ money is used in a transparent manner and that those responsible are accountable for their actions?

After years of exposing wrongdoings and commenting on the actions of several, one tends to believe that making money at taxpayers’ expense has become a way of life. Sometimes, you wonder whether it is worth the effort and tell yourself: Nothing will ever change. If you sense that this scribe is wallowing in self-pity and depression, you may be right. It is getting more and more frustrating reading and learning about wrongdoers who are still walking our streets, hoping to continue to exploit the perceived weaknesses in our system.

Such views are not based on hearsay or rumours. They are based on hard facts – documents. As you sit back and take stock of what had been written in the past, you will understand why this sense of hopelessness prevails. Sometimes this is translated into anger, most times despair.

Does this mean you give up and turn your attention and write "feel good" pieces and care a damn about what’s happening around you? This thought had crossed my mind several times, especially in the recent past. As you sit and re-visit the stories and the columns that had been written over the years, something tells you that all is lost.

So, today for good measure, I am taking a walk down memory lane to remind the powers-that-be that there are several outstanding wrongdoings which ought to be attended to. The list is a long one (forget the Port Klang Free Zone for a moment, though it will never be forgotten) and I do not want to go through the agony of digging into the archives and creating more heartache. Instead, these are issues that enjoy "top-of-the-mind" recall:

It is getting more and more frustrating reading and learning about wrongdoers who are still walking our streets, hoping to continue to exploit the perceived weaknesses in our system.

»
Former Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman’s excess baggage as far as staffing was concerned. She had 20 staff which contravenes the Public Services Department (PSD)’s regulations limiting the appointments to only eight. It is also in defiance of a Treasury circular on cost-cutting and austerity. The minister’s office had three special officers, five political officers, one research officer, six information technology officers and five support staff. Some appointments were backdated to circumvent circulars from the PSD and the Treasury and there was no proper selection process as the posts were not advertised.

» The RM68 million disaster called Paya Indah Wetlands still brings anger when you discover that norms in business practices were not followed. There was only one signatory to cheques. Yet, the former CEO of the Malaysian Wetlands Foundation, "Dr" Muralee Menon, who was also the former adviser to the cabinet committee on sports, and former directors – Datuk Ahmad Talib and Nor Hisham Ismail – have remained silent.

» The globe-trotting VIP wives in Selangor still continue to flaunt their designer clothes and branded handbags despite their shenanigans being laid bare at a public inquiry. Is it not abuse of power?

» The theft of land meant for public amenities in Bandar Utama may have lapsed into a distant memory in the minds of many; but each time I drive past BU8 and the Tamil school in the vicinity, I am reminded of how political parties used their influence and clout to take away what rightly belonged to the people. Do these people have any conscience? They now make public statements as if they were God-sent to cure the ills of the people.

» The former state government acquired a large plot of land near Sri Damansara for a song although it was worth a small fortune. It was purportedly for a graveyard. The state then alienated the land to cronies of a politician, who in turn flogged it for millions to a third party, a typical Ali Baba operation.

» The National Sports Council which at one time or another had RM350 million in the bank is now unable to pay athletes. Does anyone bother to find out where the money went and on the extravagance of certain officials who defend themselves by saying: "Saya yang menurut perintah"?

» What about the abuses that have been highlighted in the auditor-general’s report every year? Has anyone been "hanged" for wrongdoings? May be, one or two ikan bilis, but what about the ikan yu and those who gave the go-ahead? They are being promoted to higher positions and together come the perks – state or national awards.

Dear readers, over the past few days, I have asked myself: Have I come to the end of the road? Do I say "enough is enough" and move on? I don’t know but I am sure that you can understand my despair, anger and frustration over the non-action. As I pen these last few words, the inevitable question is: Will we ever end up in the top 10 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index?

I am no soothsayer or doomsayer. I am another journalist who is committed to seeing transparency and accountability at work. For the better part of my career, I have been doing just that. But having said that, all I can say is that nothing will ever change unless our leaders have the determination and political will to bring about a radical set of norms and morals to be emulated by all the citizens.

Despair and hopelessness have been bothering R. Nadeswaran for the past few days and he has decided to air his frustrations. He can be reached at: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com

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