Sunday, September 30, 2007

Highlights from the AG’s reports - The Star

EVERY year, when a new Auditor-General's report is published, the mismanagement of funds and irregularities highlighted in previous reports are forgotten amid fresh outcry for accountability of public funds. Sunday Star looks at some of the “old” cases that made news.


1. Extra expenses: Selangor incurred an additional RM21mil in expenses for the delay in constructing two slaughterhouses. The original cost to build the two slaughterhouses was RM8mil.

2. More repairs needed: Despite RM65.51mil spent on construction costs and a delay of two years, the Gelami Lemi Fresh Water Fishery Research Centre in Jelebu, Negri Sembilan, had to undergo further repairs. The contractor, did not follow specifications, resulting in poor construction.


3. Deals Gone Bad: Three water privatisation deals caused the Sabah state government to be saddled with debts of RM888.08mil.

4. Out of order: The RMAF said it was unable to repair flight simulators for the Hawk and F/A-18 jet fighters in Butterworth because of a lack of funds. This was despite it signing a RM50.3mil contract covering training, hardware and maintenance with a private company in 1988 and extended to April 2005.

5. Complex under-utilised: The RM25mil International Sea Sports Complex in Labuan was left unutilised for nearly two years since it started operations in June 2001. In 2003 and 2004, only 51 activities including the Labuan International Sea Challenge, Labuan Arts Festival, Aidilfitri Open House, and government-department and private functions were conducted at the complex.

6. Delays increase cost: Delays in building four district police headquarters (IPD) plus quarters in Raub, Gua Musang, Kerian and Perak Tengah caused the Government to suffer at least RM5.85mil in losses.


7. Way above market price: The Government paid up to 36% above the market price for certain medicines used in public hospitals and clinics despite sourcing them through open tenders. Although 140 contracts worth RM425mil were awarded through open tenders between 2001 and 2003, 83 contracts worth RM283mil went to one supplier while the rest were distributed among 11 others.


8. Below par pool: The so-called international-sized pool at the RM45.5 million Darul Ehsan Aquatic Centre fell short of the required measurements set by the swimming world's governing body, Fina. The length of the aquatic centre's pool is less than 50m, the standard for an Olympic-sized pool.


9. Expensive tailoring: A total of RM3.02mil was paid to alter uniforms at the Armed Forces between 1997 and June 1999. The alteration fees for the 11th Royal Malay Regiment at Semenggo Camp, Sarawak, was RM31 per uniform while for the 15th Royal Malay Regiment Sri Miri Camp, it was RM68. At the Sungei Besi air force base, it was only 70 sen.


10. Expensive Door: Yayasan Melaka, a foundation fully-owned by the state government to provide scholarship for poor students, purchased a door for RM25,000, toilet and floor mats worth RM11,000 and 25 designer briefcases worth RM38,750 among many others without calling for tenders or supporting quotations. Altogether, the foundation was found to have breached financial procedures in spending a total of RM639,423.

11. No letter for RM1.6bil in loans: Two loans totalling RM1.6bil were given to Perwaja Terengganu Sdn Bhd in 1997 and 1998 in which no letter of agreement was signed between the company and the Government.

12. Failure to check account: The Defence Ministry failed to monitor an account which paid for the purchase of military equipment from the United States, resulting in a discrepancy amounting to US$32mil (RM121.6mil). As there was no monitoring done, about US$66.7mil (RM253.5mil) was withdrawn from the account although the equipment supplied was worth only US$34.7mil (RM131.9mil).


13. Poor revenue management: The Immigration Department in Damansara Town Centre did not bank in 4,680 bank drafts worth RM32mil in 1997. They were not cashed within the bank draft's validity period of three to six months. Of the amount, only 1,757 bank drafts worth RM14.97mil were recovered from those who issued the drafts.

14. Medical tools lying idle: Audit checks found 55 pieces of medical equipment worth RM1.41mil lying idle in government hospitals and dental clinics. The equipment included two operating microscopes each worth RM49,950 in Muar and Kangar Hospital, both unused for more than 19 months.


15. Fund for disaster victims abused: The Malacca state used money from an emergency fund meant for flood and fire victims for the purchase of five Mercedes Benz cars for state executive councillors, a RM279,250 on an official car for the Malacca governor's wife, a RM271,500 car for the Chief Minister and a Proton Perdana costing RM60,644. Other purchases included RM13,160 for a computer table and RM13,300 for two chairs. Altogether RM10.18 million for 29 expenses was drawn from the emergency fund in 1995.


16. Exorbitant seminar: The Melaka state government paid RM194,204 for a political party seminar. The Chief Minister's Office paid for the purchase of fountain pens as souvenirs for the delegates and organisation costs totalling RM168,394. Another RM25,810 was for a dinner for seminar delegates. The government also undertook three purchases involving RM216,084 without calling for tenders in 1993. They include the purchase of 1,434 food packets costing RM81,594. – Compiled by RASHVINJEET S.BEDI


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

M'sia rises a rank in Corruption Perception Index - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has risen a rank up on Transparency International's 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

It was ranked 43rd this year but the score of 5.1 was a minimal improvement from the 5.0 that Malaysia recorded last year.

However, the slight positive change in how people perceived corruption in the country's public sector stopped a five-year downward trend in the rankings, which was 33rd in 2002, 37th in 2003, 39th in 2004, 39th in 2005 and 44th in 2006.

The annual survey was carried out in 180 countries and is a composite index that draws on 14 expert opinion surveys. It was released Tuesday.

There were 16 new countries including Afghanistan, Maldives and Somalia.

The highest Asian country was Singapore which was ranked fourth and is the only non-Western economy to break the Top 10 list, led by Denmark. Somalia and Myanmar shared the last spot.

[More at]

Friday, September 21, 2007

No record of purchases - The Star

KUCHING: The Sarawak State Sports Council spent RM2.67mil on sports equipment from 2004 to 2006 but did not keep track of the purchases to prevent wastage or abuse.

The Auditor-General’s report noted that two bicycles worth RM19,800 could not be traced as there were no written records authorising their use elsewhere.

A RM5,300 lane rope for swimming also went missing while 24 types of equipment for silat, athletics and boxing worth RM47,911 meant for various training centres had not been used.

It added that 25 javelins worth RM3,570 were kept unused at the Miri Stadium because they were oversupplied by the council’s headquarters.

In addition, archery equipment worth RM30,859 was supplied too late to be used for training for the 11th Malaysia Games in 2006 and was not distributed to other training centres which needed them.

The report said the council did not maintain an asset register to record its purchases or appoint store officials to acknowledge the receipt of equipment.

[More at]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Malaysia: Elections without representation - Asia Times Online

By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR - Political tension is rising in the run-up to Malaysia's next general election as demands for free and fair polls made by a coalition of opposition political parties and civil-society groups are increasingly being met with violence by the ruling 13-party Barisan Nasional (BN, or National Front) coalition.

This month, police fired tear gas and shot at protesters, injuring two opposition supporters in the chest, while breaking up a massive opposition rally in Terengganu state, one of the few areas of Malaysia where the opposition and government are matched roughly equally in electoral strength.

The rally, organized on September 8 by BERSIH, an acronym for a coalition of five opposition political parties and 26 civil-society groups that means "clean" in the Malay language, was the biggest gathering held so far to demand reforms to the electoral system. The United Malays National Organization (UMNO), Malaysia's largest political party and the leader of the BN coalition, has won all 11 general elections held since the country achieved independence in 1957.

BERSIH has been touring the country mobilizing public support for its reform cause ahead of next polls, which are widely expected to be called in November. Police responded with what demonstrators contend is excessive use of force, adding a new and violent dimension to Malaysia's electoral politics.

"The use of such hard force and firing weapons, injuring opposition supporters, is unprecedented in recent history," said parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang.

Police said the assembly did not have a proper permit and was therefore illegal, but opposition leaders have insisted on their right to peaceful assembly.

[More at]

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pak Lah: ACA must probe those named in A-G’s report - The Star

By Shahanaaz Habib

KUALA LUMPUR: The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) should step in and investigate any suspicion of corruption in ministries and government agencies implicated in the Auditor- General’s (A-G) Report 2006 for mismanagement of funds, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The Prime Minister said the report was open to be read and scrutinised by all, including the ACA.

“And where the information causes suspicion, then of course the ACA should go in and investigate. We will not hinder the ACA from carrying out investigations,” he said yesterday after the seventh National Small and Medium Enterprise Council meeting at Bank Negara here.

It was reported that the ACA was scrutinising the AG's report to see if any of the transactions or projects involved corruption.

Since Budget Day on Sept 7, when the A-G's report was released, newspapers have been highlighting the detailed findings of financial irregularities.

[More at]

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Paying through the nose for tools - The Star

By Royce Cheah, Elizabeth Looi and Manjit Kaur

PETALING JAYA: Would you pay RM224 for a set of four screwdrivers?

Probably not, but that was what the Government paid to supply tools for students at the eight National Youth Skills Institutes (IKBN) around the country, according to the Auditor-General’s (AG) report.

The AG said the screwdrivers had a market price of RM40 and according to pictures in the report, resembled the average Philips screwdrivers you could buy in any hardware shop.

And it does not stop there – the AG went a step further by examining the prices paid for 12 other tools and equipment bought for the IKBN project, comparing it with market prices when the procurement was done in late 2002.

Among these were technical books consisting 10 titles that had a price tag of RM10,700 and a 3.1 megapixel digital camera that was bought for RM8,254.

[More at]

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Malaysia considers switch to Islamic law - The Daily Telegraph

By Thomas Bell in Kuala Lumpur

Hardline Islamic law could be introduced across Malaysia under reforms proposed by the country's chief justice.

As the nation in south-east Asia celebrated 50 years of independence from Britain yesterday, its government was preparing to discuss a plan that would revolutionise the legal system put in place by its former colonial administrators.

As Kuala Lumpur witnessed celebrations that included parades, fireworks and a fighter-jet fly-by attended by the Duke of York, the proposal pointed to the deep differences which locals say are poisoning social relations beyond the glitter and skyscrapers of Malaysia's modern capital city.

Ahmad Fairuz, the chief justice, told an Islamic conference in Kuala Lumpur that 50 years of independence had failed to free Malaysia from the "clutches of colonialism". Sharia law should be "infused" into the gaps created by abolishing common law, he said.

Malaysia's non-Muslim Chinese and Indian communities, who form 40 per cent of the population, are alarmed at creeping Islamisation.

[More at]