A reader asked me to pen something on the Auditor General’s report.
I was reluctant to write this year, not because I thought there is any improvement in wastage and leakage, but rather what was revealed was nothing new anymore.
Year in and Year out, I have written on the abuses revealed, and yet the same thing happens again and again.
I think it would suffice just to paraphrase one of my old article written in October 2009. Just change the ministries and the items procured, and you have my view: ( the abuse is so widespread that different papers are publishing different abnormalities in procurements of different things.. Perhaps readers can help filling in the ministries and items)
It is that time of the year again.
No, I am not referring to the ‘durian’ season, nor to the festivities like Deepavali, Hari Raya or Mid Autumn Festival.
I am referring to the time when lay men like you and me feel angry and frustrated towards certain ‘wrongs”, but are powerless to do anything.
Every year, since time immemorial, it has evoked the same feeling; but every year, we just sigh , comment with our ‘coffee kakis’ in ‘Kopitiams’ and shake our heads . People like me with a computer will probably write something to let off steam; the more important people, like those elected YBs from the other side of the divide, will probably pose some embarrassing questions in the Dewan.
The end results will be the same; life carries on and nothing changes. We will all forget about and talk on other issues until the time of the year is here again.
I refer to the week in the year when the Annual Auditor General’s report is released.
Many years back, the AG reports revealed that – those in the 20s and 30s might not remember- certain items of cutlery were bought for millions of ringgit, the purchasing power of which will be equivalent to the cost of a small new Honda jet now( I googled and found that Honda jets cost US$3.65 millions each a year ago ).
Well, not to be outdone, we have officers in different departments competing with each other to get listed in the AG report every year, as if it is a honour list not to be outdone by others.
This year the honour must go to a college in Balik Pulau Penang, which bought 2 laptops for RM $42,320 per piece, according to the Star online here. I do not know what advanced features this lap top has, but I only know that for that amount of money, I can buy more than a dozens of the computer which I am using now to write this.
Then again, if they bought a 19 inch monitor for Rm8,500 per unit, what do you expect? I can buy one for about a thousand ringgit. Not to mention the 450 units of computer CADs which cost RM3.45 million, an amount an average Malaysian can never hope to earn in a lifetime.
What can we all do? I will write and let off steam and this is now fast becoming a ritual at this time of the year. Many of my friends who do not like to write will probably go to Kopitiams again, commenting on these purchases, sighing and cursing, and soon forgetting about the whole thing again.
Do not blame these officers for buying above market prices. When they see the leaders paying tens of millions of commission to middle men in procurements, it is only human to follow suit.
When the top beams are crooked, the lower beams cannot be straight.