Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Need to change the federal gov’t?

8:22AM Jun 16, 2015
By KJ John
Lord Acton argued his power thesis; power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. After almost 58 years of absolute rule, the BN government has become absolutely corrupt.

Some evidence of moral, ethical, and spiritual corruption are:
  • The Financial Procedures Act ignored and has not been complied with in so many areas.  Evidences of this are in the annual Auditor-General’s Report; and yet the problem continues ad infinitum!
  • Public assets are being disposed without a due process. All public assets belong to the people of Malaysia and it is not private property to be given or distributed without due legal process.  1MDB and its acquisitions is only one small tip of this iceberg problem.
  • Public interest is always defined as the interest of all Malaysians and never that of one single group or ethnicity. The BN government has consistently defined public interest as pre-conditioned by Umno interests, as clearly evidenced by the ‘Allah’ debate.
  • Our rule by law is a Commonwealth based system of modern jurisprudence evolved by all former British colonial states to make the citizen responsible to the rules and laws of that nation-state. No one is above this rule of human and state laws; except God. In Malaysia, instead, BN practices rule by law; wherein prosecution is by exception, and therefore labelled political persecution.
  • Malaysia has a secular federal system of governance wherein nine peninsular states have hereditary rulers who are heads of their state religion; Islam. The federation as a whole is however religion-neutral but honours God, and with a proviso that Islam is considered the most important religion of the federation of Malaysian states. All other religions are however, permitted, protected and encouraged.
The above is one listing and not designed to be comprehensive. It is really the tip of a real iceberg of moral, ethical and spiritual corruption which is now endemic to the Malaysian federation.

Financial and institutional corruption

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) before that, was set up to address financial corruption, especially those conducted by public officials; whether civil servants or government ministers. Nevertheless and in spite of this, Malaysia continues to climb down the ladder in the Global Corruption Index.

The 1MDB is evidence of the endemic nature of this abuse of power and authority in favour of incompetent and unethical stewardship of our public assets. It affirms the Lord Acton thesis for the world to see, as localised in Malaysia. Our reputation, too, as a nation-state is now on a downward spiral.

The MACC and auditor-general are currently not empowered to identify and address institutional corruption of a serious financial nature. What do I mean?

The auditor-general can only ‘catch the thief’ by reporting the theft but long after the thieves have fled. It also excludes companies under the Minister of Finance Incorporated. The MACC can lay a trap and catch corrupt individuals but only when physical money exchanged in Malaysia. But the world is becoming paperless.

Nevertheless, is it really difficult to anticipate ‘obviously corrupt acts which deny public interest?’For example, the current system of disposal of public assets within Umno-defined agenda but which does not serve the public interest? Let me raise some specific questions about the public assets involved in the 1MDB misadventure:
  • Was a cabinet paper (not a cabinet note) presented before TIA and then 1MDB was initiated? Any cabinet minister can then access such a report, if it was.
  • Usually, for the disposal of any public assets, when no tender is called, the government appoints crown agents to dispose such assets. My question is when did Jho Low become a public agent or crown agent for TIA or 1MDB?
  • Why and how was the assets of Sungai Besi Air force Base “given out to whoever?” Was there a cabinet decision since it is owner-occupied by the defence minister but appears to have been disposed in a manner not consistent with the Financial Procedures Act?
  • Can such assets be given out on ‘favourable terms’ and then be resold to parties who are not related to our national interest? Who then decides the new sale price and what has the government Valuation Department and Treasury Instructions have to say about all this? Is the 1MDB designed or engineered to be the next Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ)?
  • For one example, when one buys a PKNS house in Selangor, even if the house does not sit on Malay Reserve land; the sale of the house must be approved by the state exco; for the protection of the original public policy agenda. What is then the due requisite process for the sale of the public assets were transferred to 1MDB, and then resold?
When public policy is not

I never worked in the Finance Ministry or any institution related to the Finance Ministry. Mimos Berhad, although a Finance Ministry company, reports to the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.

Nonetheless, when I worked as registrar of National Institute of Public Administration (Intan), my job required me to understand and apply rules related to financial procurement, administrative procedures for the disposal of public assets, even if they were to be fully discarded. There is a due process for all these administrative actions which involves the government’s or rakyat’s assets!

If 1MDB was created by a cabinet decision vide a policy paper, there would have been clear established ground rules on what it can or cannot do. It was originally 100 percent owned by Khazanah Holdings Berhad or the government of Malaysia, right? It was all Petronas payments, right?  For some history of 1MDB seehere.

If so, is it not fully accountable and responsible to the government of the day; and not merely to the finance minister? That, for all intents and purpose is the cabinet of Malaysia.

Moreover, because it is a 100 percent government-owned establishment and because they operate under the Companies Act instead by statutory legislation, the board of directors is finally and ultimately accountable to the cabinet, as the chief executive authority for the government of Malaysia and the Companies Commission of Malaysia rules.

We live in Malaysia, and not under some presidential system of governance. The PM is only first among equals, even in the cabinet.

Therefore, if for any reason, 1MDB did not operate as it should have, there is every right and authority for the cabinet to direct the auditor-general to audit every step taken and table a white paper for the information of the people through Parliament. It requires only political will.

Failing this, if the magnitude of the financial misdemeanour is to the tune of RM42 billion, I think the cabinet has really no choice but to resign en bloc so that fresh elections can be held and a new and more competent government is elected by the will of the people.

I therefore declare shame on the federal government and all its constituent parties for not honouring their commitments and pledges made to the people before the last general election.

KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.
~ Malaysiakini

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