Can Never Trust Them, Eh?


Najib

(We all seriously hope Najib has a concrete financial plan for the country when it comes to empowerment of its people and the economy and not doing for the sake of his own political survival in the upcoming political party elections. As taxpayers, no one want to see their hard earned money down the toilet on short-sighted financial plans. Image source: http://www.antaranews.com)

Sorry for starting with something “international” this week – Malaysia’s political circus show hardly makes a dent on the front pages at where I am in now.

As you may be aware, President Obama and most of the western world have put the blame squarely on the Syrian Government on the recent chemical attacks. David Cameron tried to get the UK Parliament to pass a motion on Syria and failed. And despite that and rather strong opposition from the US Senate, the Obama Administration seemed bent on punishing the Syrian Government for the alleged chemical attacks on its own people (how they effectively going to do it another question). That is until Russia came up with an alternate solution and provided a way out for Obama from a rather sticky situation. The Obama’s proposed shot over the bow is really not effective unless there are troops on ground – something the American public is well aware of and do not want to do after the same blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then this came up:-

Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak.

Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra. According to Abdel-Moneim, the weapons exploded inside a tunnel, killing 12 rebels.

If accurate, this story could completely derail the United States’ rush to attack Syria which has been founded on the “undeniable” justification that Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack. Dale Gavlak’s credibility is very impressive. He has been a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Public Radio (NPR) and written articles for BBC News.

Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in providing rebels, whom they have vehemently backed at every turn, with chemical weapons, is no surprise given the revelations earlier this week that the Saudis threatened Russia with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi unless they abandoned support for the Syrian President.

(Source)

Well, this piece of news may just be a part of an elaborate spin to turn the public opinion against Obama’s stand on the Syrian conflict. But then again, what if it is true? Let’s just hope that this does not escalate into something bigger and cause the world oil price to spike again. It is just the excuse for the “you know who” to reduce the subsidy and take the amount saved into another wasteful adventure. And speaking of “you know who”, it was not a big surprise when Najib, after increasing the petrol price recently, turns around and announces this:-

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced a massive economic empowerment agenda for bumiputras while thanking the community for their strong support for Barisan Nasional in the 13th general election.

The Prime Minister said: “Based on the support of the Malays and other bumiputras in the 13th general election, the Government has decided to take a quantum leap to implement concrete and thorough strategies and approaches. We call this bumiputra economic empowerment, and it is to safeguard the community now and forever.”

(Source)

Be mindful that Najib is not talking about small fry money here. And it is good that the Government is looking into ways to “empower” the community (which it claims to be still weak and in need of Government help since 1969). The question is will the community get the necessary funding and help lock, stock and barrel or will it trickle down after the various fat cat middlemen, cronies and corrupt politicians have put their dirty hands in it? And what happened to all policies and money that was poured to “empower” the community in the past – money that belonged to taxpayers from various race, culture and religion? Has it gone down the drain or has it quietly went into the pockets of cronies and corrupt politician?

The BN may have announced a series of new race-based measures to boost the economic situation of the bumiputeras, but who is to be blamed for the community falling behind even after almost a half-century of affirmative action?

(Source)

It is time to ask the same question as it seem to be the same thing all over again. The PM had announced the same race based policies before and under the same whistles and bells and in the same name of championing the community but after sometime, nothing much changes and before you know it, the PM announces another race based policies and the vicious cycle starts all over again. The Government says subsidy is bad but throwing taxpayers’ money on the same failed formula and getting no positive result is worse. The BN Government have been recycling the same old policies and re-branding them with new names but be rest assured, it only fattens the already fat lazy cats.

Can you think you can trust the politicians to keep to their words this time around and whatever “empowerment” that should happen do happens? Yes? Well, think again.

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GE13: GE Videos & EC Boo-Boos


Johor-ceramah-crowds

(No doubt the number of crowd attending the ceramahs may not translate into confirmed votes but the sheer number of people attending the recent ceramahs In Johore should have given the BN fellows something to ponder on. Image source: Anilnetto)

Just 2 days to go before we will know whether we will see another 5 years of corruption, race based policies, double standards on enforcement & deployment, wastage of tax-payers money, “we are still better than Zimbabwe” nonsense, culture of fear & disunity, cronyism, MACC (still) have no power to catch the big fish and insult to fellow Malaysians OR dawn of a new era for Malaysia.

And already there are allegations of vote rigging and movements of phantom voters (mainly foreigners). If BN had denied outright and laughed at it, we could have labelled Anwar’s allegations as a serious spin and a desperate move. But instead they actually admitted that such flights are taking place but they claim that it is for the Malaysian voters and it is financed by a mysterious  “friends of BN”. Who are they really, this friends of BN? Perhaps they are the same jokers who took the expensive advertisement for the so-called First Lady of Malaysia. Anyway, since it seems Pakatan fellows are “doing the same” (unfortunately they can only afford buses instead of planes), let’s put this aside – on who is right or wrong will depend on whether you end up seeing strings of nervous Banglas & Indons at polling station on Sunday.

But probably the biggest news when it comes to EC and their blunders would be on the indelible ink which some have alleged can be cleaned off immediately. The blunder is not on the fact that the indelible ink were washable without trace – as EC had mentioned, the ink is an indelible ink and not permanent ink. Depending on washing agents used, it will remove the ink to some extent; I am pretty sure of it although the latest EC’s demo shows otherwise.

The blunder however is on the failure of the processes in dealing with the said indelible ink. Why it was not shaken as the process requires it to be? EC claims that their officers were “nervous” and thus failed to follow the right procedures. Such excuse is not acceptable especially when it is for the first time the indelible ink is being used, there are certain expectations on the deployment of the ink and the EC officers have been trained before and are professionals. Didn’t they do a dry run before this? Because of this blunder, now hangs a question of whether in the coming polling day, there will be more officers getting “nervous” and failed to shake the bottles right. If this happens, EC would have a serious issue of integrity and accountability.

In the meantime, enjoy these interesting videos that touch on the upcoming election and the need to pick the right Government (p.s. MIC’s one is in for the joke – now that Hindraf is the sleeping partner of BN and leads the “fight for the Indians”, MIC indeed had become one big joke):-

Undilah

PKFZ Scandal

MIC Song Parody

Hindraf & Nambekei

3 Questions for BN

Please also read also Rafizi Ramli’s Open Letter as well.

Have a good day on Sunday and vote wisely. Vote for the Government that plans for the future and politicians who see Malaysians as their boss and not the other way around. Don’t vote on what you have seen, paid and experienced in the last few months – judge the politicians on what they have done and said in the last 5 years. Reward them or punish them accordingly and don’t fall for the (overwhelming) overdose of “feel good” propagandas and vote-buying “gifts” – it does not guarantee a bright future.

Political Public Fund Managers


Update 1: The advertisement below lists the criteria for the RM180 million fund

Back to the original post

There has to be a better way to manage our limited resources and public funds, right?

(How true! Sometime we forget that the money we get is actually from our own pockets and to make things worse, some of it ends up in the politicians’ pockets as well. Image source: http://www.sodahead.com)

First read this:-

MIC President Datuk Seri G. Palanivel has been given the task of managing a RM180mil special government allocation meant to help Indian entrepreneurs. The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the decision for him to take charge of small and medium enterprise (SME) projects for Indians was made by the Cabinet last week.

“The RM180mil fund is intended to assist all segments of Indian entrepreneurs, including micro-enterprises,” Palanivel told a press conference yesterday after handing out cheques to recipients of Community Builders Foundation (CBF) pre-schoolers aid. He said his responsibility would be to monitor the loan applications as well as engage with the public.

“This is to ensure that genuine and deserving Indian entrepreneurs have access to finance to grow their business,” he said, adding that those interested to apply should contact SME Corporation Malaysia.

(Source)

In 2010, as part of reforms to be implemented by the Najib’s Administration, the Government introduced the Transformation Programme to address 7 key areas concerning the people of the country. They should have added one more – Elimination of Unwanted Political Hands on Tax-Payers Money.

I know it is not the first time we are reading these kind of nonsense in the papers but one need to ask why in the world, the Government want to trust millions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money to a political party to “manage it” when we already have a more effective of doing it by using the various departments of the Government? How can one be held accountable for the money managed? Yes, one may ask what’s new in Malaysia – the abuse of tax-payers funds have been going on for many, many years now. True I say but then again, for how long we want to allow this to go on where public funds somehow ends up as political party’s personal fund.

Same case here with the RM180 million fund – no doubt the final handling of the fund may be done via SME Corp (or some agencies or NGOs who has the proper resources, logistics and professional fund managers) but why the need for middle man for the so-call management of the funds? If it is an act of public relationship (in view of the general elections – i.e. to show that MIC is relevant and takes care of the community), how certain we are that:-

  1. All of the funds allocated by the Government will end up in real entrepreneurs’ pockets and not siphoned off under the disguise of administration charges and commission or phony entrepreneurs or worse – as personal funds for the up-coming elections and shopping? Remember that all these money comes from the tax-payers fund and must be held accountable for every cents used; AND
  2. Whether all the funds will be disbursed regardless of the political stand of those who need the funds? We have heard cases in the past where opposition supporters have been denied to certain benefits even though they are entitled to. With MIC behind the manager’s seat, will they be professional enough to ensure dirty politics and political affiliations biasness stays out from the management of the funds?

This is because allegations of abuse of public funds by politicians or the manner in which the said money was disbursed have surfaced before:-

PKR today claimed that public money meant to fund activities of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has been channelled to pay for the activities of Wanita Umno . PKR Wanita chief Zuraidah Kamaruddin today said the funds were channelled to the Council of Women and Family Development under the ministry.

The council was established in 2001 during the tenure of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as its minister. Shahrizat is also the Wanita Umno chief. According to Zuraidah, the council was initially made up of women state executive council (exco) members nationally. But she claimed that over time the membership of the council has been hijacked by Wanita Umno.

(Source)

And;

The government has promised millions of ringgit to upgrade Tamil schools in the country but one question still remains. Would the millions really be spent on the reconstruction of these schools or would it go to crony contractors; or be channeled back to the government? The lack of transparency in releasing the funds had raised heckles from non-governmental organisations, who wanted a system to streamline funds to ensure it reached the “target” group fast.

He said going by these estimates, in actual fact the government would only complete work amounting to RM33 million out of the RM100 million set aside under the 2012 Budget. “This is because the relevant authorities especially JKR has quoted three-fold prices. While work will be done for RM35 million, the remainder of the allocation will either go back to the government or into the pockets of contractors or cronies given the contracts,” he added.

(Source)

And whilst the “how” and “who” is being worked out, there is another question need to be considered – how and when MIC (or any other political party) will be involved in the management of the funds? Are they going to be the decision makers on who will get what? Are they going to be just managers on paper (for publicity sake) but the real work will be done by professional fund managers?

I am not accusing anything here but we want to know how MIC as the “managers of the fund” is going to ensure that the tax-payers money will be used for the right reasons and for the right persons. This is because whilst the objective and the creation of the RM180 million special fund is welcomed but the manner it will be disbursed and monitored may leave rooms for abuse and for that, we need to ask if we have the best practices in place to manage and deal with public funds? Have we addressed the shortcomings, plugged the leakages and improve on the end delivery in accordance to the objectives that it was intended to? And we should start by not allowing any politicians from one side of the political divide managing these public funds.

And whilst we have been talking about the management of existing funds, Rafizi Ramli from PKR raised another interesting point – where does the Government gets all the money for these ad-hoc funds? Certainly some of these ad-hoc funds has not been budgeted for in the last Budget presentation in the Parliament so where does these allocations are coming from?-

PKR’s Rafizi Ramli today slammed the prime minister for his heavy “vote-buying” spending of RM5.77 billion, saying that the money comes from taxpayers. Rafizi said the loss of yearly revenue from Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) proposed car tax cuts would be eclipsed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s unplanned spending.

“(T)he total sweets simply used by the prime minister in just the first six months (of this year) to buy the people’s votes is RM5.77 billion,” said Rafizi at a press conference today. He based his calculations by adding up the RM2.2 billion civil service bonus recently announced and various “one-off” spending by Najib’s administration which he claimed had reached RM3.57 billion. Under the RM3.57 billion “unplanned spending”, he gave examples of the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M), Bantuan Kembali Ke Sekolah 1 Malaysia and Bantuan Buku 1 Malaysia. He said these schemes respectively cost the government RM2.6 billion, RM530 million and RM260 million.

He also referred to “various schemes to buy votes under the 1 Malaysia brand, and various announcements of “instant noodle projects” throughout the Jelajah Janji Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled Tour) estimated to reach RM180 million.”

(Source)

Considering the amount of money being spent on ad-hoc funds and being passed into the hands of politicians to manage the said fund, we are left to wonder when this nonsense will stop especially when same group of people who have doing this nonsense are bent on bringing in 2 pandas and pay millions for their up-keeping (for more interesting insight, read this as well – “15 Silliest Uses of Taxpayers Money“). We need more control and we need it to be done on an urgent basis before we end up bankrupting the country with unnecessary expenses and leakages of public funds.