Let’s be rid of the cover-up culture


By K Haridas

We are a nation that moves from one headline to another, each more startling than the earlier one, and with very little to show in terms of accountability.

Sometime ago we heard about illegal migrants and the number that had perished along the Malaysia-Thai border.

Secret camps were discovered along the Malaysia-Thai border used by people smugglers, with nearly 140 graves. Our police chief vowed tough action against Malaysians involved. Have we heard of any actions to date? Would we be wrong in assuming some Malaysians and Thais might be complicit in this illegal and lucrative activity?

Earlier on we heard of how about RM2 billion worth of vehicles were illegally moved out of Malaysia. Powerful forces are at work and it is not good enough for the police and immigration officials to just explain it away.

Then we heard about the RM100 million that was defrauded from the Ministry of Youth and Sports. While the culprits have been charged where is the notion of accountability from the minister and senior civil servants?

What does this say about the competence of our civil service, the minister, the secretary- general and their levels of accountability and responsibility?

Minister Paul Low, we need clarification from you: How can such matters go on for, as in this case, over six years?

Consider the regular shocking reports from the Auditor-General. Many departments and ministries are exposed for not following proper procedures, procurement methods and even for excessive payments.

What action has been taken and has it been effective?

Civil servants are well paid and upon retirement, senior civil servants are handsomely rewarded with directorships, titles and other benefits. Yet when it comes to doing their job they are found wanting and everything seems to be swept under the carpet.

Can we have a report that also highlights actions taken against the wrongdoers, and measures that are put in place to ensure that a repeat does not take place? Can Paul Low assure as that such a report will be produced?

Recently, four Sarawakian sailors were abducted by a militant group and ransom money of RM12 million was collected. The families say the money was handed over to the Special Branch in Sandakan, Sabah, on May 24.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported to have said no ransom was paid but that the RM12 million raised by families of the victims and from the public was contributed to “certain organisations” in the Philippines, via the Special Branch.

But the police chief said the police were not involved in any ransom payment. Who are we to believe? Now we have been told not to talk about this issue.

Why do Malaysians and even foreigners here seem fearful of telling the whole truth in an honest and candid manner? Take the soon to be leaving CEO of Malaysia Airlines. He has now been employed by Emirate Airlines. We were told that he was leaving for personal reasons. It just does not add up.

Malaysia Airlines is a good example of a Government Linked Company (GLC) that has been badly managed over the years.

Have any top management of MAS been held to task?

Again the cover up culture continues. It is neither Malay culture nor Malaysian culture. It is just bad management and leadership from the top.

Ahmad Husni resigned as Finance Minister 2 and Abdul Wahid Omar did not seek an extension to his position as minister in charge of the economic planning unit. One has to read between the lines to understand their frustrations.

It would have been better if they had been candid and had the courage to share their concerns in the context of national interest.

Without this we miss the opportunity to learn from earlier mistakes.

K. Haridas is an FMT reader.

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