3 AUGUST 2017
Certain portions of the Auditor Generals Report that has been recently released raises serious questions that must be answered by the relevant bodies named, the most critical being the Sarawak Housing Development Corporation.
The Sarawak Housing Development Corporation (Perbadanan) was found to have paid out RM2.88 million to 2 contractors for paint jobs which they had not done. Certain procurements made were not done in accordance with the provisions of the applicable rules. There was advance payment of RM16.06 mil without authorisation for an upgrading project in Sibu, resulting in the government incurring interest charges of RM1.77 mil. Payments of RM30.40 mil were made without verification by the officer, while payments amounting to RM20.77 mil were unsupported by Payment Certificates.
These finding point to serious mismanagement issues and poor financial oversight. This body is tasked with providing affordable housing for the rakyat but it has seemingly been completely irresponsible with the state’s money and resources. Has there been misappropriation of funds? Or leakage? What action is the government going to take as a result of the AG’s Report? Someone has to be held responsible, and I hope that this revelation will not go the way of other past AG’s reports where there is little or no action taken to address the problems or to hold the relevant persons to account.
The management of the construction of the new wing of the Riverside Majestic Hotel, under the purview of the SEDC, was also found to be unsatisfactory. Besides failure to complete despite 7 extensions amounting to 758 days, the project’s cost was found to have increased by RM8.07 mil, an increase of 13.5%. In addition, liquidated and ascertained damages were not imposed for work which was delayed by 148 days, which if paid would have been in the amount of RM2.09mil.
Again, the project cost overrun needs to be explained, and the reason for not imposing the LAD charges.
The financial management of the Sarawak Museum and the DUN were also found to be less than satisfactory. With the building of the new museum complex, it is even more crucial that financial transparency, accountability and competency be maintained without exception.
The MACC has announced that it will be studying the AG’s Reports and investigating possible corruption and abuse of power where warranted. In all these cases, taxpayers’ money is involved, and the MACC must be thorough in its investigation. It is unfortunate that these bodies singled out as being less than satisfactory in performance are or were under the purview of the Chief Minister in his roles as the Minister of Housing and Urbanisation and the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, except for the DUN.
It is the even more crucial that investigations be carried out impartially and transparently so that there can be no allegation of cover-ups or sweeping under the carpet. The Chief Minister, with his strategic plans for the development of Sarawak including the proposed LRT, digital economy initiatives, dam-building etc, all of which invole huge sums of money, must take steps to reassure the people that the management of the state is in good hands and that his strategic initiatives will not suffer the same fate as these bodies named by the Auditor General.
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan