Hitting Palace’s Fan

Money is everywhere to spend but almost none for the taxpayers

(The current palace is already looking majestic and we have already spent millions on it but we went ahead to construct a new palace. We end up looking like dungus but what the heck, we been in that situation before. The new palace looks good on paper but the volume of abuse and mismanagement of funds to build it makes the whole affair end up looking too ugly. Image source: Tok Ey Ai)

Hong Kong based Asia Sentinel reports

….there is the matter of the cost of building a new national palace for the country’s sultans, which has doubled from RM400 million (US$124.2 million) to RM811 million since the contract was let – without bid — in 2006 under the premiership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and may well triple, according to government insiders.

And whilst this has been happening, theStar reports:-

Many foreign workers hired to build the RM800mil Istana Negara claim that they have not received three months’ wages from some project sub-contractors. There are over 1,000 migrant workers hired by 130 sub-contractors working at the project site.

By using migrant workers, the contractors already maximising their profit margin. So, who been pocketing the money meant for the workers? But the increased cost of construction of the new palace was not a big surprise – especially in Malaysia. Certainly in time, the shit will hit the (palace’s) fan and the responsible people are going to wash their hands – just wait and see.

We have a very bad record of management of public funds – there are plenty leakages that is yet to be plugged by the government of the day. We already heard of paying above the market price for military hardware just because someone decided to make huge sum of money through “commissions” (in lay person term – bribery). Another example is PKFZ – that mess is yet to be entangled and it is likely that the public is going to made to pay for that mess (whilst the greedy ones escape with millions in their bank).

Anyway, that is not what disturbs me because unless we kick the Government of day into the wilderness, mismanagement of public funds is just going to continue (just look at the “rape” in Sarawak).

What disturbs me is this:-

“Syed Mokhtar got the original contract at RM400 million. Then the Raja of Perlis was given a gratuity and his brother, Syed Anwar Jamallulail, became Syed Mokhtar’s 30 percent partner and costs escalated,” said a source. “When the current king came in – the Sultan of Terengganu — he asked for a piece of the action and costs went up again.

It was brought up in cabinet in December by an MCA minister. [Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister in the prime minister’s department for parliamentary affairs] replied: “So what? It’s the house of a Malay King, not a Chinese contractor.” Needless to say, no one has brought it up since.”

(Source Asia Sentinel)

First disturbing part – that our royalties been “accused” as being the factor for the increase of the construction cost. Are we going to keep quiet on this? If it is not true, then what we are doing to clear our names? But if it is true, then the question – are we going to investigate further?

Second disturbing part – If it is true, what Nazri is trying to say? That corruption and blatant increase of cost is acceptable just because the construction is being done for a Malay King? Isn’t that an insult to the King and Malaysians as whole? Nazri missed the whole point! It is nothing to do with constructing a new palace for the King, but the underlying reasons for the increase of the construction cost.

A reader in Malaysia Today rightfully commented:-

As I was just saying, in Sweden, recent royal wedding caused a massive public revolt over public footing half the bill (10 million kronor or RM4.25 million ringgit) while M’sians are constantly being FLEECED left right and centre for this palace, that palace and god knows what else.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the institution, Raja-Raja Melayu and the rotating Agong BUT dead set against the blatant stealing that takes place. Already, cost overrun on this latest palace in Jln Duta and mind you all, the palace hasn’t been completed so we can’t ascertain the total ‘damage’ just yet but it would be more than current and revise estimate – that I’m sure.

If the escalation of cost was due to increase of cost of raw materials or major changes to the layout of the palace (perhaps new security and facilities) – we would have been more than happy to foot the bill. After all, Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of state and deserves the rightful respect and honour. And we would have been proud of the new palace.

But what is not acceptable is that the escalation of cost was due to someone wanted to make money for no valid reasons. Why should the taxpayers foot the extra money so that someone could go laughing all the way to the bank? Who are these people and what they done for the taxpayers? In developed countries, such act is known by many names – “daylight robbery”, “stealing”, “corruption”, “fraud”, “breach of trust”, etc. But in Malaysia, it is known simply as “escalation of construction cost”.

If this continues, forget about Malaysia being a developed country in the near future. Najib says 2020 but with wastages and mismanagement of public funds still riding high and fast, “developed by 2020” deadline is going to be a one steep hill to climb.

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Missing Photos

Image source: http://anakcina.wordpress.com/

Image source: http://ini-yang-aku-rasa.blogspot.com/

Had a good laugh over OutSyed The Box’s post titled “Rais Yatim’s Chicken Sh*t” and since the name Rais Yatim came up, I thought of checking the net for Pak Lah’s infamous sleeping photos and guess what I found. Pak Lah’s sleeping during meetings trend does go along way.

After all, a photo speaks a thousand words don’t they?

Pak Lah – the Commissioner

In the NST yesterday, Pak Lah announced the formation of an independent body to monitor and receive complaints of police misconduct.

You know what, I was thinking of writing on how I can help Pak Lah to extend the “Commission” coverage to other areas. I was thinking about coming up with new potential Commissions like the Independent Satan & Black Metal Music Link Commission or the Independent Religion Conversion Headache SOP Commission or Independent JAWI’s “Fuck the Cabinet’s Directive” Snoop Squad Procedure Commission (in case he is going to form a new Commission, he can pick one from the list here).

Halfway through the draft, I thought to myself why bother? Don’t you think creating an Independent Commission is to take the heat away from the Government? The way I see it, Independent Commissions are part of a vicious cycle:-

1. Tragedy happens
2. The public knows the cause and whose heads need to roll
3. The public and the Opposition questions the Government why action not taken
4. The Ministers points finger at each other and exclude themselves by saying it is not under their Ministry
5. The Ministers take the easy way out by saying that it will be discussed in the Cabinet (in other words push the problem to PM and DPM)
6. The PM gets frustrated and decides to rest the case – he takes the easy way out by creating an Independent Commission
7. Until the Commission comes out with the findings, all critics are silenced since there is no point talking about it until the findings are out
8. Commission comes out with the finding and subject to the prerogative of the Government; it takes days before the public gets the details of the findings
9. Due to financial or more often political constraints, the implementation is slowed down and some are swept under the carpet
10. The public forgets or thinks that the Government has taken the necessary steps
11. Another tragedy happens and the cycle starts all over again

You get my drift?

The findings of the Commission are nothing new, so bother to appoint one in the first place. Was it to have an independent party investigating the cause of the incident? Acceptable reason but the thing is, the recommendations in end are passed back to the Government to implement. You know the rate of that. As Pak Lah mentioned, it is about 25% as at yesterday.

I guess the act of appointing Independent Commission is good but to drag on its recommendations seems self defeating (another incident or tragedy can happen in the meantime and it did – remember Squatgate?).

By the way Pak Lah, will there be an Independent Commission on Overweight Cabinet? We are interested to know the Commission’s findings.

(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Malaysian Politics)

Foot in the mouth – Malaysian recent examples

(Malaysia Boleh Juga!– Picture source: http://www.northcoastcafe.typepad.com)

I am back from my leave and the first thing that crossed my mind when I opened today’s papers is that Malaysian politicians surely know on how to make a fool of themselves

Let’s start with Datuk M. Kayveas

The PPP president is arguing that politicians were “playing safe” by not speaking up on corruption in these councils. He said “they know what’s going on, but they do not talk about it. They could be playing safe, or have an interest in a particular project.”

Yes, it is a good argument but then again, isn’t this the same guy who has been criticizing the local government without naming names? TheStar on Monday reported this: “Citing an example, Kayveas said there was a centre with badminton courts but the local authorities only allowed its staff and politicians to use the facility. Kayveas declined to name the local authorities involved in such practices”

Yes, you read it right – Kayveas declined to name the local authorities involved in such practices. So, is he playing safe too? Is he one of the politicians who are using the badminton court? It’s easy to make a general statement but when it comes to pinpointing someone or an actual cause, it seems like some “talk-cock” politicians can be real cowards.

Next, our very own Pak Lah (you are surprised? I was)

“Malaysians today are free to express their views and opinions,” Abdullah said in a recent interview with visiting foreign journalists. “We have a very strong majority of 90 per cent plus. I have allowed my backbenchers in Parliament to ask very tough questions.

I think Pak Lah is just talking about himself because the rest of MP does not share the privileges of able to express their views and opinions. Mind you that this statement was given by the PM in response to this question: “Is a Parliament loaded with Barisan Nasional MPs bad for Malaysia?”

So, am I calling the PM a fool for putting his foot in his mouth with that statement?

Let’s look at this incident that happened several days ago – the incident of the women senators being forced to vote for family law Bill.

“They are free to debate and speak their mind, but when it comes to a vote, they have to follow,” Nazri told a hastily called press conference.

So, yes Malaysians today are free to express their views and opinions but if you are unable to exercise your views and opinions, it is as good as not being able to express the views and opinions. “Is a Parliament loaded with Barisan Nasional MPs bad for Malaysia? Yes, if you have everyone following the whims and fancy of a party instead of the voters.

What about the tough questions that the PM mentioned, you ask? Well, it depends how tough it can get before it gets you suspended from the Parliament. Other times, tough questions can take a whole new meaning.

(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Malaysian_Politics)

“Pak Turuts” reacts to Pak Lah’s act

It is sad that it needed the Prime Minister to tell the Ministers what to do in the current haze problem. He was giving the hint when he said “they don’t need to ask me. There should be a trigger mechanism so that once the index goes beyond 500; automatically they should declare an emergency for affected areas,”When the PM acts, I had expected the Ministers to be “suddenly active” in doing their job.

Here are some of the Pak Turuts…I expect to see many more will be coming in the next few days:-

Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin – the bosses of the Malaysian-owned plantation firms implicated would be hauled up and given a “piece of our mind”

Comment: mind you that this is not first time that Malaysian companies been implicated in the haze problem but only now, the Government want to act. Even then, they only want to give a “piece of their mind” – hmmm, I am “frightened” already. While you are at it, why don’t you give “your piece of mind” over a lunch or a game of golf (since Malaysia want to do via the softly – softly approach)

Deputy Information Minister Datuk Donald Lim Chiang Sai – RTM will broadcast over TV1 information on the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in areas hit by haze with immediate effect

Comment: On the same day when PM asked for the release of the API reading, a number of newspapers carried the API reading on the internet. RTM was doing err…what again? Does giving the right information during tsunami rings any bell? Or you need the PM have a press conference to say “tak payah tunggu saya…“?

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek – A committee has been set up to coordinate manpower and medical supplies in areas affected by the haze

Comment: I believe that the haze problem started some weeks ago and surely we had expected that the most important ministry to be ready from day 1 (or day 3 for Malaysia’s case) but alas, the Minister is telling that only now they want to setup a committee? Can’t the local hospitals coordinate themselves? I guess by the committee goes into action, the haze would have cleared on it’s own (then I am sure that someone “smart” will say that it was due to “efficiency” of the committee)

Look at the above. You don’t need Pak Lah to declare emergency to get the basic acts in place (at least he was sincere enough to ask Malaysians to pray for a better weather unlike some of the Ministers). As Ministers and Deputy Ministers, do you really need a day or two to make critical decisions? Watch the news for the next few days (assuming the haze is still bad), you going to see few more “Pak Turuts” in action.

P.s. Jeff Ooi has an another angle at our politicians and official is dealing with the closure of schools correctly titled Haze & the 3 Stooges (I think the real stooges could have done a better job)